The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Marine City (Schooner), U50516, waterlogged, 14 Nov 1901

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      Black River, November 12. -- The steamer D. F. ROSE and consorts THOMAS HOLLAND, MARINE CITY and BAHAMA, all loaded with pulpwood from Blind River to Detroit, went ashore on Scarecrow island in the fog yesterday afternoon at 5 o'clock.
      After considerable trouble the ROSE, MARINE CITY and BAHAMA were released from the rocks, but the HOLLAND is still fast. The crew, consisting of five men and one woman, were taken off by the life savers from Thunder Bay Island today and were brought here at 4 o'clock. The MARINE CITY waterlogged after her release and is now adrift on lake Huron The ROSE took off her crew. It is thought that the HOLLAND is not badly damaged and will be got off when the sea goes down
      Duluth News Tribune
      November 13, 1901

Goderich, Ont., November 15. -- The barge MARINE CITY, with four members of the crew of the Canadian steamer INDIA aboard, is somewhere on Lake Huron below this point. What has become of the vessel and the four men have not been learned up to noon today. It is believed the craft must have gone ashore, however, before this. Yesterday the INDIA sighted the MARINE CITY forty-five miles north of Thunder Bay. There was not a soul on board, the vessel having been abandoned. The INDIA succeeded in getting a line to the derelict and put four men on board in order to handle her in towing. The steamer and derelict arrived off this harbor last night, but on account of the terrific northwest gale they could not get into harbor. During the night the MARINE CITY broke away, taking the four men from the INDIA with her. The INDIA succeeded in getting into the harbor this morning. From the direction of the wind it is believed that the barge will be driven ashore about twelve miles south of this harbor. The MARINE CITY is loaded with pulpwood for Buffalo.
      The MARINE CITY it will be remembered was abandoned by her crew after being released from Scarecrow Island, Lake Huron, on Monday.
      Duluth News Tribune
      November 15, 1901

      They Were On The Barge MARINE CITY, Which Broke Up In The Storm.
Goderich, Ont., Nov. 16. -- There can no longer be any doubt regarding the fate of the four men who were aboard the barge MARINE CITY which broke from he anchorage off this port during the terrific gale of Thursday night. The dead are: James Halpin, second engineer, Kingston, Ont.
      Anthony Connelly, fireman, Kingston, Ont.
      Frank Lawrence, sailor, Kingston, Ont.
      They were part of the crew of the Canadian steamer INDIA, which picked up the abandoned wreck of the MARINE CITY on Lake Huron last Wednesday. In order to tow the barge the men were sent from the INDIA to the derelict and succeeded in passing a towline to the wreck. The INDIA towed the barge from forty miles north of Thunder Bay to this port, but during the night the vessel disappeared from her anchorage. Today part of the cabin of the missing barge, with a lot of other wreckage, is being cast up on the beach south of here by the northwest gale, which has continued ever since the disaster. It is now deemed certain by marine men that the barge was broken up by the storm, and the four on board were unable to save themselves.
      The MARINE CITY first went ashore on Scarecrow Island last Monday and was abandoned by her crew. Soon afterwards she was floated off by a rise in the stage of water and drifted into lake Huron, where she was sighted by the INDIA. Her cargo consisted of pulpwood.
      The MARINE CITY came out in 1866, and had a gross measurement of 337 tons, and rated B 1-1/2
      Duluth News Tribune
      November 16, 1901

      The four men of the steamer INDIA who boarded the derelict schooner MARINE CITY last Wednesday are dead. The INDIA had towed the MARINE CITY from 40 miles north of Thunder Bay to Goderich, but during the night the schooner disappeared from the ancorage.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Monday, November 18, 1901
      November 14, 1901. -- Barge MARINE CITY, laden with pulpwood, stranded on Scarecrow island, Lake Huron, and went adrift after the crew had left her, later was picked up by the Canadian steamer INDIA and towed to anchorage off Goderich, Ont., where she went to pieces, drowning a salvage crew of four persons.
      Wrecks on the Great lakes
      Casualty List for 1901
      Marine Record
      January 13, 1902
Barge MARINE CITY. U. S. No. 50516. Of 337.80 tons gross; 320.91 tons net. Built Marine City, Mich., 1866. Home port, Marine City, Mich.
      Merchant Vessels List, U. S., 1885 [unrigged vessels]
      . . . . .

