Maritime History of the Great Lakes
William Peacock (Steamboat), burst steam pipe, 17 Sep 1830
Full Text

The dreadful disasters which have been so common upon other waters, resulting from the bursting of boilers, are altogether unknown upon this lake. The only accidents which have occurred as the direct effect of steam are the bursting of a steam-pipe of the WILLIAM PEACOCK in 1827, by which 16 persons were killed and a few others were scalded. "The Bethel Magazine" 1835/36
      Cleveland Weekly Advertiser
      Thursday, January 28, 1836

NOTE:-The Bethel Magazine article copied in the Cleveland Advertiser, is certainly not very accurate?
      . . . . .

PEACOCK, WILLIAM Steam Boat, of 120 Tons. High Pressure engine. Built at Portland N.Y., in 1829, also broken-up, burst her boiler in the month of September 1830 off Point Abino, and 15 lives were lost. extract from:-
      "Trade And Commerce"
      Buffalo Commercial Advertiser
      March 26, 1847

      . . . . .
PEACOCK, WILLIAM Paddle wheel Steamer, 120 Ton. Built 1829 at Portland N.Y. Home port, Buffalo. Stranded near Ripley, N. Y. in 1835.
      Merchant Steam Vessels of the U. S. 1790 - 1868
      "The Lytle - Holdcamper List"

      . . . . .

      Melancholy Disaster - After witnessing the continued navigation of Lake Erie, by steam, for more than 10 years, it now falls to our lot, for the first time, to record a most distressing casualty, that has occurred on board one of the boats upon its waters.
      The steamboat WILLIAM PEACOCK, Capt. Fleeharty, on Thursday last, left port for Detroit at 9:00 A.M. with upwards of 100 people on board, most of whom were emigrating to the wild regions of the west. When about 4 miles outside the lighthouse, the pipes which conveys steam from the boilers to the cylinder, gave way just above the deck, and within a small cabin occupied by steerage passengers. This apartment being near the boilers and consequently warm, was thronged with women and children, as the morning was raw and uncomfortable, and the entire head of steam was discharged among them so suddenly as to leave no time for escape. The consequence, as may well be imagined, were terrible in the
extreme. The sufferers were: 3 children of Mr. John Parker, of Livingstone Co. in this state; the wife and 2 children of Mr. William Johnson, of Dover, Windham Co., Vt,: 3 children of Mr. Isaac Palmer, from the same place; Mr. E. Davitz, a Swiss emigrant, his wife and daughter; Mrs. Curiveau and her 2 children; and Mrs. Hopkinson, an elderly lady from Ohio. Of all these none are now living except Mr. Davitz and Mrs. Hopkinson, both of whom were so slightly injured as to be now considered out of danger. Mrs Curiveau, in the first agony of her suffering, sprang overboard; and a man, whose name is unknown, followed her from fright alone, as he had not been injured. The bodies of these 2 have not been
found, the remainder of the dead have all been interred here.
      The total of this melancholy catalogue is as follows:
      Dead from Scalding, 13
      Dead from drowning, 2
      Total 15
      Slightly injured, and recovering, 2
      So mournful and unexpected an event naturally caused much and deep sensation in the minds of our populace, and this at the moment, engendered many rumors and surmises to the prejudice of the owners of the boat, and others immediately connected. All of these rumors we have been at much pains to investigate, and so far as we can learn, the casualty is one of that class which occurs in all the pursuits of life, without a possibility of being foreseen or prevented. We examined the fractured pipe; it was slightly burnt in brazing, when made, but no indication of this was visible upon the surface, nor do we see how the fact could have been known, even to the makers. Confident we are that when in its place, it was impossible for any one to discover the approach of danger until the rupture actually commenced. The safety valve was within a few feet of the break, and the engineer had visited this but a moment before, at which time no defect was visible in the pipe that failed.
      Every attention was paid to the sufferers, by the owners of the boat, and by our citizens generally; and the exertions of several of our professional gentlemen have been constant and unremitted from the first. The boat was repaired the same day, and in the evening sailed for Detroit.
      Buffalo Journal & General Advertiser
      September 22, 1830

      . . . . .

