The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Aetna (Schooner), U358, sunk, 15 Nov 1878

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The schooner FLEETWING, Captain Peterson, arrived here yesterday morning with the crew of the schooner AETNA, Captain Class H. Myer, on board, the latter vessel having foundered at the foot of this lake on Friday night last. After being landed Captain Meyer immediately had Mr. Aldrich, of Captain Wiley M. Egan's office, make out a protest and it will be furnished to the Underwriters today. The Captain's statement of the disaster is as follows:
      The AETNA left Chicago Oct. 27 with grain for Buffalo, arriving there Nov. 2. She then loaded barreled cement for Cleveland. After discharging the cement at Cleveland she loaded 587 tons of soft coal, shipped by Thomas Axworthy, and consigned to the People's Gas Light and Coke Company, Chicago, leaving Cleveland Sunday, Nov. 10.
The crew were as follows:
Master, Charles Class H. Meyer.
First Mate, John Kroon.
Second Mate, had none.
Seamen, John F. Mitchell; Amos Marshall; John Davis; Evan Reynolds, and William Reaber; Cook, James Halpin.
      We got a stiff gale of wind crossing Lake Huron. The schooners S.H. FOSTER and J.D. SAWYER were in company with us until Tuesday morning (12th.) at 10 o'clock, off Point Au Barques. There we lost sight of them, and proceeded on across Saginaw Bay. The wind on the bay was violent from the west. In all this heavy weather we made no water to speak of. Nothing further of moment occurred until Friday, the 15th. at about 11 o'clock at night, on Lake Michigan. The wind at this time was southeast by east, about a seven know breeze; weather cloudy. We were steering southwest by west. It was my watch on deck. The pumps were sounded about 5 o'clock that evening by Evan Reynolds; who found only five inches of water. At about a quarter to eleven o'clock I went aft and found the vessel three-quarters of a point to windward of her course, and received the information that she would not obey her helm. I slacked the mizzen sheet, and went to look for the cause. Amidship I found the water further forward on deck than usual with the same breeze, and went forward and dropped the sounding-rod. I found four feet of water. Immediately called all hands and manned both pumps. I then went aft and had the cook look out for the leak; found there was no water aft. Then I went forward again and found the water on deck at both sides abreast of the forward hatch. We then quit work at the pumps, I ordered the men to get their clothes and take to the boat. In the forecastle the men found so much water that they could not get their clothes. Hauled down the head sails, and lowered the boat. We saw a vessel's light very near us, within six vessel's lengths. We showed a torch, hailed her, and got into our boat. Within a few minutes we were taken on board the other vessel, which proved to be the schooner FLEETWING, Captain Peterson, and from her deck we witnessed the final plunge of the AETNA. We were about six vessel's lengths ahead of the AETNA, and I requested Captain Peterson to sail once more around the sinking vessels stern, which he attempted to do, but before we made half the distance, the AETNA lunged over on the starboard side, then righted again, and then went down head foremost with the mizzen and mizzen gaff topsail, mainsail and main gaff topsail, and foresail set and the lights burning in the rigging. I have sailed for forty years; have had various commands, and, in my time, have seen great hardship, but I never felt so bad as when I saw the AETNA go down. Used, even as I am, to such scenes and situations, I felt almost as if I would choke, and tears came to my eyes.
      She went down about four miles to the west of South Fox Reef, in from eighty to ninety-five fathoms of water. Just after she sunk, Captain Peterson, of the FLEETWING, took bearings. The light from the South Fox was bearing North Northeast, and the north end of the North Manitou was bearing southwest.
      From the time the vessel became unmanageable to the time she sunk, only forty minutes elapsed.
      After the FLEETWING had resumed her course up the lake, and we were all talking of the suddenness of the leak, which must have been a very bad one, Amos Marshall, one of my crew, told me that during the afternoon of Friday, the Mate's watch, when the AETNA was between Skillagallee and the Beaver, he felt her scrape as if passing over a reef. She may have sustained damage at this time, but I don't know. Neither the mate nor Marshall said anything of this to me until we were on board the FLEETWING, and it may have been imagination on the part of Marshall. The vessel was in good condition, and I cannot account for the leak unless we struck somewhere.
      We arrived in Chicago this (Tuesday) morning on board the FLEETWING, and I wish to return thanks to Captain Peterson for his kind treatment of my crew and myself. I saved my book and my papers.
      The AETNA measured 311 tons, was built at Madison Dock in 1863, classed A 2-1/2, and was valued at $9,300. She received large repairs in May 1878.
      The cargo of coal is insured in the Traders for $2,292. The freight list is insured in the Orient for $350.
The vessel was owned and insured as follows:
      M.W. Guderyahn, half interest
      Buffalo, of Buffalo, $2,000
      Mercantile of Cleveland, $2,000
      C.B. Meyer, master, half interest
      Manhattan, $2,000
      St. Paul Fire & Marine, $1,000
      Lamar, $1,000
Total $8,000
      The MARY COLLINS, R.C. CRAWFORD and FLEETWING were all in company with the AETNA, and all of them saw her torch as well as the FLEETWING, but neither of the others were near enough to render assistance.
      Captain Mayer resides in Chicago with his family. He is well known, and has many friends who sympathize with him in the loss of his vessel.
      All the crew signed the protest.
      Chicago Inter Ocean
      Wednesday, November 20, 1878

