The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Loss of the Asp
Rochester Telegraph (Rochester, NY), 7 Nov 1820, p. 3

Full Text

Loss of the Asp.-- The British schooner Asp, of Queenstown, U.C. [Queenston] was lost near the Galoo Islands in Lake Ontario, during the gale on the 10th inst.--The following particulars of this distressing event, are communicated in a letter by a gentleman who was present when the wreck was discovered:--

Before sunrise on the morning of the 12th inst. a gale blowing from N.W. a vessel was descried in the offing from the mouth of Salmon River; at 8 o'clock she had driven on the bar and appeared to be a schooner with both masts along-side; a man was seen standing at her night-heads, making signs of distress. We immediately manned a boat from the river, and several unsuccessful attempts were made to gain the wreck, over which the sea was breaking in the most frightful manner. At 1 o'clock the wind having in some measure abated, we were successful in boarding the wreck, and brought off James Youngs, and Miss Jane Gibson, the only survivors of eleven souls, who left Fort George the Monday preceding. The lady was found lashed to the windlass, much bruised, and in a state of insensibility. Youngs was apparently in a state of great exhaustion, kneeling by the house [hawse] hole, with a turn of the cable around his waist; he had a finger and thumb broken, and otherwise much bruised. He is by birth a Scotchman, 35 years of age, and employed as a seaman. Miss Gibson was returning from Queenston, U.C. to Quebec, on her way to Ireland. A gold watch, which she wore, is the only article she has saved. The cabin being washed open and dead light stove in by the sea, all the passengers' baggage is supposed to be lost. She states that she is 24 years of age -- that she had been on a visit to her brother, at Queenston, who died in May last -- that there were several other passengers on board, five of whom, including a man, wife and child, died in the cabin while the schooner remained on her beam ends. She gives the following account of the loss of the vessel; "Left Newark on Monday morning, with light breeze and pleasant weather; Monday night light airs from the west and calms; on Tuesday morning, at sunrise, a small cloud was seen in the N. W. not bigger than a person's hand; the Capt. said, we shall have a squall, and ordered the sails reefed.--at half past 8 the squall commenced with such violence we were obliged to lie to, and did not bear away again until Wednesday morning about 8 o'clock, when it was supposed the gale was over; but in less than two hours it commenced again with redoubled violence -- hove to, and continued to lie by until we capsized. Before noon the schooner had sprung a leak, which continued to gain on the pumps until the staves were all afloat in the hole [hold]. About 12 at night the cabin bulk head started, and the staves forced their way into the cabin. At 3 o'clock in the morning the vessel being completely water logged, fell over on her beam ends. The lanyards were soon but away, and she right with the loss of her masts. The capt. continued at the helm until back water rendered it useless. He then observed, the windlass was all that could save us, and all that were on deck immediately crowded around it; but the cold fresh water breaking over us continually, death soon began to thin our numbers. The capt. (whose name was Prossey [Prosser]) was the last who died. About 5 o'clock he said he was numb, and must die. He soon after observed that land was in sigh, which were the last words he spoke. He was, in every respect, as far as I am capable of judging, an active, skillful seaman, and a valuable young man. He was married only the week before to a young lady in the neighborhood of Fort Erie."

John M'Collan, John Enoch, passengers, a man, wife and child, and one other passenger, names not known, together with the captain, the cook, and one seaman, were all drowned. The bodies, 9 in number, were all found about the wreck, and have been decently interred at the mouth of Salmon River, Richland, Oswego county."

Media Type:
Item Type:
Not credited but copied from the Albany Statesman, of Oct. 24. Many other American papers actually cited the Statesman
Date of Publication:
7 Nov 1820
Personal Name(s):
Gibson, Jane ; Young, James ; McCollan, John ; Enoch ; Prosser, Capt.
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.57562 Longitude: -76.2072532275391
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Loss of the Asp