The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Nettie Woodward (Schooner), capsized, 31 Aug 1892

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Wednesday night the schooner NETT WOODWARD in trying to make Southampton harbor, was struck when about two miles out by a heavy sea and turned over on her beam ends. Two were lost.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Friday, September 2, 1892
      . . . . .

      The schooner NETTIE WOODWARD was totally wrecked near Southampton Wednesday night, August 31. Joseph Greathead, First Mate, and a deck hand named Mahon, both of Southampton were drowned. Three others were rescued after great suffering.
      Meaford Monitor
      Friday, September 9, 1892
      . . . . .

The schooner NETT WOODWARD went down near Southampton on Wednesday evening last while on her way to Port Huron loaded with wood. She broke up and went down in about seven fathoms of water.
      The crew consisted of five persons. Joseph Greathead, mate, floated towards shore on a hatch and was found dead on shore early next morning. Nelson Mahan died in the captain's arms from exposure. The others clung to the mast for about ten hours and were bravely rescued by Capt. Lambert of (here the paper is creased and illegible) were buried in Port Elgin on Saturday. Mahan was the youngest son of Mr. James Mahan of Southampton. His body has not yet been recovered.
      The boat was owned and commanded by Capt. Colwell of Sarnia.
      Port Elgin Times
      September 7, 1892

      . . . . .

      "Perhaps the worst wreck was that of the NETTIE WOODWARD, an Ontario built two-master, probably from Picton way. She was running for shelter from a northerly gale on the night of Wednesday the 31st., of August 1892, and tripped on the reef. There were seven men aboard the WOODWARD the night she struck and five were taken off the next morning, before she broke up, two of her crew were drowned, the story persists in Southampton yet, that the man at the wheel when the WOODWARD struck, was hurled overboard by the captain. Joe Greathead, the mate, caught a hatch cover which had been washed away, and clung to it. Mahan, a seaman was apparently drowned at once. The thundering seas washed Greathead, like Ulysses on his raft, towards the breakwater, and just as it seemed inevitable that he would be dashed against it, the backwash whirled him into and through the gap. Then the wind drove him on down the harbor.
      Vessels were riding at anchor inside, their riding lights dancing in the dark, they were sheltering from the gale, and ignorant of the NETTIE WOODWARD's plight; among them the three masted schooner BAVARIA.
      Greathead was so benumbed and exhausted by his ordeal that he could not swim to her, but he hailed again and again as he drifted by. Old Captain Mahony, honest Irishman, heard him, and thought it was some of his own wild crew raising ructions ashore and demanding to be taken back on board.
      His yawlboat was down, hanging astern by her painter, "They can spend the night on the lumber piles, and come aboard sober in the morning," said the old man, and turned in. In the morning when he heard what had happened, he was heartbroken. Poor Greathead, unheeded had drifted the length of the harbor, till his hatch washed ashore in front of the old Needing Hotel. But he was too far gone to free himself from the lashings which had held him, and he died of exposure on the planks which had borne him to the verge of safety. His son born after his death, is today one of Southampton's prosperous merchants.
      The WOODWARD's captain became a diver, the steamer PEWABIC was sunk in Saginaw Bay and no diver was able to reach her, a Sarnia wrecker engaged the captain. 'Boys' said he, as the screwed down the bolts of his helmet. " Its Hell or the PEWABIC," and down he went through the dark water. No jerk came through from his life-line to tell how he was faring. His helpers, concerned, gave the hoisting signal, and still no answer came. In haste they hove him to the surface in his suit. When they unscrewed his helmet, he was dead."
      from "Schooner Days"
      Toronto Telegram
      Friday, June 30, 1939

      . . . . .

      " On Aug. 31 1892 the schooner NETTIE WOODWARD, lumber laden for Port Huron, foundered in seven fathoms off Chantry Island. Mate Joseph Greathead got away on a hatch cover and was found dead on shore the next morning. Before being rescued from the wreck by lightkeeper William Lambert, seaman Nelson Mahan died from exposure in the arms of Captain Colwell, the WOODWARD's master. Colwell and two remaining survivors were
picked up after ten hours in the rigging. "
      Shipwrecks of the Saugeen
      by Patrick Folkes

footnote " Duncan McGreor Lambert, the lightkeeper received a gold watch from the Dominion Government for saving the survivors of the NETTIE WOODWARD." Lambert was also the owner of the schooner ABEONA.
      . . . . .
Schooner NET WOODWARD. [no Official No.] Built at Port Rowan in 1869. Home port, Port Rowan. Of 183 tons Reg. 98.0 x 22.0 x 9.4 Owned by R. Johnston, of Midland, Ont.
      List of Vessels on the Registry Books of
      the Dominion of Canada on Dec. 31, 1887.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: capsized
Lives: 2
Freight: lumber
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.48339 Longitude: -81.38305
William R. McNeil
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Nettie Woodward (Schooner), capsized, 31 Aug 1892