The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
St. Joseph Saturday Herald (St. Joseph, MI), 20 September 1902

Full Text
Deceived by Lights The Experiment Narrowly Escapes Collision with the Cribs.
This is Same Boat From Which Mrs. N. W. Napier and Children Were Rescued Many Years Ago.

The schooner Experiment, owned and commanded by Capt. Withey of Benton Harbor, went ashore on the beach about three quarters of a mile north of the Life-saving station, Friday night, about 10:30, Sept. 13, and her crew of six men narrowly escaped a watery grave.

As a result of the wreck the Lydon & Drew company may be made defendants in a damage suit for not displaying lights at the end of the cribs.

The Experiment was coming to this port from the north and running before the heavy northwest gale her crew were kept busy handling the craft, though no danger was apprehended.

The lights on the north pier deceived the Captain, as he was under the impression that they were on the end of construction work and so he steered his boat accordingly.

All hands were busy at the sails making ready for the tack around the pier when suddenly an obstruction loomed up directly in front of the men and with the hardest kind of work a collision was averted. The obstruction proved to be the cribs the Lydon & Drew people had sunk and, as the boat swerved suddenly out of her course, all control of her sails were lost. The boat was driven helplessly before the wind until she went aground.

The Life-saving crew put out in their surf boat and after some difficulty rescued the crew who were drenched to the skin and benumbed by the cold. They were taken to the station, dry clothing furnished them and a warm, dry place assigned the men for a night's rest.

The Experiment is an old timer and is said to be the same boat that was wrecked off this harbor June 1, 1855, in a fierce gale.

Mrs. N. W. Napier, who resides in St. Joseph, with her two sons, Edward, aged 12, and Hardin, a 10-months old child, were then passengers on this boat, from Chicago to this port. In those days there were no palace side wheelers on the lakes. A schooner sufficed.

The craft, owned then by James E. Stevens, had stood the gale admirably during the trip, and as all were about to thank God that the journey was ended in safety and sails were being hauled in, the boat suddenly capsized near the entrance to this harbor.

Mrs. Napier with a true feeling of motherhood endeavored to save her infant son, but the little one was drowned. Mrs. Napier and Edward were saved by the citizens of St. Joseph, who lined the beach that night, as the Experiment grounded.

Mrs. Napier is now 82 years old and quite well for her age. She says she well remembers that eventful night.

Media Type:
Item Type:
"N. W. Napier" was Nelson W. Napier, captain of the steamer Alpena, lost with all hands in 1880.
Capt. Withey's first name was John.
Date of Original:
20 September 1902
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Robert C. Myers
Copyright Statement:
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 Saturday Herald (St. Joseph, MI), 20 September 1902