The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Persian (Propeller), fire, 27 Aug 1875


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Capt. Slyfield of the barge FULTON, which arrived in port about 1:00 yesterday afternoon reports having seen while passing Long Pt., a burning vessel. Long Pt. is on Lake Erie about 90 miles from this city, and he passed it about daybreak. The burning craft was about 10 miles off of the point and too far distant for Capt. Slyfield to reach her. He describes her as being a 4 masted steambarge, and from what he says and the circumstances of the case, she is believed to be the PERSIA, owned by Ezerhiah Winslow of this city, and bound down from Chicago, with 50,000 bu. wheat. She was due here during the forenoon, but she had not arrived at a late hour last night, and as no tidings had been received from her by Mr. Winslow, it seems likely that she may have been destroyed by fire.
Capt. Samuel Flint had charge of the craft, and had a crew of some 10 men. Nothing had been heard from him, but there are no fears that he or any of this crew have been lost.
The PERSIA will be a year old next month, and cost $125,000. It is believed that she was not insured. The grain in her was owned by E.K. Winslow, of Cleveland, and was insured. Last evening the big tug BRYANT, Capt. McKinney, started for the scene of the fire for the purpose of rendering assistance.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      August 28, 1875 4-3
      . . . . .

The mammoth propeller PERSIAN burned near Long Point, Lake Erie. The propeller EMPIER STATE endeavored to put out the fire by several streams of water from her hose, and finding that would not avail, took the PERSIAN in tow and tried to tow her inshore, and did not let go until her lines were burned off. The PERSIAN was scuttled and sunk after burning to the water's edge. All aboard were rescued. She was only a year old and her registered tonnage was 1,630.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Saturday, August 28, 1875

      . . . . .

The associated press dispatches last evening brought the following particulars of the deplorable catastrophe which occurred off Long Pt. on Lake Erie last Thursday night. "The prop. EMPIRE STATE on Saturday brought the officers and crew of the prop. PERSIAN to Detroit. The men report that about 9:30 Thursday night, when about 7 miles east of Long Pt., first engineer Thomas Davis, discovered the fire in the coal bunkers and promptly gave an alarm. The woodwork around the engine was almost immediately on fire, and the flames were soon beyond control. Capt. Flint of the PERSIAN, ordered the boats manned, but before one of them could be launched they were all hopelessly burned. Attention was then directed to the hatches and all of them thrown overboard and the officers and crew placed themselves upon them, each hatch sustaining 2 persons. The lake was fortunately very smooth or all must have lost their lives. After floating about 2 hours the schr. MONTANA picked up the entire party. The PERSIAN's cargo consisted of 50,500 bu. corn and 17,000 bu. wheat. The grain was insured, but the hull is undoubtedly a total loss was uninsured. The PERSIAN cost $125,000, was launched last August, and until the advent of the COMMODORE, was the largest propeller on the lakes. It had a registered tonnage of 1,600(?), was owned by E.R. Winslow, of Cleveland and H.S. Winslow of Buffalo.
      Buffalo Morning Express
      August 30, 1875 4-3

      . . . . .

      THE AMERICAN PROPELLER "PERSIAN" BURNED -- LOSS OVER $150,000
Buffalo, Aug. 28. - The propeller PERSIAN was burned and sunk seven miles below Long Point yesterday, and is a total loss. She was owned by the Winslow brothers, and valued at $115,000. She had a cargo of 15,500 bushels of wheat, and 50,000 bushels of corn.
      Detroit. Aug. 28. - The EMPIRE STATE brought the officers and crew of the propeller PERSIAN. They report that about 9:30 o'clock on Thursday night, when about seven miles from Long Point, the first engineer, Thos. Davies of the PERSIAN, discovered fire in the coal bunkers and promptly gave the alarm. The woodwork about the engine was almost immediately on fire and the flames were beyond control. Captain Flint, of the PERSIAN, ordered the boats to be manned, but before one of them could be launched they were hopelessly burned. Attention was then directed to the hatches, and all were thrown overboard, and the officers and crew placed themselves on them, each hatch sustaining two persons. The lake was very smooth, or all must have lost their lives. After floating about two hours the schooner MONTANA picked up the entire party. Her cargo consisted of 50,000 bushels of corn and 17,000 bushels of wheat. The grain was insured, but the hull is undoubtedly a total loss. She was uninsured. The PERSIAN cost $125,000, was launched last August, and until the advent of the COMMODORE was the largest propeller on the lakes, having a registered tonnage of 1,630 tons. She was owned by R.R. Winslow, of Buffalo.
      The Toronto Globe
      Monday, August 30, 1875

