Sandusky Under Three Flags – Fall 1979

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By Paul F. Laning

In mid-16th century, when the French began their explorations in America. the Iroquois Confederation had established an extensive protective curtain over the lands bordering the shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie.1 As a consequence, the early French missionaries and traders pursued a northerly route from Montreal to gain access to mid- America, via the Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers, Lake Nipissing, and the French River into Georgian Bay. This led to the discovery of Lake Huron in 1615, Lake Superior in 1622, and Lake Michigan in 1634. Etienne Brulé, who crossed the narrow western reach of Lake Ontario in 1615, left no record of his find. Lake Erie was the last of the chain known to Europeans and Louis Joliet is believed to have been the first to behold it in 1669.2 La Salle was the pioneer navigator of Lake Erie when he took the Griffon from the Niagara River launching pad through the Straits of Detroit in 1679. The first two French maps showing Lake Erie were published in Paris in 1650 and 1656 by Nicolas Sanson d’ Abbeville. They both show fairly good orientation, but no accurate detail. They were issued before La Salle’s voyage, and not until later in the 17th and early in the 18th century do French maps show actual knowledge of the Lake Erie region and its orientation with the Ohio Valley.3

Zoomed in image of the De Lisle Map of 1718 showing the Great Lakes. Image from

The first printed reference to the name “Sandusky” appears on the De Lisle Map of 1718 in Paris. It shows “Lac Sandouske” with three islands intervening between it and Lake Erie. A long river flowing into Lake Erie at its southwest reaches corresponds to the Maumee. Two previous maps, one by the Italian Coronelli printed in Paris in 1688, and the other published at the Hague in 1703 and appearing in Lahontan’s “Nouveau Voyages de M. le Baron de La Hontan,” show clusters of islands, out of place, far to the western end of Lake Erie. This 1718 map is an improvement over the earlier maps, and proves that the Iroquois Confederation no longer exercised a monopoly in mid-America.4

Concerning the origin of the word “Sandusky”, James W. Taylor in his History of the State of Ohio, First Period, 1650-1787, H.W. Derby & Co.. Sandusky, 1854. p. 525. cites a letter referring to Jacob Sadousky (one of a Kentucky River surveying party) written by Colonel William Preston August 3. 1774, from Fincastle. Kentucky. It was asserted that the word “Sandusky” derived from Jacob Sadousky’s father, a native of Poland, who had traded in Northwest Ohio in 1740, losing his life while returning from an excursion to that area. The earlier appearance of “Lac Sandouske” on De Lisle map would seem to contradict this claim. Howe’s Historical Collec- tions of Ohio, editions of 1850, 1891. and 1896. under “Sandusky County” all refer to John H. James’ report of his conversation with William Walker in 1835 at Columbus, when Walker was Principal Chief of the Wyandots at Upper Sandusky. Walker told James that the word meant “at the cold water”, and should be sounded “San-doos-tee”. James was a distinguished early lawyer, banker, railroad builder, legislator, and writer. In a vocabulary of Wyandot words. given by John Johnston in Archaelogia Americana, Vol. 1, p. 295, the word water is given “Sa,un-dus-tee, ” and on page 297 he gives the name of Sandusky River as “Sa,undustee. ” or “water within water pools. ”

The Sandusky area or region extends all of fifty miles south of Lake Erie’s shore to the headwaters of the Sandusky River in Wyandot and Crawford Counties. and also to the bay and the area around it into which the river flows. At some time prior to the Revolutionary War, the Lake Erie Islands were known as the Sandusky Islands. and on a British map of 1789. Published in London by Ford, McNiff & Hall, now in our Library of Congress, Kelleys Island is designated “Sandusky Island.”

Henry Popple’s “Map of the British Empire in North America,” London, 1733, illustrates British rivalry and claims confronting the French. Like the earlier French maps, it shows the Maumee, and somewhat like the De Lisle 1718 map, it refers to Sandusky Bay with a slight variation, indicating two large islands on the north side of a deep southerly indentation corresponding to Sandusky Bay, and with an adjacent mark close by the shore “I Sandouske.” At the time of the French and Indian War in 1755. the Mitchell Map, published in London that year indicates the bitterness of the colonial rivalry, locating a fort on Sandusky Bay with this additional notation – “usurped by the French in 1751.”5

In 1649 the Iroquois destroyed the Huron nation inhabiting the Georgian Bay region.6 The wide dispersal of these Hurons (also called Wyandots) after this disaster, resulted in a scattering of the remnants of the nation all around the Great Lakes. Sometime after 1701, when the French established Fort Pontchartrain at Detroit, many of the descendants of the Huron-Wyandot group settled in the Detroit area. In addition to the Wyandots, tribal members of the Ottawa, Potawatomi, Chippewa, and Mississauga nations chose to live in the vicinity of the busy French outpost.

