The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
R. J. Gibbs (Schooner), U21195, sunk, 24 May 1893

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Schooner R.J. GIBBS foundered at anchor in Lake Erie May 23, 1893. No lives were lost. Esatimated value of vessel and cargo $2,800.
      U. S. Weather Bureau's Report on Wrecks
      Occurring on the Great Lakes 1885 to 1893

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Toledo, May 24. -- The schooner J. R. GIBBS foundered at anchor off Bar Point, Lake Erie, yesterday morning. The crew were rescued by the steamer IRON CHIEF and brought here today. The GIBBS had a cargo of coal for Algomac. She was struck by a furious squall in yesterday's storm, which carried away her fore rigging and foremast, and she began to fill. The IRON CHIEF seeing her condition, went to the rescue of the crew. It was none too soon for the schooner went down immediately afterwards. The saved were Captain Berry and wife, two sailors, and a woman, named Berry. The GIBBS was 38 years old and is doubtless a total loss. The wreck lies in 30 feet of water.
      The barge GIBBS was built at Vermilion in 1855 and owned by Kennedy of East Saginaw. She was of 168 tons register and was given a rating of B 1-1/2 with a valuation of $2,000, in Inland Lloyds of 1892.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      Wednesday, May 24, 1893
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      The R.J. GIBBS, bound for Algonac with coal, foundered in Lake Erie Tuesday night. The crew were saved.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Thursday, may 25, 1893

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      The Steamers NORTHERN LIGHT and IRON KING Did Not Help The Sinking GIBBS.
      The Northern Transportation Company's steamer NORTHERN LIGHT arrived here and tied up at the Lehigh Dock at the Tifft Farm today.
      The deck hands tell the News a startling story regarding their treatment on the trip up to Superior City and back to Buffalo.
      They were represented by John Sullivan an intelligent and straightforward man, who called at the News office and told his story just as it is given below
      On May 22, Sullivan said, the LIGHT left Buffalo up-bound for Superior City. From the first the men had trouble about the food, and all their complaints were laughed at.
      The Steward on the LIGHT is named Evans, and Sullivan complained bitterly on behalf of his fellow sailors of the treatment they received at Evans' hands.
      "We were fed on the leavings of the dining room," said Sullivan. "You could see the bites on the cuts of bread which we got, and it was mouldy half the time. We could not eat it always and when we asked for a change, we were called names. We had corn beef all the time except at two meals, when we had what the call boiled beef, and that was tainted. We returned it to the steward, and the next day we got it back in a pie - a meat pie.
      "And the butter, Good Lord, Reporter, don't forget that ! You could put it on a pony and it would pull him, it was so strong.
      "It was so bad we couldn't eat it. I never touched it at all. When we complained we were told it was 'deck hands butter' and that it was bought on Main street in the city of Buffalo. I would like to know where that store is. We had potatoes too, but they were all right. They were good boiled potatoes.
      "We were on short rations, too, most of the time. Why, there were six deck hands and one little can of corn was made to go around among the six of us. We complained about this, and the steward told us we got more than we got at home.
      "Were the other men on the boat treated the same way ?"
      "Indeed, they were not. Only the deck hands. The firemen got pie and custard. They got the custard and we got the leavings.
      "And oh, reporter, don't forget the stuff they called coffee ! It was awful and vomited two of us. The night afore last I offered the first mate, Mike Holland my wages if he would tell me what it was. I couldn't tell whether it was coffee or tea or troubled water. The mate told me it was a rotten piece of business .
      "The night lunch put out for the coal passers at midnight was terrible. I couldn't tell you about it at all."
      When Sullivan finished telling about the food on the LIGHT, he said:
      "There's something I want to tell you about. It ought not to be excused. The schooner GIBBS was lost off Bar Point a week ago yesterday and we passed her when she was going down and, although the [NORTHERN] LIGHT was running light, nothing was done to give the GIBBS help. We were about a quarter of a mile away from her at the time. We all saw her plain and we saw four men on the trusses the crosspiece on the mast. She was flying a flag of distress and we all saw it. The captain of the LIGHT was on the pilot house at the time, but he did not pay any attention to the GIBBS. I saw three men on the cross.
      "While we were looking at the GIBBS the steward yelled 'There she goes,' and we all saw her go down bow first. Just before that saw a man or a woman jump from the truss. When she went down there was three men standing on the trusses.
      "We passed her between 11:45 and 12:15 on Wednesday of last week. When I got to Chicago I saw in the Inter-Ocean that the IRON KING had picked up the crew. This is not so. The KING was 50 yards further away from the GIBBS than we were and she was bound down to Buffalo. She kept right on and never stopped and when the GIBBS went down she was further away from her than we were.
      "The LIGHT and the KING saw the schooner in distress, and never paid any attention to her but ran right on."
      Sullivan has left the LIGHT and will go into service on the NYACK next Monday.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Thursday, June 1, 1893 p.1, c.2

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      The wreck of the schooner R.J. GIBBS lies 1-1/2 miles S.E. by S. from Bar Point Lightship, Lake Erie, and almost directly in the track of vessels between Detroit River and Point Pelee. The wreck is under water with the exception of one mast which now marks the vessel. The channel to the north of the wreck is about 3-1/2 miles wide.
      Marine Review
      July 20, 1893

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      The wreck of the schooner R.J. GIBBS is to be removed by the Canadian Government.
      Marine Record
      September 11, 1894

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Colchester, April 25. -- A steamer with three masts, and towing two consorts is fast on an obstruction two miles west of here. The obstruction is supposed to be the wreck of the schooner GIBBS, sunk near Bar Point three years ago, and brought down last winter by the ice.
      It is the SANTA MARIA that is in trouble at Colchester. The SANTA MARIA, with the TEUTONIA and GAWN in tow, were all bound up with coal, The TEUTONIA was the only boat which struck, and she does not seem to be much injured.
      Toronto Mail & Empire
      April 27, 1896

Schooner R.J. GIBBS. U.S. No. 21195. oF 176.61 tons gross; 167.78 tons net. Built at Vermillion, Ohio, in 1855.
Home port, Detroit, Mich. 121.7 x 23,9 x 7.9
      Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1891

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Hull damage: 2,800
Cargo: inc.
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.055277 Longitude: -83.116388
William R. McNeil
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R. J. Gibbs (Schooner), U21195, sunk, 24 May 1893