The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Pearl (Steamboat), U150032, overboard, 12 Aug 1893

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N O O N E C A R E D.
      C R O W D S S A W H I M F A L L I N.
      A deck hand on the Crystal Beach steamer PEARL fell overboard yesterday into Lake Erie yesterday afternoon.
      Although a good swimmer he was drowned on account of the indifference of the passengers and the delay in getting out the life boat.
      Surely no man ever had less reason to expect to perish from such an accident than poor Fred Roberts.
      The PEARL was crowded with passengers. She had recently returned from Chicago and been put in service on the Crystal Beach line. She left the foot of Main street at 2:30 yesterday afternoon with her full complement of passengers on board. All the seats were taken and many passengers were standing up. The lake was smooth and the voyage uneventful until the boat neared the Beach. The deck hands then went around and commenced to let down the fenders, preparatory to making a landing.
      Fred Roberts, a man about 26 years of age, was doing this work on the port side, forward. He made his way among the crowd of passengers on the upper deck and got up on the rail, steadying and supporting himself by holding a small rope belonging to the awning over the deck. The passengers were engaged in conversation, reading newspapers and eating peanuts. Some of them watched the deck hand with a lazy kind of interest, knowing his position was perilous.
      Suddenly the rope he was holding gave way. He struggled ineffectually for moment to regain his balance, then dropped backwards into the water. At the same time a woman's hat blew off.
      "Man overboard," the people on the upper deck all said to each other.
      "O, my hat's gone," cried the woman who had lost her chapeau.
Then the people turned to each other and wanted to know if they saw the man fall in. Some of them peered over the side of the boat and tried to catch a glimpse of him. But nobody gave the alarm.
      It was a mere passing incident with them and as soon as they saw the man safely overboard they returned to their peanuts and newspapers.
      The man began to swim at once and quickly cleared the paddle wheels. As the boat passed on, the black struggling object in the water attracted the attention of many pHe commenced to back the PEARL, and ordered the men to get out a life boat. They tried to lower one on the starboard side, but the rope was kinked, and the hands were green. It took from 15 to 20 minutes to get the small boat off its davits into the water. While the boat was backing all the passengers rushed to one side in an endeavor to get a glimpse of the drowning man, and the officers of the PEARL had to drive them back to preverve the equilibrium of the vessel.
      At length the life boat was unswung. Manned by the Mate, the second cook, the peanut man and the watchman it put off for the spot where Roberts was supposed to be. Then the PEARL continued on and made the landing at the Beach. The crew of the small boat rode around fruitlessly some time, and were finally picked up by the steam yacht LIZZIE DITZEL.
      Little is known about Roberts. The Captain of the boat could not tell where he lived, or where his friends reside.
      The woman's hat was rescued.
      Buffalo [Sunday Morning] News
      Sunday, August 13, 1893 p.2, c.4

      . . . . .

      The young man who was drowned by falling from the deck of the steamer PEARL last Saturday, was not Fred Roberts, as has been said, but J.H. Jones of Richford. This is the statement of one of his associates on the boat who called the "News Office" yesterday. It was stated that his parents were living and very well to-do and highly respectable people. [part]
      Buffalo Evening News
      Wednesday, August 16, 1893 p.1, c.4

      . . . . .

Steam paddle PEARL. U.S. No. 150032. Of 551.66 tons gross; 405.12 tons net. Built at Detroit, Mich., in 1875. Home port, Buffalo, N.Y. 177.0 x 28.8 x 10.0 and 400 Nominal horse power.
      Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1891

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Reason: overboard
Lives: 1
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.86382 Longitude: -79.05865
William R. McNeil
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Pearl (Steamboat), U150032, overboard, 12 Aug 1893