A number of the Wyandots quarreled with their Detroit Indian neighbors, and were not overly friendly with their French overlords, and two groups, one in 1738 and the other in 1739, migrated to the shores of Sandusky Bay.

Wyandot Indian tribe members. Image from

Most of the Wyandots congregated on the southwest shore of the bay near the mouth of Pickerel Creek, and a few of the remnants set up small villages around the bay. The principal outpost at Pickerel Creek has the name “Junundat” on most of the maps, and it was in this vicinity that both French and British traders came to deal with the Indians.7 Orontony (baptismal name, Nicholas), a leader of the Wyandots at Junundat, organized in 1747 an intertribal conspiracy against the French outpost at Detroit, similar to Pontiac’s later venture; in fact, Nicolas caused the murder of five French traders who came into the area without his consent.8 The French retaliated immediately, and forced Nicolas’ unfriendly group to leave Sandusky Bay, allowing the few friendly Indians to remain. Of course George Croghan, the skilled Pennsylvania British trader, undoubtedly encouraged Nicolas in his hostile attitude toward the French, and he was able to provide a hospitable refuge for the Nicolas band at Conchake on the Tuscarawas, near modern Coshocton, and still later, when some were dissatisfied at that point, he could provide yet another haven near New Castle, Pennsylvania.9

The actions of Nicolas were among the warnings the French heeded, proving that their influence in the West was in jeopardy. In 1749, the year after Nicolas’ removal, Celoron de Blainville, a French commander, was sent out from Montreal with 250 men, to intimidate the Indians and restore French prestige in the effected areas. Starting on June 15, 1749, Celoron’s force proceeded westward up the St. Lawrence and across Lake Ontario, around Niagara to Lake Erie, and southward to the headwaters of the Allegheny River. From there they advanced to the Forks of the Ohio at Pittsburgh.10 They then coasted down “La Belle Riviere” to the mouth of the Great Miami, which they reached August 31. From here, because of low water, they had to march northward most of the way to Pickawillany, an outpost frequented by both French and British traders, not far from today’s Piqua. The route then continued northwest to Fort Miami on the Maumee River at present day Fort Wayne. From there they went on to Detroit via the Maumee, and Lake Erie. The final stage to Montreal was by way of Lake Erie around Niagara, across Lake Ontario and down the St. Lawrence to their destination, where they arrived November 9. 1749, after a five- month journey.

During his trip Celoron ordered the arrest of four British traders, one at Fort Miami and three at the Sandusky trading post. The Sandusky traders were Croghan employees, and the Fort Miami man was associated with John Martin, another British trader. All four were taken to Detroit and then to Montreal. One man, because of illness. remained in Montreal: the other three were taken across the Atlantic and imprisoned at Rochelle, France, and finally released in 1751, after much diplomatic maneuvering.11

Celoron de Blainville with his sword raised, claiming land for the French in the Ohio Valley. Image from

Celoron’s reconnaissance in the West convinced the French authorities at Quebec that they must pursue a truly aggressive course against the British. They realized that the Ohio River communications route to the interior was their most important key to future advantages. However, the activities in the Sandusky area caused them to erect Fort Sandusky on the North side of the bay, within the limits of present day Port Clinton. Although begun late in 1750 and completed in 1751, it was soon abandoned. The successful activities of the Virginia and Pennsylvania traders under their respective British colonial governors, particularly west of the Forks of the Ohio, caused the French great concern for the important trade route down the Ohio to the lower Mississippi. They had a reasonable control of the Lake Erie- Maumee-Wabash route to the Mississippi. and abandoned Fort Sandusky rather soon. They began rapidly fortifying a route much like Celoron’s outward journey in 1749. They established three forts in 1753, the first at Presque Isle in present day Erie. This was an anchor to Lake Erie’s south shore, and from there it was about fifteen miles overland to a proposed outpost “Fort LeBoeuf,” near modern Waterford. This held the north end of the portage to French Creek, which drained to the Allegheny, where they built Fort Venango (now Franklin). These three forts would be strong supports, and the French also contemplated a large fort at the Forks of the Ohio, to be called Fort Duquesne, named after the French Governor General.12 In spite of apparent French emphasis on the Ohio Valley route, they finally concluded to conduct a good reconnaissance by way of Lake Erie to Detroit and the Straits of Mackinac. Joseph Gaspard Chaussegros de Lery commanded this expedition which started from Montreal early in the summer of 1754. De Lery was a fortifications engineer, and the command began with the intention of proceeding to the Fort Duquesne site, but orders were changed while they were encamped at Fort Presque Isle, to proceed to Detroit via Sandusky Bay.13

