Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Minnehaha (Schooner), U91220, aground, 14 Oct 1893
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      The MINNEHAHA of Cleveland Goes Down And Only The Captain Is Saved.
Manistee, Mich., Oct. 16. - The identity of the four masted schooner reported ashore near here has been established, the vessel is the MINNEHAHA of Cleveland Captain William Parker, with a cargo of corn. Of the seven souls on board the schooner but one, Captain Parker, escaped. Those drowned were:
      John Rafferty, mate, Cleveland.
      John Rafferty, Jr., Cleveland.
      Mary Keefe, cook, Cleveland.
      William Ahlstrom, sailor, Cleveland.
      Two sailors, names unknown, both of Cleveland.
      The schooner went ashore Saturday afternoon and it was seen that she must soon by pounded to pieces by the heavy seas.
      The Manistee Life Saving crew was called upon for assistance, the claim being made that the Frankfort crew could not be reached. A train was immediately made up, and the crew and boat taken to Onekama where the boat was hauled 10 miles through the woods to Starke. Upon arriving there at midnight The Frankfort crew was found upon the ground, having arrived just before dark, but too late to be of any service. The schooner MINNEHAHA had been thrown upon the beach at about noon. The sea was running very high and swept the decks clean, and the crew was all drowned except the captain, who jumped overboard with a plank and swam ashore. The MINNEHAHA was being towed by the steambarge HENRY J. JOHNSON, also of Cleveland, which became disabled during the storm, and Capt. Parker, fearing that he would go down in the open sea, cut the towline an
put for shore.
      The lifesaving crew then returned to Manistee bringing Captain Parker with them. The captain said that his hatches went over the rail and the hold began to fill with water when he cut loose; but a few minutes after he struck the vessel broke in two and within half an hour nothing but the bow was left. The crew were amidships while he was at the stern when the vessel broke. He took a plank and jumped. They had no life preservers on board, and the opinion of the captain was that if there had been all would be alive today.
      He refused to talk about the insurance and but very little information could be secured from him. He said he did not see the JOHNSON after he cut loose, but the boat was seen off Manistee passing south at 3 o'clock Saturday afternoon.
      Following is Captain Parker's statement in full:
"We left South Chicago last Friday with 58,000 bushels of corn for Point Edward. We were taken in tow off Chicago by the steamer HENRY J. JOHNSON. We proceeded down the lake on the regular course, but was caught in the fearful gale of yesterday. The steamer made a great effort to reach the shelter of Manitou Islands, but the storm steadly increased in fury, she could make no headway against the big seas, and finally we had to turn and run before it.
      "When off Frankfort, about noon yesterday, the great mass of water falling on the decks of the schooner broke open two of the hatch covers. Then the water began to run through the openings thus made, and we saw that it would be but a short time before the schooner must go down. We signalled, then we headed for the beach. We brought up about a quarter of a mile from the shore. Instantly the waves made a clean sweep over us and we all took to the rigging, except one sailor, who jumped overboard and attempted to swim ashore. He was drowned so quickly that the rest of us hesitated.
      "I had run up the rigging of the jigger or small mast at the stern of the boat, but this soon began to shake, and I realized that our boat was going to pieces. There was nothing for me to do but jump overboard, which I did. I finally reached shore about half a mile below the wreck, but how I did it I do not know. While I was in the water the spars began going one by one. Sailor John Rafferty made a brave struggle for his life, and nearly succeeded in saving it. He managed to reach an old pier about half a mile away, and grasped the pole with which a man was endeavoring to save him. He was too weak to hold on, and was carried under the pier and drowned. Another sailor got as far as the breakers, but he, too, was so exhausted that he could get no further, and soon his lifeless body was being tossed about by the waves."
      The lost schooner MINNEHAHA, was owned by H.J. Johnson and others, of Cleveland, and was valued at $25,000. She was insured for $13,000 with the Commercial Union, North America, the London Assurance and one other company whose name we could not be learned last night. She was built in 1880 and has been unfortunate from the start. Two years ago she was wrecked near Detour, and remained on the rocks all winter, being abandoned to the underwriters, who finally rescued the wreck and sold it.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Monday, October 16, 1893 p.5, c.7 & 8

      . . . . .

      The MINNEHAHA loaded with corn went ashore on Saturday afternoon near Manistee. 6 killed, one saved. A few minutes after striking the bar the vessel broke in two and within half an hour nothing but the bow was left. There were no life-preservers on board.
The barge J.D. SAWYER was cut adrift by the B.W. ARNOLD near the Beavers in the saturday evening terrific gale. She is presumed lost.
      Eighteen were lost as the steamer DEAN RICHMOND goes down off Dunkirk, N.Y. She was chartered to the Toledo, St. Louis & Kansas City Line.
The barge HECLA is ashore at Wellington, Ontario.
The Barge J.C. MARTIN is ashore at Racine.
The tug ACME foundered on Lake Huron near Black River. None lost.
The schooners MORTON and CASTALIA are ashore near Sault Ste. Marie.
The steamer E.P. CURTIS and tow, ISABEL REED, T.S. FASSET and NELSON HOLLAND are ashore near Cheboygan.
The schooner CRAWFORD is ashore on Bois Blanc Island, Straits of Mackinac.
The schooner YOUKON is ashore at Waiski Bay.
The barges KNIGHT TEMPLAR and SWEEPSTAKES, consorts of the steamer SALINE, are ashore between Cheboygan and Duncan.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Monday, October 16, 1893

      . . . . .

The steamer JOHNSON, whose tow the MINNEHAHA was lost, has been found and is safe.
      Port Huron Daily Times
      Tuesday, October 16, 1893
      . . . . .

MINNEHAHA Built April 3, 1880 Schooner - Wood
      U. S. No. 91220 822 gt - 781 nt 199.5' x 35.1' x 15.1'
      Stranded between Frankfort and Pierport, Michigan, Lake Michigan, on October 14, 1893; 6 lives lost.
      Toledo Shipbuilding Master List
      Institute for Great Lakes Research
      Perrysburg, Ohio

Item Type
Reason: aground
Lives: 6
Freight: corn
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Michigan, United States
    Latitude: 44.24445 Longitude: -86.32425
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Minnehaha (Schooner), U91220, aground, 14 Oct 1893