The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Silvanus J. Macy (Propeller), U115784, sunk, 25 Nov 1902


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STEAMER MACY AT THE BOTTOM OF LAKE ERIE.
      Sprung A Leak In Strong Gale And Sank With Crew Of 18 Men
Detroit, Mich., Nov. 28. - Last Sunday night, in the furious southwest gale, the steamer SYLVANUS J. MACY was sunk off Port Burwell on the north shore of Lake Erie.
      The day before the steamer left Buffalo with her consort, the barge MABLE WILSON, both carrying coal. The weather was heavy and thick on Sunday and the MACY had a hard time creeping up on the north shore. Off Port Burwell she sprang a leak.
      SAW HER GO DOWN.
The towline of the barge was cast off by the crew of the MACY. That was the first the WILSON knew the steamer was in trouble. Sail was got on the schooner and she headed up the lake. The MACY was heading for shelter and making very heavy weather. As the crew of the WILSON watched the steamer through the gloom they saw her suddenly disappear. She had plunged under the water.
      The suddenness with which the end came precludes the possibility of the crew getting away in the boats. Even if they had, it is doubtful that the boats could have lived in the sea that was then running. The fact that no word has been reported from the Canadian ports shows that none were saved.
      The MABLE WILSON reached Amherstburg yesterday afternoon with tidings of the disaster. The captain of the ALBRIGHT, who got in ahead of her and passed up the river, brought the first news. He reported having passed through five miles of wreckage about 30 miles southwest of Long Point. There were parts of the cabin of some boat, life-preservers and doors. The cabin was painted white, but there was no name on it or any distinguishing marks. The cabin of the MACY was white. The arrival of the WILSON confirms the belief that the wreckage if from the MACY.
      The MACY was owned by P.J. Ralph & Co. of Detroit. She is insured for $16,500. She was one of the older type of wooden vessels and regestered 752 tons. She was 165 feet long, 32 beam and 11 draught. She was built in 1881 at Marine City.
      CAPTAINS WERE BROTHERS.
The captain of the MACY was M.W. Gotham and the engineer W.F. Gregory. The captain of the MABLE WILSON is J.E. Gotham. The latter stood at the helm of the WILSON in the storm and saw his brother's vessel pitch to the bottom of the lake.
The only names of the crew obtainable at the office of the owners of the MACY are as follows: M.W. Gotham, Richland City, Wis., Captain; -- Gotham, son of the captain, Mate; W.F. Gregory, Detroit, first engineer; George Webb, second engineer; George Nugent, Algoma, wheelsman.
      As the personal of the steamer changes at nearly every port visited, a complete list of the crew is difficult to obtain. The crew of the MACY probably numbered 18.
      NAMES OF THE CREW.
      Detroit, Mich., Nov. 28. - The correct list of the missing MACY's crew is as follows:
      Captain, M.W. Gotham, Highland City, Wis.; Mate, M.A. Gotham and lookout L.R. Gotham, his son; First Engineer W.F. Gregory, Detroit; Second Engineer George Webb, Marine City, Mich.; and the following place of residence unknown: Cook, Mrs. M. Granger; wheelsmen, W.F. Grese and William A. Donovan; lookout, H. St. Clair; firemen, Jack Hornby and James Mack; deckhands James Hanolly and James Mahony. John Nugent and McCord left the vessel before she sailed.
      Buffalo Evening News
      November 28, 1902

      . . . . .

      SUNK OFF PORT BURWELL
      BUFFALO STEAMER LOST WITH BIER CREW OF FIFTEEN
      The SYLVANUS J. MACY. Bound Up With A Load Of Coal
      Her Tow The MABLE WILSON, Arrives At Amtherstburg With News Of The Disaster.
      (Associated Press Dispatch)
      Buffalo Nov.27.- - A Special of the Express from Detroit says-: News has just reached this port that the steamer SYVANUS J. MACY was sunk off Port Burwell on the north shore of Lake Erie, in the furious southwesterly that raged on Sunday night. It is believed that her crew of 15 men perished.
The steamer had left Buffalo the day before with her consort , the barge MABEL WILSON, loaded with coal. The weather was heavy and thick on Sunday and the MACY had a hard time creeping up on the north shore. Off Port Burwell she sprang a leak.
The tow-line of the barge was cast off by the crew of the MACY. That was the first that the WILSON knew the MACY was in trouble. Sail was got on the schooner and she headed up the lake. The MACY was heading for shelter and was making very heavy weather. As the crew of the WILSON watched the steamer through the gloom they saw her suddenly disappear. She had plunged under the waters. The suddenness with which the end came precludes the possibility of the crew getting away on the boats. Even it they had it is doubtfull that boats could have lived in the sea that was running. The fact that no word has been received from Canadian ports, shows that none were saved.
      The MABEL WILSON arrived at Amherstburg this afternoon with tidings of the disaster. It was also reported by the Captain of the ALBRIGHT, that he passed through five miles of wreckage off Port Burwell. There were parts of the cabin, boats, life-preservers and doors.
      Toronto GLOBE
      November 28,1902


The steamer SILVANUS J. MACY has been given up for lost with all on board in Lake Erie. Her crew consisted of 13 persons. The MACY left Buffalo with the barge MABEL WILSON in tow Saturday afternoon and were about 30 miles off Long Point about 10 o'clock Sunday night when the steamer dropped the tow line of the barge. The steamer drifted off in the gale on Monday while the WILSON's anchar was dropped to await the return of the steamer. At 2 o'clock Tuesday morning the WILSON hove anchor and proceeded up the lake under her own power. She arrived at Bar Point yesterday. The MACY was built in Marine City in 1881 and was sailed by Capt. Gotham for over 16 years. Both the steamer and barge were owned by P.J. Ralph & Co., of Detroit.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Friday, November 28, 1902



The body of a man, supposed to be one of the crew of the propeller S.J. MACY, which was wrecked last fall off Long Point, was picked up at Westfield, six miles east of Erie, yesterday. The body of the engineer of the boat was picked up in the same place a week ago.
      Buffalo Evening News
      July 25, 1903


Positive identification of the body picked up a few days ago by the tug VIOLET and taken to Erie shows it to that of Capt. M.L. Gotham of the steamer MACY, who was lost at the foundering of his steamer in Lake Erie. George Boch, his son-in-law, made the identification.
      Buffalo Evening News
      September 29, 1903


Wooden steamer SYLVANUS J. MACY, built Marine City, Mich.,1881. Length, 164' 6" . Beam, 31' 8" . Depth, 11'
Owned by P.J. Ralph & Co., of Detroit and commanded by Capt. M.W. Gotham. Insured for $16,500 and rated A I. Foundered Nov. 23, I9O2, wreckage reported spread over 5 mile area off Long Point, Lake Erie.
      "Schooner Days"
      Toronto TELEGRAM
      July, 18, 1956

      . . . . .

Steam screw SILVANUS J. MACY. U. S. No. 115834. Of 752 tons gross; 613 tons net. Built Marine City, Mich., 1881. Home port, Detroit, Mich. 164.6 x 31.8 x 11.4 Crew of 12. Of 700 indicated horsepower.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1902
     
     
[ Thank you for putting the information about the Macy on this website. Capt. Gotham was my Great-grandfather. My father was named for his two uncles......Myron Lucias Moore. He was born to Elizabeth (Gotham) Moore and Dr.D.E. Moore. ]


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 18
Freight: coal
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1902
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.18980
Language of Item:
English
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.65009 Longitude: -80.8164
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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Silvanus J. Macy (Propeller), U115784, sunk, 25 Nov 1902