The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Tremendous Hurricane
Weekly Herald (New York, NY), 26 Oct 1844, p. 342

Full Text

[Correspondence of the Herald]

Rochester, Oct. 19, 1844

Tremendous Hurricane

Last night there was a tremendous hurricane at Rochester, trees were torn up, roofs of houses and stores swept away, and ash poles knocked over -- The roof of the Dutch Church on Sulson street entirely carried off. The gable end of Mr. Howses' brick building was blown down and fell with a tremendous crash, almost annihilating Brewsgter's store adjoining, going through the roof and both floors into the cellar. No lives were lost.

[From the Buffalo Gazette, Oct 19]

Terrible Gale! -- Great Loss of Life and Destruction of Property! -- Our city was visited last night by one of the most severe and destructive gales which was ever experienced here. The whole lower part of the city, extending into Seneca street, on the east side of Main street, presents one general scene of wreck and desolation throughout the whole length of the city.

The water was all of two feet higher than it has ever been known before.

In addition to the immense loss of property, we have to record still more melancholy results in the death of a large number of human beings.

The wind commenced blowing about 11 o'clock last night, and continued until sunrise this morning, when it gradually subsided.

The damage done to the shipping in the harbor is immense.

The stone pier on the south side of the creek, which was supposed by all to be impregnable to the assaults of the elements, has give[n] way before the storm of las night and for over a third of its length the top down several feet has been broken away and washed into the creek.

The wharves throughout their whole extent, have been more or less damaged, in many places being completely torn away, and scattered through the adjacent streets.

The brig Ashland, in attempting to make the harbor, was thrown over the north pier, where she now lies her bows hard on the pier. She was loaded with wheat for Daw and DeLong.

The steamer G. Dole, lies high and dry in Ohio street, near the Clark and Skinner canal.

The Bunker Hill is driven hard on shore just above.

The Columbus lies on land above high water mark, just beyond Michigan street, between Ohio street and the creek.

John Bone, a ferryman, was found drowned on the flats.

The U. S. Steamer Abert, is driven high and dry, near the old stone house, below the pier -- considerably damaged.

The steamer Emerald had one of her smoke pipes blown away.

The brig Europe came in about one o'clock while the wind was blowing hardest. She lost her topmast, and had her sails much shattered. She ran her bowsprit into the warehouse of Messrs. Joy & Webster. She also lost her fore yard, while outside, in consequence of being struck by lightning.

The steamer Perry came in a little after 12 o'clock; having been roughly handled. Her wheel house had been smashed in, and she was otherwise very much crippled. After she had entered the creek, she ran into the Great Western, knocked a man overboard, who was lost, and then running her bowsprit into the side of the Wayne, remained fastened.

The steamer Chautauque lies aground at Sandy Town.

The steamers Fulton, St. Louis, and Julia Palmer, left port last evening. The St. Louis was driven back, and made Black Rock harbor in safety, about 9 o'clock this morning. We learn from Mr. Wells, of the firm of Livingston, Wells & Pomeroy, who was a passenger on the St. L that when she was about 10 miles above Dunkirk, she broke a shaft, and put back. Three men and one boy (deck passengers) were washed overboard and drowned.

The Julia Palmer rode out the storm in safety, and after making ineffectual efforts to enter the harbor, she stood up the bay about half past seven this morning.

The Fulton has not been heard from.

Of the canal boats, it is impossible to enumerate the number lying on land. From the Hydraulics to the northern bounds of the city, they are scattered more or less damaged. We noticed three in Michigan street, near the railroad depot. A large number are below Erie street.

Wood, lumber hogs, cattle, and remnants of houses, are to be found, and obstruct the streets all over the flats.

Two canal boats and a scow were swept out of the creek this morning. The scow was entirely lost, but the boats were beached, and the hands on board were saved.

A lady 50[?] years of age, and a boy, were taken out of a canal boat by the hands of the Abert, about 3 o'clock, and saved.

Uptown, considerable damage has been done. ...

The new bridge being erected over the ship canal at Erie street, was swept away, and its timbers thrown against a grocery near by, with such violence as to completely riddle the lower story. ...