      . . . . .

      THE BURNING OF THE "PERSIAN"
      Latest Particulars Of The Disaster: From The Buffalo Courier.
      Additional information received in this city Saturday, confirms our report of the burning of the mammoth propeller PERSIAN, off Long Point, Lake Erie, Thursday night. Mr. R.K. Winslow, one of the owners, who resides in Cleveland, received a despatch Friday, intimating the probable disaster, and arrived in this city last night for further information. He was unable to learn anything until Saturday morning when he received another despatch from Cleveland. He then left at noon for that place. The telegram stated that the captain and crew of the PERSIAN had arrived at that place all right. Other advices conveyed the intelligence that the steamer was a total loss and had sunk in thirty fathoms of water, seven miles below Long Point. Nothing was learned regarding the origin of the fire. A Courier reporter, in pursuit of the latest intelligence, met at the tug office, about half past 5 o'clock Saturday afternoon, Capt. McKenna, Marine Inspector of the Orient Insurance Company, who accompanied the tug SARAH E. BRYANT to the scene of the disaster. From him he gathered the following: - The tug left here about 8 o'clock Friday evening, and returned to port about 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Long Point was reached at half past 3 o'clock Saturday morning, where they remained until daylight. The lighthouse keeper at that place reported that the burning steamer was in sight all day Thursday, and that a propeller was alongside her. The smoke rising from the wreck was white, probably occasioned by the burning grain. He estimated her to be twenty miles distant when last seen.
      About 7 o'clock in the morning the tug reached the spot where the PERSIAN lies. Capt. McKenna states that she is in twenty-five fathoms of water, about eight miles S. S. East of Long Point. All that remains to mark the spot where she sunk is a portion of her rigging and some charred and broken spars. The tug made a line fast to the floating rigging to see whether or not it was connected with the wreck. It was found to be firmly attached below. The only relic brought into port by the tug was a floating portion of the companion-way. Capt. McKenna think it probable that the steamer which was observed alongside was belonging to the Anchor Line, up-bound, and that the same rescued the crew, taking them as far as Cleveland. No attempt will be made to raise the wreck until it is ascertained whether the hull is worth the job. It may have been damaged so badly that only the boilers and the engine, which are almost new, will be recovered. There is hardly a doubt, however, that the propeller burned to the waters edge before she disappeared. There was no insurance on the hull, but the cargo was fully covered, most of it being risked in companies for which Messrs. Fish and Armstrong are agents.
      Elsewhere we reproduce from Sunday's Courier all the facts in relation to the loss of the steamer PERSIAN which were obtainable up to Saturday night. This morning we gave detailed statements of the disaster as furnished by a corespondent and by despatches from Detroit to the Associated Press, albeit portions of the latter are repetitions from our own statements of Saturday morning.
      STATEMENT OF THE STEWARD OF THE " EMPIRE STATE"
      On board EMPIRE STATE, Lake Erie , Aug. 27, 1875.
Editors Buffalo Courier. - No doubt before this correspondence reaches you, your readers will have learned of the disaster to the steamer PERSIAN, but, thinking that some additional facts might prove of interest, I send the following:-
