The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
American Champion (Scow), aground, 30 Sep 1875

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The scow AMERICAN CHAMPION dragged her anchors ashore at Leamington on Thursday night and sunk. Her crew was for 12 hours in the rigging, and were rescued by the heroic conduct of a lady and her two sons. The scow is broken up.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Saturday, October 2, 1875

The scow AMERICAN CHAMPION, while loading wood off the shore near Leamington, Ont., was driven ashore during the gale of Wednesday night. The crew had a terrible experience of 10 hours lashed to the rigging. The boat is owned by P. Gilcher & Co. and Capt. Jackson, (her commander) valued at $8,000 and insured.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      October 5, 1875 3-5

      (from the Detroit free Press)
      The scow AMERICAN CHAMPION left Robinson's pier, near Leamington, Ontario, five o'clock last Wednesday evening with a cargo of 130 cords of wood for Captain S. B. Grummond of this city. She was commanded by Captain James Jackson, and had a crew of seven men. About nine o'clock Captain Jackson observed that a storm was springing up and decided to cast anchor, being at the time in what he thought was holding ground sufficient for any ordinary gale. Two anchors were dropped, and in less than fifteen minutes, a living gale was blowing
from the south-west, and the schooner began to drag her anchors.
The third and last anchor and all the chain were let out, but without effect. The second sea that struck the craft carried away her cabin and all it's contents, a portion of which was the clothing and the personal effects of the crew. Still she dragged, and shortly after the loss of the cabin, another sea carried the yawl boat off the davits and sent the hatches flying into the lake. The scow began to fill, and to increase the peril she pounded on the beach as she
drifted shorewards. At midnight she has settled so that the men aboard were unable to do anything further, her bulwarks being barely visable above water. At one o'clock she gave a lurch, and striking on the bottom began to settle rapidly. Capt. Jackson ordered the crew to get into the rigging, which they succeeded in doing, but the captain could not, for some reason, reach the shrouds, and was obliged to make himself comfortable and as secure as possible upon the main-gaff The night was dark, and the roar of the storm was so great
that Capt. Jackson could not make his companions hear him, although they were but thirty feet away, and he shouted at the top of his voice.
      In this condition, drenched by the cold and heavy seas, the crew passed the night, and at daybreak saw that they were about half a mile from shore, without a boat, and so benumbed with the cold that they could scarcely move their limbs. Captain Jackson made an effort to change his position from the main gaff to the rigging, which beside being of no avail, came near proving fatal.
      The crew on the wrecked vessel saw on the beach, about twenty feet away from the water, their yawl boat with her stern carried away, and further up the beach, a comfortable farm house, with two or three men and a woman apparently at work about the building. The
wretched sailors shouted in chorus and singly until they were hoarse from daylight until about eight o'clock. They saw a woman running down to the beach, waving her apron, and followed by two men. While the men shouted and made signals which could not be understood, the woman buised herself examining the yawl boat. Suddenly she was seen to start for the house, and soon after returned with her arms filled with tools. In a very few minutes, she and her male companions were at work mending the boat, the woman apparently acting as superintendent of the Job. About nine o'clock when it seemed as though the repairs on the boat were nearly completed, the female worker was seen to hasten to the house, and soon after she appeared driving a yoke of cattle. Arriving at the beach she fastened the ox-chain to the boat, and with the two men on either side of the boat to keep it upright, made the cattle draw it to a point on the beach opposite the wrecked scow, where it was launched. Another trip was made to the house by the woman, and when
she returned she brought three oars. Placing the two men amidship to do the rowing, she seated herself in the stern of the boat and gave orders to put out, steering the boat herself.
After an hours work the wreck was reached, and the crew were taken off.
      Captain Jackson was so exhausted that he could not walk, while his crew were cut and badly bruised. They were taken to the house of their rescuers, a widow lady named Mrs. Auguatus Taylor, aged forty-eight years, and her two sons, Hobert and George, aged 17 and 21 respectively.
      About 11 o'clock Captain Jackson and his crew started for Leamington, where they met the tug HECTOR, which had arrived from this port to assist the AMERICAN CHAMPION, and boarding the tug were brought to this city, arriving about six o'clock last evening. The wrecked vessel lies with decks about four feet under water. She is owned by P. Gilcher & Co. and Captain James Jackson. She is valued at $8,OOO, and is not insured..
      Toronto Daily Globe
      October 8, 1875

The scow AMERICAN CHAMPION, which dragged ashore near Leamington a few days since, is entirely broken up and has been abandoned as a total wreck. There is only a small insurance on her.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      October 8, 1875 3-4

      The tug WINSLOW has returned to Detroit from her unsuccessful attempt at rescuing the schooner AMERICAN CHAMPION, ashore near Leamington. Capt. Jackson, who commanded her at the time of the disaster and is principle owner, says it's no use to try to float her, as she would probably sink again, being wrenched by the heavy swell to such an extent as to make her useless.
      Toronto daily Globe
      Saturday, October 9, 1875

The last of what can be recovered of the outfit of the scow AMERICAN CHAMPION, sunk about a month ago at Leamington, Ont., was taken to Detroit on Monday by the steamer BOB HACKETT. It consisted in part of the shrouds, capstan, windlass, and some anchor chains, etc. The weather was very severe while the wreckers were at work on the vessel. They were able to labor only four days in the two weeks that they were engaged on the wreck. There is nothing left of her now but the forward part of the hull, the balance of the vessel together with her cargo of wood, being strewn along the beach for some distance. The wreck (or what is left of it) lies at present in eight feet of water.
      Chicago Inter Ocean
      October 28, 1875

      The barges HANNAFORD and CASH ashore at Long Point are to be released. The schooner CHAMPION sunk off Manistee Piers is a total loss.
      Port Huron daily Times
      Friday May 12, 1876
      NOTE:-- The May 12, Port Huron casualty, is thought to mean Leamington, instead of Manistee.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Freight: wood
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.0549 Longitude: -82.6062
William R. McNeil
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American Champion (Scow), aground, 30 Sep 1875