The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Upper Canada Herald (Kingston, ON), July 27, 1831

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A new Schooner, named the Henry Clay, on her first voyage, from Oswego on her way to Cleveland in Ohio, was upset in a squall off Niagara on Wednesday the 20th July, and immediately sunk. She was laden with upwards of 600 barrels of Salt, and had on board 9 persons crew and passengers - three only of whom were saved; and these only by the extraordinary exertions of Capt. Richardson, of the Steam Packet Canada. We are indebted for the particulars of this melancholy affair to the following extracts of a letter received in this town from a gentleman who was a passenger.

On Board the Canada,

Wednesday, 20th July, 1831.

Between 10 and 11 o'clock this morning, when the Canada was approaching Niagara, she encountered a very violent squall, a short time after having passed the Schooner Henry Clay, of Oswego, on her way to Cleaveland on Lake Erie, by the Welland Canal. Seeing this vessel upset by the wind, Capt. Richardson, with that humanity and feeling, for which he has been so much distinguished on several other occasions of a similar nature, immediately put about, and steered in the direction of the lost vessel, in the hopes of saving the lives of some of the crew. In this he was, happily successful, three men having been thus rescued from a watery grave, though the vessel had gone down immediately, and the Canada must have been nearly two miles distant from her, when the accident happened.

Too much praise cannot be given to Capt. Richardson for his skill and exertions, as well as to the Boat's crew employed by him, on this melancholy occasion, the Lake being extremely rough, and to persons less acquainted with navigation, the attempt seemed most hazardous. To them it must ever be a source of great satisfaction to reflect that under divine Providence, they have been the instruments of saving three brother sailors from such a sudden and unexpected call to another world.

The Henry Clay was of about 70 tons burthen. She left Oswego on Wednesday last, loaded with 618 barrels of Salt, being her first voyage, as she has lately been built for the express purpose of passing between the two lakes by the Welland Canal. Unfortunately, the anxiety of some of persons connected with her to make a profitable voyage, induced them, it is said, to put 300 barrels on deck, in consequence of which, she was of course top heavy, and in such a violent squall, she would probably have gone over, even if she had not had some of her sails set. This is the opinion of the man at the helm, who is one of the persons saved, as he says that the Captain had let go the main sail and most of the other sails before the accident happened.

It is hoped that this unfortunate occurrence will operate as a warning to all persons concerned with vessels of this description in future, as all the numerous accidents which have happened on this lake this year, have been caused by neglect or unskilful management.

Those persons who have thus so narrowly escaped the untimely fate of their companions, for which possibly some of them may have been ill prepared, are thus reminded of the uncertainty of this life, and they are particularly called upon to reflect on the great importance of being always prepared for eternity. And this remark most especially applies to Mariners. If like too many of their brother sailors, they have been leading a wicked course of life, they are reminded that this solemn warning to them may never again be repeated, and if they do not make a proper use of it, it will only increase their condemnation. But if it should be the means of leading them to turn to God, to examine their past lives, to repent and ask pardon of their sins, through the merits of Jesus Christ, they may look back to this eventful day with melancholy satisfaction, and remember with gratitude to their all merciful creator, how narrowly they have escaped destruction.

p.S. There were 6 persons lost - viz; the Captain, one of the crew, and four passengers - two of them, a man and his wife from Ireland a boy, son of Capt. E. Trowbridge, of Oswego, and a young man going to Cleaveland to take charge of a mill.

A subscription was immediately set on foot among the passengers in the Canada, and $24 was collected, of which Capt. Richardson gave five.

A letter was written to Captain Richardson of which the following is a copy:

The undersigned, passengers on board of the Steam Packet Canada, cannot refrain from expressing their admiration and praise at the perseverance and skill evinced by Capt. Richardson this day (Wednesday,) in rescuing from a watery grave three of the crew of the Schooner, Henry Clay, of Oswego, which vessel was unfortunately capsized in a violent squall a short time after passing the Canada on her way to the Welland Canal. From the violence of the gale, and consequent roughness of the Lake, the saving of these persons was attended with extreme difficulty, and had it not been for the very great exertions and perseverance of Capt. R. and the sailors employed by him on this occasion under the blessing of Divine Providence not a single individual could have been saved. Signed by

Geo. Philpott, H. Sheppard

Capt. R. Engineers H. Hotham

Josiah T. Marshall Thomas Philips

R.W. Prentice Francis G. Stanton

Robt. Arnold Joshua G. Dix

Henry Laverty Salturn Givins

Carleton Lynde Daniel Griffin

We are sure that every humane person will concur in the sentiment expressed by the Gentlemen from whose letter the above account is taken, that "too much praise cannot be given to Captain Richardson" and his brave crew, for their hazardous exertions in behalf of their perishing fellow creatures upon this occasion; and we are equally sure that the inhabitants of this Town will also concur with us in the opinion, that it is due to Captain Richardson that some public testimonial should be presented him of the grateful feelings, which we know are entertained in this neighborhood towards himself and his crew, for the exertions which at the hazard of their own lives, they have so frequently and so successfully made, to save their fellow creatures from a watery grave. [York Courier]

Notice - stockholders in William IV to pay 10% by Aug. 23d.

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July 27, 1831
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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Upper Canada Herald (Kingston, ON), July 27, 1831