De Lery had been to Detroit previously in 1749, and made an excellent sketch map of the Detroit River, the French fort and the environs.14 On this second journey, his troop, consisting of 285 men, left Presque Isle on July 30, 1754. On August 4, they entered Sandusky Bay and discovered the ruins of the fort which de Lery noted his countrymen had built in 1751.

From this point a portage on level ground from the bay, approximately two miles long, brought the men to the Lake Erie shore. Here they re- embarked for Detroit where they arrived August 6. 1754.15

Besides the splendid Detroit sketch map which de Lery made, he fashioned the first maps delineating, with considerable skill, the shores of Sandusky Bay, the Marblehead and Catawba peninsulas, and the Lake Erie shoreline west of Port Clinton and a short distance east of Sandusky.16 All other previous maps were extremely vague about the Sandusky River, the bay, and the land mass bordering the watercourses. De Lery’s men accomplished their purposes in this part of the West. De Lery returned to Sandusky Bay on March 15, 1755, on his way to Fort Duquesne, for his skill was now being sought to put this strategic outpost at the junction of the Monongahela and the Allegheny to its best possible defensive position.17

Mention of Fort Duquesne recalls immediately the clashes in that area between French and British arms. Readers will recall the young George Washington’s early adventures as far north as Fort LeBoeuf, close to Lake Erie, in 1753; Fort Necessity in 1754, and Braddock’s defeat in 1755. They are all too well known to repeat here. However, these early French successes were cancelled out by the fall of Louisburg, and the abandonment of Fort Duquesne, both in 1758; and the final French capitulation at Quebec, 1760. Following the British success in 1760, Major Robert Rogers, with 200

British Colonial Rangers, left Quebec on September 13, 1760, to accept the French surrender at Detroit. He left Presque Isle November 4, and although he met Pontiac’s emissaries–and perhaps Pontiac himself–around the Cuyahoga on November 7, he was delayed by bad weather, finally receiving the French surrender at Detroit on November 29.18 They were intending to continue on to Mackinaw, but the weather was so bad they began a march overland December 23, 1760. to the newly constructed Fort Pitt. En route, they camped at one of the Wyandot villages on Sandusky Bay where they halted January 2, 1761. On January 3 they continued their march, arriving at Fort Pitt on January 23 with mission accomplished.19 None of the Rogers’ Rangers force was detailed to remain behind either at Detroit or at Sandusky Bay.

The change in the West to British administration brought new problems. British goods brought by Croghan and his men were usually more satisfactory than those brought by the French, and the British policy of conferring gifts was generous.20 With French competition removed, the British became careless and parsimonious. It is altogether possible that Pontiac’s Conspiracy in 1763 was due in part to the British having eliminated their custom after 1760, of giving presents to the Indians.21 By June 1761. Capt. Donald Campbell heard of Indian intrigues to capture Fort Detroit and other British outposts. In early September. Sir William Johnson. foremost representative of the British crown. and his deputy Croghan came to Detroit for a conciliatory conference with the Indians. After completion of their work in confronting this discontent, they de- parted on September 18 for their homes–Johnson’s in the Mohawk area of New York and Croghan’s near Harrisburg.22

Johnson, Croghan, and Amherst had been considering the establishment of a blockhouse on Sandusky Bay which would provide logical shelter as well as a shorter combined overland and water communication between Fort Pitt and Detroit. The orders for the erection of this fort, which was at the small town later known as Venice, three miles from downtown Sandusky. were given to Lt. Elias Meyer from Col. Henry Bouquet at Fort Pitt, August 12, 1761. A letter of Lt. Meyer to Col. Bouquet of Sept. 1, 1761. confirms Meyer’s arrival at the fort.23

