The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
St. Albans (Propeller), sunk, 31 Jan 1881

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St. ALBANS, Prop. 435 tons. Built Cleveland 1868. Sunk Lake Michigan, 1881.
      " Hist., of the Great Lakes "
      by Mansfield

      . . . . .

      The Propeller St. ALBANS Springs a Leak
      And is Abandoned When 12 Miles Out.
Milwaukee, Jan. 31. -- At 8 o'clock this morning George W. Amey, of this city, who resides near the lake shore, saw far out on the lake to the northeast four black specks that attracted his attention. He looked carefully, and through the snow that was driving from the northeast thought that he could discern boats with people in them. A few moment's steady looking convinced him that the objects were boats and then he went and gave an alarm. Shortly the news spread that small boats with people in them were out upon the lake and needed assistance in making the shore. There were four in all and in one of them were seen women. Rescuing parties, composed mostly of police, were formed, and at 9 o'clock, one of the boats containing four men, reached the outer breakwater near the Northwestern depot, and the men in it were hauled safely ashore. Then it was learned that the small boats in sight were from the propeller ST. ALBANS, of the Northern Transit Company, which left here yesterday morning to cross the lake, and when about 12 miles out was discovered to be leaking, and in less than two hours from the discovery of the leak had to be abandoned by her crew of twenty persons and five passengers, four of whom were ladies. The story as told by the four men who first reached the shore was that yesterday morning, after the ST. ALBANS had been out about two hours, she was discovered to be leaking badly. Men were put at work on the leak, which was in the bow of the port side, and appeared to have been caused by almost constant contact with the ice. The cargo forward was thrown over to lighten her up, but the water gained continually, and in half an hour after the discovery the fires were out. Then the captain ordered the small boats out and concluded to abandon the fast sinking propeller. The twenty-five persons were divided into four boat loads, and left the propeller at 1:20 o'clock yesterday.
      She was then just ready to founder. The four boats kept well together, worked all right, and arrived off the piers here this morning as above described. Three of the boats have landed safely and one is yet out with hundreds of men attempting a rescue. All will doubtless be saved. The names so far as known are: Captain E. D. Casey; first-mate, Thomas Lehy; second-mate, James Boyd; first engineer, Albert calder; second engineer, John Ferris; firemen, Peter Lemeir and Henry Davis. Thomas McGuire was badly frozen.
      The Master's Protest.
Milwaukee, Jan. 31. -- The following reliable information was taken from the master's protest: At the time of leaving Milwaukee, the weather was particularly fine. The wind was northwest. The propeller was put directly on her course N. E. half N. for Ludington. Immediately after leaving port the pumps were tried, and there was no water in the vessel. From that time the pumps were tried every few moments, for the propeller was continually encountering fields of ice, which were dangerous, and it was desired to take every precaution against injury that might have been done by the ice to the propeller. Notwithstanding that every precaution was taken by the officers in charge and the crew, when near ice that appeared to be dangerous, at 10:45 o'clock A. M. Sunday, the engineer reported to the master that the vessel was making water fast. Immediately all the pumps were started and the propeller's course was changed to west by south, with the intention of returning to Milwaukee, if possible, and if not to run her on the beach. But the water was found to be gaining and it was commanded to throw over the deck load. In thirty minutes the water had gained so as to put out the fires and the engine stopped. When the deck load was thrown over the vessel drifted up forward. We went down and found a hole in the port bow. This hole was still under water. The master went down to the edge of the water and found that the hole was through was through the iron plating and through the planking of the hull, between two frames. Immediately every effort was made to stop the leak with blankets and bedding, but it could not be done. When we then attempted to get at the leak by chopping away the ceiling from the inside, but it turned out that it could not be done and that it was unsafe for the men to work in the hold, a consultation was then held and it was decided that it was best to try and save the lives of those on board. The crew were ordered to quarters and orders were given by the master to lower the boats. Boat No. 1 was placed in charge of the first mate, No. 2 in care of the first engineer, No. 3 in charge of the master, No. 4 in charge of the second mate. The boats were all lowered successfully. They were each supplied with provisions and woolen blankets for each person, also axes, lamps, and a compass for each boat. The passengers were apportioned to the boats as was deemed best and expedient by the masters. The crew of each boat left the steamer in a deliberate and orderly manner. We pushed away from the propeller at 12:30 o'clock P. M. with Milwaukee north, the point being southwest and south and about twenty miles distant. We headed our boats for shore but in consequence of drifting ice we made slow progress, and at dark had made only about five miles in a southwesterly direction. We continued working all night in fields of slush ice. At 9:30 o'clock A. M., January 31st, we saw the propeller NASHUA coming out of the harbor. She came as near to us as was safe, and lowered a boat alongside of us, but we deemed it safer to try and land the boats than to risk the danger of being swamped by getting alongside of the propeller. We finally reached the beach by the assistance of the life saving crew and the efforts of citizens. The protest was signed by Captain Casey, first mate, Thomas Leahy,; first engineer, Albert Calder and steward Frank McQuillan.
      The Rescued.
      The following is a list of the persons rescued from the propeller ST. ALBANS:
Crew: Captain Edward Casey, Port Huron, Mich.; first mate, Thomas Leahy, Milwaukee; second mate, Joseph Boyd, Prescott, Canada; first engineer, Albert Culder, Clayton, N. Y.; steward, Frank McQuilan, Ogdensburg, N. Y.; wheelsmen, William Brown, Ogdensburg, and Thomas Maguire, Chicago; firemen, Peter Lamoine, Prescott, Canada, and H. Davis, of Milwaukee; cook, George Drake of Ogdensburg, N. Y.; cabin boy, Frank Collett, of Milwaukee; watchman, John Quinn, of Ogdensburg, N. Y.; porter, T. P. Collett, of Milwaukee and John Fitzpatrick; Henry D. Johnson; S, Johnson; John Maginnis; John Fitzgerald and Albert Huehn, of Milwaukee, deckhands. One deckhand is missing, and is undoubtedly lost. The passengers were Andrew Clark and Christie Hull, of Ludington, Mich.; Carrie Brown and Lottie Maroeu, of Ogdensburg. The women suffered very little. All their baggage was saved. Three of the crew were badly frozen, but it is thought all will survive. Specials from the north of the State say the storm is the severest of the winter.
      Cleveland Herald
      Tuesday, February 1, 1881

