The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY), June 28, 1935

Full Text
Capt. Hinckley Long on Lakes
Death at Parishville ends colorful career
Stayed alone on beached ship
When barge sprung Leak and It Was Put on Ledge of Rock He Sent Crew Ashore in Boat and He Stayed Aboard
He Did Much Salvage Work.

The death of Captain Augustus R. Hinckley, 79, at his farm home at Parishville, St. Lawrence county on Tuesday, brought to a close a long and colorful career on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence river. Captain Hinckley for 66 years had plied the lakes and river with his boats, meeting all manner of adversities, ship wrecks and storms. More than once his life was endangered when a barge went down or a terrific gale arose.

Widely known up and down Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence for his daring marine (?).

Captain Hinckley was one of the few remaining skippers of the old school. His was a spectacular life packed with as much nautical excitement as would ever come to a Gloucester fisherman. An iron will combined with a determined mind set him apart as one of the most able and at the same time courageous captains that ever piloted a ship on the lake or river.

His long and stormy career began 66 years ago. He was born on Wolfe Island Aug. 11,1856, at the mouth of the St. Lawrence. Even as a boy his whole heart was set upon sailing. At an early age he took great interest in all things nautical and he was only a lad when he took up sailing in a serious manner.

It was only after a brief apprenticeship before he was master of his chosen vocation. He displayed, as a youth, as much courage as he did in later life when he was faced with still more dangerous situations. His friends and family thought many times that either the lake or river would take the captain's life. But fate apparently sailed on his side through those long 66 years of his career. He died not on a battered schooner plowing against strong headwinds, but on a quiet farm in the heart of his own north country.

Captain Hinckley at one time had a fleet of four vessels. They were the ill-fated Hinckley, Isabella H. Pentland and Phelps. All but the Phelps met a tragic end. The Phelps is still being operated, now owned by Eldridge and Robinson. The craft was rebuilt for service on the barge canal.

One of the most thrilling episodes that ever befell Captain Hinckley took (place about 1889)*

when the Hinckley went to pieces between Henderson Harbor and Stoney Point. After years of service and several wrecks the barge was caught by a stiff northwest gale. It had been a week previous that Captain Hinckley and his crew were forced to beach the ship on a shelf of rocks in Gravely bay after it had sprung a leak. At that time the crew went ashore in the only boat, leaving Captain Hinckley behind by his own order. Later a storm arose and Captain Hinckley donned a life preserver and swan 300 feet to the beach.

When the storm came up, the ship which had been beached, began to crack up. Salvage of the coal aboard her went forward but the ship was doomed.

The Hinckley was built at Chaumont in 1901 and her hull was taken to Oswego where her boiler and machinery were installed. She was 114 feet in length, drew 11.7 feet of water and had a capacity of 332 tons. **

The Isabella H. foundered at the entrance to Oswego harbor and the Pentland, largest of the fleet went out of service and was eventually disposed of.

In later years Captain Hinckley did much salvage work. Many of these undertakings were hazardous and not always altogether successful. It was while doing this work that he came into possession of the Pentland after wrecking companies had abandoned efforts to raise the craft. He paid $600. For the sunken ship and in three days had it floated. It was reported that he later refused an offer of $30,000 for the ship. Through his efforts the sunken steamer George T. Davis of the Montreal Transportation company which went down in 80 feet of water in the St. Lawrence was raised.

One of his unsuccessful ventures in ship raising was the attempt to float the steamer Richardson which foundered on Lake Erie but the craft was mysteriously blow up after all preparations for floating it had been made.

The last cargo carrier owned by Captain Hinckley was the little steamer Kendall. He used this ship for handling buoys for the government on Lower Ontario and St. Lawrence. The Kendall sank in the Cardinal canal and was abandoned.

During the past five or six years Captain Hinckley had been in the marine contracting business in Cape Vincent, Henderson Harbor and Alexandria Bay. He told friends just before he died he was going to bid on work for the coast guard station planned for the Galloups Island this summer.

In 1917 Captain Hinckley purchased a farm of more than 100 acres at Parishville on the St. Regis river. On this land is a lot of timber which he expected to cut and use in his marine work. Captain Hinckley maintained his residence in Oswego for many years, the family home being at East Fourth and Mohawk Streets.

Besides his widow, he is survived by a daughter Mrs. Harry Place of Rochester.

The afternoon funeral services for the captain were held at his White Hill home near Parishville. Rev F, Nichols, pastor of the Parishville Baptist church, officiated. Burial was made in the Parishville cemetery, far from the sight of either Lake Ontario or the St. Lawrence which in life knew him so well.

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Item Type:
* paper is creased on this line. I think that was 1887 History of the Great Lakes Beers.
** This is another Hinckley. This Hinckley was built in 1862. History of the Great Lakes Beers.
Date of Original:
June 28, 1935
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Language of Item:
Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY), June 28, 1935