The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
St. Joseph Herald (St. Joseph, MI), Sat., 12 Sept. 1868

Full Text
Terrible Disaster!
The Propeller Hippocampus Lost!
Great Loss of Life!

The news of the calamity which has fallen upon this community by the loss of the Hippocampus and the consquent loss of life is already wide-spread throughout the country. On Monday night the scene on the Benton Harbor dock was not an unusual one in time of shipping immense quantities of fruit. There was an unusual [sic] large quantity of fruit in the Warehouse [sic] of A. Burridge on the evening in question, there was a large crowd of people interested in the fruit business in attendance, and the bustle and excitement was intense, and confusion the invariable result. The Propeller Hippocampus which had been running daily between Benton Harbor and Chicago, heavily freighted with fruit, was known to be one of the most staunch and seaworthy boats on the lakes. She was new, and having been built in our midst was known to be strong and substantial. Capt. John Morrison, worn out from constant anxiety and watchfulness both night and day, for two weeks, was compelled to resign his post to other hands. Capt. H. M. Brown, an experienced but retired seaman was induced by Capt. Morrison to take charge of the Hippocampus this trip which has proved to be her last. The theory of the loss of the Hippocampus which is most generally accepted, is that the load was not properly balanced on the boat, or in other words, too much of her freight was placed on her upper decks for the amount of ballast contained in her hold, and in the heavy wind and sea of Monday night the cargo became displaced upon her decks causing her to lay upon her side and fill with water and sink. It is not definitely known who superintended the loading of the boat. No other man than Capt. Morrison had ever before loaded her or could know so well as he just what amount she would bear. It would not be strange that in the hurry and excitement and anxiety to accommodate all with immediate transportation without which it is well known that the commodity of peaches become greatly depreciated in value, if the officer in charge shouuld put on in excess of the capacity of the boat. She is said to have had on board between seven and eight thousand packages and 500 more left in the warehouse that she could not take. Further conjecture as to the cause of this dire calamity is profitless; we only know it has happened and this community has lost many valuable citizens. On Tuesday morning after recieving [sic] a despatch from Chicago that the Hippocampus had not arrived and the probabilities were that she was lost the excitement in our midst became intense, and the agony of those who had friends on board was beyond the power of description. The L. M. T. Co's boat "St. Joseph" was despatched in the supposed direction of the wreck without much success in discovering anything pertaining to it. The Steamer Comet, Propellers Benton and Dunbar on their return trip from Chicago passed through much of the floating wreck of the Hippocampus. A portion of the pilot house was brought in by the Dunbar.


Just as we were going to press a tug arrived from Saugatuck with fifteen of the crew and passengers saved from the ill-fated Hippocampus. The conjuctures [sic] as to the cause of the disaster as stated above are nearly correct.

Ed. N. HatchSt. Joseph
R. Bailey"
James TrimblePipestone
Geo. A. Fuller"
Joseph RifordB. Harbor
Joseph CooleyChicago
Capt. H. M. BrownSt. Joseph
Clerk, John P. Bloom"
Wheelsman, Chas. Morrison"
Cyrus Rittenhouse"
A. HowardBainbridge
F. B. TupperPipestone
Thos. Johnson (colored)Chicago
Marshall Robinson (colored)"
A. BurridgeBenton Harbor
U. Higbee"
J. E. Burridge"
W. S. Watros"
A. D. Palmer"
R. N. BurkPipestone
Wm. VaughnBenton Harbor
J. A. Markle"
John SchrumBainbridge
A. P. WhitneyChicago
R. Richardson, MateSt. Joseph
R. T. Eustice, 1st Eng'rChicago
W. Brown, 2d Eng'r"
Daniel Moore, Cook & Porter"
Elias BrantBainbridge
Arthur Wooden"
Eli Van Etting"
M. Spink"
Frank Mathews"
Albert James"
Chas. Williams (colored)Chicago
David Taylor ""
[two other names are illegible]


As the familiar faces of several of those supposed to be lost on the Hippocampus were hurried through our streets on Friday afternoon just as we were going to press, the excitement became intense; some cried for joy, others cheered, Church bells weere rang, [sic] and expressions of joy and gladness were depicted upon every feature. Then again came pangs of anguish to some to learn the terrible certainty of the death of those among the twenty-four of the passengers and crew of the ill-fated Hippocampus who found a watery grave. With us it is a great pleasure to withdraw much of the matter prepared for this issue relating to the ill-fated vessel and some of her precious lives on board whom we supposed were lost. There did not seem to be anything upon which to found the least ray of hope that one single soul was saved to tell the mournful tale. Those that were saved were some thirty-two hours in the water buoyed up by pieces of the floating wreck. They saw the several steamers on the route between here and Chicago pass them, but they were not seen. At last a scow came along and picked them up and took them to Saugatuck from which place they took a tug and arrived here at about 3 P. M. on Friday. We turned up our column rules as an emblem of mourning when we supposed that all were lost. We rejoice in the safety of some, and continue to mourn for the dead.

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Date of Original:
Sat., 12 Sept. 1868
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Robert C. Myers
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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St. Joseph Herald (St. Joseph, MI), Sat., 12 Sept. 1868