The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
John B. Lyon (Propeller), U76199, sunk, 11 Sep 1900

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      Cleveland, Sept. 12. -- The tail end of the west Indian Hurricane, which swept over lake Erie last night, proves to have been the most disastrous storm that has visited this section in several years. The winds at one time attained a velocity of 60 miles an hour, and it was then blowing directly from the west, having practically a clear sweep of the whole lake. Dispatches tonight begin to tell of the shipping disasters that resulted from the gale. At least two vessels were sunk, carrying down with them several persons, and a number of vessels have reached port in a badly demolished condition.
      The JOHN B. LYON, a 255 foot steamer, owned by J. C. Gilchrist of this city, foundered about five miles off Conneaut, O., and all but two of her crew of 16 were lost. The schooner DUNDEE sank about fifteen miles off this port, and the cook, a woman, was drowned, the master and crew escaping on a raft.
      The steamer CITY OF ERIE, with 300 passengers aboard, left Buffalo at 7 o'clock last evening. A moderate wind was blowing at the time. When off the port of Conneaut the steamer was struck by a terrific westerly gale that had begun blowing. She encountered a tidal wave which went clear over the bulwarks, smashing some of the upper works. The engine was slowed down and the steamer headed for the Canadian shore for safety. She arrived here at 4 o'clock this afternoon, 10 hours late, with all her passengers safe.
      The steamer MAGIC left this port Tuesday evening, but was unable to buffet the sea. She was badly battered, but a tug finally brought her back to port.
      The steamer CORNELL, light, left last evening for Fairport, to pick up her consort, the schooner BRYN MAWR, which had dragged her anchor and drifted eight miles down the lake. The CORNELL finally succeeded in picking up the BRYN MAWR, but the sea knocked off her smokestack and damaged her otherwise.
      The steamer IROQUOIS ashore near this city, but was taken off by a tug.
      The tug MORGAN, bound down the lake with a Standard Oil barge in tow, encountered the steamer ROBERT RHODES in distress, making for shelter behind Pelee Island. The RHODES had been badly battered and most of her bulwarks were gone.
      The steamer LYON, which was sunk off Conneaut, was valued at $60,000. The names of the crew, only two of whom were said to have escaped, are : Capt. A. H. Fenghas, master; L. Carlson, first mate; G. Taylor, second mate; Charles Willows, chief engineer; B. Brown, second engineer; G. Laskiel, cook; Mrs. Laskiel, second cook; J. Spencer and W. Smith, firemen; F. King and M. Nestor, watchmen; W. Brand and P. Bishop, wheelmen; M. Robinson; C. Glover and C, J Vanasky, deck hands.
      Saginaw Courier-Herald
      September 13, 1900

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      Conneaut, September 12. -- Two women and a man drifted ashore at Girard, Pa., in a yawl boat about 4 o'clock this afternoon and reported that the steamer JOHN B. LYON had foundered in lake Erie about six miles northeast of Conneaut. The steamer lies in such shoal water, they said that thirty feet of her masts are above water and they believe that some of the 12 member of the crew who did not get into the boat, had found safety in the rigging. Conneaut was notified by telegraph at once and the tug ERASTUS DAY sent to the rescue. At seven o'clock this evening the tug had not been heard from and the fate of the LYON's crew is not known.
      The steamer is owned by J. C. Gilchrist, of Cleveland, and was named after a former citizen of Conneaut, now a resident of Chicago. She is not insured.
      Cleveland, September 12. -- The JOHN E. LYON, a 35 foot steamer, owned by J. C. Gilchrist, of this city, foundered about five miles off Conneaut, O., and all but two of the crew of sixteen were lost.
      The steamer LYONS, which was sunk off Conneaut, was valued at $60,000. The names of the crew, only two of whom are said to have escaped, were: Capt. A. H. Fenghas, master; G. Tyler, second mate; Chas. Willows, chief engineer; B. Brown, second engineer; G. Laskiel, cook; J. Spencer and W. Smith, firemen; F. King and M. Nestor, watchmen; W. Brand and P. Bishop, wheelmen; M. Robinson, C. Glover, C. J. Vanasky, deck hands.
      Detroit Free Press
      September 13, 1900

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      Three Of The Steamer LYON's Crew Hailed From That City.
Marine City, Mich., Sept. 13. - The intelligence that the steamer JOHN B. LYON had gone down in the gale on Lake Erie brought sorrow to more than one home here.
      Capt. Albert Senghas, of the ill-fated boat, leaves a wife and two children, a boy aged 2 years and a girl of 5. He was known as a capable, brave and cool-headed officer. He was wrecked two years ago in the steamer St. LAWRENCE on Lake Michigan, off Point Betsey, in a snowstorm. Part of the crew went ashore, but he stayed on board till taken off by the life-savers.....(part)
      Saginaw Courier-Herald
      September 14, 1900