The names of the following canal boats, ashore, we have been enabled to learn: The Queen of the WEst, the Batavia, H. D. Huff, M. R. Womple, the Billow, F. S. Bogus, Mohawk, W. C. Rives, C. B. Brown, J. A. Cole, H. R. Williams, Antwerp, E. Latham, T. L. Darling, Whig, Montgomery, Huron, S. P. Smith, Wm. Maxwell, Attica, T. H. Lockwood, Bunker Hill, Telescope, Blossburg, Wm. Tell, Pilgrim, Madison, Z. R. Parker, Grand Turk, Farmer, new lake boat, name not known, Jo Hawley, Sea Gull, Neptune...

About half past 11 o'clock A.M., the little steamer Indian Queen, Capt. Starring, hove in sight. She made good weather of it, and entered port in safety, amidst the deafening cheers of the thousands of spectators who had assembled to witness her arrival. She left last evening for Barcelona -- was overtaken at Silver Creek by the storm, and made an unsuccessful attempt to get into Dunkirk harbor -- put about and lay three hours at anchor under Point Albino, where she saw two schooners at anchor, names unknown. She received no damage.

The Indian Queen reports the Robert Fulton drifting towards shore very rapidly last night below Dunkirk.

The Julia Palmer still rides at anchor off in the Bay, at 2 o'clock. P.M. -- the wind somewhat subsiding. Two horses swam ashore from her, this morning, having washed or been thrown overboard.

Thomas Highmes escaped with his wife by taking refuge on the roof of his house. Hehad just finished and moved into his house on the beach of the lake, near the "stone house," having been married but a few days before. He lost everything but his house, which was floated quite a distance from its foundation.

At 12 o'clock, M, the schooner Platma [Palmer ?] came in without injury. ...

The unprecedented severity of the storm, and the number of sail vessels which were known to be out, leads us to fear for the worst. It were [sic] almost impossible for one of them to survive the fury of the gale in the open lake, and unless they were able to make some port, we may expect to hear of many wrecks. The suddenness with which the gale came up, gives us but faint hopes, that those vessels which were exposed had time to seek shelter in any harbor. We shall look with deep anxiety for advices from up the lake.

The storm continued this morning. After having lulled down for three or four hours, the wind commenced blowing again, accompanied by hail and rain, which, though not so violent as that which prevailed in the night, would render the situation of any exposed vessel, rather critical. ...

Two schooners came in just as we were going to press -- names unknown. ...

P.S. -- 3 p.m. -- The Storm is still threatening. The new brig Uncle Sam, Captain Vail, is just in with a full cargo. Her sails and spars are much torn and broken. In passing the schr. Lyons, she carried away the foremast of that vessel and committed other injuries. The schrs. Marion and Robert Wood, also made the harbor in safety. Others are known to be on this lake and are hourly expected.

Two hands were lost from the canal boat Suavity, at the Rock.

The funeral of Mr. Stolliker's family -- four persons, wife and three children -- will take place tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock, from the building known as the Marine Hospital.

The steamboat Fulton, we hear, has gone ashore, a total wreck, at Sturgeon Point. Three men lost.

Additional Particulars of the Gale at Buffalo-- The names of the following canal boats, are not on our list of last evening: Sovereign, Locomotive, Pompey, Livonia, Victory, Shamrock, P. N. Rust, Britannia.

The following vessels have arrived since our paper was issued last evening: Schrs. Marion, ohio, Robert Wood, Home, brig Uncle Sam.

The "Fulton"--The clerk of the R. Fulton arrived about 3 1/2 o'clock yesterday afternoon, bringing the intelligence that the Fulton had gone ashore at Sturgeon Point, about 14 miles above this city, and been broken entirely to pieces. Two women and one child were lost, all the rest saved. We are informed that she was insured for $10,000 -- whether for anything more we have not been able to learn.

It is understood that the Fulton was sent out by the steamboat combination in opposition to the Julia Palmer, which has been running independent of the combination through the season. ...

