The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Chesapeake (Steamboat), sunk by collision, 10 Jun 1847


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Steamer CHESAPEAKE, and the schooner J.B. PORTER came in collision near Conneaut, both sunk. Loss over $20,000 and 8 lives lost. June 1847.
      Buffalo Courier [1847 casualty list]
      March 17, 1848

      . . . . .

      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

      . . . . .

      The CHESAPEAKE, we are informed was owned by the Sandusky & Mansfield Railroad Company. She was sold last winter for $15,000. Her engine, the principal thing of value about her, it is thought will be raised and also the safe, which contains the money.
      Detroit Free Press
      Monday, June 14, 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 separated, 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 buffeting of the waves, upborne on these forlorn 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 separated, 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 buffeting of the waves for some time, but at last sank to sleep in their cold embrace.
      The officers of the CHESAPEAKE did everything men could do to inspire confidence and exertion, and to save life in the terrible exigency. Mr. Andrew Lytle, Steward of the boat, was particularly active in preparing floats for the use of any who chose them, and barely escaped. When the boat sunk he struck out 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

      . . . . .

      The passengers of the CHESAPEAKE have published the following card in relation to the praiseworthy conduct of Capt. Parker, of the steamboat GENERAL HARRISON:
      The undersigned, passengers of the Steamer CHESAPEAKE, wrecked during the night of the 9th. inst., near the port of Conneaut, take great satisfaction in bearing testimony to the humane and gallant conduct of Capt. L.B. Parker, of the Steamer GENERAL HARRISON, in rescuing them from a watery grave.
      But for his voluntary, willing and hearty assistance, scarcely a soul would have been left to tell the story of peril and disaster.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      Monday, June 14, 1847

      . . . . .

      The Sandusky Mirror says:
We have learned as yet of only the following goods that were on board the CHESAPEAKE when she sunk.
      Shipped by Kimberly, Pease & Co., to the care of H. Higgins & Co.
      Hugh McFall, Mansfield, 6 packages, 817 lbs.
      Rumsey & Robins, Lower Sandusky 8 do 1542
      E. Smith, Fall Rock, 27 do 5281
      H.J. Hayesvill, 12 do. 2165
      J. Musgrove, Newville, 1 do. 95
      The shippers of these goods at Buffalo say:
      "The above goods, we should think, would not exceed the value of $3,500 judging from the packages."
      We learn also that there was on board 10 cases of boots and shoes, valued at $300 and $400 for Mr. Freeman C. Chapman of this place.

      The following property was picked up by the BUFFALO off Dunkirk, supposed to have floated from the wreck of the CHESAPEAKE:
      1 box, marked Herman G. Coats, Lower Sandusky.
      1 box, content marked D.A. Folson
      2 boxes, marked Walter Sheffer
      The property is in possession of C.A. Waldron, Deputy U.S. Marshal, awaiting the requisition of the owners.

      The Buffalo Commercial states that a dry good box directed to a firm in Ohio was picked up a few miles below Erie, and is now in possession of D.N. Barney & Co., Buffalo. The box contains goods, and supposed to have been lost from the CHESAPEAKE.
      Conneaut Reporter
      June 16, 1847

      . . . . .

We are indebted to the politeness of Capt. Champlin commander of the U.S. Stm. MICHIGAN, for the following account of the bearings of the schr. JOHN PORTER and of the stm. CHESAPEAKE, sunk off Conneaut on Wednesday night of last week, from coming in collision.
The MICHIGAN with commendable diligence collected all the furniture, trunks, baggage and freight from the wrecked vessels that could be found, and brought them into port. She also picked up some 130 barrels flour, which is supposed to have floated from the schr. ROUGH AND READY, and which was run into by the stm. CONSTELLATION, on the same night and near the same place where the CHESAPEAKE and PORTER came in collision.
      U.S. Stm. MICHIGAN
      Erie, Pa. June 11, 1847
The following bearings were this day taken from this ship, of the wreck of the schr. JOHN PORTER, and also of the stm. CHESAPEAKE, off Conneaut.
Conneaut Light bore from the JOHN PORTER, S. by W distant about 7 miles, sounded in 7 fathoms of water, at 50 yards distant from the wreck.
      The Light House bore from the CHESAPEAKE, S. 3/4 W. distant 2 miles, the vessel lying in 7 fathoms water.
      Respectfully yours, &c.
      Stephen Champlin,
      Commander U.S.N.
      Erie Gazette
      June 17, 1847

      . . . . .

Position of the wrecks - Commander Champlin of the U.S. Steamer MICHIGAN has furnished the Buffalo Courier with the following bearings, taken June 11th.
      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 yards 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."
      The spars of the two vessels only are now to be seen from land. The upper works of the CHESAPEAKE have separated from the hull, and were seen drifting below Erie.
      Cleveland Herald
      Wednesday, June 23, 1847

      . . . . .

