Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Intelligencer (Belleville, ON), Monday, March 7, 1927
Full Text
Captain Smith of "George E. Marsh" Reported Drowned
Son Thinks That His Father Has Just Died in Oklahoma

The ten-year-old mystery of the disappearance of Captain John W. Smith of the coal barge George E. Marsh was believed to be almost cleared up this morning when his son Horace Smith of Toronto, who has been visiting locally, received a telegram from Harrah, Okla., explaining that the body was still being held.

On Thursday, February 24th, messages were received in the city to locate Margaret Smith, whose father, John Smith, had died on Oklahoma. Every Smith in the city was unsuccessfully canvassed but the books of Moira Lodge, A.F. and A.M. revealed the fact that a brother listed as dead, named Captain John Smith, had once been a member of the Lodge. This clue was followed and records showed that Captain John Smith who had been in charge of the barge George E. Marsh, had never been proven dead, his body alone, of the twelve who had perished in the ship never having been recovered. It was found that Margaret Smith, a daughter, had married Neil McClennan, one of the two survivors who had clung to an upturned yawl from the schooner and drifted to Amherst Island. The other survivor was William Smith, brother of the Captain.

The Wreck

The schooner which was owned by Mr. J.J.B. Flint was purchased in Chicago. She was brought to Belleville by Captain Smith and overhauled. On her fatal voyage she had been chartered to Soward's Coal Company.

In his story of the wreck, Neil McClennan said that the schooner sprang a leak at midnight during a heavy gale, just off what is known as the Main Ducks, some miles from Kingston dock. The leak was bad and the three pumps were immediately applied but the inrush was faster than the pumps could empty. The vessel continued to float until about 5 o'clock when off Pigeon Point she settled and sank in about twenty-five feet of water. All on board had been notified to come on deck directly after the leak was discovered and some, no doubt, were swept overboard while the rest went down with the vessel. As the boat sank, Mr. McClennan made a desperate effort to save his wife and child but was unsuccessful. He, however, caught twelve-year-old Greta Smith in his arms and brought her to the yawl, but the waves were of such tremendous violence, she was swept into the churning water.

The Dead

The dead recovered at various times after the wreck were, Mrs. Smith, aged 32 years, Greta Smith, aged 12, Eva Smith, aged 8, John Smith, aged 6, Clarence Smith, aged 4, Lorraine Smith, aged 1, Mrs. Neil McClennan, aged 35, Douglas McClennan, aged 7, George Graves of Toronto, aged 4, William J. Watkin, aged 66 and George Cousins, aged 59 years. The little Graves child was a nephew of Mrs.. McClennan and had been visiting her. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Graves, resided at the time at 51 Rosevenor Avenue, Toronto.

Mrs. Smith, who went down with the vessel, was formerly Miss Gertrude Manning of Demorestville, Prince Edward County.

Memorial Service

A memorial service for the drowned was held in St. Thomas' Church on Sunday, August 12, 1917, conducted by Ven. Archdeacon Beamish and Rev. Mr. Jones.

Horace Smith is almost sure that the body is that of his father. Mr. Smith may go to Toronto today to visit his sister.

Officials of the Masonic Lodge both in in Harrah, Okla., and in Belleville, have been assisting in solving the mystery. The dead man had been conducting a flour and feed business in Oklahoma and is reported to have left some estate.

Item Type
Date of Original
Monday, March 7, 1927
Local identifier
Language of Item
Richard Palmer
Copyright Statement
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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Intelligencer (Belleville, ON), Monday, March 7, 1927