      ( A Kingston Tragedy)
      By Arthur Norris
      From the Kingston, Ontario British Whig of November 16, 1901
      Kingston Men Lost
      Four of them thought to have been drowned
Goderich Ont. Nov 16. - There can no longer be any doubt regarding the fate of the four men aboard the schooner Marine City which broke adrift from her anchorage off this port during the terrific gale of Thursday night. Part of the Marine City's cabin along with other wreckage has drifted ashore. The four men were from the crew of the steambarge India which found the schooner drifting and abandoned about forty miles north of Thunder Bay Island and towed her here. The names of the men are James Halpin*, Kingston 2nd engineer, Anthony La Rush, Garden Island mate, James Connelly, Kingston, fireman, Frank Lawrence,* sailor. 1

*James Halpin was the great uncle by marriage of Arthur Norris of Kingston and Frank Lawrence was the great-grandfather of James Lawrence of Kingston.

Sometime on Monday November 11, 1901 the U. S. flag, 2 masted, schooner Marine City ( 147 ft x 27.7ft x 10.5ft) 337gt. which had been built in Marine City Mi. in 1866 by Thomas Arnold and David Lester as a lumber drogher, loaded with pulpwood, bound from Blind River to Detroit; ran aground on Scarecrow Island, Lake Huron and was abandoned by her crew. She did not sink but eventually slipped off the rocks and remained afloat.

On Wednesday November 13, 1901 the Calvin and Company steambarge India of Garden Island Ontario (215.75ft x 36.33ft x 15ft 573gt) loaded with grain for Goderich, Ontario under the command of Captain Malone of Kingston, Ontario came apon the abandoned Marine City near Thunder Bay Island, Lake Huron.

From the evidence given before the Wreck Commissioner's Court held at Kingston Ontario during January and February 1902, Commander O.G.V. Spain R.N. presiding; with Commissioners Edward Adams, Chairman of the Board of Steamboat Inspection and Patrick Harty, Inspector of Lights Above Montreal. Counsel appearing were G.M. Macdonnell K.C. and T.J. Rigney for the families and J.L.Whiting K.C. for Captain Malone and Dr. Walkem K.C. for the Calvin Company:

The Marine City was right in the track of the India . There being no wind at the time Captain Malone came close alongside. Under instructions from Captain Malone a boat was lowered and four men; Anthony LaRush first mate, James Halpin 2nd engineer, James Connelly fireman, and Frank Lawrence wheelsman rowed over. Captain Malone asked if there was any water in her and mate LaRush replied that there was none. Captain Malone then ordered the Marine City to be taken in tow. This was soon done using a very old hawser which was later to be the subject of much testimony as to its condition. The India's boat was hauled back to the India by means of a painter which had been tied to it when it left the India.Whether this boat should have been left with the men of the Marine City was to be the subject of considerable testimony before the court.

5:30 pm Wednesday November 13, 1901 the India with the Marine City in tow arrives off the Port Of Goderich. but made no attempt to enter the harbour; Captain Malone claiming that he could not see the range lights, as it was snowing at the time. 2nd mate John Lawrence (son of wheelsman Frank Lawrence) claimed that he could see the lights. Indeed the large laker SS. Donacona (Capt. Foote) entered Goderich Harbour at this time, as did the tug Huron and the steamer Rosedale (Capt. Ewart). The India with the Marine City in tow anchors, about a mile, off the port but on finding it not to be good holding ground the India moves out to deeper water about five or six miles off shore, Marine City in tow.

After anchoring in deep water the weather began to worsen and sometime between 8:45 pm and 1:00 am the tow line broke but the Marine City immediately got her anchor down and it held. At this time there is a diversity of opinion as to the safety of lowering a boat and going to the succour of the men on the Marine City. They thus rode out the night in an ever increasing gale.