Schr. 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 STEAM BOAT CHESAPEAKE. -- An indictment has been found and presented in the U. S. Court against H.B. Warner, the captain; C.H. Weighsone and -- Demond - 1st and 2nd mates, and - Shepherd, Clerk - charging that being employed as officers of the steam boat CHESAPEAKE, a vessel propelled wholly by steam, did unlawfully commit misconduct, negligence, and and inattention in the discharge of their respective duties on said steam boat, by means whereof the steam boat was sunk in the waters of Lake Erie, and the lives of Eli Cone; Wm. N. Yerk; George Van Doren, and Daniel A. Folsom, who were on board the boat were destroyed; wherefore the Jury charge the defendants with manslaughter. An indictment has also been presented against D.N. Barney; -- Waring and H.R. Warner, the owners and master of the boat for not providing the boat with yawls.
      The following is supposed to be the law upon which the above indictment is predicated. - Ohio Press.
      "That every captain, engineer, pilot, or other person employed on board of any steamboat or vessel propelled in whole ar in part by steam -- by whose misconduct, negligence, or inattention to his or their respective duties, the life or lives of any person or persons on board said vessel may be destroyed, shall be deemed guilty of manslaughter, and upon conviction thereof before any circuit court of the United States, shall be sentenced to confinement at hard labor for a period not more than ten years."
      " That it shall be the duty of the owner and master of every steam vessel engaged in the transportation of freight or passengers at sea or on Lakes Champlain, Ontario, Erie, Huron, Superior, and Michigan, the tonnage of which vessels shall not exceed 200 tons, to provide and to carry with the boat or vessel upon each and every voyage two long boats or yawls, each of which shall be competent to carry twenty persons," and for vessels over 200 tons, at least three such or larger yawls, " and for every failure in these particulars, the master and owner shall forfeit and pay three hundred dollars."
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      August 12, 1847

      . . . . .

      Marine Intelligence- Loss of the CHESAPEAKE - The Cleveland Herald of the 27th inst. says the trial of Chs. H. Wilson, H. R. Warner, and R. Demond 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 collision 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, 1st. 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 Wednesday 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

      . . . . .

THE WRECKS OF THE STEAMER "CHESAPEAKE" AND SCHOONER CONVOY"
      The Conneaut Reporter of the 11th. says: - On Friday the schooner EDWARD, Capt. Pike, arrived at this port from Cleveland, for the purpose of exploring the wreck of the steamer CHESAPEAKE, which came in collision with the schooner PORTER, in June 1848, and also that of the schooner CONVOY, which was sunk about 13 miles out from our harbor, last fall, and on which all hands perished. They visited the wreck of the CONVOY and attached buoys to her, and then returned to the CHESAPEAKE, which lies a little below the piers, and out about a mile and three fourths, in seven fathoms of water. On Sunday, the diver, Mr. Campbell, descended to the wreck, and finding the anchor, he arose and returned with a cable and made fast to it, which was secured. The cable, in connection with a quantity of copper, &c., will be fished out during the week, when they will commence upon the CONVOY.
      The Democracy, Buffalo
      Saturday, July 14, 1855

      . . . . .

GREEN, THE SUBMARINE DIVER. - The Detroit Tribune, states that Mr. Green, the famous submarine explorer, of the firm of Green & Kendrick, will hereafter make Detroit his headquarters, Mr. Kendrick remaining in Boston. Mr. Green will, during the season, make descents to a number of steamboat wrecks, with a view of recovering machinery and other property. Among them are the following: The NORTHERN INDIANA, sunk at Point Pelee in 1854; the WISCONSIN, sunk at West Sister Island, near Sandusky, in 1853; the CHESAPEAKE, sunk near Conneaut about the year 1847; the NORTHERNER, sunk some years since near the foot of Lake Huron, the propeller CHARTER, sunk off Fairport in 1855; and the propeller CITY OF OSWEGO, sunk 16 miles below Cleveland in 1855. The OSWEGO had a cargo of merchandise worth some $15,000, part of which, it is thought, may yet be available. The CHESAPEAKE also had some freight. The other boats named contained but little of value aside from their machinery.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      April 30, 1858

      . . . . .

      THE OLD CHESAPEAKE. -- A Conneaut correspondent of the Ashtabula Telegraph says:
Twenty-nine years ago last June the steamer CHESAPEAKE, when off this harbor and five miles out, collided with the schooner J. F. PORTER; the schooner sank immediately, the crew having barely time to get on the steamer. An examination of the steamer showed a hole stove in her side, and the water making rapidly. She was at once headed for shore and when about a mile out went down in forty-four feet of water. The passengers and crew, numbering about 100, and some eight or ten lives were lost -- the rest either escaping in boats or clinging to the masts until taken up by the steamer HARRISON, a few hours after the collision, and brought to this port. The boat was an old one, and owned by the Sandusky & Mad River Railroad Company. A few days after the disaster the wreck was visited, and the safe and other trifling articles recovered.
Eight years afterward the wreck was again visited, and the anchor and chains secured. A few days ago a company of wreckers from Buffalo, with all the recent improvements and inventions for going down into the deep water, came to this place and are now engaged in fishing up the material and contents of the wreck. The upper works of the steamer are all gone, and the hull and engine remain imbedded in a few feet of sand or clay. The divers, in still water, are enabled to go around and over the wreck, and have brought up a good many articles, among them the bell, weighing some 200 or 300 pounds, some sheets of copper and several bushels of crockery ware, the latter found in the flues of the boiler, and none the less valuable and noticeable if only for the style and fashion of the ware then in use. Preparations are making for blowing the hull to pieces, when the engine and boiler, and perhaps some heavy freight will be secured.
      Cleveland Herald
      Wednesday, September 27, 1876


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: 8
Freight: merchandise
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1847
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.17838
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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Chesapeake (Steamboat), sunk by collision, 10 Jun 1847