The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
George C. Finney (Schooner), U10545, sunk, 17 Nov 1891

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Considerable speculation was had as to the identity of the 3 spars sunk about 25 miles below Long Pt., and reported by the officers of the JOHN OWEN. An old tugman asserted that the description of the spars agreed with those of the Canadian schr. BRITISH LION. She lost her mizzen mast some time ago and replaced it with a pole spar. Her fore and mainmast, it is stated, had short topmasts, like those sunk below the point. Nothing of the movement of the BRITISH LION for some weeks was known here.
Some anxiety was felt for the safety of the schr. G.C. FINNEY, which left Toledo wheat laden for Buffalo, last Saturday evening. Schooners which left after her have arrived here. Capt. Rirdan is a good sailor and little inclined to take chances. The probability is that the FINNEY will show up soon.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      November 20, 1891 2-1

The FINNEY is said to be safe at the farter end of Lake Erie. The report is said to come from Capt. Riordan's family here and ought to be correct.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      November 21, 1891 7-1

Up to last midnight nothing had been heard of the schr. FINNEY, which left Toledo last Saturday evening with wheat for Buffalo. She was seen last by the crew of the schr. G.W.DAVIS, during the gale last Tuesday afternoon, off Long Pt. She was then jibbing, probably for the purpose of running under the point for shelter. The DAVIS reached this port last Wednesday morning, early.
That the FINNEY has not been under Long Pt. is clear from reports made by officers of steamers which have been there. The tug A.J. WRIGHT left the point last Thursday morning. Her officers saw nothing of the FINNEY. The tug WINSLOW which arrived yesterday, reported that when she passed the point the schr. JOHN SCHUTTE, light, and the stm. PROGRESS were the only vessels under it. By the way, a dispatch from Cleveland last night, said the PROGRESS had not been heard of since she left Erie last Monday.
Capt. Fitzgerald of the Pueblo, which arrived, says she passed wreckage below Long Pt. Some of it was painted blue. Those who caim to be familiar with the FINNEY assert that her hatch covers and cabin fronts were of this color.
This wreckage may have a bearing on the FINNEY, or it may not. It is strange, however, that if the vessel is sheltered near any port, Capt. Riordan has not wired to his relatives here, who he must know would be much troubled on account of the long time she had been out of Toledo. Capt. Riordan is a competant and cautious sailor, and his vessel may show up yet. It cannot be denied there are grave fears for her safety.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      November 21, 1891 2-1

There seems to be little doubt that the schr. FINNEY has foundered and that her entire crew went down with her. Capt. Conlin of the schr. WILLIAM HOME, which arrived yesterday afternoon, reported that he passed close to the 3 spars sunk below Long Pt. and that he was positive they belonged to the FINNEY. On closer examination the mizzen proved to be a short mast with a topmast instead of a pole spar, as she was reported by the officers of the vessels which passed at some distance from the wreck. Capt. Conlin has been on canal schooners for years and claimed he is quite familiar with the appearance and rig of the FINNEY. Only the upper part of the mizzen mast was out of the water; which makes the top look like a pole spar.
It is considered certain that the blue painted wreckage seen below Long Pt. came from the FINNEY. Her cabin sides and front, the provision box, and her hatch covers were painted blue.
The FINNEY as already related, left Toledo a week ago last evening, wheat laden for Buffalo. She was last seen during the heavy southwester last Tuesday afternoon, some miles below Long Pt. by the crew of the schr. G.W. DAVIS, which left Toledo about the same time. Just how she went down will never be known. The wreck is about 26 miles below Long Pt., and about 15 miles south of Grand River. Nearly in the course up the lake.
The FINNEY was owned and sailed by Capt. Thomas Riordan of this port. Undoubtedly she carried 6 hands, but names of them could not be learned yesterday. Capt. Riordan was an old competent sailor, and not inclined to take chances. He did not get "rattled" easily. He was sturdy, honest and true, and had many friends here and along the lakes who will regret his untimely fate. Capt. Riordan leaves a widow and 4 childrenm all grown up but one.
The FINNEY was one of the old canalers. She was built in Oswego in 1866, but was well kept up, rating A2 this season. She measured 286 tons, and was valued at about $6,000. She was insured for $5,333- $3,000 in the Cincinatti Underwriters and $2,333 in the General Marine, a foreign company. Her cargo was fully insured.
      Buffalo Daily Courier
      November 22, 1891 2-1

      The Schooner Lost In Gravelly Bay Is The C.B. BENSON for Toledo.
      The schooner sunk in Gravelly Bay is the C.B. BENSON, which left Buffalo Friday for Toledo. She had seven men on board, all of whom are drowned. Capt. D.W. Carter of Port Colborne telegraphs: "Tugs visited the wreck and she is loaded with coal. Her foremast is gone and the remaining topmasts are painted black. I believe it is the C.B. BENSON. Have just sent another tug with diver and will telegraph you later."
      No bodies have been found. Not a single body of the crew of nine men on the J.C. FINNEY, which went down last fall in the Bay, was ever recovered. The G.M CASE, the MONTICELLO and E.P. DORR were lost near the same spot and only one man's body found.
      Captain Duff of the BENSON was one of the best known navigators in this county.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Wednesday, October 18, 1893 p.1, c.1

Schooner FINNEY, lost on Lake Erie November 20, 1891, with her crew of six.
      Casualty List for 1891
      Chicago Inter-Ocean
      December 7, 1891

GEORGE C. FINNEY, schooner. Official U. S. Number 10545, of 300.66 gross tons, 285.63 net tons. Built at Oswego in 1866. Home port, Buffalo. 136.7 x 26 x 10.8
      List of Merchant Vessels of U. S. A., 1891

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 7
Hull damage: $6,000
Freight: wheat
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.555833 Longitude: -80.197222
William R. McNeil
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George C. Finney (Schooner), U10545, sunk, 17 Nov 1891