On September 22, 1761. Johnson and Croghan disembarked at present day Port Clinton, at the north end of the de Lery portage, sending their boats on with orders to encamp on the east side of the Lake Erie entrance to Sandusky Bay near present day Cedar Point. Johnson and Croghan then continued overland to the south end of the portage at the site of the French fort of 1751. Croghan then crossed the bay to the Wyandot village at Junundat at the mouth of Pickerel Creek. while Johnson proceeded eastward on the bay to the new fort being constructed. Johnson in his record notes location of another Wyandot village three miles south of the new fort. (Since late December 1962. the fort site has been annexed to the city of Sandusky.)

The story of Pontiac’s Conspiracy of 1763 is well known. It should be sufficient to say that the two British redoubts Presque Isle and Fort San- dusky. along with seven other forts in the west, were destroyed, and that the Indians at Detroit put up effective resistance to the relief expeditions. The first of these, under Lt. Abraham Cuyler, left Niagara May 13, 1763, heading for Detroit as a reinforcement for the Detroit garrison. Unaware of the attacks at Detroit, they were ambushed by Indians while they were en- camped at Point Pelee. Of the ninety-six men in this command. sixty were either dead, dying or captive after the struggle: about thirty were compelled to row to Detroit and pass before their comrades in the fort as captives. A few of the remainder, with Lt. Cuyler. rowed from Point Pelee across the Lake to Fort Sandusky, which they found in utter ruin. From there they set out for Presque Isle where they warned Ensign Christie of the evidences of an Indian uprising. The Presque Isle outpost put up a stout defense before their capture and removal to Detroit on June 16th.

Two other ill-fated relief expeditions tried to reinforce the beleaguered British at Detroit. The first, authorized by Amherst on June 16. 1763, stopped at the ruins of Fort Sandusky and vengefully destroyed the Wyandot village that Sir William Johnson noticed, three miles south of the fort. Commanded by James Dalzell, this force was defeated on July 30, 1763, at Bloody Ridge, near Detroit. Dalzell was killed in this engagement.24

After these failures another relief expedition. starting from Niagara in mid-November 1763, was caught in a dreadful storm in Lake Erie, in which seventy men perished and all stores and ammunition were lost. Fortunately, about the time of this disaster, Pontiac’s men gave up hope. mainly on the news they heard that they could expect no help from the French. The garrison at Detroit did not know of this

Portrait of Henry Bouquet, painted by John Wollaston in 1759. Image from

when they were informed of the mid- November loss, under Capt. John Wilkins.25


Another British show of force took place in the late summer and early fall of 1764, with Col. Bouquet’s successful expedition to central Ohio, and with Col. Bradstreet’s ill-fated foray from Niagara to Detroit and the Sandusky country. On his return from Detroit, Bradstreet maneuvered around the sites of the British and French forts on Sandusky Bay, and spent a few days up the Sandusky River to the falls in present day Fremont. After dallying at the site of the old French fort, he departed for Niagara on October 18. The command suffered a terrible disaster “on a sandy beach to the westward, one mile off the Riviere au Roche.” A surf set in upon the beach destroying twenty-five long boats, ammunition. provisions and baggage.26 Many of Bradstreet’s men perished, and the survivors eventually reaching Niagara suffered from fatigue and cold caused by swimming in creeks and rivers and pushing through tangled thickets along the pathless borders of Lake Erie.27

The British hold on the Trans-Allegheny region can be fairly described as only tenuous from the time of Pontiac’s Conspiracy until after the Revolutionary War. During that war the Lake Erie region was scarcely involved. However, in 1782, the year after Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown, the British and Indians defeated an American force commanded by Col. William Crawford near the present day localities of Upper Sandusky and Bucyrus. Col. Crawford was tortured and burned at the stake.28

After the Peace Treaty of 1783, the Ohio country in its entirety was nominally under American control. However, the final possession by the U.S.A. of the Lake Erie and Sandusky region was not achieved until after the Battle of Lake Erie. on September 10, 1813. Many locations of the colonial period were prominent in the War of 1812, and Presque Isle, Erie, Sandusky, and the de Lery portage are among them. Today, the Put-in-Bay monument is an appropriate memorial in our region of the peace that has been our heritage on both sides of the U.S. – Canadian border for over 150 years.

