The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 5 Oct 1903

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During Squall and 12 Drowned.

The passenger steamer Erie L. Hackley of Fish Creek foundered in Green Bay, Saturday night during a hard squall, and twelve persons were drowned, and several ( ).

(list of those drowned - section is damaged)

Those saved are: Frank Blakefield, purser of the boat; Oren Rowen, engineer, Martin Hanson and a man named Roggendoff, firemen; Martin Olsen and son, passengers of Sister Bay; ? McSweeney.

The Erie L. Hackley was a fifty-four ton screw steamer, which was built at Muskegon, Mich., in 1882. She was owned in Fish Creek by Capt. Vor(?) and other residents of that village. The steamer made a trip every other day, between Sturgeon Bay and Washington Island going up one day and back the next.

The Goodrich Line steamer Sheboygan rescued the seven persons after they had drifted all the night in Green Bay, clinging to bits of wreckage, and brought them to Fish Creek on Sunday.

The Hackley was struck by the squall when off Green Island. The upper work of the vessel was blown away. The boat then turned over and went down in deep water. As the Hackley went to the bottom those who could seized floating wreckage.

The waves were rolling high and several of those who at first saved themselves from immediate death lost strength and sank. It was not until 7 o'clock Sunday morning that the steamer Sheboygan sighted the seven helpless survivors and rescued them.

The officers of the Sheboygan feel sure that they took aboard every person afloat but some of the persons who were rescued say that it is possible that one or more of the eleven persons missing have escaped death.

The Sheboygan ran into Fish Creek when the likelihood of rescuing other persons was improbable. The rescued persons were exhausted from their struggle against drowning. Search is still being made for any others who may have escaped.

Men Stay On Sunken Ship.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., Oct. 5th - Purser Blakefield, one of the survivors of the Buckley, gave a vivid description of the wreck. He said:

"The squall struck us about six o'clock as we were just north of Green Island. It came suddenly and with terrible fury. I was in the pilot house with the captain and we tried to bring the Hackley into the wind, but she would not heed the wheel.

Then, of a sudden, she listed and began to fill with water. Realizing that the passengers and crew were becoming panic-stricken, I left the captain in the pilot house and ran aft to let down the lifeboat. By the time I got aft the Hackley was filling so rapidly that it was apparent that it would be impossible to launch any boat. There came another fierce blast and the upper works went by the board. Then the steamer began to sink rapidly. Eighteen of the nineteen people aboard were gathered on the deck, most of them in a state of panic. The situation was made particularly heartrending by the women, who shouted hysterically.

As the boat sank it was clear that there was only one hope of anyone being saved and that was by clinging to the wreckage. I gave orders for the men to put the women on it first. They did so and behaved well, every man remaining on the sinking boat until the women had been placed on pieces of the cabin and other wreckage. It was then a wild scramble on the part of each man to get such pieces of planking as he could secure and cling to them.

Every man found something to float on except the captain, who remained in the pilot house to the last, doing his best to right the boat. He finally went down with her.

We floated on different pieces and for a few minutes we were in sight of each other but soon darkness came on and we separated. The last persons that I saw, except for those with me, were the two Vincent girls, from Egg Harbor, who were floating together."



Crawford's wharf: schooner Tradewind cleared for Oswego.

Richardsons' elevator: schooners Laura D. and Echo, from bay ports with grain.

The steamer Calvin and consort Ceylon cleared from Garden Island for Georgian Bay ports.

The steamer Myles did not clear for Fort William till this morning. She was detained here by the gale yesterday.

Swift's wharf: steamers North King and Corsican down on Sunday; Rideau King cleared this morning for Ottawa.

Craig's wharf: steamers Ocean and Melbourne down on Sunday; Alexandria due down tonight; tug Shanly from Ottawa.

M.T. company elevator: tug Thomson due from Charlotte, with two coal laden barges; tug Bronson cleared with two laden barges for Montreal.

The Prescott elevator was formally handed over Saturday to Mr. Cuttle, of the new Prescott Terminal company, by the Toronto General Trusts company, the purchase price of $28,000 being paid. The original investment in the elevator was $370,000. The barges sold for $92,000, the building for $28,000, the barge chattels for $500, and the building chattels for $400, a total of $120,000.

One of the best races that ever occurred in these waters was that on Saturday afternoon between the schooners Laura D. (Capt. McCullough) and Echo (Capt. Fagen). Both vessels were grain-laden for Kingston and came down from Adolphustown, thirty-seven miles miles away. There was a fair breeze, and the contest that ensued put the Reliance-Shamrock run to shame. The Laura D. would pass the Echo and the Echo would pass the Laura D. Sailing down Kingston harbor there was not a minute's time between the two schooners, the Laura D. being in the lead.

Day's Episodes - Capt. La Rush, of the schooner Maggie L., fell off his boat into the water, at Richardsons' elevator this morning. He was in among a number of vessels, but managed to find his way out.

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5 Oct 1903
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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), 5 Oct 1903