The wind during the night, though greatly subsided; was still high, and there was a heavy sea rolling. It was chilling cold -- the severest night we have had during the season. The Julia Palmer yet rides safely at anchor, where she remained since yesterday morning. A watch fire was kept burning during the night on the beach opposite to where she lay. A gentleman who came over from there this morning, reports that nothing had floated ashore from her during the night. As she is loaded with passengers and probably out of wood, there must have been much suffering on board from the intensity of the weather. We understand that the Great Western will go out to her assistance this morning.

7 o'clock, A.M.--The Julia Palmer is firing up, and if she has wood enough, will be able to make port without difficulty. No assistance has yet been afforded her. 7 1/2 A.M. She has on a good head of steam, which would argue that she is not out of wood. She is now apparently weighting anchor, and will probably be in soon. 1/4 before 8 -- She is under way -- Buffalo Gazette, Oct. 20

More of the Gales

[From the Buffalo Advertiser of October 21]

We have little to add, in addition to what was given Saturday, of the effects of the gale here. It would be tedious and useless to fill our paper with details of individual losses. Suffice it to say that no former gale was ever so destructive of property and life. We are yet unable to form more than an approximate estimate of the value of property destroyed. The number of buildings of all kinds utterly destroyed can hardly be less than one hundred. Most of these are of little value, but some of them were large and costly structures. The loss in this species of property, buildings and effects, will not probably fall short of $50,000. The loss in buildings partially overthrown, removed from their foundations, unrooted or damaged in other respects, the number of which is vastly greater than those completely destroyed, will probably amount to as much more. The loss by damage of goods and merchandize in warehouses; the injury sustained by steamboats, vessels and canal boats, and the loss of wood, lumber, staves, building materials &c. it is utterly impossible to estimate, but it must amount to much more than the aggregate loss in buildings destroyed or injured. The total loss of every kind may be safely put down at $250,000.

The height to which the water rose was altogether unprecedented. Nothing like it was known during the time, a few years ago, when the ordinary level of the lake was several feet above what it now is. This may be accounted for by the fact that for several days previous to the gale a pretty stiff easterly wind had been blowing. This had driven the water up the lake, or, at least, lessened the volume escaping by the river. When the wind shifted to the southwest, and blew with such fury, the water came down before it as if a dam had broken away. It rose thirteen feet above the level at which it stood on Friday evening.

Such other particulars of the effects of the gale here as are of general interest will be found below. It will be seen by our intelligence from up the lake, that we have not been the only sufferers. The damage sustained at the different ports is wholly unprecedented, and this gale will long be remembered as without a parallel for its severity and destruction.

The following are the names of persons lost and missing so far as ascertained: ...

Mrs. Stohoker and three children, recently from Seneca Falls. Mr. S. left the evening before in the Robert Fulton. ...

A little boat or shallop of about 15 tons burthen, left here Friday evening for Canada, loaded with potatoes, and thirteen persons on board. The gale struck the boat near Point Abino, drove it ashore, and every person on board was drowned except the master.

The schooners R. Wood, Capt. Miner, Mohawk, Capt. Carmichael, HOme, Capt. M'Auley, and United States, Capt. Richardson, of Oswego, have arrived here in safety, being driven in by the gale -- all of them have suffered in canvas and spars. The Marion, Capt. Oliver, form Chicago, made the port in good style, and, in common with the other vessels caught out, has much of her sails and rigging carried away.

The schr. Wm. Cayley, of Kingston, and St. Patrick, of Oswego, are at Port Colborne. The former is beached below the light-house, and the latter is inside the canal, much damaged, having run in during the height of the gale.

The Julia Palmer, whose dangerous situation we noticed on Saturday, came in safely with all on board, yesterday morning. The passengers, an immense number, between four and five hundred, are loud in their expressions of praise and gratitude to Capt. Titus, his officers and crew, for the admirable manner in which the boat was managed during the gale. Nothing but consummate coolness, courage and seamenship [sic] enabled them to weather the gale successfully, and they richly deserve the thanks of all who committed themselves to their care.-- The report we had on Saturday, although it came to us in a reliable shape, that several horses were thrown overboard, was untrue. The boat brought back safely all she took out, except one horse, who broke loose and jumped overboard.