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Cleveland, Sept. 14. - The loss of life by the foundering of the steamer JOHN B> LYON will not exceed 10. It was learned yesterday that six of the crew had been saved. Mrs. Senghas, wife of the captain, was not on board as reported. The correct list of survivors is as follows:
W.H. Braund, wheelsman; Peter Bishop, wheelsman; D. Brown, second engineer; John Spencer, fireman; Charles Allen, deck hand; Mrs. Alaston, wife of the steward.
Those known to be lost are: Capt. A.H. Senghas, Marine City; Engineer Charles Willous, Cleveland; First Mate Oscar Carlson; Second Mate George Tyler; Watchman Michael Nestor; Steward Alaston; one unknown deck hand, one unknown fireman.
      Last Wednesday night the body of Steward Alaston was washed ashore near Conneaut.
      Saginaw Courier-Herald
      September 15, 1900

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It is reported from Detroit that no effort will be made to raise the steamer JOHM B. LYON, which foundered a week ago in lake Erie. She lies in about 60 feet of water, five miles off shore, midway between Ashtabula and Conneaut. From the accounts of the disaster it appears that the vessel is so badly wrecked that it will not pay to raise her.
      The schooner DUNDEE, which also went down in the big gale last week, will be raised and repaired. The DUNDEE is owned by Mr. Gerlach of cleveland, and as she only came out seven years ago, it is figured is too good a boat to leave at the bottom of the lake. It is said that she may be abandoned to the insurance companies as a constructive total loss, or else the insurance will be claimed and Capt. Gerlach will raise her.
      Chicago Tribune
      September 19, 1900

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      The two wooden vessels sunk on Lake Erie during the severe storm of last week (steamer LYON and schooner DUNDEE) may as well be counted among the ships that are gone for good. The LYON undoubtedly went to pieces in sinking. Vessels have, of-course, been raised from greater depth of water than that in which the DUNDEE is buried, but great difficulty is always encountered in removing an iron ore cargo from a sunken ship, and then, too, the DUNDEE is in the open lake where wrecking operations in almost any season of year must necessarily be slow and very expensive. Circumstances connected with the drowning of the crew of the LYON were especially distressing. A deck hand who was saved says that while the mate and several of the men were in the hold cutting drains in the ore to carry the water aft, the captain went to the engine room to give orders for a full head of steam to beach the ship, which was already laboring heavily, with her decks giving way under the tons of water that had been taken aboard on account of inability to cut away the bulwarks. The captain was hurrying forward from the engine room, just before the ship disappeared, and the deck hand says he saw him at the final moment fall through the deck, which broke under him, into the hold where the mate and his men were already drowning.
      Marine Review
      September 20, 1900
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      Story of W. H. Braund, One of the Survivors of the Disaster.
Marine City, Sept. 22. -- W. H. Braund, a survivor of the JOHN B. LYON disaster, on lake Erie, on the night of September 1, is here, and gives a thrilling tale of the experiences of the crew. He had a hard fight with the terrific seas that were running, and after an all night struggle, tossed about with all sorts of wreckage, was picked up in an unconscious condition in the surf, minus the life preserver which was given him at the last moment by Capt. Senghas, whose body with those of the mates and first engineer, was found off Erie. Braund states that the captain ordered the first mate to take a man and chop holes in the side under the deck, above the water line, to relieve the steamer of the weight of water that had accumulated through the breaches made in the deck by the tremendous seas, some of which reached the top of the funnels. The mate refused, declining to risk himself beneath the deck, which threatened to give way any moment, so the captain and Braund went below with axes and were at work when a portion of the deck collapsed under the strain, and the two narrowly escaped being pinioned under the mass. Shortly after this the steamer, unable to stand the weight of the heavy seas, broke in two and sank like a shot. Braund and the captain, with one or two others, were standing near the pilot house; Braund says, when the steamer sank, he grasped the iron ladder leading to the pilot house and was compelled to exert all his strength to hang on. The suction as the boat sank was irresistible, and carried everything with it. When he felt the boat strike bottom, he let go, and rose quickly to the surface, and was partially stunned by his head coming in contact with a plank. 'Twas a black night, and nothing was to be seen, and Braund was badly bruised by contact with planks and other stuff from the wreck, that was dashed about by the waves.
      The cook, the only woman aboard, had a remarkable escape, the method of which can only be conjectured. When found, she was floating on a hatch cover, without a life-preserver, with legs and arms thrust through the iron rings on the corners of the float. Considering the fact that she could not swim, her coming to the surface and being carried ashore, is considered a miracle.
      The LYON left Fairport, where she had stopped for coal, only an hour before, without warning of the storm, there being no weather service at that place, and it seemed the storm was concentrated in a narrow space, and the vessel encountered it at the worst point.
      Saginaw Courier-Herald
      September 23, 1900
Steam screw JOHN B. LYON. U. S. No. 76199. Of 1710.33 gross tons; 1330.82 tons net. Built Cleveland, O., 1881. Home port, Buffalo, N.Y. 255.0 x 38.0 x 20.0. Of 1,426 nominal horse-power.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1885

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Reason: sunk
Lives: 10
Remarks: Total loss
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  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.94756 Longitude: -80.55424
William R. McNeil
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John B. Lyon (Propeller), U76199, sunk, 11 Sep 1900