The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Belle Sheridan (Schooner), C74394, aground, 7 Nov 1880


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CONSECON, Nov. 8. -- The schooner BELLE SHERIDAN, of Toronto, went ashore on Waller's (sic) Beach, about two miles from here, about 9 o'clock yesterday morning and all on board perished except one. The vessel is a total wreck. Scarcely a vestige of her is left. Both masts are gone. The wreck is washed away and she is ported amidships. The only survivor is James McSherry, Jr., who, after clinging to the rigging until about 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and seeing no chance of being rescued from the schooner tore off a plank and jumped with it into the water, and was rescued by a boat from the shore in a very exhausted condition. He has fully recovered and gives the following particulars: They left Charlotte at 8 o'clock on Saturday morning, bound for Toronto, with 370 tons of coal for J.P. Bailey, and were well on their way. The squall struck them about 12 o'clock at night from the South-west. In a few minutes after the squall struck the greater part of the canvass was carried away, and the main-boom broken, and about 3 o'clock the main topmast was carried away. They tried to make Presque Isle but failed and gave up all hope as the vessel was almost unmanageable and shortly after went ashore. Those lost are : James McSherry, Sr. Captain; John Hamilton, mate; John McSherry; Thomas McSherry; Edward McSherry, and Samuel Boyd, all of Toronto. Over 100 people were on the beach and saw the poor fellows drown, but were unable to render any assistance. A few attempts were made to save them and capsizes nearly drowned the fellows who were plucky enough to venture their lives. Had there been a life-boat or some means of saving life every one of the crew might have been rescued.
      Kingston Whig-Standard
      November 8, 1880



      Consecon, Nov. 8. -- The boy McSherry says his father and brother Edward perished on board about 1 o'clock on Sunday afternoon from the cold and exposure to the heavy breakers that were washing completely over the vessel from the moment she struck. The vessel went ashore broadside, heading to the north. The father and son Edward died both together, the latter in his brothers James' arms, and both bodies were washed overboard. The then survivors clung to the shrouds of the foremast all together until about 1 o'clock, when James left the group and worked his way along the rail to the mainmast where he secured a plank and then leaped into the water. After being washed around for about 15 minutes he was picked up by the boat sent from shore. Had the others done the same they might have been rescued, as the small boat could no get to the vessel for the breakers. About 5 o'clock the mainmast went, and a portion of the deck broke away, the remaining four men still clinging to the forward rigging. They remained there until about 7 o'clock the same evening, when the vessel parted and the foremast fell, carrying to death the poor fellows who were clinging to the wreck. The body of John Hamilton was picked up along the shore about half a mile below the wreck, with his skull smashed, in fact the whole top of his head gone. The heart and lungs of another of the victims were picked up on shore. The other bodies must have been lashed to the rigging and torn to atoms. Scarcely a vestige of the wreck is to be seen today. The beach is strewn with the debris for miles. The boy McSherry is still here, and will remain until tomorrow.
      Toronto, Nov. 8. -- Capt. McSherry was about 60 years of age, and was born in Newry, Ireland. He came to this country in the year 1842, and was for a time employed as a wagon-maker and wire-worker. For the past 30 years he has been a navigator. He leaves a wife and five children, two girls and three boys. Of his sons who were drowned with him, John was aged 21, Thomas 17, and Edward 13, and all resided with him. The deceased formerly sailed the schooner ECHO, and last year the WEST WIND. Just before the close of navigation he mistook the lights at Cobourg harbour and she went ashore during a storm, becoming a total wreck. The mate, John Hamilton, resided at 76-1/2 Victoria Street, and John Boyd, at the corner of Front and Sherry Streets. So far as can be learned, there was no insurance on the cargo, but the vessel was valued at $4,000 and insured for $2,667 in the Merchants Marine.
      Kingston Whig-Standard
      November 9, 1880
      . . . . .

Touching Scene. -- It is said that the McSherry family, who composed the crew of the schooner BELLE SHERIDAN, wrecked off Consecon, perished under lamentable circumstances. One by one they sank exhausted into the sleep that knows no waking. The youngest son breathed his last in the arms of his aged father, whose own death followed so soon afterward. The lad was only 12 years of age.
      Kingston Whig-Standard
      November 9, 1880

      . . . . .