DREADFUL STEAM BOAT DISASTER. -- One of the most lamentable occurrences which has ever happened on the Western Lakes, took place on Thursday last on board the Steamboat WILLIAM PEACOCK. She had started from Buffalo for Detroit with about one hundred passengers on board, and when about three miles out, the pipe which conducts the steam from the boiler to the cylonder burst, when the steam rushing with terrific violence into a small forward cabin over the boiler where about 20 of the deck passengers, principally women and children had collected, caused the almost instant death of nine persons. The whole number scalded was 15 or 16, of whom, up to the last accounts, 13 were dead, and 2 more not expected to live. One woman jumped overboard and was drowned. The following particulars are from the Buffalo Republican:
      The person drowned was a Mrs. Curiveau - she is represented by one of the hands who saw her go overboard, to have been shockingly burnt - her face literally skinned - the body has not been found. The 2 children of Mrs. Curiveau were almost instantly killed. The father was on the upper deck. When he came below, he found that he had been bereft in a moment of his whole family. The were from Quebec on there way to Detroit.
      Mr. John Parker of Livingston county, in This state, who was on board with his wife and six children, going to St. Josephs country, had 3 of his children scalded. One is dead ( a girl of ten years of age) and the other two will not recover. He says that his wife stood at the door of the cabin with a child in her arms, and by the instantaneous rush at the time was pushed out on the deck, and thus escaped.
      Mr. Johnson of Dover, Vt., going to Ohio with his family, is himself injured, and lost his wife and two children - all dead, The wife, we understand sacrificed herself in her attempt to rescue the children.
      Mr. Palmer, of the same place, a brother-in-law of Mr. Johnson, was in company with his wife and 3 children. The children were all scalded to death and the mother is suffering under a mental derangement occasioned by this sudden and awful calamity.
      A Mr. Davis with his wife and daughter are all scalded. The two last dangerously. They are Swiss emigrants and were on their way to Michigan.
      An old lady, Mrs. Hopkinson of Ohio, is also injured, but not dangerously.
      Recapitulation. -- Dead -- Mrs. Curiveau and two children, a daughter of Mr. Parker, Mrs. Johnson and two children, and 3 children of Mr. Palmer. -- 10.
      Expected to die. -- Mrs. Davis and daughter, and two children of Mr. Parker's -- 4
      Will recover. -- Mr. Davis and the old lady, making in all -- 16.
      Fredonia Censor
      Wednesday, September 22, 1830

      . . . . .
      DREADFUL STEAMBOAT ACCIDENT. -- It is with painful feeling that we attempt to describe one of the most calamatous occurrences that has ever happened upon the Western Waters. On the morning of Thursday the 16th inst., the Steam boat WILLIAM PEACOCK, Capt. Fleeharty, left this port, destined for Detroit, with about one hundred passengers, a considerable part of whom consisting of men, women and children, emigrating to Ohio and Michigan, were steerage passengers. - When about three miles out , the pipe which conducts the steam from the boiler to the cylinder, burst off at the lower connecting joint or flanges, and the steam rushed out with terrific violence into a small forward cabin over the boiler, where about 20 of the deck passengers, principally women and children were collected. The scene that ensued beggars description. One woman in flying from the steam jumped overboard and was instantly drowned. Fifteen others were scalded; nine of whom are already dead, and were interred yesterday, and of the remaining six, four are expected to die.
      We have conversed with the cantain and engineer who state that the press of steam at the time of the fracture was twenty polnds less than has been frequently applied. The engineer was but a moment before at the valve which is close by the pipe that was forced from its place, and believed that all was safe. He is not injured. The pipes were repaired in a few hours and the boat started the same evening with about forty passengers for Detroit. ---- Buffalo Republican.
      Erie Gazette
      September 23, 1830
      . . . . .
The steam boat William Peacok met with a dreadful accident on the 17th, outside the light house at Buffalo, on her way to Detroit, when about four miles outside the light house, a joint of the pipe, which conveys team from the boilers to the cylinder, gave way, which instantly discharged the entire head of steam into a steerage cabin, which is upon the deck. The apartment was thronged with steerage passengers, mostly women and children, and the scene which ensured is not to be described.
      As the boat had just left port, the names of the passengers, generally, had not been entered; and no perfect list of the sufferers, therefore, can, at this time, be made. The following persons, or their families, are among the sufferers, vize:
      Mr. Isaac Palmer, of Dover, Windham county, Vermont - four children scalded, two are already dead, the third dangerous, and the fourth slightly injured.
      Mr. William Johnson, of the same place - one child dead, wife and one child dangerous.
      Mrs. John Parker, of York, Livingston count, N.Y. - three children dangerously scalded.
      M.E. Vaditz, a Swiss emigrant - wife and daughter dangerous, himself not dangerous.
This is all we can learn of names, with certainty, though the disaster is known to be more extensive. Two infant children were found dead, but have not yet been recognized, nore can their parents be found. Several passangers are confident that one man and one woman jumped overboard, the latter dreadfully scalded, and
it is not improbable that the littler sufferers were hers.
      Colonial Advocate
      September 30, 1830

Item Type
Reason: burst steam pipe
Lives: 15
Remarks: Repaired
Date of Original
Local identifier
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.836111 Longitude: -79.095277
William R. McNeil
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Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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William Peacock (Steamboat), burst steam pipe, 17 Sep 1830