The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Francis P. Ritchie, U92001, aground, 30 Aug 1931

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Gas screw FRANCES P. RICHIE. U. S. No. 92001. Of 86 tons gross. Built 1888. Vessel foundered August 29, 1931 at Southampton, Ont., with 5 persons on board. No lives were lost.
      Loss Reported of American Vessels
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1932
      FRANCIS P. RITCHIE, Gas screw vessel of 86 gross tons, 56 net tons. Official U.S. Number, 92001. Length 86.7 feet, beam 20.2 feet, depth 10.7 feet Built 1888 at Boston, Mass. - formerly gas screw [a] MARGUERITE, [b] NANCY. Used for freight. Crew of 1. Horse power 90. Owner, Ralph Pellar, of Oak Park Illinois. Home port, Chicago.
      Merchant Vessels List U. S., 1931

      Was Bound For Miami And Seeking Shelter From Angry Waves When The Craft Grounded On Chantry Island Reef. All Five Men On Board Saved. Southampton Sextette Make Daring Rescue Of Three:-
      The FRANCIS T. RITCHIE, a staunch 110 foot motor boat owned by Messrs. Ralph and Matthew Pellar of Chicago, came to grief on Saturday noon last on Chantry Island reef, about a mile and a half from the Southampton breakwater, and now lies at the bottom of the lake in about 25 feet of water. The boat was bound from Chicago to Miami, Florida, and besides the two owners, there were on board three friends, Wallace Jones, William Jones, and Ray VanDyke, all of Chicago, who were taking the trip to Florida. After being buffeted around Lake Michigan and Lake Huron for two days, the waters being intensely rough, especially on Saturday, they decided to try and make port on the Canadian side and were endeavoring to get into the harbor at Southampton when a hugh wave struck the craft astern and tore off its rudder. The boat was then tossed helplessly about until it crashed on the reef.
      The five men on board donned lifebelts and the little lifeboat was launched and William Jones and VanDyke , neither of whom could swim, were put in it and succeeded in reaching shore. The other three were rescued by John P. McLeod and five other Southampton fishermen, including his brother Donald, and his cousin, Daniel McLeod, who braved the high seas in a motor boat and succeeded in saving the three men who fastened a line to their lifebelts and were pulled into the rescuing craft just a few minutes before the stranded boat split in two and sank. Two trunks were also got off the doomed boat and pulled to shore.
      The Peller Bros., we understand, were going to Miami to enter into the gas and oil business. They purchased five new trucks, two of which were sent overland to Florida and the other three were taken apart and loaded aboard the FRANCIS T. RITCHIE. They also had two large tanks containing nearly 4,000 gallons of gasoline, and nearly all their personal belongings. The Pellars estimate their loss at about $40,000, the boat at $25,000 and the contents at $15,000. There was no insurance on the boat or cargo.
      The Messrs. Jones and VanDyke left Southampton on Monday for their homes in Chicago, while the Pellar Bros. will remain in Southampton for a time to consider the matter of salvaging the boat and its contents.
      The lake on Saturday was the roughest that it has been this year.
      Port Elgin Times
      Tuesday, September 2, 1931

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The FRANCIS P. RITCHIE, 110 ft. twin screw, gasoline powered motor freighter bound from Chicago to Miami, struck the Chantry Island reef south of the Island on Saturday, shortly after noon, during a heavy storm and now lies at the bottom of Lake Huron in 25 feet of water. The craft had been nuffeted by the heavy seas for two days following the loss of the rudder and drifted helplessly on the reef before assistance could be sent. The two owners, Ralph and Matthew Pellar of Chicago, with a crew of three men, were on their way to Florida with a cargo of three trucks, 4,000 gallons of gasoline and a quantity of erchandise when disaster overtook them.
      The men were saved from drowning after a courageous rescue effort on the part of Southampton men who set out in the heavy seas in the gas boat owned by McLeod Bros. The party composed of John D. McLeod, Dan J. McLeod, D.A. McLeod, "Hec" Matheson, W.D. Howk and Louis Morton, fought their way to the wrecked craft and succeeded in making a lile fast to the bow of the boat. When they reached the stranded vessel, the water was washing over the boat and pounding it to pieces. Two of the crew who had previously set out for shore in the only life boat, were making good progress towards the river and the rescue efforts were turned to the men on the ship. Two trunks and three valises were transferred into the rescue boat and the three remaining occupants jumped into the water and were hauled aboard by the rescuers. The party reached the river harbor without further mishap. The local life-boat crew under Captain Angus McRitchie and the tug DOUGLAS M., both stood by the wrecked craft to lend assistance, but their services were not required.
      The loss sustained by the Pellar Bros, will amount to approximately $40,000 which is not covered by insurance. Owing to the large amount of gasoline carried the insurance rates were so high, that the owners carried their own risk. Whether or not any attempt will be made to salvage the vessel is not known, the owners having gone to Chicago without stating their intention. During Saturday night and Sunday considerable wreckage came ashore from the boat and was picked up. Mr. John D. McLeod has been appointed by the Pellar Bros, to look after their interests here until such time as they make a decision as to what shall be done with the wreck.
      Since the foregoing we have learned that the owners intend to return next summer to commence salvaging operations with the hope that all the machinery and possibly the boat, will be recovered.
      The Beacon [ Southampton ?]
      Wednesday, September 3, 1931

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Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Hull damage: $25,000
Cargo: $15,000
Freight: gasoline, &c.
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.49 Longitude: -81.403055
William R. McNeil
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Francis P. Ritchie, U92001, aground, 30 Aug 1931