  1. George Hunt, The Wars of the Iroquois. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1960.
  2. Milo Quaife, (ed.) American Lakes Series, Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis, 1944: Grace Lee Nute, Lake Superior; Milo M. Quaife, Lake Michigan; Fred Landon, Lake Huron: Publ. 1945, Harlan Hatcher, Lake Erie: Arthur Pound, Lake Ontario.
  3. Louis Karpinski, Bibliography of the Printed Maps of Michigan, 1804-1880, With Over 100 Reproductions of Maps Constituting An Historical Atlas of the Great Lakes and Michigan. Michigan Historical Commission, Lansing, 1931. Lloyd Arnold Brown, Early Maps of the Ohio Valley, A Selection of Maps, Plans and Views made by Indians and Colonials from 1673 to 1783. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pitts- burgh, 1959.
  4. Karpinski, cit.
  5. Charles E. Frohman, “Fort Sandusky on Sandusky Bay,” INLAND SEAS ® , Spring
  6. Landon, Lake Huron, cit., p. 50.
  7. G. Thwaites, (ed.) Wisconsin Historical Collections, Madison, 1906, XVII, 279- 288, has an account of the dissatisfactions of the Detroit Wyandots with their neighbors leading to their removal to Sandusky Bay, citing MS. in Archives of Ministre des Colonies, Paris: press mark “Canada”, Correspondence General, Vol. 75, c 11, fol. 130. In the same reference is a speech (pp. 377-380) of the Governor-General of New France, the Marquis de Beauharnois, to three Huron chiefs of Detroit.
  8. S. Knapp, History of the Maumee Valley, Toledo: The Blade Mammoth Printing and Publishing House, 1872, p. 15.
  9. Charles A. Hanna, “The Sandusky Forts,” Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publi- cations, Columbus, 1913, XXII, 322-325. Additional confirmation of the moves to the Ohio Valley appeared in The (Cleveland) Plain October 26, 1958. Four Wyandot skeletons were found in a cornfield in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, near New Castle, identified as part of the refugee tribe of Chief Nicolas. The dis- coveries were made by Marco Hervatin. Secretary-Treasurer of the American Archae- ological Society, on October 17, 1958. Others involved in this find were Dr. Donald Dragoo, Archaeologist of Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, and John Witthoft, curator of the Pennsylvania State Museum, Harrisburg.
  10. Beverly Bond, Jr., The Foundations of Ohio, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Reprint, 1968, Vol. 1 of a series of 5 vols. edited by Carl Wittke and entitled History of the State of Ohio, 115-121. At the mouths of the larger Ohio tributaries, Celoron buried leaden plates asserting the validity of Louis XV’s claim to possession of the surrounding region. Two of the plates have been recovered, and are in mu- seums, one in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the other in Richmond, Virginia.
  11. Thwaites, cit., 1908, XVIII, p, 112.
  12. Bond, cit., p. 129.
  13. Lucy Elliot Keller, “Old Fort Sandoski of 1745 and the ‘Sandusky Country,’ “Ohio Archaeological & Historical Publications, 1908, XVII, 354-
  14. Elroy Avery, History of the United States and Its People, 7 vols. De Lery’s sketch map of Detroit is in vol. IV, (1908), p. 354. This work was published by Burrows Bros.. Cleveland, Ohio.
  15. De Lery’s Journal of 1754 is cited in Charles Hanna’s Wilderness Trail, 2 vols.New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1911. In addition to the Ohio Archaeological & Historical Publications already cited in respect to the de Lery Journal, translations of some of the other Journals were published in Journal of Chaussegros de Lery, Northwest Pennsylvania Series, prepared by Frontier Forts and Trails Survey, Federal Works Agency, W. P. A., ed. by S.K. Stevens and D.H. West, Pennsylvania Histori- cal Commission. 1940, Colonel Crawford Lindsay of Quebec was the translator of de Lery’s Journals.
  16. op. cit. Considering that these sketches must have been largely freehand, they are remarkable in their detail and relative orientation.
  17. Bond, Foundations of op. cit., pp. 148.149.
  18. Avery, cit., p. 353.
  19. Journals of Major Robert Rogers. London,
  20. Albert Volwiler, George Croghan and the Westward Movement, Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1926.
  21. Wilbur Jacobs, Diplomacy and Indian Gifts, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1950.
  22. James Sullivan, (ed.) The Papers of Sir William Johnson, Albany: The University of the State of New York, 1921, III.
  23. Charles A. Hanna cites this letter in his article in Ohio State Archaeological & Historical Publications, XXII, Columbus. 1913. “The Sandusky Forts.” in a controversy concerning the location of the British fort. Homer M. Beattie in his article “British Fort Sandusky” in INLAND SEAS® Vol. VI, 1950, also refers to Col. Bouquet’s letter to Lt. Meyer. of August 12, 1761.
  24. Francis Parkman, The Conspiracy of Pontiac and the Indian War after the Conquest of Canada, Boston, Little, Brown & Co. 1913.2 Vols. in 1.
  25. The Public Archives of Canada confirm the losses in the mid-November storm, within 90 miles of Detroit, citing the Haldimand and Bouquet Papers of December 22 and 28, 1763, and Sir William Johnson’s letter to the Lords of Trade, January
  26. Scull, (ed.) “The Montresor Journals,” Collections of the New York Historical Society for the Year 1881, XIV, (1882). p. 312. Capt. John Montresor was an engineering officer of the Bradstreet Expedition.
  27. Earl R. Quebedeaux. in two articles in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, June 30, and July 7, 1968, gave a most interesting account of artifacts. relics, and even skeletons discovered over a century ago in the Clifton Park area near Lakewood and Rocky River, Ohio. It appears that the Wilkins disaster of 1763 took place east of the entrance to the Rocky River, and the Bradstreet wreck of 1764 occurred in the same area west of the entrance. One of the three officers drowned in the Wilkins debacle was a surgeon, and a surgeon’s amputating knife and case were among the artifacts In 1873, Dr. Jared Kirtland, a distinguished early Cleveland physician. natura- list, legislator, and one of the founders of the Western Reserve Medical School, determined that the skeletons were of white men. and not Indians. A resident of Lakewood, a historian of sorts, and interested in colonial times, he researched both incidents. The articles of Mr. Quebedeaux give support, at least, to the theory that both the Wilkins and Bradstreet expeditions were forced ashore in the vicinity of Rocky River and Lakewood.
  28. W. Butterfield, An Historical Account of’ the Expedition Against Sandusky under Colonel William Crawford in 1782, Cincinnati: Robert Clarke& Co., 1873.