Between 7 and 8 am. Thursday Nov 14, 1901 the men on the Marine City, according to some testimony, hoisted a flag of distress. It was reported in the local newspaper, Goderich Star, that some crew on the India heard a cry from the Marine City of " For God's sake take us off this". According to much of the testimony before the court a boat could have safely been sent to the Marine City anytime up to 9:00 am. on Thursday. Although the boats were only 300 or 400 feet apart all forenoon nothing was done to try and rescue the men, in fact nothing was done until 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon when Captain Malone tried to drag back on his anchor to get closer to the Marine City which he was unable to do. According to Commissioner Harty's report there was no evidence that at any time a signal was given for one of the 2 tugs, with steam up, in Goderich Harbour to render assistance nor was any flag of distress flown from the India. Captain Malone in one part of his testimony before the court states that the men went to the Marine City without his orders because " they thought there was money in it".1 but this does not seem to be borne out by his previous testimony before the court that the boat was lowered by his orders and that he had ordered the Marine City to be taken in tow. According to Commissioner Harty's report "From the Captain's evidence it is shown that no one was instructed to watch the Marine City during the gale."4 The Marine City disappeared about 9:15pm. of Nov. 14th. Some of the witnesses state that the Marine City had earlier signaled that she had several feet of water in the hold.. Again from Commissioner Harty's report " no effort appears to have been made to search for the missing boat". 4

The India and its crew made no attempt to search for the wreckage or any survivors from the Marine City instead she waited at anchor over night Thursday Nov 14th off Goderich and entered harbour Friday morning to off-load her grain. Captain Malone did not even bother reporting the loss of the Marine City and his crewmen until Captain Craigie commander of the local lifeboat visited the India and learned what had happened.. Captain Craigie immediately sent telegrams to different points along the shore seeking tidings of the missing Marine City. Early Friday evening Nov. 15th Captain Craigie learned from Bayfield (south of Goderich) that wreckage from the Marine City was washing on shore.

On Saturday Nov. 16th the India completes unloading of her grain, Captain Malone signs on four new hands and in the evening the India sails for Fort William.

On Nov. 25, 1901 John J. Halpin (brother of the drowned James Halpin) writes from the Ottawa House Hotel ( my grandfather's hotel) in Kingston to the Honourable James Sutherland Minister of Marine and Fisheries stating " I have reason to believe that on the part of the Captain of the steambarge India proper efforts were not made to rescue the men whom he had put on board the abandoned schooner Marine City. I respectfully ask that an investigation be held by the proper authorities"5

The Honourable James Sutherland duly caused the Wreck Commissioner's Court, cited above, to open in the City Hall Kingston Ontario on Saturday January 25, 1902, with further sittings on January 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st.

Captain Malone's testimony before the Court was a straight forward telling of the events that transpired. The only areas in his testimony that did not ring true were that he claimed that the four men went to the Marine City of their own proposition; they thought that there was money in it, there was a mutual agreement"; but this was not borne out by a previous statement of his that the boat was lowered by his orders and he ordered the Marine City to be taken in tow. His reasoning in not leaving the India's yawl boat with the Marine City was vague as was his testimony about the condition of the hawser used to tow the Marine City. He gave no explanation as to why he did not organize a search for the Marine City and the men on her after the India got into Goderich Harbour. He claimed that if he had manned a boat to go to the assistance of the men on the Marine City on Thursday that there would have been no crew left in charge of the India (the India had a crew of 15). He claimed that the men on the Marine City did not ask for a boat. He said he did not see that the Marine City was gradually sinking. He claimed he received no messages from the men on the Marine City.

The Chief Engineer Thomas C. Smith, who did not always get along with Captain Malone, testified that he didn't think that the loss of life could have been avoided. He claimed he heard no orders to pick up the Marine City and that the mate had told him he wanted to go to the Marine City "because there was money in the job". 1

The testimony on Monday January 27, 1901 of 2nd mate John Lawrence was the most damming. It began in the morning in the Kingston City Hall in an atmosphere according to the British Whig newspaper " that would put a barn to shame. The old antiquated box stoves were loath to perform their functions, and so the commissioners and counsel were obliged to rub their hands and exclaim "How cold it is"".1