The following canal boats, in addition to those already given, are washed up some distance from the creek and canal. Some of them, from their shattered condition, cannot be got off. The whole list embraces sixty boats:-- The D. Delano has merchandize on board much injured; St. Louis, Swam, H. B. Williams, J. A. Cole, Frontier, Addison, Victory, J. McKie, J. Brown, E. S. Latham, Antwerp. The Pilot, Pearl, J. M. Hubbard and C. Purchase, were beached, but have been launched again.

At Cleveland the gale was strongly felt. The Herald of Saturday evening says:-- 'Considerable damage was done to several vessels in our harbor. The schooner Panama loaded with lumber, had her bow and stern so injured that she sank inside the piers. The schr. Porter lost her bowsprit and cutwater. The schooners Constitution, Houston, Elizabeth Ward, and Lewis Goler, had their sterns stove in, and were considerably injured. The canal boat J. W. Williams was crushed and sunk, and some other damage was done to vessels and small boats. The steamer United States is safe at Ashtabula. The steamer St. Louis, with a broken shaft, came up from the Rock yesterday, and will lay up for the season. The schooner Lyons, Capt. Klasgye, with freight for Toledo, had her foremast carried away by the brig Uncle Sam, and must remain to get in a new spar.

Capt. Spencer, of the schooner N. Biddle, reports the loss of his mate, James M. Hall, of Fairport, while coming to at Erie during the gale. The deceased has left a wife. The B. Lost her deck load.

Boats from Detroit bring intelligence that the schrs Grant Potomac, Walker, and Brandywine, were ashore in the bay at Erie, but wold be got off. One vessels, name unknown, high and dry near the barracks. Schr. Clay, aground 30 rods from the water. Schr. Lodi was towed into Erie byt he Missouri, sails shattered and both anchors gone. Schr. Lumberman came into Erie over the head of the Peninsula. Schr. Whig, parted her cables and ran down the lake.

Apprehensions were felt for the pier and canal bank at the Rock, which it seems did not get damaged much. 100 feet of the berm path on Squaw Island was washed away, but by timely aid from the canal superintendent farther [sic] injury was stayed.

The brig Preble was named as being in port on Saturday; it was a mistake.

The schr. J. F. Porter, not mentioned in our paper of Saturday, is on her side at the dock near Wilson's coal yard pierced by two spiles -- not injured much otherwise.

The effects of the gale were experienced on Lake Ontario -- although to what extent we have not yet learnt. The steamer Cobourg was taken from her moorings at Niagara and carried to the opposite side, where she lies considerably damaged. There was great anxiety felt at Toronto on Saturday for the Kingston boats, which were due but had not arrived.

We are informed that barrel heads are coming ashore at Cattaraugus creek brand C. E. Bradburn, Cleveland, marked F. & S. E. Goodrich. Part of a fore-scuttle with "Pennsylvania," in red chalk; and some broken deck plank and bulwarks, painted green outside and yellow inside -- also a white eagle, supposed to be from the stern of the schooner Pennsylvania, Captain Barnard, have been picked up at the same place.

Extract of a letter dated

Silver Creek, Oct. 19

We have had a hard gale -- it commenced blowing about 12 o'clock last night, which carried away the warehouses, and a good part of the pier to the water's edge. The outside [ ] ll is also taken off to the water's edge, and three timbers of the balance. The warehouses were nearly full of goods and produce -- the principal part of the goods belonged to J & A F Morrison, J. Morrison and Co., and C. Norton & Co., We have picked up a portion of the goods-- some of them came ashore without being broke; others went ot pieces. The sloop H. Roop, lying here, broke adrift, and went ashore about half way between this and Cattaraugus. The loss in goods and produce will be from 10 to $12,000. About half the length of the piers at Cattaraugus are gone to the water's edge. Three schooners that were there are high and dry. I also understand that the pier and warehouses at Barcelona are carried away.

