The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Tuesday, Nov. 23,1880

Full Text
Loss of the Schr. Falmouth
How she sunk on reaching Buffalo -- The statement of the crew -- The death of the cook.

The experience and wreck of the Schr. Falmouth of Oswego, Thomas Murray master, S.D. Becker mate, and a crew of four seamen and a female cook which left Toledo last Friday for Oswego, with a cargo of 16,500 bushels of wheat is thus described by one of the crew to the Buffalo Express:

"We left Toledo Friday noon with a fair and moderately strong breeze, which held until Saturday afternoon, when it commenced to freshen and blow strong from the west'ard. About 4 o'clock we took in the light sails and single reefed her. At this time we were about twenty miles above Long Point; it was very cold and the wind was increasing, with heavy snow squalls. About 7 o'clock we were abreast the point and Capt. Murray hauled her by the wind to try and make the anchorage ground under the lee of the point, but her centre-board being foul in the box we could not lower it, and consequently she would not fetch the anchorage. After standing an hour and a half on the port tack, the captain took the mainsail off her and squared away for Buffalo. She came on all right until about abreast of Grand River when we were struck by a heavy squall from the northwest which parted our fore, and main sheets, carrying away the fore-boom, foe-gaff and main-gaff. We took in the canvas as best we could and after considerable trouble got the wreck of the fore-boom in on deck, and run her down the rest of the way under stay-sail and jib. At this time it was blowing a strong gale with a heavy sea from the southwest, and intensely cold, every drop of water that touched the rigging or spars freezing almost instantly. Shortly before three o'clock yesterday morning we made Buffalo light, but could only see it at intervals between the heavy squalls. The wind shifted to the northwest shortly before we made the light, and we hauled her up as much as she would bear, so as to get well to the north of the north end of the breakwater, but the wind was so strong that it drove us down and she head-reached very little making very nearly a beam course. When about half a mile from the breakwater the tug Compound came out and offered to take our tow-line, but our hawsers and regular tow-line which were on the fore-hatch were so hard frozen we could do nothing with them, and the only line available was a small four- inch one, which we gave over the starboard bow. In taking the line it fouled in some way with our small anchor and carried it over the bow. As soon as she got all right the tug straightened out on the line, but the moment she did so it parted, and there was no other available line except a five inch one which was down below. This line the mate and one of the men went down forward to get. The vessel in the meantime drifted down on to the breakwater, striking it about fifty feet from the north end, almost stem on and before the other line could be got out she settled down and sank. Finding she was making water rapidly, the mate and hand who were below came on deck and found that the rest of the crew exception of the cook, had jumped on the breakwater. The mate went into the cabin to try and persuade the cook to save herself, but she refused to leave without her things, and asked him to help her pack her trunk. He assisted her in putting in a few articles, but finding the vessel rapidly settling he told her of her danger and tried to get her on deck but she refused point blank to leave without her things and finding he could do nothing with hr he was compelled to leave her in order to save his own life. She appeared somewhat dazed, and probably did not realize her great danger; she seemed to think they were so close to the lighthouse that they must be saved. The mate went on deck and had barely time to seize the mizzen-mast halyards and swing himself on to the breakwater before the vessel heeled to starboard and sunk in about four fathoms of water, a few feet from the breakwater. We were then brought ashore by the tug Rambler, almost starved with cold, our clothes having been frozen stiff. We saved none of our effects as we had no time to do so, as the vessel commenced settling down almost immediately after she struck. The mate saved a few things which were in a bag, and which he picked up when he went into the cabin to try and persuade the cook to come out.

The Buffalo Express says the cook's name could not be learned. She shipped at Buffalo two or three weeks ago, was a widow and from Hamilton Ontario. The Courier says that the Falmouth's foremast broke off and her maintopmast came down before she sunk which was within 25 minutes after she first struck. The Express says Capt. Murray seemed to be worn out by exposure and trouble. The captain, mate and crew got off by way of climbing the rigging and leaping to the pier.

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Tuesday, Nov. 23,1880
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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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Oswego Palladium (Oswego, NY), Tuesday, Nov. 23,1880