When sworn the witness said he was second mate on the India having shipped in the spring of 1900, Captain gave the witness orders to get the small boat ready. The Captain told him to call the watch, which he did. As the watch did not at once turn out the Captain told the mate to go up and lower the boat. LaRush (the first mate) and Connelly, Halpin and Lawrence got into the boat. They were not told to get into the boat but went of their own accord. These men were not on duty at the time. The second engineer (Halpin) went to the Captain and asked him " Is there anything in it?" 1 "Sure" replied the Captain, whereupon the engineer got in the boat. 1

According to Lawrence when the boat was lowered the Captain told them to go directly to the Marine City. The men got the boat alongside. One of the men was going to take the boats painter up with him when the Captain stated " Never mind the painter let the boat come back". 1 The witness pulled the boat back at the request of the Captain..

The tow line looked as if it had been broken. It was fixed to the India's post. The Marine City was about 100 feet astern. The Captain thought the tow line was too short. A scrub line was attached, this was in very poor condition. The Marine City's line was then bent on to the India's which then started to tow her.

In the witnesses opinion there was no reason why the India should not have entered the harbour. About four miles off Goderich the India threw her anchor. There was no sea at the time but the wind was beginning to blow. At this time Lawrence heard the Chief Engineer ask the Captain if he could take the second engineer and fireman off the Marine City if he could send a boat.. The Captain answered that it would be impossible as the boat would be smashed. Chief Engineer Smith then suggested that they draw up to the derelict and let the men jump off. The Captain said that the men would be all right till morning..

Lawrence stated that the barge broke away between 8 and 9 pm and drifted about a quarter mile and let go her anchor.

The witness claimed that he got signals from the mate on the Marine City that there was six or eight feet of water in the hold., he reported this to the Captain who said: " I know it. I know it. I can see her going down. They're all right. She can't sink further than deck two. If she sinks the men can take to the rigging". 1 Lawrence claimed he replied that the men couldn't live very well in the rigging on such a day and that he asked the Captain to drop directly ahead so as to throw a line to the Marine City. He claimed that the Captain walked away without replying. He claimed that he would have taken chances and hoved alongside the Marine City to get the men off. He further claimed that when they reached Goderich the next morning the Captain of the life saving crew told him that if the Captain had blown a whistle he would have sent a tug to bring the barge in.

Commander Spain asked Lawrence if he could see the range lights when first off Goderich Harbour. He said that he could and pointed them out to the Captain who said he could see them but wouldn't trust himself to go in. Lawrence claimed that in his opinion there was nothing to stop them from going into the harbour.

C.M. Macdonnell counsel for the plaintiffs was the first to address the court. he stated that as he looked at it it was a case of seeing whether Captain Maolne was guilty of negligence or not..Captain Malone was bound to take ordinary care of his men. The Marine City was unsafe when the men were put on her. It was captain Malone's duty to take all possible precautions against all dangers that might arise.

He stated that," Judging by the acts of the deceased seamen they meant by their acts to keep the yawl boat on the Marine City. Here was the first violation of duty on the part of Captain Malone. The captain had two excuses for this.. First that the davits of the Marine City were defective; second that he expected to reach Goderich before dark. Every member of the crew, except one, denied the truth of the first excuse." 1

"We deny that there was any volunteering," said Mr. Macdonnell. 1 " Even if they can be regarded in the light of volunteers that does not relieve the Captain of the responsibility of protecting them to the best of his ability."1

" The Captain testified," said Macdonnell, "that he had no idea of taking the boat in tow at first as he thought there was something wrong with her before I sent the men to inspect her then he said afterwards that the men went voluntarily. These statements are wide apart and show the value of the Captain's testimony." 1

Mr. Macdonnell then takes up the point of the tow line being defective and that "the Captain showed a reckless disregard of duty to use it.. When the Captain decided that he must remain outside the Port of Goderich he should have made some arrangements for the protection of his men. He did not. On Thursday did Captain Malone have any right to say the men were in no danger when he saw the distress flag? It was his duty to respond to the flag.. Why did the India not go into the harbour on Thursday morning and then send out assistance to her tow (there were two tugs, with steam up in the harbour)? Captain Malone's conduct showed that he had no proper sense of responsibility. When he entered Goderich he didn't go to Captain Craigie (commander of the local life saving station) to get him to search along the shore.." 1

