The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
David A. Wells (Schooner), U6635, sunk, 16 Oct 1880

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Five miles off the Marine Hospital a three masted schooner is sunk in nine fathoms of water. Her mizzen-mast and other wreckage are floating alongside. Several tugs visited the sunken craft yesterday, and she was identified as the schooner DAVIS A. WELLS, iron-ore loaded for Chicago from Escanaba. Mr. John Keller, one of the owners of the WELLS, refused to believe that she is the ill-fated craft, but, inasmuch as he did not go out to her, his belief does not go very far. The NASSAU was in company with the WELLS at anchor early Saturday morning and her master agrees with the tugmen that the sunken vessel is the WELLS. The PULASKI resembles the WELLS somewhat in rig, but the PULASKI is safely in port. There were fears that the sunken craft might be the JAMES COUCH, and several other vessels were named; but according to the best testimony it is the WELLS, and nothing is known of the crew. Mr. Keller thought the lost vessel was the ALICE RICHARDS, but the tugmen say it is not the RICHARDS.
      The WELLS was a canal vessel, ad evidently foundered under close-reefed canvas. Two-thirds of her foremast is out of the water. The mizzenmast, wholly unstepped, is lying alongside.
      The WELLS carried a crew of eight man. Her small boat is missing, but it could not live in the fearful sea running, and there is no hope that any one survives the disaster. Vessels in the iron ore trade between Escanaba and Chicago all overloaded, and, the WELLS being no exception, it is likely that she went down suddenly, and that the crew had no time to attempt the yawl. More than this, as stated, the WELLS was a canaler.
      The master of the WELLS, Captain John Tierkauff, resided in Chicago, and has a family - wife and four children. As to the names of the others of the crew, nothing could be learned last evening. Mr. Keller refused to give any information whatever, calling the mate :Jack Tar," and helping the reporters otherwise in the same way.
      The WELLS measured 310 tons. She was built by Muir & Stewart, at Port Huron, in 1869, was owned by Captain Tierkauff, the master, and Jacob Keller, of Chicago, classed B 1-1/2 and was valued in the underwriters register at $8,700, the owners valuing her at $10,000. She was insured for $8,000, Mr. Keller stating that it was placed by Atkins & Beckwith. The latter say, however, that the insurance was placed by Captain Elphicke. At all events, the policy would have expired yesterday had the vessel not been lost before.
      Mr. Keller's confidence that it is not the WELLS, and that the crew of the WELLS are safe, does not inspire any one else with the same feeling.
      The J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, Sept./Oct., 1880

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: all
Freight: iron ore
Remarks: Total loss
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Illinois, United States
    Latitude: 41.85003 Longitude: -87.65005
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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David A. Wells (Schooner), U6635, sunk, 16 Oct 1880