      FATAL SHIPPING DISASTER
      Loss of The BELLF SHERIDAN, The Captain, And Six Of The Crew
      Particulars Of The Sad Event
The Telegraph yesterday reported, anong many other serious shipping disasters, the total loss of the schooner BELLE SHERIDAN, and six or the crew.
The first intimation of the sad affair was a telegram to Mrs. McSherry, wife of the captain, who resides at No. 8 Esplanade Street relating that the schooner had gone ashore at Weller's Bay, at Presque Isle, and that all hands had perished except James McSherry, one of her sons. Further news confirmed the report. The followine particulars came yesterday afternoon over the wires:
      Consecon. Nov. 8. -- The schooner ' BELLE SHERIDAN ' of Toronto, went ashore on Weller's Beach, about two miles from here, about nine o'clock yesterday morning, and all on board perished, except one. The vessel is a total wreck, scarcely a vestige of her left. Both masts are gone, the deck washed away, and she has parted amidships. The only survivor, James McSherry Jr., who after clinging to the riggin until about four o'clock in the afternoon, and seeing no chance of being rescued from the shore, tore off a plank and jumped with it into the water, and was rescued by a boat from the shore in an exhausted condition. He has fully recovered and gives the followin particulars :
They left Charlotte at 8 o'clock Saturday morning, bound for Toronto with 300 tons of coal for J.R. Bailey, and were well on their way. The squall struck them about 12 o'clock at night from the S.W. In a few minutes after the squall struck the greather part of the canvas was carried away and the main boom broken, and about 7 o'clock the maintop-mast was carried away. They tried to make Presque Isle but failed, and gave up all hope, as the vessel was almost unmanageable, and shortly afterwards she went ashore.
Those lost are Jas. McSherry, Sr., Captain; John Hamilton, mate; John McSherry; Thos. McSherry; Edward McSherry and Samuel Boyd, all of Toronto. Over one hundred people were on the beach and saw the poor fellows drown, but were unable to render any assistance. Five attempts were made to save them, and once the boat capsized and nearly drowned the men who were plucky enough to venture out. Had there been a life-boat or some means of saving life every one of the crew might have been rescued.
LATER:- The boy McSherry says his father and brother Edward perished on board about one o'clock on Sunday afternoonthe cold and exposure to the heavy breakers that were washing completely over the vessel from the moment she struck, the vessel going ashore broadsides, heading to the north. The father and son Edward died together, the latter in his brother James's arms, and both bodies were washed overboard. The survivors clung to the shrouds of the foremast together until about four o'clock, when James left the group and worked his way along the rail to the main-mast, where he secured a plank, and then leaped into the water, and after being washed around for about fifteen minutes, he was picked up by the boat sent out from shore. Had the others done the same they might have been rescued, as the small boat could not get to the vessel for the breakers. About five o'clock the main-mast broke, and a portion of the deck broke away, the remaining four men still clinging to the forward rigging. They remained there until about seven o'clock the same evening, when the vessel parted, and the foremast fell, which was the last of the poor fellows who were still clinging to the wreck.
The body of John Hamilton was picked up along the shore, about a half mile below the wreck, with his skull smashed -- in fact the whole top of his head gone. The heart and lungs of another of the victims were also picked up on the shore. The other bodies must have been lashed to the rigging and torn to atoms. Scarcely a vestige of the wreck is to be seen today. The beach is strewn with the debris for miles. The boy McSherry is still here, and will remain until tomorrow.
The BELLE SHERIDAN sailed from here, on what was her last trip, on Friday the 29th. of October. She had been in the harbour for some time, getting in a new centreboard box, and went from here to Wellington to take on barley. She returned to Toronto to complete her cargo, and sailed on the day named for Oswego. The boat reached Oswego all right, and went up to Charlotte and took on a cargo of coal, and was on the way back to this port, when the storm of Saturday night struck them, with the results mentioned. The BELLE SHERIDAN was an old vessel, having been built at Oswego in 1852 by a Mr. Miller. After a varied career she was brought to this port, and was lying for several years in the slip at Sylvester's wharf sunk. Two years ago she was bought by Mr. Lamb, of this city, for between $900 and $1,000. Later she was bought by Captain McSherry who raised the vessel, and set to work to put her in sailing order. New decks and a new main-mast were put in, which with other improvments, gave her a good standing, and she was put into commision this summer with a rating of B I in the Canadian Register. She was valued at $4,000, and insured for $2,600. Her capacity was about I2,000 bushels.
      The distress of the widowed mother when she received the news yesterday was indescribable. The family have been residents here for many years, and Captain McSherry was generally esteemed as an honest well-meaning man. He was a ships carpenter by trade, but took to sailing as a calling. He had the misfortune to lose his vessel, the WEST WIND about thirteen months ago, not far from the spot which was the scene of his death. The sympathy of all who know the family, is largely bestowed. The youngest boy, little Ed., excites keen regrets. There is not much known of Hamilton, the mate who belonged to this city. The young man, Boyd is respectably connected in this city,and might have occupied a better position if he had preferred, than sailing before the mast. A son of the deceased, named Patrick went down on the late Grand Trunk train going east last night to see what could be done in the way of recovering the bodies of the lost crew .
      Toronto GLOBE
      Nov. 9, I880

      . . . . .