      . . . . .

The propeller ST. ALBANS of 450 tons owned by the Northern Transit Co., went down in Lake Michigan about 1 o'clock Sunday afternoon. She sank about 1:30 with a load of flour, the crew and passengers (22) took to the boats and all were rescued. The ST. ALBANS was built at Cleveland by E.M. Peck in 1868
      Port Huron daily Times
      Tuesday, February 1, 1881
      . . . . .
      The Propeller ST. ALBANS.
Milwaukee, Feb. 1. -- Vessel men are of the opinion that the propeller ST. ALBANS, reported yesterday as sunken twenty miles off Milwaukee, in Lake Michigan, is yet afloat and will be kept so for several days by her cargo, which is largely of flour in barrels. As soon as the weather permits a propeller will be sent out to try and find her. However, the wind has been in shore since the disaster and it would seem that if the ST> ALBANS was yet afloat that she would have drifted in. Those of the passengers and crew who were severely frozen are doing well and all will recover.
      Cleveland Herald
      Wednesday, February 2, 1881

      . . . . .

      An effort will be made to raise the propeller St. ALBANS, which went down last February near Milwaukee.
      Cleveland herald
      July 6, 1881

      . . . . .

      Oshkosh, Wis., June 26. - Richard Raddatz, the inventor, is now giving the finishing touches to his submarine boat, and in a few days will start on a thousand-mile lake cruise, the objective of which is Chicago.
The young inventor and builder declares that his boat will make 700 miles of the journey under water.
The object of the trip is not only to give an elaborate public demonstration of the boat's utility to cruise beneath the surface of the water, but to prosecute a novel and extended scientific investigation of submarine currents and temperatures of the nature of the lake bottom at various points and depths. It is proposed incidentally to inspect the remains of the steamer St. ALBANS, which was sunk off Milwaukee in 1881.
Raddatz has full confidence in the ability of his craft to carry out this big undertaking successfully and he fully expects that when his cigar ship pushes her sharp nose into the Jackson Park lagoon he will be able to unfold a tale of submerged navigation such as no other sailor in all the world's history has been entitled to tell. His faith is not based upon speculation, but rests upon the success of numerous and well-authenticated tests made with both his first and latest model.
      Buffalo Sunday News
      Sunday, June 27, 1897
Propeller St. Albans. Of 435 tons. Built Cleveland by E. M. Peck in Aug. 1868. Owned by V. T. & N. T. Co. Home port, Cleveland. Value $25,000. Class, A 2
      National Board of lake Underwriters
      Classification for 1875

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Reason: sunk
Lives: 1 ?
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Wisconsin, United States
    Latitude: 43.0389 Longitude: -87.90647
William R. McNeil
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St. Albans (Propeller), sunk, 31 Jan 1881