The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Margaret Olwill (Propeller), U91953, sunk, 28 Jun 1899

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The Kelley Island limestone steamer MARGARET OLWILL foundered in a gale off Lorain, Ohio last night. The entire crew save one are missing. Capt. John C. Brown, his wife and son are said to have been on board, all of Port Huron.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Thursday, June 29, 1899

      Four member of the crew of the OLWILL have been picked up. Nine are believe lost. From the survivors, it is learned that the cargo of stone shifted while the vessel was laboring in the trough of the sea. The OLWILL left Kelley's Island Wednesday morning at 6 o'clock bound for Cleveland with 800 tons of limestone. The OLWILL lies in 50 feet of water eight miles off the piers at Lorain. She belonged to the L. P. & J. A. Smith Co., of Cleveland. She was launched in 1887 and was 185 x 33 and 554 gross tons.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Friday, June 30, 189

      Light Losses - OLWILL Disasters.
Insurance companies have certainly been very fortunate on the great lakes this year. They never had a year when a grain fleet equal to that which spent last winter in Chicago got through to Buffalo with so little damage. It is early to talk about profits or losses in the insurance business for the season of 1899, but it would seem now that in view of premiums higher than have prevailed for a long time past, the insurance companies will certainly find a profit in the season's business, unless they encounter several very heavy total losses. The total losses since the opening of navigation would be of very little account, if it were not for the number of lives lost, especially on the schooner NELSON, which foundered on Lake Superior, and the little wooden steamer MARGARET OLWILL, lost on Lake Erie a few days ago.
The OLWILL was not a new vessel and was not especially strong, but she was a far better craft than a great many others that engage in the same trade. Capt. Brown, who was lost with his wife, his boy and other relatives among the crew of the OLWILL, was well known in the St. Clair river country that turns out so many lake masters. He was a brother of Capt. Wesley Brown of the steamer NORTH LAND. Like a great many other ship masters who were out in the storm in which the OLWILL was lost he probably had no thought of a June blow lasting for any great length of time. At another season of the year he would have put back to Kelley's island immediately after the blow came on. But his vessel had been on the short run between the islands and Cleveland carrying stone for several years and had never encountered such weather during the summer months. The blow in which the OLWILL was lost was very severe. It is said that her rudder chains parted in turning her and while in the trough of the sea. It would probably have made little difference when once in the trough of the sea whether her rudder chains had parted or not. Then it was only a question of the power of the vessel. She undoubtedly lacked the power necessary to get out of the trough of the sea in such a storm. She was probably not overloaded. Her load of stone was shifted to one side by the great power of the waves dashing over her. She went over, the stone shifted with her, and she never came back. Such was undoubtedly the end of the OLWILL, which was probably not worth $10,000 herself, but with the loss of which some eight or ten lives were also carried off. The fact that this vessel carried three passengers, all of whom were lost, should prompt the government inspectors to unusual vigilance in enforcing the law against carrying passengers on freight carriers The inspectors are neglecting the most important duty entrusted to them when they do not follow up very closely all such violations of the law.
      Marine Review
      July 6, 1899
Steamer MARGARET OLWILL foundered off Lorain on June 28, 1899. Owned by L.P. & J.A. Smith of Cleveland. Value of vessel $900. Approx. value of loss $10,000.
      Casualty List for 1899 [total loss]
      Marine Review
      December 21, 1899
Steam screw MARGARET OLWILL. U. S. No. 91953. Of 554 tons gross; 489 tons net. Built Cleveland, Ohio, 1887. Home port, Cleveland, Ohio. 175.6 x 34.7 x 10.2
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1898

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 10
Hull damage: $900
Cargo: $10,000
Freight: stone
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.45282 Longitude: -82.18237
William R. McNeil
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Margaret Olwill (Propeller), U91953, sunk, 28 Jun 1899