The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Elma (Barge), U8895, aground, 29 Sep 1895

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D I S A S T E R S !
      Many Vessels And Lives Lost In The Big Storm On The Lakes.
      B A R G E E L M A W R E C K E D.
      All Her Crew Of Eight, Including Four From Tonawanda, Found Death In The Waves.
      Laden With Lumber She Was Carried Off By The Gale In Lake Superior.
      Thirteen Other Vessels Are Wrecked Or Missing.
      Chicago, Oct. 1. -- Many reports of damage and loss of life on the lakes in the storm of Saturday and Sunday reached here last night.
      Only one local fatality is reported - that of Captain Andrew Johnson of the schooner JOHN RABER, who was drowned off Dane Park while endeavoring to reach land to secure a tug to save his vessel.
      Leaking like a sieve, the sailors worn out by two days work at the pumps, with its rotten sails blown to ribbons and its halyards streaming in the wind, the old schooner JOHN RABER drove close to shore off Dane Park, Indiana, and cast anchor. Johnson wanted to save his vessel--it was built in 1848--and, ordered out a small boat manned by three sailors, he tried to reach shore. A mile from land the boat was tossed by a hugh breaker and overturned. Johnson was drowned, and last night his body lay alone and unattended on the sands waiting a Coroner's visit today. The three men stuck to the boat and suceeded in making shore. Capt. Weede stayed with the ship with two sailors. They were rescued by the South Chicago Life Savers after midnight, having worked four hours.
      Following are additional to the list of boats missing or lost:
      JOHN RABER, Schooner, ashore at Whiting, Ind.
      GEORGE W. NAUGHTIN, waterlogged, taken in at St. Joe; part of deck load gone.
      LADY FRANKLIN, Barge, ashore at Hammond's Bay; probably a total loss.
      LILLY MAE, Barge, wrecked at East Whitefish Point; barge gone to pieces.
      CITY OF PARIS, ashore at Flat Rock, Copper Harbor.
      ELMA, Schooner, reported to have foundered in Munising Bay and crew of 8 lost; Capt. John Thurston, wife and child among the lost.
      BLISS, tow barge, two masts gone and deck load; towed into Chicago Harbor.
      C.B. JONES, schooner, foundered off Whitefish Point, crew supposed to have been lost.
      Tug BOYNTON from Sault Ste. Marie, went to assistance of schooner C.B. JONES. Reported missing.
      Two unknown boats ashore at Grand Island, Lake Superior.
      Steamers MATOA and MASABA of the MInnesota line, thought to be ashore at Keweenaw Point, Lake Superior.
      Marquette, Mich., Oct. 1. -- News has just reached here of the loss of the barge ELMA on Sunday off Scripture Rock with all hands on board. The steamer BIRKHEAD left Baraga Saturday with the C.B. JONES and ELMA, lumber laden.
      They were caught in the great gale Saturday night and the ELMA broke its tow line and disappeared in the darkness. The JONES also broke broke loose and brought up under Whitefish Point, the BIRKHEAD finding shelter back of Grand Island Sunday afternoon.
      The steamer went out to look for its consorts and at the first of the massive cliffs forming the famous Pictured Rocks found the wreckage of the ELMA.
      The crew of the lost vessel numbered seven, together with a woman and child.
      Tonawanda, Oct. 1. -- The barge ELMA, lost at the Pictured Rocks, Lake Superior, was owned by William Warren of this place. She had a load of lumber for an Ogdensburg firm, which she had loaded at Barnage, Mich. The ELMA was valued at $5,000 and was partly insured. She left this port three weeks ago.
      The drowned are Charles Mason, Capt. John Thurston and his wife and young son, all of Tonawanda, and four other men whose names and places of residence are not known.
      Munising, Mich., Oct. 1. -- The barge ELMA, which broke from her consorts during the recent storm on Lake Superior, has been picked up and taken to Grand Island. She will prove a total loss. About 200,000 feet of her cargo of 520,000 feet of lumber remained on the broken barge. The crew of six men and a woman and child have not been found and are undoubtedly lost.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Tuesday, October 1, 1895

      . . . . .

The schooner ELMA with her crew of 8 foundered in Minnising Bay, Lake Superior. The C.B. JONES, another consort of the P.B. BIRKHEAD, is lying in a dangerous position off Whitefish Point.
      Port Huron Daily Times.
      Tuesday, October 1, 1895
      . . . . .

      E L M A 'S C R E W R E S C U E D.
      One Sailor Washed Away.
      Sault Ste. Marie, Oct. 2. -- The crew of the schooner ELMA, excepting one man who was washed away by the sea before the vessel was abandoned, were found by lighthouse keepers in a ledge of the Pictured Rocks, 75 feet above the water, early yesterday morning.
      "When near Pictured Rocks the tow line parted," says Capt. Thurston, "and our steering gear broke. We were wholly at the mercy of the sea, which was growing every minute. The ELMA rolled so hard in the trough of the sea that she jumped the masts out and the rigging was carried away. The schooner then waterlogged, and every sea swept the decks. The crew worked hard at the pumps until the schooner struck a rock about 100 feet from the shore at Miners' Castle. This was Sunday afternoon.
      "The ELMA stuck fast on top of the rock, and George Johnson, one of the sailors, got into the yawl with the lines, and attempted to make a landing on the rocky cliff, which rose straight from the water edge. The yawl was quickly broken to pieces, Johnson lost the lines, and barely escaped being killed by the schooner's rudder, which had been carried away. He finally managed to climb up on the rocks out of the sea.
      "Clemens tied a line around his body, and, jumping overboard, attempted to swim ashore. He was dashed against the rocks and instantly killed. The line about his body parted when the crew tried to pull him on board, and his body was not seen again. After many trials a line was finally passed to Johnson on the rocks, but not until it was too dark to do anything towards taking us off the wreck, Johnson kept hold of the line, and all night paced a narrow ledge of rock until daylight.
      " We then escaped to the rocks by fastening one end of the line around our bodies, and being pulled up by those on the rocks. My 3 year old son was kept dry by drawing the line from the rocks to the boat taut and rigging a traveler on it. A few blankets and two loaves of bread were also brought ashore. By hard climbing and the use of the lines, we managed to climb to a partially sheltered ledge in the rocks, 200 feet above the water. There we built a fire and remained until Tuesday morning, when the storm abated, and we climbed down from the place of refuge and built a raft to get provisions from the wreck. We were then discovered by the lighthouse keeper and taken to the BIRCKHEAD."
      Buffalo Evening News
      Wednesday, October 2, 1895

      . . . . .

Schr. ELMA. U. S. No. 8895. Of 400.68 tons gross; 380.65 tons net. Built at Marine City, Mich., in 1873. Home port, Buffalo N.Y. 165.2 x 30.0 x 11.0
      Merchant Vessel List, U.S., 1895

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Reason: aground
Lives: nil
Freight: lumber
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 46.42467 Longitude: -86.64155
William R. McNeil
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Elma (Barge), U8895, aground, 29 Sep 1895