Loss of BELLE SHERIDAN - Further Particulars. -- A Toronto Telegram reporter called upon Mrs. McSherry, Wednesday morning, to know if she had received any particulars regarding the loss of her husband and sons on the BELLE SHERIDAN.
"I received two telegrams yesterday from my son who went down to Consecon," said Mrs. McSherry. "My husband was sitting on deck with Edward in his arms, trying to keep the little fellow warm and protect him from the cold waves, They were both swept overboard together, and clinging to each other with a death grip. Edward was such a fine little fellow. The other four men, that is, my two sons and Boyd and Hamilton, were in the rigging until 7 o'clock at night, when the vessel broke up, They may have been dead before that for all we know, so far. James was in the rigging with them, and he started to get on the other mast, which was a new one, and better able to stand as he thought, then the one he was on. To do this he had to crawl along the vessel's rail from one mast to the other, and it was while crawling along the rail that he sprang overboard. He never tore off a plank, as the paper's say. He jumped overboard onto a piece of wreckage floating in the water, and was picked up by the boat from the shore.
      "The SHERIDAN was repaired just before leaving, I believe, Mrs. McSherry ? "
"Yes, my husband laid out all the money he had upon her. He put in a new centreboard box and made her a good strong vessel. Had he got home safely, he intended manking two more trips this season before tying up for the winter. If they could only find the bodies and send them up here I should feel better. I want to have them buried in Toronto.
      Kingston Whig-Standard
      November 11, 1880

      . . . . .

      Edward McSherry's body was found this forenoon, making two of the six that were lost off the schooner BELLE SHERIDAN that have been found.
      Kingston Whig-Standard
      November 11, 1880

      . . . . .

      Belle Sheridan's Survivor
      The fullest account yet given of the loss of the vessel and crew
      Toronto Globe. -- James McSherry sole survivor of the crew of the Belle Sheridan, was seen this morning. He is ill his lungs badly affected. He was scarcely able to speak but the following facts were elicited from him regarding the
wreck : The Belle Sheridan left Charlotte, Saturday 6th with coal for Toronto. Opposite Thirty Mile Point she was struck by a gale from the southwest. The crew at once lowered the foresail and mainsail and headed their vessel on an east by north course. About an hour afterwards the mainboom went over the vessel¹s side carrying away the boat. At three o¹clock in the morning the sea was running level with the vessel's rail and the maintopmast gave away. At day break the crew sighted Presque Isle bluff, but their vessel was unmanageable and they failed in an attempt to reach
Presque Isle harbor. The anchor was dropped, but after holding a short time it began to drag, and the schooner went broadside upon the beach about two miles from Presque Isle harbor. The waves dashed over her and until one
o¹clock the crew held on behind the yawl-bitts and windlass. They were every few minutes deluged with the waves which swept over them. The captain James Mc Sherry, sr., had now become so chilled that he had to be held by his
three sons, John Thomas and James, who themselves were so benumbed as to have scarcely any use of their limbs. Edward McSherry and Samuel Boyd, who were holding on to each other lost the use of their arms, and James McSherry went to the assistance of his brother. Shortly afterwards the old man died and his body was washed off the shore side of the vessel. Edward cried out several times that he could stand it no longer and died in his brother¹s
arms After a boat from the shore had failed in three attempts to reach the schooner James McSherry determined to venture on the waves. Crawling aft to the main rigging he jumped into the water and after being swept around the
vessel's bow was carried half way to shore by a single wave. On another wave he was borne close to the shore and was picked up by the boat which had come out to the rescue. Shortly after James reached the shore the main mast gave way and fell directly across where the remainder of the crew were holding on. After this event the survivor know little beyond the fact that they
perished one after another.
      Oswego Palladium
      November 13,1880

      . . . . .

