The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Willie Keller (Schooner), U80315, sunk by collision, 18 Jun 1888

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Word came to this port Saturday that the new prop. ROBERT MILLS which was on her first trip from Buffalo to Chicago coal laden, had run into and sunk the schr. WILLIE KELLER, corn laden from Chicago to Midland. The accident occurred about 12 miles off the east shore between the Little and Great Au Sable. The crew had barely time to escape with their lives as the vessel filled in 10 minutes. Total loss $15,000. The KELLER was built in 1871, rated B1 and had a registered calue of $5,000. It has not been determined whether the MILLS or KELLER was to blame.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      June 18, 1888 3-2

The propeller ROBERT MILLS and the schooner WILLIE KELLER collided in Lake Michigan, off Point Sable, July 15 last, and the Keller sunk. The Keller and her cargo were insured for about $13,000 and Smith and Davis, general insurance agents at Buffalo, who had the major portion of the risk, paid the loss. After all this time they have decided to libel the MILLS and endeavor to collect from the propeller the loss of the schooner. The MILLS is owned by a powerful syndicate of vessel owners at Buffalo, and it is possible that the home offices of the insurance companies have something to do with pushing the suit at this late day. The evidence of the crew of the KELLER, with which it is expected to prove the MILLS was at fault, will now be difficult to obtain. The MILLS came on to Chicago after the sinking of the KELLER, and was at once libeled by the captain and crew for $700 the captain and crew lost for money and clothing lost with her. This suit will come to trial first, and its result will virtually settle the responsibility for the collision.
      Detroit Free Press
      September 29, 1888

The steambarge ROBERT MILLS has been libeled at Buffalo by the owners of the schooner WILLIE KELLER, which, grain laden, was sunk in Lake Michigan last spring by a collision with the MILLS.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Tuesday, October 2, 1888

NAME: WILLIS KELLER (1873); WILLIE KELLER (1875; 1876; 1877; 1878; 1879; 1880; 1880-81; 1882;
1883; 1884; 1885)
RIG: Schooner
LOA: 134.0
BEAM: 25.0
DEPTH: 9.0
GROSS: 236.22 (1873; 1875; 1876; 1877; 1878; 1879; 1880; 1880-81; 1882; 1883; 1884; 1885
NET: 224.41 (1884; 1885
CITY: Manitowoc
HOME PORT: Chicago, IL (1873); Oswego, NY (1875; 1876; 1877; 1878; 1879; 1880; 1880-81; 1882; 1883;
1884; 1885
YEARS LISTED: 1873; 1875; 1876; 1877; 1878; 1879; 1880; 1880-81; 1882; 1883; 1884; 1885

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: nil
Hull damage: $15,000
Cargo: inc.
Freight: corn
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 44.05778 Longitude: -86.51425
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Willie Keller (Schooner), U80315, sunk by collision, 18 Jun 1888