      We left Buffalo Thursday evening, and, besides a full load of freight, had on board a large number of passengers. They were amusing themselves in the cabin, when, about 10 o'clock, and alarm of fire caused everybody to rush on deck, and for a time the excitement was intense. All steam was immediately crowded on, and preparations made for a good night's work.
      The life-boats were lowered to near the water's edge, and manned by crews in readiness to clear away as soon as near enough to be of service. The yawl of the schooner MONTANA and the tug MERRICK arrived at the scene about 20 minutes ahead of the EMPIRE STATE. The last of the PERSIANS crew had just been picked up, and all were transferred on board our propeller. Captain Sam Flint, who was in command of the doomed vessel, called the roll after all had assembled on deck, and not one of the crew was found to be missing, all answering to their names. When this announcement was made, there were many expressions of joy and thankful prayers were offered up to the Almighty for this narrow escape. From the captain and crew I learned that the PERSIAN sailed from Chicago last Sunday at noon, and, had nothing happened, would have arrived in Buffalo this (Friday) morning early. The fire originated in the boiler room, between the sheet iron lining and the wood-work. It spread with such rapidity that all attempts to extinguish the flames were futile. The engineer had barely time to rescue his wife, who was sleeping soundly in her berth directly over the engine-room. As it was, he reached there just a moment ahead of the flames, which had began to eat up the covering of the berth in which she was asleep. By this time the entire crew had been aroused to action, and were endeavoring to clear away one of the boats, when the flames burst through the upper deck, and drove them back. Some of them escaped with painful blisters. Seeing that all hopes of getting at the boats were useless, the captain ordered all hatch covers thrown overboard, simultaneously, the crew took to the water to escape the scorching heat, and supported themselves with the aid of the hatches. They were in the water over 2 hours, and it being calm they did not suffer as much as if it had been turbulent. Had a storm been raging that chances are that all would have been swamped. The crew lost everything in the way of personal effects, and the engineer's wife (the only woman on board) saved in her night-clothes, part of them, however, were burned while she was escaping. The cook got off with only some under-clothing. The lady passengers on our propeller treated the unfortunate woman with great kindness, and provided her with a complete outfit from their own wardrobes. In fact the hospitality of the EMPIRE STATE was universal, and the rescued crew returned the officers and passengers a vote of thanks before leaving. They were placed on board the propeller ANNIE SMITH, bound for Cleveland, this evening, when off Point Au Pelee. As they departed cheer after cheer went up, and was returned by those on board.
      At 3 o'clock this morning we started from the burning steamer, and fifteen minutes later her four masts went by the board, one after another, commencing aft. She was still burning when last seen. Captain Flint is one of the oldest navigators on these lakes, having sailed different crafts for 25 years. This is the first disaster of any kind that has happened to him during his career.
      As you will observe, this letter is written on Lake Erie, after leaving the wreck, and I will mail it tomorrow from Detroit.
      A.M. Esy, Steward.
      Toronto Globe
      Thursday, September 2, 1875