BELLE SHERIDAN -- James McSherry, the sole survivor of the crew of the ill-fated BELLE SHERIDAN, is ill, his lungs being badly affected. He is scarcely able to speak, but the following facts have been elicited from him regarding the wreck of his fathers boat.
      The Schooner BELLE SHERIDAN left Charlotte on Saturday, 6th, loaded with coal for Toronto. When opposite 30 mile Pt. she was struck by a squall from the south-west. The crew at once lowered the fore-sail and main-sail, and headed the vessel on an east by north course. About an hour afterwards the main-boom went over the vessels side, carrying away the yawl boat. At 3 o'clock in the morning the sea was running level with the vessel's rail and the main topmast gave way. At daybreak the crew sighted Presque Isle Bluff, but their vessel was unmanageable and they failed in an attempt to reach Presque Isle harbour. The anchor was dropped, but after holding a short time it began to drag, and the schooner went broadside upon the beach about two miles from Presque Isle harbour. The crew was dashed over her, and until 1 o'clock the crew held on behind the yawl-bits and windlass. They were every few minutes deluged with the waves which swept over them. The captain, James McSherry Sr., was held by his three sons, John, Thomas, and James, who themselves were so benumbed as to have scarcely any use of their limbs. Edward McSherry and Samuel Boyd, who were holding on to each other lost the use of their arms, and James McSherry went to the assistance of his brother. Shortly afterwards, the old man died and his body was washed off the shore side of the vessel. Edward cried out several times that he could stand it no longer and died in his brothers arms. After a boat from the shore had failed in three times to reach the ill-fated schooner, James McSherry determinted to venture on the waves. Crawling aft to the main rigging he jumped into the water, and after being swept around the vessels bow was carried half-way to shore by a single wave. On another wave he was born close to shore and was picked up by the boat which had come out to the rescue. Shortly after James reached the shore the main-mast gave way and fell directly across where the remainder of the crew were holding on. After this event the survivor knows little, beyond the fact that they perished one after the other.
      Kingston Whig-Standard
      November 17, 1880

      . . . . .

      ANOTHER FATALITY ON WELLER'S BEACH.
Consecon, Nov., 22.-- The schooner GARIBALDI went ashore yesterday morning about seven o'clock on Weller's Beach, a short distance from the late BELLE SHERIDAN disaster, The vessel was bound for Toronto, loaded with coal, and was driven out of her course by the gale. She then tried to make Presque Isle, but could not, and dropped anchor on what is called the Middle Ground, but broke her cable. People from the shore succeeded in rescuing three of the crew and the cook, who is a woman, but three remained on board all night. This morning they were also taken out, one being dead and the other two badly frozen. The captain and the mate were two of the three remaining on board over night, the mate being the deceased. His name is Lewis Stonehouse. The captain was saved alive, but his feet are badly frozen. Those remaining on board overnight had to be chopped loose from the ice.
      The J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, November, 1880
     
      . . . . .
     
      BELLE SHERIDAN
Schooner of 202 tons register, bound from Oswego to Toronto on November 6th. I880 stranded at Wellers Beach Ont. owing to stress of weather and became a total loss with the loss of 6 lives, she was then 28 years old, and her loss was estimated at $4,000.
      Statement of Wreck & Casualties for I880
      Dept. of Marine & Fisheries

      . . . . .

      Schooner BELLE SHERIDAN, of Oswego, built at Oswego I852 with one deck, two masts, square stern, of 265 tons. I23 x 22.8 x I0, owned by Sylvester Doolittle (half share) and Theodore Sruin is owner of a half share.
      Enrolment No. 54 Port of Oswego
      Dated September I5, I852

      . . . . .

Schooner BELLE SHERIDAN, of Oswego owned by Theodore Sruin, one eighth, Charles Davis one half, Sylvester Doolittle, three eighths. Schooner with one deck, two masts, square stern and no head, of 265 tons I23 feet x 22 feet 8 inches x IO feet two inches. present Master, Charles Davis.
      Enrolment No. 19
      Port of Oswego
      Dated August 14, 1861

      . . . . .

Schooner BELLE SHERIDAN of Oswego, owned by Charles Davis (3/4) and Oren F. Gaylord (I/4) Schooner with one deck, two masts, square stern and no head, of 265 tons I23 feet x 22 feet 8 inches x IO feet two inches. Present master, Charles Davis
      Enrolment No. 6
      Port of Oswego
      Dated February 13, 1863

      . . . . .
     
