The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 28 Jul 1892

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The Schooner Kate Was Capsized and 2 Drowned.

The steamer Hero's crew brought sad news to Kingston this morning. The intelligence had reference to another drowning accident which occurred at 5:30 o'clock this morning when the schr. Kate capsized just abreast of Thompson's Point in the reach. Capt. Johnston, of the str. Hero was on watch at the time of the accident. He says he was about one mile and a half from the schooner when a regular tornado sprung up and swept by his craft on to the Kate with the speed of lightning. The squall hid the vessel from view for a while and when Capt. Johnson next perceived her all that was visible of the schooner was her quarter stick out of the water. She had been upset without a second's warning. The anchors located in the bow fell out and held her down. The Hero immediately headed for the distressed vessel and in about seven minutes time was abreast of the Kate. Most of the Hero's crew was up and about and Capt. Johnson, owing to perfect discipline, had a lifeboat lowered and at work three minutes after his arrival. Capt. DeWitta and two of his sailors were found clinging to the boat which was laying on its side. The yawl then floated around the wreck until finally Capt. DeWitta abandoned all hope of securing the bodies of the already drowned persons. Mrs. Pappa, cook, was in the cabin up and about preparing breakfast for the crew while sailor James Salmon was in the forecastle sound asleep at the time the storm broke. The vessel was forced headfirst into the sea and filled with water in a second. The poor unfortunates being hemmed in on all sides escape was impossible and were drowned with succor but a few yards distance.

In telling the story to Capt. Johnston, Dewitta said that the squall struck him before he had time to make the slightest preparations for it. He called to the man to raise the main gaft topsail, but they were so slow in getting word that he left the wheel himself to attend to it. The hurricane caught the vessel on her beam and she went over like a shot. Capt. Dewitta says he could hear the cook in the cabin as the vessel went down shrieking for help. Under the circumstances this, of course, was out of the question. Capt. Dewitta says that the accident instant ruin to him.(sic)

The Hero headed for Kingston after assured that nothing more could be done, and left Capt. Dewitta and his men there.

Capt. Dewitta purchased the schr. Kate from M. Clark, of Milford, for about $1,600, three weeks ago, and extensively improved her. He had left Belleville for Oswego the afternoon previous light. Capt. Johnston says the Kate is a vessel of probably 8000 bushels.

The scene of the accident is about six miles from Picton. Capt. Johnston says that he was never more surprised in his life than when struck by the squall. He had just remarked to one of his wheelmen that he believed it was going to be a windy day when the terrific gust of wind struck them. It lasted about ten minutes. Singular to say the storm did not reach Picton. The Kate was a two masted schooner.

Capt. Dewitta is a well known mariner and looked upon as a first class seaman but it is thought his crew consisted of green hands. He is a resident of Picton and has telegraphed the Donnelly salvage wrecking company from there to come up with their appliances at once. The schr. Gearing, burned a year ago was owned by Capt. Dewitta. He has also sailed the schr. B.W. Folger.

Mrs. William Papps, cook, was well known here. She was a daughter of Isaac Asseltine, and married a printer, who worked for many years in the Whig office. He had to retire from work on account of illness, and is now an invalid. His wife and children have had to work for some years to maintain themselves. Their eldest daughter met the same fate as the mother,having been lost three or four years ago off the prop. California, sunk in one of the upper lakes. Mrs. Pappa was about thirty-five years of age. Six children are living. The blow will be a terrible one to the afflicted family.


The Story As Given in Picton - How Mrs. Pappa Met Her Death.

Picton, July 28th - The schooner Kate, of Picton, upset in the "Reach," this morning. The schooner Kate Capt. Frank Duetta; Alfred Barnette, Picton, mate; James Salmon, Toronto and Joe Frechette, Belleville, sailors; and Mrs. Pappa, cook, left Belleville about 7 o'clock on Wednesday evening light for Charlotte for coal. The passage down the bay was uneventful until about 5:30 o'clock this morning when, in mid-channel, off Thompson's Point, she was struck by a squall and despite all efforts to weather it she went over. Capt. Duetta was at the wheel, and seeing the squall coming promptly lowered the top sails and jibs but before the fore and mainsails could be lowered the terrific gust of wind came upon them with the above result. Salmon, the sailor drowned, was asleep in the forecastle, having left his watch about four o'clock. Mrs. Pappa had gone to the cabin, at the command of the captain, and routed out the mate to assist in the management of the vessel. She did not return to the deck after that duty had been performed, and when the vessel went over she was confined in that apartment, which filled with water, causing her death. When the vessel went over the force was so great as to cause the spars to strike the bottom breaking the topmasts both off. The str. Hero, coming along from Belleville, saw the plight of the vessel and crew and rescued Duetta, Barnette and Frechette and brought them to Picton. About 8 o'clock the str. Nellie Cuthbert was engaged and the crew and a rescuing party went down for the purpose of recovering the bodies.


The str. America and tow are in from Outarager ? with timber.

The steamer Columbian is at Bevis having a condensor removed. It will not be required on the river route.

Clearances: tug Thompson, Fair Haven, four barges; tug Hall, Montreal, six barges; schr. Freeman, schr. Hanlan, Oswego.

The Dakota, one of the barges run aground near Oswego in a recent squall, has been dry-docked at the government dock for repairs.

Breck & Booth received a telegram this morning asking for a vessel of 400 tons to take a load of paving stone from Dead Man's Bay to Toronto.

The steam barge Niagara intended carrying railroad iron from Portsmouth to the west, but on account of the canal tolls levied by the American government the contract was cancelled.

Arrivals: prop. Algonquin, Fort William, 66,000 Manitoba wheat; prop. Niagara, Duluth, 25,000 wheat; str. Passport, Toronto; str. Spartan, Montreal; str. Ocean, Montreal; schr. Eliza Fisher, Oswego, coal.

The tug Maggie May, with a tow of American barges, had been lying at Ottawa for a week, when on Monday they locked up and started through the Rideau canal for Kingston. All went well until they reached Hartwell's locks, when it was discovered that the captain of the tug had forgotten the papers. The barges had to stay at the foot of Hartwell's locks whilst the steamer made the best of her way back to Ottawa to secure the necessary documents.

What He Did Say - B.W. Folger said that the American retaliatory bill will interfere with the marine business at this port; at the present time 90 (99 ?) per cent of shipping on the river is carried on through the American channel.

A High Authority - a government minister says the Americans will put the canal tolls bill in force on August 1st; the Canadian government will not raise tolls on the Welland canal, but will refer the matter to the English government, claiming the American government has violated a treaty with Canada.

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28 Jul 1892
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  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.22976 Longitude: -76.48098
Rick Neilson
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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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British Whig (Kingston, ON), 28 Jul 1892