Counsel Macdonnell concluded "It is failure, negligence-criminal negligence throughout and I ask the court to so find it". 1

Dr. R.T. Walkem, counsel for Calvin and Co., next addressed the court. " The facts if viewed carefully prove that no charge of negligence can be brought against Captain Malone", he stated. 1 "If it was necessary that a boat should have been left on the Marine City, the men would have protested against it being taken away. Plaintiffs claimed that the tow rope was too weak but it was the only one they had on board and brought that vessel safely into Goderich Harbour. There was no apprehension that the men placed on board the Marine City were in danger. The Chief Engineer wanted his men back, not because they were in danger, but because he needed his assistant engineer and fireman. The evidence was that a tug could not have gone out of the harbour on Thursday, yet the plaintiff's counsel says that the India could have gone in. A small boat could not have lived in the sea that prevailed that day. The Captain did everything that reasonably could be done." 1

J. L. Whiting addressed the court in the interests of Captain Malone. "That gentleman", counsel said, "had no idea but that the Marine City would weather the storm and he knew that a yawl boat could not live. The most experienced man on board, was the first engineer, he swore that in his opinion ," I do not think that the loss of those lives could have been avoided". All that any man could have done was done." 1

The court then adjourned with the announcement by Commander Spain that notice would be given in the daily press of the date on which the court would re-convene to announce its decision.

On Saturday March 15 1902 the court re-convened at the Kingston City Hall and Commander Spain announced the findings of the court. " That Captain Malone did all that was possible to do under the then existing conditions. The court is of the opinion that Captain Malone should be exonerated in that he did all that was possible for an experienced man to do under the then existing circumstances and his certificate is returned which is done herewith. Mr. Harty one of the assessors dissenting, Assessor Adams agreeing.

The court desires to point out that there is apparently a lack of discipline on board vessels of the class of the India as it does not seem correct that the first mate and three men should leave a ship without first receiving direct orders from the Captain".2

In his dissenting report Assessor, Patrick Harty, states. " After carefully considering the evidence I am firmly convinced that there are good grounds for believing that, at any time up to 9 o'clock on Thursday morning , there was a good chance of saving the four men on the Marine City if Captain Malone had adopted one of two courses; 1st. to have sent a boat from the India on Wednesday night or Thursday morning or; 2nd. to have signaled for a tug or life boat on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. This could have been done wither by hoisting a flag of distress or by blowing a whistle. At no time does Captain Malone appear to have expressed the slightest regret or anxiety as to the dangerous position in which the men were placed or the possibility of them losing their lives.

I am of the opinion that Captain Malone did not use all proper efforts to rescue the men placed on board of the derelict schooner Marine City."4

1) The Kingston Daily Whig of November 16, 1901 and January 25, 27, 28, 29 30, 31 and March 15, 2002
2) Report of Commander O.G.V. Spain, Chairman, Wreck Commissioner's Court
3) Report of Edward Adams, Assessor, Wreck Commissioner's Court
4) Dissenting report of Patrick Harty, Assessor, Wreck commissioner's Court
5) Letter of John J. Halpin to the Minister of Marine and Fisheries of November 25, 1901
1) The Kingston Daily Whig of November 16, 1901 and January 25, 27, 28, 29 30, 31 and March 15, 2002
2) The Scanner of April 1976-Ship of the Month No. 56, India of Garden Island.
3)Letter of John J. Halpin to the Minister of Marine and Fisheries of November 25, 1901
4) Report of Commander O.G.V. Spain, Chairman, Wreck Commissioner's Court
5) Report of Edward Adams, Assessor, Wreck Commissioner's Court
6) Dissenting report of Patrick Harty, Assessor, Wreck commissioner's Court

      . . . . .

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: waterlogged
Lives: 4
Freight: pulpwood
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.75008 Longitude: -81.71648
William R. McNeil
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Marine City (Schooner), U50516, waterlogged, 14 Nov 1901