The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Hartford (Schooner), U95229, sunk, 11 Oct 1894

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HARTFORD Built 1873 Schooner - Wood
U. S. No. 95229 323 gt - 307 nt 137' x 26' x 11'
Foundered in Mexico Bay, lake Ontario, October 11, 1894
      Toledo Shipbuilding Master List
      Institute for Great Lakes research
      Perrysburg, Ohio
      . . . . .
      Wrecked at Mid-day in Mexico Bay -The Story of Eye Witnesses

Between twelve and one o'clock on Thursday last the canal schooner HARTFORD, bound from Detroit to Cape Vincent with a cargo of wheat foundered in Mexico bay, a mile north from outlet of Wigwam Cove, and fully two miles in the lake. All on board were lost-captain, crew of five men the captain's wife and daughter, a babe of about five months.
The day was a boisterous one. The wind came in gusts and ever and anon rain fell in torrents, veiling the tempestuous water in mist. The storm increased in fury with the day until at noon the waves rose and fell as in the
fiercest winter gale. It was then that the Hartford went down will all on board.
How this staunch vessel with a captain second to none, manned by a competent crew, came into Mexico bay and was lost can only be conjectured and not answered.
It was fully 10:30 on Thursday morning when Lookout Jenkins of the Life Saving crew, sighted the HARTFORD standing southerly into Mexico bay. She was then somewhere about twelve miles out. Shortly after 11 o¹clock she came apparently to anchor and Captain Fish getting a range on her to see if she were drifting, found that she held her own and seemed in a fair way to ride out the storm, as the crew now and then caught a glimpse of the vessel
through a break in the mist.. No time was lost, however, by Captain Fish in speculating as to the result, for the crew immediately took the beach apparatus and started south on the beach to cover as rapidly as possible the five miles that lay between them and the schooner. While they toiled along the beach catching now and then a glimpse of the Hartford through the mist she became a wreck. On reaching the Colwell(?) Or Sturgeon Point , the crew saw that the main and mizzen masts were gone. Captain Fish having confirmed this by climbing a tree that he might better overlook the towering waves. He saw that the beach apparatus would now be useless as the HARTFORD would not
come ashore and ordered the crew back to the station for the lifeboat. Captain Fish says: We had but started to return when I observed that the foremast was gone." The HARTFORD had gone down.
Mrs. E. O. Bartlett was one of the few who saw the HARTFORD before she went down. Through a powerful glass she watched the vessel as she came in toward shore when it seemed to her as though she were making for the mouth of Little Sandy. She could plainly see sailors hurry about on the deck; the vessel careen on her side; the spars carried away, the crew disappear, and the waters cover the once noble vessel. Mr Bartlett, who had been away all this morning came to the house at just 11:45 took another powerful glass and went on to the beach. Before the coroners inquest he stated that when he reached the beach a quarter of a mile distant, not a human form was visible on the wreck. He watched her for half an hour before the spars went out. Every now and then he thought he saw a human form, but when he came to bring his glass to bear on the object it proved to be nothing more than a furled sail. He watched the wreck unit 3 or 4 o'clock when all her masts had been carried away; the wreck was not again visible that day. About this time the wreckage began to come in, and before five o'clock when he left the beach, three hatches, the yawl, a tub, spars stools, and brooms were being washed on to the shore. Mr. Mathew Chrisman also corroborated Mr. Bartlett.s statement in its essential detail.
During the night, Messrs. J. L. Wallace and F. L. Bishop of this village;¹ A. A. Maltby and Sheriff Bean of Pulaski, patrolled the beach and about 11 o'clock picked up the lifeless form of Mary Kathlene O'Toole, the five month
old child, of the captain. This is the only body which has been recovered. Whatever of value came ashore that night was carried off by the lawless characters about the beach so that by morning not so much as a hinge could
be found other than the yawl, masts, rudder and cabin deck. The vessel retained her sails though she was stripped of every thing on her deck. No grain has yet come ashore.
The vessel sailed from Detroit the 5th inst. With 10,000 bushels of red and 12,000 bushels of white wheat, consigned to Farwell and Rhines of Watertown, left the canal Tuesday night with a head wind, and the wind increasing, anchored off Toronto Point till noon on Wednesday when she came down the lake before a west wind, past Sodus and Oswego. How she came the south shore of the lake will ever be a mystery. Th vessel was not insured, though the grain was fully insured, and it was that fact let Captain O¹Toole to anchor his vessel and endeavor to ride out the storm, when by beaching her he might possibly have saved the lives of some of the crew.
The vessel had on board Captain William O'Toole , aged forty-five Mrs. William O'Toole aged thirty five and infant daughter; Damas Turgeon, mate aged forty eight; Michael Purcell, aged twenty eight William Donaldson, aged
eighteen, a man named Farquhaurson, of Grindstone Island; Dennis McCarthy of Oswego.
Captain O'Toole leaves five children between two and a half and eleven years. He carried $4,000 insurance and owned an interest in the vessel and a home. His children at home were in the care of his mother. The owners of boat were besides Captain O'Toole, Supervisor William A. Consaul and George H. McKinley, all of Clayton, and valued her at $5,000.
The beach was lined with people all day Friday. Coroner Nelson visited the scene and impaneled the following jury: Dr. J. Lyman, Buckley Foreman, F. Dudley Corse, F. E. Smith J. U. Potter, A. B. House C. Y. Wimple, Ora S. Potter C. W. Colony, and adjourned until Monday. The testimony before the jury is in keeping with the above account of the disaster. The jury adjourned Monday until Friday when Captain Fish of the Life Saving station will testify.
The Life crew made a second attempt to reach the wreck with the life boat. A team which was on the beach at the time was hitched to the life boat but the evener parted the crew launched the boat in the surf and rowed along the shore. Captain Fish was washed overboard and was badly bruised but was rescued by Hagadone and Ward. The life boat was so badly stove in, her stern being knocked off and part of her shoe as well as damaging her bottom in
several places. When the crew reached the vicinity of the wreck, they found that nothing was to be seen of her and returned to the station, reaching there at ten or eleven o¹clock at night, badly broken up.
On Friday Messrs. G. H. McKinley, P. K. Hayes, brother-in-law of O'Toole, and A. Manson, father of Mrs. O'Toole all of Clayton, visited the wreck and spent several days here, Mr. Hayes returning Saturday night and Mr. McKinley
on Monday. They made their headquarters at Mr. William Persons. No bodies have come ashore and it would seem after careful investigation that the criticism of the life crew in some quarters is uncalled for and without foundation. Mr. Bartlett and Mr. Chrisman both testified before the coroners jury that it was doubtful if the live crew could have reached the wreck that day under any circumstances as the waves were the highest ever seen at this season of the year.
Mr. Peter Gilbert has made a further inspection of the wreck, and finds that the decks are forty feet under water, and that both anchors are cast.
      Sandy Creek News
      Thursday October 18, 1894

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 8
Freight: grain
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.51896 Longitude: -76.2991
William R. McNeil
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Hartford (Schooner), U95229, sunk, 11 Oct 1894