Schooner BELLE SHERIDAN of Oswego, owned by Charles Davis (3/4) and Oren F. Gaylord (I/4) Surrendered previous enrolment papers after remeasuring, one deck, two masts, square stern, no figure-head. 123 x 23 x IO, of 200 tons. Charles Davis, Master.
      Enrolment No. 2
      Port of Oswego
      Dated April 5, 1865

      . . . . .

Schooner BELLE SHERIDAN of Oswego owned by Charles Davis (3/4) and John Dunn Jnr. (l/4). One deck, two masts, square stern, no figure-head. 123 x 23 x IO, of 200 tons. Charles Davis, Master. Official U. S. Number 2379.
      Enrolnent No. 23
      Port of Oswego
      Dated April 30, I866

      . . . . .

Schooner BELLE SHERIDAN, of Oswego, owned by Charles Davis (3/4) and Elizabeth Davis, who resides at the same place (0swego) is owner of (1/4). One deck, two masts, square stern, no figure-head. 123 x 23 x IO, of 200 tons. Charles Davis, Master. Official U. S. Number 2379.
      Enrolment No. I60
      Port of Oswego
      Dated May 10, 1873

      . . . . .

Schooner BELLE SHERIDAN, of Oswego, owned Charles Davis (3/4) and Elizabeth Davis (I/4). One deck, two masts, square stern, no figure-head. 123 x 23 x IO, of 200 tons. Charles Davis, Master. Official U. S. Number 2379. Enrolment surrendered as vessel transferred to the port of Buffalo.
      Enrolment No. II
      Port of Buffalo
      Dated June 6, 1876

      . . . . .

      Enrolment papers surrendered March 31, 1886 at Buffalo as vessel sold to parties residing in Canada in I878

NOTE:- the date March 31, 1886, is exactly what is entered on the Enrolment Paper.

      . . . . .

BELL SHERIDAN, Canadian Official Number, 74394
Type : Schooner
Where Built : Oswego
When Built : I852
Tonnage : 202+72 reg tons. Gross tons : 202.72
Builders name & date of certificate : Unknown
Description
      Length 123 feet
      Breadth 22.7 feet
      Depth of hold 10.1
      Masts two
      Stern Square
      How Built Carvel, of wood

      Subscribing owners : J. Lamb of Toronto 1879 who sold to James McSherry dated February 9, I880..
     
NOTATIONS Vessel lost during a storm near Wellers Beach, Lake Ontario, Nov. 7, 1880
Register closed Dec. 22, I880
      Port of Toronto Shipping Register
      R G. I2 A I Vol. 239 National Archives,Ottawa

      . . . . .

BELLE SHERIDAN, schooner of 200 tons, built Oswego 1852 by A. Miller, owned by Chas. Davis and valued at $2,500 and classed B 2.
      Marine Insurance Classification
      Index for 1878

      . . . . .

NOTE: - The wreck of the BELLE SHERIDAN is located at N. 43 degrees 59' 58"
      W. 77 degrees 36' 30"
A branding iron on which the name "Belle Sheridan" was clearly marked was found within the wreck's timbers at the above location (1970's) Some years she is entirely covered with sand, while on other years the wreck is quite exposed.




Well put. The Hamilton [Canada] Spectator says: -- " Strange lights are still seen, they say, along the shore at Weller's beach, where the schooner BELLE SHERIDAN was wrecked, and all hands lost, save a boy. Not far from there died Louis Stonehouse, mate of the schooner GARIBALDI. When the GRAIBALDI was wrecked some of the crew of the schooner were taken off, and the others remained on board till night came. The rickety old substitute for a lifeboat could not make another trip. All but the mate climbed into the rigging and lashed themselves to the frozen shrouds. The mate went below. The terrors of that night can never be expressed in words. The decks were deep with ice, and the rigging was like iron bars. Every sea that dashed over the schooner piled the ice higher, and the vessel was slowly breaking up. When the rescuing party came with the daylight Louis Stonehouse was dead. He stood in the cabin frozen in the midst of a block of ice. With his hands above his head, as if to ward off this terrible and certain death, he was a monument to the niggardliness that allowed him to freeze and die for want of a life-boat. Willing heart and strong arms were on the beach, but boat there was none. So died Louis Stonehouse, the mate of the GARIBALDI, and his ghost still walks the beach."
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, No. 2, Nov./Dec. 1882
     


Media Type:
Text
Newspaper
Item Type:
Clippings
Notes:
Reason: aground
Lives: 6
Freight: coal
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
1880
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
McN.W.20512
Language of Item:
English
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.009166 Longitude: -77.588888
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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Belle Sheridan (Schooner), C74394, aground, 7 Nov 1880