The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Charles J. Kershaw (Propeller), overboard, 1 Nov 1877

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      We are compelled this morning to announce another terrible encounter with the elements outside, and the drowning of an old navigator and gallant sailor.
      The steamship C.J. KERSHAW arrived in Chicago last evening with a cargo of 1,330 tons of coal from Erie. Her under officers have bad news, which is that the Captain W.O. Harrison, was swept overboard and lost during a southwester in Saginaw bay on Sunday Night. Mr. A. W. Cooper, the second mate, reports that about 10:30 o'clock on the night mentioned, the wind blowing a terrific gale, the steamer shipped a tremendous sea, broadside, which washed the hatches off, half filled the cabin and engine room, nearly putting the furnace fires out and carried away all the boats. The cargo was shifted, and the steamer wallowed so long in the trough of the sea that all feared she would founder. The decks were covered with ice, making movement about by the crew impossible for the time being, and it was not until the storm had abated in a measure that the captain was missed. He was on the deck when the steamer was struck, and his voice was heard a few minutes previous, and was without doubt carried overboard with the great wave. As soon as he was missed, search was made about the steamer, the crew thinking that perhaps he had fallen through one of the hatches or been jammed in somewhere on deck. All search proved to no avail, however.
It required five men at the wheel during the storm. All the mender of the crew with whom our reported talked last night regarded the escape of the KERSHAW and all hands as exceedingly narrow.
      The KERSHAW met with trouble before her encounter with the storm on the bay, and the loss of her master. Shortly after getting out on Lake Erie, she blew out a soft plug of her cylinder head and had to return to Cleveland for repairs, and at 3 o'clock on Saturday morning she went on the beach at South au Pelee, and remained there for three hours. After getting off there, she got on Chickaluna Reef, and was on for two hours, but did not sustain any damage.
      Captain Harrison had sailed for many years on the lakes. For a long time he was in the employ of J.P. Ralph, of Detroit, having command of the propeller MAYFLOWER and other craft. He was master of the schooner HURD when she foundered off South Manitou several years ago, and was the only survivor. He was well known and highly regarded. He leaves a wife and two sons, one of 16 years and another an infant. His place of residence was Detroit.
      The J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, November, 1877
Captain W.O. Harrison. -- The drowning of Captain W. O. Harrison, from the steamer KERSHAW, has created a universal feeling of regret among the vessel men at this port, who regarded the deceased as an efficient sailor and excellent friend. Captain Harrison was a resident of this city, and leaves a wife and son to mourn his loss. In 871 he was master of the schooner CHARLES HURD, owned by P.J. Ralph, of this port, which foundered on Lake Michigan with all on board, except the captain. Among those to go down on that ill-fated craft was the Captain's first wife and only daughter. Two years ago he exchanged a farm and other property which he owned for the steambarge DUBAQUE, which was lost at Long Point this spring. Following this disaster he assumed command of the KERSHAW, from which he met his untimely fate, as noted. -- Detroit Free Press, Dec. 7.
      The J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, Dec., 1877

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Reason: overboard
Lives: 1
Freight: coa
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 43.75002 Longitude: -83.66664
William R. McNeil
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Charles J. Kershaw (Propeller), overboard, 1 Nov 1877