The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
John F. Porter (Schooner), sunk by collision, 10 Jun 1847


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SINKING OF THE
      Steamboat CHESAPEAKE, and Schooner J.F. PORTER.
      SEVERAL LIVES LOST.
      [from the Express, of this morning]
      About one o'clock yesterday morning, an unfortunate collision occurred between the Steamer CHESAPEAKE and Schooner J.F. PORTER, off Conneaut - the steamer bound up with passengers and merchandize; schooner bound down with a full cargo of wheat and corn. The latter sunk in eight fathoms water, the crew were saved by getting on board the CHESAPEAKE, which made for Conneaut Harbor. She unfortunately sunk, however, about two miles out. The passengers and crew were picked up by the steamer HARRISON about four hours after the disaster. The number of lives lost is not ascertained. Report says three of the crew are missing. Mr. D. Folsom, of Cleveland, is probably lost. After the HARRISON left, the CLEVELAND came down, visited the wreck, and would have rendered all the assistance she could had any persons been discovered floating upon planks or doors, but none were found.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Friday, June 11, 1847

      . . . . .

      ( From the Cleveland Herald, Extra, June 10. )
      Further Particulars of the Collision Between the
      Steamboat CHESAPEAKE and Schooner J.F. PORTER.
The steamer CHESAPEAKE and schooner J.F. PORTER came in collision about half past 12 o'clock Thursday morning, when some four or five miles off Conneaut. The moment they struck the officers and hands on the PORTER jumped on board the CHESAPEAKE. The boat and vessel soon seperated, the boat backing off. The PORTER was not supposed to be seriously injured, and the boat of the CHESAPEAKE was lowered to put the crew on board the schooner, when the vessel went down.
About this time it was found that the CHESAPEAKE was fast filling, and unsuccessful efforts were made to stop the leak. The boat was headed to the shore and all steam crowded. The pumps were set a going, and effort was made to keep down the water by bailing. Capt. Warner had the jib lowered over the bow, which was drawn into the opening, and partially aided in staying the rush of waters. Notwithstanding every effort, the water gained so rapidly that the fires were soon extinguished, and when about a mile and a half from shore the boat lost her headway. The wind was blowing quite fresh from the south-west, considerable sea was running, and the anchor was let go to prevent drifting into the lake.
      The CHESAPEAKE's boat was immediately manned and filled with as many passengers as it could carry, four of then ladies, and started for Conneaut for assistance. The wind was so heavy that the boat drifted some two miles below the pier. Mr. Shepard, Clerk of the CHESAPEAKE, ran up the beach, and reached the pier just as the steamer HARRISON was entering the port. Capt. Parker promptly went to the rescue of the sufferers with the HARRISON, took off the survivors on the wreck, and picked up all that could be found afloat in the lake on hatches, planks, cabin doors, &c. A small boat from the shore rescued some who were nearly exhausted from long buffetings of the waves, upborne on these forlone hopes of drowning men.
      After the CHESAPEAKE was brought to anchor she continued to sink gradually notwithstanding every possible effort by pumping and bailing to keep her afloat and at half past 3 o'clock, the hull went down, bow foremost, in 40 feet water. The upper cabin parted from the hull, and the upper deck remained out of water. On this such of the persons on board as had not previously left the boat were gathered and saved. None were lost who followed the advice of Capt. W., and continued with the wreck. But as the boat sank deep in the water, and it became certain that she must go down, a number prepared floats and took their chance for escape on them. Of these, eight are known to have been drowned, and it is
feared that others met with a like melancholy fate.
The passengers numbered between forty and fifty, an unusual proportion ladies, and several children. No ladies or children were lost. The presence of mind, energy and fortitude of the ladies throughout the trying scene, is described as remarkable. Perilous as was their situation, they heeded the advice of the officers, at their request urged their protectors to go below and assist in keeping the vessel afloat, and made no outcry until it was apparent that the HARRISON in passing, had not discovered the wreck - when one of them asked permission of the Captain to also hail, their best hopes of rescue, with the remark that woman's shrill voice could be heard further than man's. Woman's cry of agony, too, was lost in the voice of the louder sounding sea. The lady of Capt. Warner was on board, and before the boat went down she was taken to the mast head, and remained there until the HARRISON came to the rescue.
      As the books of the boat were lost, it is impossible to obtain a full list of the passengers at present. The following persons are known to have been lost: -
      PASSENGERS. - Mr. George Van Doren, of Lower Sandusky, Ohio; Mr. Hock, of Watertown N. Y.; E. Cohn, of Belville, Ohio; S. York, of Tiffin, Ohio.
CREW.- R. Sutherland, 1st. engineer; O. Wait, porter; R. McMann, deck hand
      It is greatly feared that Mr. D.A. Folsom, of Rochester, N. Y., formerly of this city, is also among the lost. When the small boat was leaving the wreck, he urged his wife to enter it with their child. She was unwilling to do so without he accompanied her. With true and noble disinterestedness he refused to embrace the opportunity to save himself so long as ladies and children were left on board the sinking craft, but knowing the mothers yearning heart towards her tender offspring, he placed the child in the boat. The mother clung to it, and he bade her farewell from the gangway. Soon after Mr. Folsom, in company with young man, a hand on board, entrusted himself to the waves on a hatchway and plank fastened together. His companion was rescued after daylight, so nearly exhausted, that life was restored with difficulty. He stated that after floating for some time Mr. Folsom said he thought they could sooner reach shore if their floats were seperated, and when last seen Mr. F. and his hatchway were in advance of the plank and its lone voyager. It is hoped that either reached land, or was picked up by a passing vessel.
      Mr. Van Doren was a Merchant at Lower Sandusky, and leaves a family to mourn their unexpected bereavement. He committed himself to a raft with four others, withstood the buffetings of the waves for some time, but at last sank to sleep in their cold embrace.
      The officers of the CHESAPEAKE did everyting men could do to inspire confidence and exertion, and to save life in the terrible exigency. Mr. Andrew Lytle, Steward of the boat, was particulary active in preparing floats for the use of any who chose them, and barely escaped. When the boat sunk he struck ou on a state room door, but soon after saw the safer place was on that portion of the wreck still above water. The wind and waves drifted him so rapidly that he could not return, and lying flat on his buoy he continued to struggle and float the waves frequently dashing over him, until picked up after daylight nearly
exhausted.
      Passengers lost their baggage, not a single trunk being saved. The mail to Sandusky City also lost. About 30 tons of freight, mostly dry goods and groceries for Sandusky City on board. The Clerks books, and about $8,000 in his charge, sank with the boat. The CHESAPEAKE belongs to Messrs. D.N. Barney & Co. The PORTER was loaded by Messrs. A. Seymour & Co., with 4,000 bushels of corn 7 barrels of pork. It is a singular circumstance that three vessels should be run down the same night in the same vicinity, the ROUGH & READY, the CHESAPEAKE, and the PORTER. The night was gusty, clear above, but misty on the water, and seamen say approaching lights appeared much further distant than they really were.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Monday, June 14, 1847