[From the Dunkirk Beacon, Extra, Oct 19]

During the evening the wind was blowing pretty fresh from the South, and about 12 o'clock it suddenly shifted to the southwest, and an unparalleled gale followed, carrying everything before it. We have only time to say that both storehouses were carried away, that of G. A. French & Son being full of merchandize and produce -- Not a vestige left except the foundations on which they stood. The wharves are also destroyed -- though perhaps not irreparably. The beach and the high bank for a mile is covered with the mass of timbers, in a confused pile, mingled with the remnants of goods -- there can be seen this morning thousands of yards of cloth, calico, sheeting, silks, &c., all entangled so as to render it almost impossible to detach a single article. Several buildings are moved into the street by the violence of the waves. One occupied by Mr. Germond as a shoe shop was carried into the middle of the street and set down so easily as not to upset a bottle of ink. The schooner Atlantic, from the Lower Lake, was unloading salt yesterday, P.M.--no a few pieces of her can be seen below the point. The sloop Traveller from C. W., is quietly stowed away by the side of Barckley's shoe shop. Out apprehensions of trouble below are great--we fear to hear lest death has marked many a noble tar as his victim.

[From the Westfield Messenger, Extra, Oct 19]

Last night one of the most tremendous storms swept over Lake Erie which has ever lashed its waters into commotion, and we fear that we shall learn it has been the most destructive. After five or six days of rainy weather, with little wind, a breeze sprung up from the south last evening, and dissipated the clouds. Towards eleven it suddenly changed for the west, and increased to a perfect hurricane. The waters, driven from shore by the south wind, now returned, aided by the west wind, with astonishing and frightful rapidity, and in a short time the landing, beach and docks at Barcelona were submerged, the waves driving over them with prodigious violence. The deck and warehouse of John Eason was carried off together with goods amounting to five or six thousand dollars, belonging to various persons in the county. The store house went upon the rocks off the light house and was dashed into splinters, and the goods washed away or sunk. The warehouse lately belonging to the Barcelona company, was moved about six feet from its foundations, but being heavily loaded with salt it did not go off, and thus the office of Mr Eason, and the store of Mr. Joel Smith, were saved from destruction. Buck & Minton's store had part of the roof torn off, the front dashed in, and it was moved five or six feet from its position; but their loss of goods was trifling.-- A stage coach in front of their store was blown, and floated some 12 or 15 rods, and utterly destroyed. The water forced up a prodigious quantity of store, forming a a vast wall several feet high, two or three rods from its usual shore. The waves knocked in the side of an unoccupied building and washed up a wall inside nearly six feet high. The Barcelona Company's pier is greatly damaged--about half gone. The Government pier is also damaged, being shortened several rods. Loss estimated, in goods about $5,000, piers &c., perhaps $2,500 to $3,000 more.

[From the Rochester Democrat]

The late gale, so far as we have been able to learn, has not been attended with any disastrous consequences on Lake Ontario. The steamer Rochester, Captain H.N. Throop, left the landing at 8 o'clock, Friday evening, bound for Toronto and Lewiston. She encountered a gale about half way between this port and Toronto, and was obliged to put about and return. Her escape is almost miraculous as she was out during the whole of the gale - which was the severest ever known on this lake. Capt. Throop reports having seen a vessel or propeller almost 40 miles west of the mouth of the river, (Genesee), and from one to two miles from shore, running before the wind. he think it was a propeller, as occasionally he saw sparks. he also reports a bright red light, during the severest part of the gale, in the direction of Coburg or below.

Fears are entertained for the safety of the Gore, which runs between Hamilton, Toronto and Rochester, which was due here at 7 o'clock on Saturday. Also for the St. Lawrence, which left the mouth of the river at 2 o'clock Saturday morning, bound for Oswego and Ogdensburgh. The Oneida due here on Saturday at 4 o'clock P.M., has not been heard from. If she was out she probably encountered the gale between Sackets Harbor and Oswego. The America, due here yesterday morning at 3 o'clock, has not been heard from.

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26 Oct 1844
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  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 42.8786513359449 Longitude: -78.8896996508789
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Tremendous Hurricane