      . . . . .

      FURTHER PARTICULARS OF THE DISASTER TO THE PERSIAN
      PROTEST OF CAPTAIN FLINT
      (From the Cleveland Herald, Aug. 30)
      The following is the protest of Captain Flint, and some of his officers, as made and sworn to on their arrival at this port last Saturday, as taken by Mr. B.L. Pennington, which tells the whole story, and leaves nothing to add.
      Left Chicago on the 22d day of August, bound for the port of Buffalo, New York, weather fine with South East wind and continued fair through the trip as far as it was made. On Thursday, 26th. inst., at 9:30 o'clock P. M., a fire was discovered by the mate and watchman, who were on deck forward. It burst out through the upper deck, over the boilers, on the port side. They raised the cry of fire immediately, bringing all hands on deck. The fire seemed to have commenced in or near the coal bunkers. The first engineer, who was on duty, at the cry of fire stopped the engines and then started the pony, which failed to work. Ho could not get the valve open on account of the great heat from the fire. It increased rapidly, bursting through into the engine-room, driving him on deck. Orders were given and the helm put hard-a-port in order to bring her head to the wind to keep the fire aft as much as possible. We attempted to get to the pony, to get the hose to work, but the fire was so hot and increased so rapidly that we found it impossible. We rigged the forward pump, but the hose was too short for the water to reach the fire. It was now about half past 10 P. M. We saw it was impossible to save the barge, the flames increasing with great fury and driving us forward. We then saw our only chance was to save ourselves. The boats all being burned, nothing remained but the hatches to save ourselves upon. Sixteen pieces were thrown overboard, on which were saved the crew of sixteen persons and three passengers. After floating on the hatches until 12 o'clock (midnight) we were rescued by the boat of the schooner MONTANA, which picked up 13 of us. The tug MERRICK seeing the burning craft left her tow and came to our rescue, arriving about the same time. She picked up the remainder of the crew and took off the others from the boat, when we all returned to the barge to see if there was any possible chance of saving her. We found there was no chance of doing anything. The upper deck was all burned away to the foremast, and the corn between decks was all afire. We then attempted to save what we could from the wreck. We secured from her pilot house and texas her compasses, bedding, &c. About the time we were ready to leave the propeller EMPIRE STATE came alongside. She took us all on board from the tug, then asked the captain if he thought he could do anything for her, and he said " I will try." He got his pumps and hose to work, and played on her, we going on board with the hose, and working it on the fire to the best advantage; we also used the barge's forward pump and hose, but it all did no good that we could see. The fire increased constantly. We then got a line to her and tried to tow her on Long Point, but could not tow her at all. She would go first one way then the other, and turn the propeller right around. We worked at her for about two and a half hours, when we found that we had made no progress. The fire now burst out in the pilot house and Texas with so much heat that we had to abandon her altogether, our line burning off close to the boat. We then gave up all hope of saving any part of the wreck. Tried to get the captain of the EMPIRE STATE to remain until she sank, but he said he had a big load of passengers on board, and could do nothing for her anyway. He left with us about half past two o'clock A. M. (27th.) the hull still above water, but burning and settling fast. The propeller brought us to Point Au Pelee and put us on board the barge ANNA SMITH, which brought us to Cleveland, where we arrived about 3 A. M. o'clock, of this date, August 28th.
      Signed by Samuel L. Flint, Master - Thos. Casey, First Mate - Thos. Davis, first engineer - James Love, second engineer - John Evans, watchman.
      ALSO
      The Detroit Tribune of Saturday evening says:-
      The EMPIRE STATE sighted the burning steamer at 10:30, and reached her about an hour later. Captain Wright made a determined effort to save the PERSIAN, pouring three streams of water on her for over two hours, but without avail. An attempt was then made to beach her near Long Point, and she was towed about two miles shorewards, she was scuttled forward by First Mate, Thos. Casey and left to her fate. The EMPIRE STATE parted company with her at 2 A. M. Friday, and soon after the masts of the PERSIAN fell, one after another. The passengers on the EMPIRE STATE say the burning ship, when her rigging was ablaze, was a beautiful sight.
      The Toronto Globe
      Thursday, September 2, 1875

      . . . . .


      The steamer PERSIAN, which was recently destroyed, went down into about 30 fathoms of water, and lies about 8 miles from the Point. Her hull was not insured, and it is not known whether it will be saved, as only a thorough examination can determine that point. The location has been visited by Capt. McKenna, Marine Inspector of the Orient Insurance Company, who states that there is a possibilty of saving the hull.
      The Toronto Globe
      Friday, Friday, September 3, 1875

      . . . . .

The propeller PERSIAN, the second largest on the lakes, and built at a cost of $125,000 was burnt and sunk off Long Point, Lake Michigan, (sic.) on Friday. The crew were saved by floating on the hatches. She had over 60,000 bushels of grain on board.
      Meaford Monitor
      Friday, September 3, 1875

      . . . . .


The Winslows have not decided whether they will raise the boilers and engine of the PERSIAN or not.
      The Toronto Globe
      Saturday, September 11, 1875

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Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: fire
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1875
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.19489
Language of Item:
English
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.555833 Longitude: -80.197222
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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Persian (Propeller), fire, 27 Aug 1875