The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Francis Berriman (Schooner), U120067, sunk by collision, 7 May 1877

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Erie, May 8 - The schooner FRANCIS BERRIMAN, which collided with the steam barge RUST last night off East Tawas, and immediately went down, drowning two men, was owned here. She was valued at $30,000, and insured for $20,000, including the cargo of wheat which she carried. The loss will be $100,000.
      Detroit, May 8. - A dispatch from East Tawas, reports the collision of the steam barge D. M. RUST and barque F. BERRIMAN, twenty miles southeast of Thunder Bay last night. The barque, wheat laden, sank in fifteen minutes. Andrew Halcrow and Charles Myers, of Milwaukee, were lost, but the rest of the crew were saved. The RUST, though badly shattered, succeeded in getting into East Tawas, where she now lies waiting for help.
      Cleveland Herald
      May 9, 1877

      . . . . .

The steamship RUST and the schooner FRANCIS BERRIMAN collided about twenty miles southeast of Thunder Bay on Monday night. The BERRIMAN sunk immediately, and A. Harlow and Charles Myers of her crew were drowned. Captain Norris, his mates, and the remainder of the crew were saved, one of them with a bruised limb. It is supposed that those saved were taken on board the RUST. The RUST was injured in the collision, however, and as we hear now that she is ashore at Tawas it is very likely that captain Pringle beached her in order to avert sinking in deep water, and to save the lives of all on board.
The BERRIMAN has 40,625 bushels rejected wheat on board, shipped by C.J. Kershaw & Co., of Milwaukee, and insured in the following companies: -
      Pacific Mutual, $10,000 - Manhattan, $6,875 - Inland Union, $12,500 - Providence, Washington, $5,000
      Brewers & Malters, $5,000 - Western, Toronto, $5,000 - Mercantile Mutual, 7,500 -- Manufactures, Boston, $5,000.
The BERRIMAN was 669 tons, was built in 1872 and rated A 1. She was a fine vessel, but with a depreciation of the past few years in vessel property it would be hard to put a value upon her - $28,000 would perhaps be fair. Whether insured or not we have not been able to lean.
      Captain Billy Norris, in command, was only in the place on the BERRIMAN temporarily. His vessel is the J. S. RICHARDS. It may be stated in this connection that, although captain Norris has sailed for many years, this is the first vessel that has "gone out from under him" -- about the first disaster indeed that he has ever met with. He has lived "a charmed existence." In this case, too it may prove that he is in no way responsible. Steamers, of course are always expected to keep out of the way of sail vessels, but before passing sentence, or praising anyone, we must hear from captain Pringle.
      The RUST is a double decker of 884 tons, was built in 1873, rated A 1, and was valued at $60,000. Rust, King & Co., of Cleveland, are the owners. She has coal for Duluth, but whether vessel or cargo is insured we have not been able to learn.
      The J. W. Hall Great lakes Marine Scrapbook, May 1877.

      The steam barge D.W. RUST and the bark FRANCIS BERRIMAN came in collision Monday night about 20 miles S.E. of Thunder Bay, on Lake Huron. The barge was coal laden and the bark carried 40,000 bu. of wheat. The latter sank in 15 minutes and two were lost. The RUST arrived in East Tawas in a badly shattered condition and afterwards sank. The tug WINSLOW has gone to raise her.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Wednesday, May 9, 1877

THE RUST - BERRIMAN COLLISION. -- The captain and crew of the schooner FRANCIS BERRIMAN arrived at Port Huron on Monday. From them the Times obtained the following information relative to the collision.
The schooner BERRIMAN was holding her course and supposed the barge was going to do the same, the vessel did not make any move to get out of the way, and the barge continued to steer without altering her course. When close to the barge Capt. Norris gave the order to put the helm hard up, but before the vessel could get out of the way the barge struck her. Capt. Norris states that the captain of the barge said, when accounting for the disaster, that "he thought he was a proper distance from us and that he could clear us." The crew of the schooner had about eleven minutes time in which to get out their boat and lower it Jas. Campbell, one of the vessel's crew, had his leg broken, but was unable to account for the manner in which it was done. he was left at Tawas. The sailors who were drowned were Charles Meyers and Andrew Alcorn, and were residents of Milwaukee. The barge RUST put into Tawas and is leaking badly, although able to keep afloat by means of her pumps. Several of her leaks have been patched up and a steam pump has been sent for, and she will probably continue on to her destination.
      THE FRANCIS BERRIMAN. -- This bark was of 689 tons burthen, was built in 1872, and rated A 1. She was owned by the Berriman Brothers, of Buffalo. She was a fine vessel, but with the depreciation of the past few years in vessel property, it would be hard to put a value on her - $25,000 would perhaps be fair. Whether insured or not we have not been able to learn. Captain Norris, in command was only in the place on the BERRIMAN temporarily. His vessel is the J.S. RICHARDS.
      Detroit Tribune
      Thursday, May 10, 1877
      . . . . .

The Inter-Ocean says: There is a movement on foot to purchase a number of sunken vessels, among them the FRANCIS BERRIMAN. If successful a steam wrecking barge will be built, and Capt. Falcon will have charge of the operation.
      Cleveland Herald
      May 21, 1877

      . . . . .
      The body of Capt. Norris was taken to Erie Tuesday where it was placed in a handsome casket. At midnight Capt. James Mahoney, of the A. O. U W., and J. W. Allison, of the Knights of Honor of Hastings, this State, left with it for Hastings where it was interred Wednesday. The countenance of the departed captain looked as natural as if sleeping, and a large number of ladies and gentlemen called to take a last look at it at Erie. He leaves a wife and one daughter , a young lady, who accompanied the remains to Hastings, where the captain's and his wife's friends reside. The widow will receive $2,000 from each lodge.
Concerning Capt. Norris' death the Erie Dispatch says: The accounts intimate that the captain committed the deed because of business prospects. We are assured, however, that this could lhardly have been the case as money matters were easy with him, and some of his friends in the city are disposed to attribute the cause to temporary insanity produced by gloomy feelings which have troubled him more or less since the sinking of the schooner BERRYMAN, about one year ago, of which he was the commander at the time of the disaster. A propeller collided with the schooner and she sank in a short time, taking down two of his own men, and it is said that he has never been known to speak of that unfortunate event without crying bitterly. He left Erie for Buffalo about a week ago to fit out his vessel and this was his first trip of the season. She had taken on a cargo and was expected to have sailed yesterday. The sad event has caused a gloom over our city, for all who knew Capt. Norris loved him.
      Detroit Free Press
      Friday, August 23, 1878

      . . . . .

The Bark BERRYMAN is being pumped out, and will probably leave Friday for Buffalo where she will be sold if possible. It will be remembered that she went ashore last fall, and has been lying idle here since December.
      Detroit Free Press
      August 29, 1878

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk by collision
Lives: 2
Hull damage: $30,000
Freight: wheat
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original:
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Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 44.27946 Longitude: -83.49025
William R. McNeil
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Francis Berriman (Schooner), U120067, sunk by collision, 7 May 1877