Read More of Inland Seas Online

About the Author: Mr. Paul F. Laning is a native of Norwalk, Ohio, and now resides in Sandusky. A High School teacher for thirty-five years –five years at Kirtland, Ohio, in the Lake County System, and thirty years at Sandusky High School in the English Department—he retired from this profession in 1968. He then became Bailiff of the Erie County Common Pleas Court, serving from 1968 to 1974, when he again retired, this time, he states “altogether.‘‘

A Past President of the Erie County Historical Society, Mr. Laning is a member of the Ohio Historical Society and the Great Lakes Historical Society. He is a longtime contributor to INLAND SEAS® and has written articles and book reviews which reflect his early interest in Ohio as well as the history of the Great Lakes area.

Learn more about our award-winning Inland Seas© journal and become an Inland Seas member

Around Lake Superior, Summer 1978 – Summer 1979

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By Dr. Julius Wolff, JR.

Since 1947, Dr. Wolff has annually guided student groups on summer tours around the Great Lakes, an activity associated with having been Scout- master and Commissioner of the Boy Scouts of America from 1950-1968. The following account is a brief resume of a trip made with three students around Lake Superior in July 1978.

– J.C.S.

With three Duluth Ordean Junior High School students; Sean Bradley, Erik Campbell and Randy Lally, I made last July a 1,700- mile automobile tour around the complete perimeter of Lake Superior. Our first stop was Ontonogan, Michigan, where we photographed the old lighthouse complex, then on to Misery Bay, southwest of the Portage Ship Canal. We were looking for the bones of the schooner-barge Samuel H. Foster wrecked there in the blow of October 1906. No luck, though the day we were on the beach another party several miles southwest of us discovered wreckage of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency research plane which disappeared ten years ago. Searchers now definitely know the plane crashed in Lake Superior.

