The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
M. J. Cummings (Schooner), U90592, sunk, 18 May 1894

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Milwaukee, May 18. -- The schooner CUMMINGS is ashore near here. Two seamen are reported drowned. The life-saving crew's boats capsized in an attempt to get out. The Racine life-saving crew has been sent for to assist the Milwaukee crew.
      The schooner M.J. CUMMINGS is of 314 tons, built by Goble of Oswego in 1874 and owned by the Lyons estate of that place. She is valued at $5,000 and is classed A 2 by Inland Lloyds.
      Buffalo Enquirer
      May 18, 1894

The schooner M.J. CUMMINGS, laden with grain for Chicago, dragged her anchors and foundered in about 20 feet of water near the harbor piers at Milwaukee at 9 o'clock this morning. Two were lost.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Friday, May 18, 1894

      Chicago, May 19. -- The vessels lost here were the schooners EVENING STAR, C.G. MIXER, MYRTLE, LINCON DALL, JACK THOMPSON, J. LOOMIS McLAREN, MERCURY AND RAINBOW.
      Vessels lost elsewhere, outside of Chicago is:
      Schooner M.J. CUMMINGS, sunk, Milwaukee, six lives.
      Schooner C.C. BARNES, ashore, Milwaukee
      Unknown schooner, ashore, Cudahy, Wis.
      Schooner MOSES GAGE, ashore, Michigan City.
      Schooner MINERAL STATE, scuttled, Elk Rapids, Mich.
      Schooner SURPRISE, ashore, Two Rivers Point.
      Steamer E.C. TICE, ashore at Green Bay, Wis.
      Scow St. CATHERINES, ashore, Sand Beach, Mich,
      Schooner MYRTLE LAMP, ashore, Menominee, Mich.
      Steamer HUDSON, disabled Lake Michigan.
      Schooner EMILY TAYLOR, ashore, Manitowoc, Wis.
      Schooner ISHPEMING, disabled, Alpena, Mich.
      Schooner SIZER, ashore, Menominee, Mich.
      Schooner WILLIAM SHUPE, adrift near Point Sanilac
      Buffalo Enquirer
      May 19, 1894

      Capt. McCullough, who is reported lost on the schooner M.J. CUMMINGS, bought his vessel this spring and took his first charter, as owner, out of Buffalo, through the office of Galvin, Clarke & Boland. She carried a cargo of coal for Racine at 30 cents, and probably put in at Milwaukee for shelter, knowing that it would be impossible to make his port of destination.
      The Schooner CUMMINGS Lost Six of her Crew - Story of the Disaster.
      Milwaukee, May 19. -- With only her masts sticking out of the water the three-masted schooner M.J. CUMMINGS is sunk in the bay south of the Strait Cut.
      Six sailors and a woman, consisting the crew, as well as a member of the life-saving station, clung to the rigging facing death. The life-saving crew several times barely escaped drowning. The lifeboat was overturned three times and was finally wrecked.
      At 3:15 o'clock yesterday afternoon one of the men in the rigging, exhausted and frozen, fell into the water, and so they dropped off one by one until only two sailors and the cook, the woman, remained.
      The schooner hove in sight about 6 o'clock yesterday morning with her sails in tatters. She tried to anchor south of the breakwater, but drifted about a mile and struck bottom opposite the Rolling Mill ore dock, full half a mile from shore. Soon her hull was entirely submerged, the sea was breaking over her, and she was pounding to pieces. Her crew took refuge in the rigging.
      Twice tugs of the Milwaukee Line attempted to reach the doomed boat and carry off the crew, but the sea was so high that they were compelled to give up the attempt.
      About 10 o'clock the life-saving crew manned the big life-boat and made an effort to rescue the crew of the sunken schooner. As the life-boat neared the schooner Capt. Pratton attempted to bring the life-boat under the stern of the schooner and make fast. While the effort was being made a big wave lifted the life-boat and its occupants and threw it squarely over the schooner. The life-boat was swept past between the masts and nearly knocked to pieces.
      One of the crew, Frank Guardis jumped from the life-boat upon the schooner with the idea of making the life-boat fast. Another enormous wave swept over both boats. It broke the line which Guardis held when he jumped upon the schooner, carried off the life-boat and left Guardis upon the schooner. The high wind from the north and the heavy waves made the life-boat virtually unmanageable, but Pratton again attempted to Get under the stern of the schooner.
      A moment after the life-boat was overturned by a huge wave and the men were thrown into the water. The rudder of the life-boat was broken and the oars were swept away. Most of the men, however, quickly succeeded in reaching the boat, which righted itself.
      One member of the crew, Reinardson, had broken his arm and was unable to reach the life-boat. He had his life preserver on and floated ashore. He was nearly dead from exhaustion, but will recover.
      A few minutes after the life-boat, which had been beating shoreward in a south easterly direction, was overturned again. The crew climbed into the boat and floated to within 200 feet from shore where it was overturned for the third time. The men, with the aid of their life preservers floated ashore.
      At 5:30 the lifesaving crew went out again and finally managed to reach the boat. Only three members of the crew, numbering seven in all, could be seen still clinging to the rigging, and Frank Guardis of the lifesaving crew had also been able to hold on. Two of those above water were dead and were not brought to shore.
      The only two finally saved are Robert Patterson, 26 years old, single, No, 29 Front Street of Buffalo, parents live in Kingston, Canada; and Frank Guardis, member of the lifesaving crew. The six dead are:
      Capt. McCullough, 35 years old, single, Oswego.
      Mate Tom Bessol of Buffalo.
      Thomas Tercott, Kingston, Canada.
      Two unknown sailors from Buffalo.
      Unknown woman cook, from vicinity of Toronto.
      The latter had been tied to the mast with ropes, but died at noon from exposure. The name of the sailor clinging to the rigging dead is not known. All the others are at the bottom of the lake. Buffalo Enquirer
      May 19, 1894

      The big storm on Lake Michigan has cost the lives of many men. Only two were saved from the M.J. CUMMINGS, 6 lost.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Saturday, May 19, 1894

Schooner M.J. CUMMINGS. U. S. No. 90592. Of 330.12 tons gross; 313.62 tons net. Built Oswego, N.Y., 1874. Home port, Oswego, N.Y. 137.0 x 26.0 x 11.0
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1886

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 6
Freight: grain
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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M. J. Cummings (Schooner), U90592, sunk, 18 May 1894