Chicago, November 19. -- News was received tonight that the schooner AETNA, owned here, foundered in northern Lake Michigan, last Friday night. The crew were saved. Loss $9,300 on vessel, $2,300 on freight; both insured.
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Wednesday, November 20, 1878

      THE SIKKING OF THE AETNA. - - The Associated Press dlspatch of yesterday brought meager accounts of the foundering of the schooner AETNA. Yesterday's Chicago Tribune contained the following particulars: "Reports of a disaster that occurred last Friday midnight reached the city but yesterday, when Capt. C. H. Meyer and crew of the schr. AETNA arrived on the FLEETWING and told the story of the sudden loss of their vessel and cargo of coal, which went down in very deep water between the Foxes and the Manltous, at the northern end of Lake Michigan. The FLEETWING being close at hand and Capt. Meyer and his crew having gotten off the vessel in safety In the yawlboat, they were taken on board that vessel and brought to this port.
The AETNA was bound from Cleveland to Chicago, and when between the Islands above mentloned, and while salling along in a smooth sea, water was noticed on deck on the lee side. The man at the wheel Informed the Captain that the vessel would not mind her helm, and the latter tried the pump and tested the vessel with the sounding-rod. He found live Inches of water in her hold, and Immediately after found foud four feet. All bands were ordered on deck, and set to work at the pumps, but all etforts to keep the vessel flom fllling proved futile. It was very evident she had sprung a big leak, and began to settle forward. The Captain ordered the men to lower the boat, which was quickly done and
all had balely time to seize their kits and get Into It before the ship was engulfed. In about fifteen minutes after water was first noticed coming through the deck the AETNA sank out of sight. The schooners FLEETWING, CRAWFORD and MARY COLLINS were all close by at the time of the disaster and the first named vessel was on hand Immediately after the AETNA sunk and picked up Capt. Meyer and his crew and took their boat on board and and bronght them
here, as above stated.
The AETNA was built at Madison Dock, by Bailey, In 1863. In 1871 and 1873 she received new decks and large repairs, in 1876 site was supplied with new frames aft, and last May was so thoroughly overhauled and repaired that her rating was raised from B 1 ½ - to A 2 ½, and her valuation placed at $9,300. She measured 311 tons. Capt. Meyer and F. W. Gunderyahn, of Chicago, owned the vessel jointly, and the former is insurcd In the Manhattan, $2,000: St.
Paul Fire & Marine, $1,000 and Lamar, $I,000 -- $4,.ooo in all, and the later In the Buffalo company for $2,000, and Mercantile of Cleveland for $2.000, making a total hull Insurance of $8,000. The csrgo consisted of 573 tons of coal valued at about $2,300, consigned by Thomas Axworth, of.Cleveland, to the Chicago Gaslight and Coal Company, and is probably insured in Cleveland which port the AETNA left on the 7th inst. The lost schooner lies in 40 fathoms of water, and is beyond the reach of recovery.
      "The captain and crew of the FLEETWING were prompt In the rescue of Capt. Meyer and his men, and are entitled to credit for their humane efforts."
The Inter-Ocean contains the following relatIng to tbe disaster. which Is part of a statement made by the ill-fated schooner'scaptain. "She went down about four miles to the west of South Fox Reef, In from 80 to 95 fathoms of water.
Just after she sunk, Capt Peterson of the FLEETWING, took bearings. The light from the South Fox was bearing northeast, and the north end of the North ManItou was bearing southwest.
.After the FLEETWING had resumed her course up the lake, and we were talkIng of the suddenness of the leak, which must have been a very bad one. Amos Marshall, one of my crew, told me that durlng the afternoon of Friday, the mate's watch, when the AETNA was between Skillagalee and the Beaver, he felt her scrape as if passlng over a reef. She may have sustained damage at this time, but I don't know.tllte may have
The cargo of coal is Insured In the 'Traders for $2,292. The freight list Insured In the Orient for $350.
      Detroit Post & Tribune
      Thursday, November 21, 1878

Schooner AETNA. U. S. No. 358. Of 317.15 tons gross. Home port, Chicago. Ill.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1871

      Schooner AETNA. U. S. No. 358. Of 416 gross tons. Built Madison Dock, 1863 by Bailey. Foundered Lake Michigan, 1878.
      Herman Runge Notes
NAME: ACTNA (Pre-list; 1869; 1870); AETNA (1871; 1872.; 1873; 1875; 1876; 1877; 1878)
RIG: Schooner
GROSS: 317.15 (Pre-list; 1869; 1870; 1871; 1872; 1873; 1875;1876; 1877; 1878.
HOME PORT: Chicago, IL (Pre-list; 1869; 1870; 1871; 1872; 1873; 1875.; 1876; 1877;1878)
YEARS LISTED: Pre-list; 1869; 1870; 1871; 1872; 1873; 1875; 1876; 1877, 1878
NOTES: The ALBATROSS is listed with the number 358 in error in but was actually No. 360
      MVUS, pre-list to 1885

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Reason: sunk
Freight: coal
Remarks: Total loss
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William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Aetna (Schooner), U358, sunk, 15 Nov 1878