The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), Wed. Oct. 31, 1883

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In the United States District court yesterday Judge Blodgett rendered a decision of considerable importance to vessel owners, as it relates to the responsibility of carrying cargoes in unseaworthy craft. In June, 1880, Purvis & Dunn shipped a cargo containing 19,000 bushels of corn to Kingston on the schooner Lily Hamilton. The schooner was but six years old, and classed by the insurance companies as A2. She left Chicago and proceeded as far as the Welland Canal without mishap. While in the canal and towing through a rocky cut at Thorold, Ont., she struck a rock, which stopped her headway. The rock rolled under her as she passed over it. After going 500 feet further she filled with water and settled to the bottom. A diver made an examination of her as she lay on the bottom, and discovered a hole eight inches in diameter between the frames on her starboard bow under the turn of the bilge. Before the hole could be stopped up 11,000 bushels of corn of her cargo was wet, the remainder being taken out dry and turned over to the underwriters, the Phoenix Insurance company. When the vessel had been raised and placed in the dry dock it was found that the plank through which the hole had been punched was worn down to only one and one half inches in thickness. The damaged grain was sold at Thorold for 15¢ per bushel, and suit was brought by the shippers of the cargo against the owners of the schooner to recover damages. The libellants claimed that the vessel was unseaworthy on account of the thinness of the plank at the time that the cargo was taken on board, and therefore the owners were liable for damages. The defendants allege that they were not aware that the planks were worn, and proved that the vessel was perfectly tight on her voyage and would have taken the cargo through safely had she not struck a rock; also that the force of the blow was sufficient to have broken a plank three or four inches in thickness. Judge Blodgett, however, decided that the planks were too thin for a seaworthy vessel, and held that the owners were liable for loss and damages. - [Chicago Tribune, Tuesday.

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Item Type:
This clipping shows how ragged were some of the vessels that sailors were risking their lives on every day, and some vessel owners' attitude toward them. The Lilly Hamilton received major repairs in 1880 and went on for five more years before being lost on Lake Michigan in August, 1885. She was only six years old in 1880, and most wooden schooners of the era went on literally until they were either wrecked or were no longer able to stay afloat, some lasting 40 years or more.
Date of Original:
Wed. Oct. 31, 1883
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Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
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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Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), Wed. Oct. 31, 1883