The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), 10 Jul 1908

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p.1 Gananoque, July 10th - ....The large steel freight steamer Nevada Leith, plying between Montreal and Fort William, called here this afternoon. She is said to be the largest vessel that ever came into this port....



The schooner Bertha Kalkins cleared for Charlotte.

The steambarge Robert McDonald cleared for Sodus.

The schooner Cornelia will load feldspar at Richardsons'.

The schooner Tradewind arrived from Sodus, with coal for Sowards.

The steambarge John Randall arrived from Fairhaven with coal for Booth's.

The schooner Winnie Wing arrived from Charlotte with coal for R. Crawford.

M.T. Co.'s wharf: tug Bartlett arrived from Toronto with two light barges and will clear for Prescott with one grain barge.

The business among the Thousand Islands this year is better than it has been in some years past. The steamers of the Thousand Island Steamboat company have been doing a large excursion trade during the past two weeks. Besides the regular excursions, these steamers handled three large conventions last week, one the Ohio state bankers, with headquarters at Alexandria Bay, another the New York state bankers at the Frontenac hotel, and the German society convention from Clayton. The opening of this season looks far better than any season in many years.



Of Crew Of Schooner Acacia.

Some interesting details of the terrible time the crew of the schooner Acacia had in the gale of Tuesday night and Wednesday are given by mate James Smith, who said:

"We left Oswego Tuesday evening, at seven o'clock, with about 370 tons of coal consigned to R. Crawford, of Kingston. Between nine and ten o'clock a gale struck us and we attempted to make shelter. Part of our canvas was taken away and we started for Sacket's Harbor. We found we were unable to make it and dropped anchor.

"The wind continued to blow furiously and the anchor would not hold and we were driven several miles out of our course.

"About two o'clock Wednesday morning our boat, which draws about ten feet of water when loaded, ran on the flat rock among the boulders opposite Bull Rock Point.

"The waves carried over the boat from one end to the other. We had hardly struck when a huge wave took our yawl away and we all realized that if the boat went to pieces before morning every one of us must perish. We found that a terrific sea was running and that it would be impossible for any small boat to reach us.

"Between eight and nine o'clock in the morning two unsuccessful attempts were made by some unknown men living on Pillar Point to rescue us. On one of these occasions the boat containing two men capsized. Both men finally managed to regain hold of it and put it aright. They soon saw that it was impossible to reach us.

"The two young men who rescued us are deserving of great praise. They first came near our boat in the forenoon, but we knew as well as they did that they could not reach us. In the afternoon the storm had calmed down a bit and and after going around our ship several times, they ran up on the starboard side and made fast. That was the happiest moment of our lives. Not one of us had a dry stitch on us. The boat was pounding to pieces and I do not believe she can be saved."

Had Thrilling Experience.

Mrs. Simmons, wife of Capt. Simmons, of the schooner Acacia, had a most thrilling experience, but is not suffering as a result. Capt. Simmons is suffering from a severe cold, but is not expected to return to Kingston for a few days. He is still at the scene of the wreck.

A message was received in the city this morning, stating that now that the storm had abated, the schooner did not appear to be in so bad a condition as was at first thought, and that an effort would probably be made to take her off. An investigation is in progress today.

Mrs. Simmons says that the experience was one that she will never be able to forget, and gives the two young men who made the rescue great praise. The storm was something awful, and they expected at any moment that the vessel would go down. The waves were mountains high, and the schooner did well to stand out the way it did.

Had the Acacia gone to pieces in fifteen minutes like the schooner Blain of Oswego, a terrible catastrophe would have been the result. In the case of the schooner Blain, the life-saving crew was near at hand, but those on board the ill-fated Acacia had to wait for hours for their rescuers.

Mrs. Simmons' grandchildren are none the worse for their terrible experience, and are in good health. They received quite a fright, however.

Two young men who started out first in an attempt to rescue those those on board the Acacia, had an awful time with the waves, and their boat was almost upset. Those on board the Acacia were of the opinion that the boat had upset, and a prayer was offered for its safety.

"Those young fellows will be lost in their endeavor to save us," cried out the members of the crew of the Acacia. The boat still fought the waves, however, but the young men had to turn back to shore. The other rescue party started out directly after their return.



From Wrecked Schooner Acacia.

