The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Collingwood (Schooner), U4344, sunk, 23 Nov 1882

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The schooner COLLINGWOOD, with cedar posts for Chicago from St. Helena, was lost Thursday afternoon on Lake Michigan. Four were drowned. Three were saved. She went down 15 miles northeast of Milwaukee and 15 miles from shore. The propeller WISCONSIN picked up the three floating on a raft which was part of the cabin.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Monday, November 27, 1882
      The schooner COLLINGWOOD, with cedar posts for Chicago from St. Helena was Lost on Thursday afternoon on Lake Michigan. captain Hugh Willis and three men of the crew were drowned. R.D. Sheldon, mate, of Chicago; Frank McFee and Nicholas Johnson, seamen, and Herman Gruter, the steward, took to a raft made of fragments of the vessel's cabin. Gruter died from the terrible exposure and his body washed overboard. The other three were picked up by the propeller WISCONSIN, Captain McGregor, and were landed at Milwaukee Saturday morning, whence they came to Chicago by rail. They are in a pitiable condition. The following statement, made by one of the survivors, gives the whole sad story. When the vessel went down she was fifteen miles northeast of Milwaukee and about fifteen miles from land. The WISCONSIN picked the survivors up about twenty-five miles off Grand Haven, the having drifted over to that shore:
" The COLLINGWOOD was loaded with cedar posts, and was bound from St. Helena to Chicago. St. Helena is near the mouth of the Straits. During the gale Thursday afternoon the vessel became waterlogged, and we worked the pumps for all it was worth. About 4 o'clock in the afternoon the pump got choked, and things looked pretty blue, I tell you. The gale was blowing from the northwest, and about 5 o'clock the sea made the vessel roll over. There we lay, right on the broadside, till the top-mast went out, when with a great groan she straightened up on her beam ends and kept that way for about an hour. Then all of a sudden, the decks burst up, caused by the pressure of the water against the cargo, and she rolled over and went down head first. The whole crew, eight of us, were all hanging for dear life to the taffrail, think that it would be the last thing that would give way. After she went down the sea washed over us. The Captain and the three other men who were lost were seen floating with posts under their arms. There was a piece of deck about six feet square, and three of us got onto that. Sheldon got onto another raft, the one we three were on when we were picked up. Four of us finally got on that raft. We suffered terribly, the air being biting cold, and a fierce gale blowing. To make matters worse the
during Thursday night, and it was all that two of us could do to keep the poor fellow on the raft. All throught the night and during Friday the man fought us, and several times he succeeded in getting into the water, but we dragged him out. About 4 o'clock Friday afternoon his strength gave out, and after a last maniacal struggle he died. We held on to his body for awhile, but had to let it was overboard, finally as we had no way of fastening it to the raft, we took some papers and thing out of his pockets, and among them was a receipt for a considerable sum of money that he had deposited with a Chicago storekeeper named Jacobs. Early Friday morning all of us became totally blind from the terrible exposure. hat, of course, tended to aggravate our sufferings. How we managed live so long under the circumstances the Lord only knows. But we couldn't have lasted much longer. Friday night we were so sleepy that it was with difficulty we could keep our eyes open. The raft gradually began lowering as the posts under it absorbed the water, and from dark on until the time we were found we stood in water the whole time nearly knee-deep. If there had been any place to sit down we would have gone to sleep and frozen to death. We continued walking from one end to the other, and some one would occasionally go to sleep while walking and step overboard. The others would pull the unfortunate back onto the raft. McFee walked off the raft three during the night, and I succeeded after great trouble in getting him back each time. For thirty-one hours we didn't have a thing to eat. I managed to dig a little bit of oakum out of the raft, and the three of us chewed this twelve hours, McFee would have died in a couple of hours if we hadn't been picked up. He was beginning to act crazy, and was so numb that it was with difficulty that we kept him on his feet. It the WISCONSIN hadn't come along just when she did it would have been good-bye with us, for we couldn't have lived much longer, and we realized also that the raft was gradually becoming waterlogged and sinking."
of the three seamen drowned with Captain Willis are not learned. They hailed from Chicago. Of the survivors, Sheldon resides in Chicago, where he has a wife and family. Johnson resides at Wallaceburg, Ont., and McFee, on Amherst Island, Ont.
      Captain Willis hailed from Kingston. He was about 45 years of age and was stated to have been single. he was an old and thorough navigator.
      The COLLINGWOOD was built in 1855, but had been several times rebuilt. Her measurement was 258 tons. She was owned by captain William Keith of Chicago. The vessel was worth about $4,000 and the cargo about $2,000. No insurance
      J. W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, No. 2, November, 1882

      TOTAL LOSSES, 1882
      [Inter Ocean Casualty List]
NOV. 23. - - Schooner COLLINGWOOD, in Lake Michigan. Four lives lost.
      J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, December, 1882

Schooner COLLINGWOOD, U. S. No. 4344. Of 258.17 tons gross. Home port, Chicago.
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1871
Two masted Schooner COLLINGWOOD. U. S. No. 4344. Of 258 tons. Built at Buffalo, N.Y., by F.N. Jones in 1855. 131.8 x 28.4 x 11.1. Sunk Lake Michigan 1882
      Herman Runge List

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 4
Freight: cedar posts
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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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Collingwood (Schooner), U4344, sunk, 23 Nov 1882