      . . . . .

      U. S. Steamer " MICHIGAN."
      Erie, Penn., June 11, 1847
      The following bearings were this day taken from this ship, of the wreck of the schooner " JOHN PORTER," and also the steamer " CHESAPEAKE," off Conneaut.
      Conneaut Light bore from the " JOHN PORTER," S. by W.; distant about 7 miles,, sounded in 7 fathoms water, at 50 yard distant from the wreck.
      The Light bore from the " CHESAPEAKE," S. 3-4 W.; distant about 2 miles, the vessel lying in 7 fathoms water.
      Stephen Champlin
      Commander U. S. N.

      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Monday, June 14, 1847

      . . . . .


      Schooner J.F. PORTER, with wheat and corn sunk by collision with steamer CHESAPEAKE. Schooner sank in eight fathoms of water off Conneaut, the steamer CHESAPEAKE also sunk about two miles out from Conneaut Harbor, where she was trying to make after the collision.
      Quebec Mercury
      June 22, 1847
      . . . . .

      "The spars of the two vessels (CHESAPEAKE & J.F. PORTER) only are to be seen from land. The upper works of the CHESAPEAKE have seperated from the hull, and were seen drifting below Erie."
      Cleveland Herald
      Wednesday, June 23, 1847

      . . . . .

      Marine Intelligence- Loss of the CHESAPEAKE - The Cleveland Herald of the 27th inst says the the trial of Chs. H. Wilson, H. R. Warner, and R. Demens in the U. S. Circuit Court, at Columbus, on an indictment which charges negligence on the part of the defendants, as officers of the steamer CHESAPEAKE, in consequence of which a collison took place between the steamer and the schooner GEN. PORTER, on L. Erie, on the night of the 8th of June, 1847, resulting in the loss of both the steamer and the schooner, and the destruction of several lives, was commenced on the 22d. Counsel on the part of the United States, Thomas W. Bartley, Esq. District attorney for the defence Messrs. Swayne and Beecher. The indictment charges the defendants 1st. with negligence in not preventing the collision, 2d with neglect of duty after the collision, resulting in the loss of life. The witnesses examined the first day were Joseph Kemball, B.D. White; F.B. Hubbark; A.M. Stem. Mrs. Bradbury and Andrew Lytle.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Thursday, November 30, 1848

      . . . . .

      Loss of the CHESAPEAKE: The trial of Cyrenus H. Wilson, Henry R. Warner and Ravnes Dimond, took place in the United States Circuit Court at Columbus, Ohio, last week. The indictment charges negligence on the part of the defendants, as officers of the steamer CHESAPEAKE, in consequence of which a collision took place between said steamer and the schooner GEN. PORTER, on Lake Erie. on the night of the 8th of June, 1847, resulting in the loss of both the steamer and the schooner, and the destruction of several lives. The indictment charges the defendants, Ist with negligence in not preventing the collision: 2nd, with neglect of duty after the collision, resulting in the loss of life. The trial lasted several days, and the evidence elicited was rather conflicting as to whether the collision was the fault of those on board the steamer or not. The captain of the schooner swore that his vessel had lights both fore and aft, while one of the passengers on the steamer testified that he did not see the light, while standing by the officer of the watch, until too late to prevent the collision. It was also in evidence that the course of the schooner was altered a point after those on board saw the steamer's light. As for the loss of life, it appeared that none of the passengers who followed the captain's advice to stay on board the boat were drowned.
      The Judge charged strongly in favor of the accused, and on Wednesay evening, after a confinement of twenty-four hours, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, as to all the defendants.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Thursday Evening, December 7, 1848

      . . . . .

Schooner J.F. PORTER, of 124 tons.
      List of American Lake Vessels, 1847
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      April 19, 1848

      . . . . .

      Schooner J.F. PORTER, ( dead ) 124.49 tons. Enrolled and licensed in the District of Cuyahoga, 1849
      Tonnage of The Lakes
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      Friday, March 30, 1849

      . . . . .

NOTE:-- see also JOHN PORTER.


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: ?
Freight: pork, corn
Remarks: Raised ?
Date of Original:
1847
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.17837
Language of Item:
English
  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.94756 Longitude: -80.55424
Donor:
William R. McNeil
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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John F. Porter (Schooner), sunk by collision, 10 Jun 1847