The Watertown, N.Y., Times contains a vivid description of the rescue of the schooner Acacia's crew off Sacket's Harbor, on Wednesday afternoon, and of the suffering of those aboard. The Times representative writes:

"Hurry, we are breaking up and there are women aboard." This message, found in a bottle picked up upon the storm-tossed shore of Point Peninsula, gave the first intimation to the hundreds who from early in the morning had watched a large schooner pound on Bull Rock that there were human beings in peril.

There lay the vessel stranded upon the cruel rocks, in the grip of one of the worst storms of years, slowly breaking to pieces, while great combers broke over her deck, and running fore and aft seemed to carry everything before them in their path. It seemed impossible that human beings were aboard the ill-fated craft, yet there were eight of them, four men, two middle-aged women, a little boy, and a girl but twelve years old.

Aboard the wreck both crew and passengers were exhausted by a night's hard battle with the storm, in which even the children had been forced to play the part of men. Starting from Oswego at seven o'clock the night before with a freshening breeze, at nine o'clock a gale had developed. Seaman Arthur West and Capt. William Simmons lashed themselves to the grating at the tiller in preparation for the hard battle they saw before them. As the storm increased in violence it was seen that it would be impossible to keep on to Kingston, their destination, and that shelter must be sought in Chaumont Bay. With the wind due west the course was changed. Harder and harder blew the wind, the rain commenced and the stars were obscured. The last bearing the captain was able to exactly distinguish was Mexico Bay, and at this point the vessel sprung a slight leak. Then two anchors were let. But no anchors could hold a vessel in a storm like this. Hardly noticing its impediment sped on at a terrific rate. At midnight the boom of the mainsail broke and the sail dragged in the water. Two hours later the vessel struck the rock with hardly a warning, though the captain knew that they were near land. The big ship, displacing 400 tons and loaded down with 370 tons more of coal, fairly climbed upon the rock before her course was stopped.

Took Refuge In Cabin.

Then it was that the women and children trembling in the cabin heard the awful cry from Capt. Simmons, "Cut away everything; we are aground." But nothing could be done so the captain ordered his men below. The forecastle, however, was now filled with water.

The breakers had now begun to break over the deck, so it was impossible for any one to stay there and live. Captain and crew accordingly joined the women in the cabin. With the hatch securely battened and surrounded by the thundering breakers which almost broke the cabin from the deck, and feeling that peculiar terrifying crawl of the ship's bottom upon the rock, in prayer the party awaited the dawn, not knowing at what moment the ship might be rent in pieces and their lives ground out upon the cruel rocks about the shoal. Brave as any woman may be in a peril so dire, "Grandma" Simmons gathered her daughter's children, Earl and Ethel, about her knee and instructed them to meet death bravely. The cook, Jeannette Potter, had crowded close to the little ones and led the men in prayer.

Hope Abandoned.

Hope was practically abandoned by all, for where they were or how near aid might be was unknown and it was realized well that if the storm continued unabated the boat would soon break up. Then it was that the idea that resulted in the rescue of the party occurred to the little girl.

"O grandma," she said, "why not send a bottle with a message, just as I read in the story book."

Any plan seemed feasible to the men that possessed the least particle of practicability, so Capt. Simmons answered.

"We will do that and you will write the message."

There upon the captain's table in the cabin little Ethel wrote the message of the plight of the shipwrecked party. Realizing perfectly the nearness of them all to death she placed the portentious slip of paper in a large bottle. The captain corked it, opened a port and tossed it out upon the waters. Then all united in prayer that the bottle would bring them rescue.

When day dawned and the storm still continued in all its fury the captain and mate fought their way to the deck and saw the crowd on Pillar Point. They witnessed the brave attempt at rescue by the men in the sail boat and then returned to the cabin. They could see nothing but the outline of the shore near Sacket's Harbor so they had no idea that aid might come from a point so far removed.

The rescue of the Canadians by the Dibble boys was one of the most heroic acts performed on the lakes in years. The young heroes will likely receive Carnegie medals for their bravery.

The coal is now being got out of the wrecked vessel.

Incidents of the Day - Swift's wharf: steamer Rideau Queen, from Ottawa today; steamer City of Ottawa, from Montreal today; steamer Belleville down Thursday; steamyacht Castanet from river points; steamyacht Uvira from Alexandria Bay with private party.

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10 Jul 1908
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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), 10 Jul 1908