The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Tribune (Detroit, MI), 25 Nov., 1876

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FURTHER PARTICULARS OF THE TUG BENNETT DISASTER. - A correspondent of the Chicago Inter-Ocean, gives the following additional particulars:

I give you some further particulars in regard to the sad disaster on the tug J. W. Bennett. She ran on Epoufette shoal, which lies about two miles from the north shore (of Lake Michigan) and about twenty-two miles from St. Helena Island, on Monday night, the 18th. She was going full speed and ran out three feet, and lay over on her side. Mr. O. Newton being on board, and his vessel being in Epoufette harbor, two or three miles distant, the whistle called her to their assistance. The wind being fair, Mr. Newton started her for Point St. Ignace to send a dispatch to the Leviathan. The crew of six men and one passenger, Mr. O. Newton, remained on board the Bennett to keep steam and not let her fill if it could be avoided. As there was no other place for the men to keep warm, five of them - all the crew except the engineer - went into the room over the boiler and closed the doors. At 5 o'clock in the morning, the lock up safety valve opened suddenly, and filled the room with steam, and they were all smothered and died, except one, before the engineer and Mr. Newton, who were in the engine room, could get them out, or even get the doors open. The mate, Frank Martine, who was taken out alive, died a few hours after. Captain Paul Pelkey was well known on all the lakes, and for many years had been considered one of our best pilots and navigators. His home is in Cleveland. Mr. Martine , the mate, was thirty-five years of age. Mulchrone was the youngest son of Charles Mulchrone, and was twenty-two years of age. Vetal Burrison was a son of George Burrison, who was burned to death on the propeller Grace Dormer, a few years ago, at Beaver Island. All these were residents of Mackinac. John Newton was nineteen years of age and son of Mr. O. Newton, one of the firm of Newton Bros. & Co., St. Helena. All of the bodies were taken to Mackinac, except that of young Newton, who was taken to St. Helena.

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The tug J. W. BENNETT was brand-new at the time and was soon recovered. She went on to a long career, finally ending up as a wreck in 1922 or 3. If I am not mistaken, the shoal off Epoufette where the BENNETT struck is now known as "Pelkey's Reef." The elder Burrison was the only fatality in the fire which damaged the GRACE DORMER, then in use as a Beaver Island ferry, July 3, 1872.
Date of Original:
25 Nov., 1876
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Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Tribune (Detroit, MI), 25 Nov., 1876