Passing of the 'Canaler'
The Days When Lake Business Was Booming
Schooner John Magee Comes to Load
Coal and the Old Fleet is Recalled - A
Number of of Them Are Still in Commission.
With hull and topsides painted a dingy brown, with sails blackened and old and ratlines missing from the shrouds, the schooner John Magee, once the pride of the Oswego fleet, lay yesterday in the slip of the O.& W. trestle loaded with 550 tons of coal waiting a fair wind - to sail away to Hamilton. Captain Sam Gravis, of Buffalo, is in command.
The Magee was built in this city by the late Andrew Miller, near where the O.& W. trestle stands, in 1869, for the late A.G. Cook at a cost of about $35,000. Never was a vessel more complete in appointment than the Magee, when she was taken to receive her first cargo, and few prouder men were in the harbor than Captain James Scott as he waved his cap in the parting whistle of the tug as he "cast off" and the schooner went up the lake under her own canvas.
It was something to be a vesselmaster in those days and to "bring out" a spanking new ship was a distinction. Named after a prominent owner of coal lands whose home was in Watkins, the Magee was a graceful in line and as handsome in appearance as any vessel that floated. Captain Scott remained master of her until the Sam Cook was built for A.G. Cook and he was made master of the latter and sailed her for many years. Captain William Scott took the Magee for a time and then the late Captain Amasa Stowell was master.
The late Edward Mitchell bought the Magee from Mr. Cook, and Captain Frank Maguire was master. She was then sold to Captain Howard Marsh, of this city. Captain Ripsom put heher on the beach on Lake Michigan and sold her to Captain J.W. Jones, of Detroit, who sold her to Captain Boland, of Buffalo, the present owner. Of the one hundred or more vessels that made up the Oswego fleet, the John Magee is among the last. The Delos DeWolf is still in commission and belongs to the Boland fleet, of Buffalo, but she has been practically rebuilt and is longer and wider than when known here.
The old Russian is still alive, but with topmasts out, a towbarge hailing from Alpena, and the Bolivia is a coal barge in the Hall fleet, of Ogdensburg. The Comanche, afterwards the Thomas Dobbie, is also in commission, and the schooner, West Side is in Chicago. The John R. Noyes is a tow barge with the name of Oswego still on her stern and the Oliver Mitchell is engaged in the lumber trade on Lake Michigan. The Mystic Star is in in commission and belongs to the Hurleys, of Detroit, and the Annie M. Peterson is the consort of the steamer Niko.
The Bahama is a barge hailing from Alpena and the Senator is still in Detroit, the Hoboken is also a barge belonging to the Harmon fleet, Ogdensburg, and is waiting for a load of coal at the West pier. The schooner G.G. Houghton, the last canal schooner owned in Oswego, was sold two or three years ago by Captain John W. Kerr to Jones, of Toledo. The above are about the only ones of the once proud array still afloat.
Among the departed fleet, whose timbers lie whitened along the shores of the Great Lakes, or buried in the deep, were the Norwegian, Captain Shattuck; Gilbert Mollison, Captain Joel Turner; Atlanta, Captain Sam Moran; Daniel Lyons, Captain Mike Holland; George C. Finney, Captain Sweetland; Madeira, Captain Bill Mack; Daniel G. Fort, Captain Carlisle; Granada, Captain Ben Chamberg; J. Maria Scott, Captain Richardson; Oliver Mitchell, Captain Chateau; Lem Ellsworth, Captain George Richards; Penokee, Captain Frank Maguire; John Wesley, Captain Jim Kern; Lillie Parsons, Captain Tifft; Cossack, Captain David Beggs; George Goble and William I. Preston, Captain John VanAlystine; Madeline T. Downing and W. H. Oades, Captain P. Woods: Russian, Captain Fitzgerald; Wayne, Captain George Atkinson; I.G. Jenkins, Captain Brown; George B. Sloan, Captain John McDowell; Carthagenian, Captain Amasa Stowell; Leadville, Captain P. Griffin; Guiding Star. Captain John Griffin, and afterwards William Griffin; Blazing Star, Captain John Hurley; James Platt, Captain John Golden; Senator Blood, Captain John Preston; American, Captain John W. Kerr; Jennie Matthews, Captain Paul Harry; Kate Kelly, Captain Lennon; W. B. Phelps, Captain Dan Kelly; John Dunn, Captain Carter; Hartford, Captain John W. Kerr; Cortez, Nassau, Captain John Farrell; Florida, Captain McKeown; Czar, Captain Orville Green; Henry Fitzhugh, Captain John Farrell.
Thomas S. Mott, Captain Jake McDowell; John T. Mott, Captain Peter Cronley; Pulaski, Captain John Moulther; M.J. Cummings, Captain John Quigley; Knight Templar, Captain Delorm; O.M. Bond, Captain Stephen Lafaiver; George M. Casxe, Captain Amasa Stowell; Belle Mitchell, Captain Elmer Vincent; Bahama, Captain John Wiley; Sea Gull, Captain John Cauley; Forest Queen, Captain Peter Cauley; William Sanderson, Captain Sam Williams; Willard Johnson, Captain Patrick Finn; Trinidad, Captain Dan Keeliher; Gerrit Smith, Captain P. Ryan; Hoboken, Captain Matt Hourigan; Cheney Ames, Captain Thomas Dougherty; Cossak, Captain Dick Daniels; Corsair, Captain George Snow.
The above are only a few of the vessels and vesselmasters that sailed from the port of Oswego in the days when the shipping interests were flourishing and carried hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment.