The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Cortez (Schooner), aground, 13 Nov 1880

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The schr. CORTEZ, bound from Milwaukee to Oswego with a cargo of 19,000 bu. wheat, went ashore at Sandy Creek, 20 miles east of Oswego, yesterday afternoon, and is reported to be going to pieces. The crew were rescued. The CORTEZ is owned by M.J. Cummings of Oswego. She was built at that place in 1866 by J. Navagh, was valued at $10,200, tonned 308, and rted A2 1/2. The hull is insured for $3,000 in the Faneuil Hall, and for $5,000 in the Greenwich. The cargo is insured in companies represented by Messrs. Smith & Davis , of this cityand in the Phoenix, each 1/2. Capt. George McLeod leaves for the scene of the disaster this evening. The CORTEZ was largely repaired in 1878 and 1879.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      November 13, 1880 3-5

      The wreck of the CORTEZ.
Capt. Geo. Macleod, representative of the underwriters interested in the shr. CORTEZ, Cpat. John Farrell, Capt. John Griffin and Capt. Williams returned from the wreck last night. The vessel has been abandoned to the underwriters. The cabin, deck frames under and about the cabin, port quarter ad in fact everything aft of the mainmast and nearly all the decks are gone. The vessel¹s rails are about a foot under water. As heretofore stated she is a total loss. Alex N. Whitney of Woodville has bought the grain for $120. And George Wood is stripping the vessel. The outfit anchors and chains which constitute all that can be saved will be shipped here.
      Oswego Palladium
      November 13,1880

Capt. Geo. McLeod telegraphs from Oswego this morning that the schr. CORTEZ has gone to pieces and her cargo of wheat is distributed all along the shore.
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      November 15, 1880 3-4

The schooner CORTEZ is a total wreck, but the cargo and vessel were both fully insured.
      Kingston Whig-Standard
      November 16, 1880

      . . . . .

      Mr. Dobbins's Investigation
      He clears the Sandy Creek Life Crew from blame in relation to the Cortez.
      Buffalo Express. A seaman on the wrecked schooner Cortez, which ran ashore thirty miles below Oswego, having published a letter reflecting on the conduct of the crew of life-saving station No. 1 at Big Sandy Creek Capt. D.
P. Dobbins superintendent of life-saving stations in the 9th district, who is considered one of the most efficient officers in the service, and who is known to be a strict disciplinarian, replies to the charge. He states that after investigating the case he finds no blame can be attached to the crew of the life saving station, and that their failure to reach the wreck in time to save the crew was owing entirely to the extreme roughness of the ground over which they had to travel, and the difficulty they encountered in dragging their rescuing apparatus along the flooded beach, through the surf and alongside the sand hills finding many "wash-out-cuts" from the lake through the beach in from four to six feet of swift running water. Blinded by the drifting sand, soaked with water, weary and exhausted after two hours of almost super-human effort, they made 5 1/2 mile progress and reached the wreck too late to render any assistance
      Oswego Palladium
      November 23, 1880
      . . . . .

      The Cortez Wreck.
      Statement of several citizens of Ellisburgh who were present
To the Editor of the Times & Reformer:-- Seeing in your paper some statements regarding the life-saving crew as
connected with the wreck of the Cortez that seem to be somewhat exaggerated, we desire to set the public aright on those points. As friends of the captain and crew, we regard a plain and truthful statement of the case more to their credit than the over-drawn statements so persistently published in the various papers. We desire to express the sentiments of 150 eye witnesses of the wreck of the ill-fated Cortez.
Being present and thoroughly acquainted with the whole history of the case our statements should be more entitled to the credence of your readers that the statements of Mr. North in the Sandy Creek News, apparently written by the Captain or crew to gloss over their inefficiency, neglect or cowardice, and who failed to reach the wreck at all and are now showing their characteristic bravery and skill in the newspapers where their precious
lives are so much safer than they would be in actual battle with the angry elements in rescuing the perishing crew.
      The Cortez wreck was in easier sight from the lookout at the life-saving station than from any other more distant points where she was seen, when men started at once for the exciting spectacle and were on the ground ready for
work when the boat struck. It had been mutually understood that if a wreck took place on the north side of the creek the crew would go to the bridges and thence by teams to the disaster. Accordingly a team was sent to the bridge, and not finding them, proceeded at once to the beach and found them at the wind gap waiting for a part of the crew who had been sent back to the station for a small boat to take the captain over, so he would not get wet, which caused about one hour's delay. Upon their return the crew with some assistance forded the gap which is about 50 feet wide, and the water from two to three feet deep and drew the cart through by hand, where a team drew the cart and apparatus about one mile on the beach, which constituted all the captain and crew did towards the rescue, They did not reach the wreck at all by a distance of about a mile, and this was accomplished at dark, after which it would have been impossible for any one to reach the wreck.
The Captain has been well rewarded for patience and watchfulness, for three long years waiting for an opportunity to prove to the public that he was "master of the situation." And although within three and one-half miles from
the wreck with every possible appliance that money could buy at his disposal, yet he most signally failed even to reach the wreck at all. While men traveled longer distances with only a common fish boat and that considered by her owner as unseaworthy, inspired by a continuation of human sympathy, and bravery almost unparalleled- nobly faced the danger and rescued the perishing crew from immediately approaching death, Subscribed only by those personally present- and familiar with the whole history of the case.
F. A. Converse
Wm. Gray
N. Wood Jr.
Semon Wood.
John Welch.
E. Alexander
J. F. Smith.
Horace Wood
      Watertown Times
      Tuesday November 30, 1880.

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Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Freight: wheat
Remarks: Total loss
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William R. McNeil
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Cortez (Schooner), aground, 13 Nov 1880