Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Argus (Kingston, ON), Dec. 7, 1847
Full Text



Destruction of the Propeller Phoenix.

200 Lives Lost!!!

The Propeller Delaware, Capt. Tuttle, arrived at Detroit from Lake Michigan, on Thursday afternoon, bringing the distressing intelligence of the total destruction by fire of the Propeller Phoenix, Capt. Sweet, on Lake Michigan, by which it is supposed, at least, 200 persons lost their lives.

The Phoenix was about 15 miles north of Sheboygan, several miles from the shore about 4 o'clock on Sunday morning, when the fireman on duty discovered that the underside of the deck above the boiler was in flames. Mr. House, who was then on duty, as Engineer, discovered it about the same moment, when to all appearances, the fire covered but a very small space. It spread however along the underside of the deck with the rapidity of a powder train, and notwithstanding three pumps and several lines of water buckets were put in operation immediately, it was found impossible to check the flames. A scene of the most terrible confusion ensued. The propeller was crowded with Holland emigrants; some of whom jumped overboard without support. Others ascended the shrouds, clinging in masses to the rattlings up to the very crosstrees, from which as the fire reached the combustible materials, they were soon precipitated into the burning mass beneath.

It is supposed that there were at least 250 souls, (passengers and crew,) on board, of which 25 were cabin passengers, 5 American steerage passengers, and 160 Hollanders. The Propeller Delaware arrived at the scene of the disaster about two hours after the fire was discovered, and rendered all the assistance in her power to rescue those in the water. Capt. Sweet had been confined to his berth for several days. He was saved in the boat, with several others of the crew, and one or two passengers. The burning hull of the Phoenix was towed to the shore near Sheboygan. Mr. House saved himself on one of the fenders and several floating pieces picked up in the water.

The following is a list of the cabin passengers' names, as far as they can be remembered by the Clerk and Engineer, together with a list of the crew.

Names of the Crew Saved.

Capt. Sweet, of Cleveland, Ohio.

M.W. House, Engineer, Cleveland.

H. Watts, 1st Mate.

R. Watts, 2nd Porter.

T.S. Donnehoo, Clerk, St. Clair, Michigan.

John Moon, deck hand, Cleveland.

A.T. Kelso, Wheelsman, Ohio City.

Michael O'Brien, Fire-man, Buffalo.

Passengers Saved.

J. Long, residence not know.

One Englishmen, (name not known,) a sailor.

Names of the Crew Lost

D.W. Keller, Steward, Cleveland.

Horice Tindall, cabin boy.

J.C. Smith, saloon keeper, Buffalo.

John Nugent, fireman.

Newell Merril, 2nd Mate, Ohio City.

Wm. Owen, 2nd Engineer, Toledo.

H. Robinson, 1st Porter, Chicago.

Thos. Ferto, deck hand, St. Clair, Mich.

John Murdock, " Canada.

"Agnes" " "

"George" "

Thos. Hosley " colored.

___ Allen, cook, colored, Detroit.

Another " "

and three others of crew, names not known.

Names of Passengers Lost, As Far As Known.

J. Burros, grocer, Chicago.

David Dlish, Southport.

Mr. West, lady and child, Racine.

Mr. Heath and sister, Southport.

Mrs. J. Long and child.

Two Miss Hazletons, Sheboygan.

Launch of Western Miller - a prop. built to carry cargo down the St. Lawrence to Montreal without breaking bulk, 132 x 25' 8" x 10' 6", 136 feet overall, engines by Niagara Harbour & Dock Co. [Toronto Colonist] (same as Whig Dec. 8th but with this addition):


On Wednesday, the 1st inst., we launched from the Starch Factory Wharf, Palace Street, a large vessel of upwards of 400 tons burthen, called the Western Miller, constructed for a propeller. Her dimensions are as follows.

Length of keel - 132 feet

Breadth of Beam - 25 feet 8 inches

Depth of Hold - 10 feet 6 inches in the clear.

Entire length over all - 136 feet

This vessel is intended for the direct trade between Toronto and Montreal, and, although built of very heavy timbers, and great strength, her displacement when light, and on an even keel, is only 2 feet 9 inches of water. Her draught of water when the engines, boilers, and machinery, masts, equipments and wood are on board, will not exceed 3 feet 4 inches, including the keel, which is 5 inches, in depth; she is, therefore, admirably adapted for carrying a heavy load in shallow water, and has been constructed for that purpose, so as to carry a full cargo to Montreal, down the St. Lawrence Canal without breaking bulk. Her load, when drawing 8 feet 6 inches of water, will exceed 4000 barrels of flour. Although so very burthensome she has an excellent entrance and good run, and is an extremely handsome vessel on the water. Her engines are in a state of forwardness by the Niagara Harbor Dock Company, where she will receive them on board so as to be ready for the earliest spring business.

She moved from off the stocks in a particularly gentle and easy manner, and, as the distance she had to run was considerable, her launch afforded a very pleasing sight to a number of spectators.

For this effort, in a new branch of business, Toronto is indebted to her spirited proprietors, amongst the principal of whom, we understand, are Messrs. Gooderham and Worts, and the several establishments of Thorne & Co., and to the indefatigable personal exertions of Mr. John A. Cull. [Toronto Colonist]

Melancholy Occurrence - On Thursday night last, Mr. Henry Smith, of Amherst Island, fell from a schooner about a mile from the steam boat landing, and was drowned.

Item Type
Date of Original
Dec. 7, 1847
Local identifier
Language of Item
Rick Neilson
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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Argus (Kingston, ON), Dec. 7, 1847