From there we proceeded northward on Keweenaw Point to Eagle River, Michigan were we sought out and photographed the pilothouse of the iron freighter Tioga wrecked on Sawtooth Reef in November 1919. A private party salvaged the pilothouse and keeps it in a good state of preservation on their home lot. A member of the audience at one of my Minneapolis ship lectures last year had tipped me about this. After tarrying briefly at Eagle Harbor, Michigan, we proceeded to Copper Harbor where we did a good deal of photographic work and just plain prowling. Superintendent David LaPointe of Michigan’s Fort Wilkins State Park permitted us to hike the controlled access road to the Copper Harbor Lighthouse Museum. We obtained some excellent pictures of the bones of the John Jacob Astor, first American ship lost on Superior, together with a steamboat rudder, probably off the City of Superior, an 1857 wreck. Mr. La Pointe, with the aid of scuba divers, has collected a number of rare artifacts, propellers, capstans, anchors, wind- lasses, and the like, but state appropriations for a building to house these have not been forthcoming.

Our next move was to backtrack to the base of Keweenaw Bay and drive to Pequaming. The old waterfront, however, once famous for its lumber docks and sawmill activity, is overgrown with grass and brush, with the small boat clientele using part for a marina. Consequently, we swiftly moved to Marquette for a visit to the Marquette County Historical Society and calls on John A. Keast and D. M. Frimodig, well-known Lake Superior shipwreck researchers in their own right: then on to the east. We hiked the two-mile beach to Au Sable Lighthouse west of Grand Marais, Michigan, and examined the fragments of wrecked ships on the beach in that vicinity. I am quite sure the major wreckage masses are those of the steamers Gale Staples (Caledonia) wrecked in 1918, and the Sitka stranded in 1904. Minor masses might have come from the steam barge Mary Jarecki, an 1883 casualty, or even from the old propeller Union destroyed in 1873. Dimensions of the hull bases lead to the above deductions. A mile west the hull base of an old schooner possibly could be that of the Canadian Annie Coleman stranded in 1879. Near the schooner we spotted another sizeable piece of debris not far offshore but a rising northwestern prevented our wading and swimming out to her.

After a brief stop in Grand Marais for a call on Ms. Rose Mary Marshall, publisher of The Voyager, we headed east to Deer Park for a look at the old Life-Saving Station scheduled for demolition by the Michigan Division of Parks.

The following day saw us at the mouth of the big Two Hearted River where we unsuccessfully sought remnants of the schooner W. W. Arnold shattered there in November 1869. Serious beach erosion has so altered the beaches, after the “Fitzgerald” storm and others, that beach search without electronic detection equipment was useless. Even the old lifesavers ridge trail, 75-100 yards south of the water’s edge, is being destroyed in places.

We did get one big break at Two Hearted River in our acquaintanceship with Mrs. Iona Proue, a summer resident with property adjacent to the Michigan Forest Service campground. For thirty-six summers she has been at her cabin. On the wall of her cabin was a large colored photograph of the old Two Hearted River Life-Saving Station taken about 1942. It is the only picture of this station that I have ever seen. She graciously permitted by assistants to copy it. Mrs. Proue, whose family used to fish this shore. also gave me information on the location of a small steam-vessel slightly offshore which often is buried by the shifting bars. From the dimensions obtained by her husband some time ago I would deduce that this wreck must be that of the tow steamer Satellite which went down in June 1879, west of Whitefish Point after hooking a log in her wheel. Mrs. Proue also regretfully reported that the Life-Saving Service cemetery at Two Hearted has been completely destroyed by vandals. The late Coast-guardsman John F. Soldenski had mentioned this cemetery a dozen years ago, but I had never been able to find it.

Our final stops on the Michigan shore were at Vermilion and Whitefish Points for photographic work, but a northwesterly storm with temperatures in the forties virtually blew us off the beach. We did pay our respects to Mr. and Mrs. Merle Gerred in Vermilion township, and, as usual, Mrs. Gerred had some interesting pictures and additional historical information. She also mentioned that scuba diver Tom Farquist had his dive boat at the Whitefish Point harbor of refuge. We hastened there, met Mr. Farnquist and his partner. He mentioned two newly discovered wrecks to me which I tentatively identified as the wooden ore carriers John M. Osborne, sunk in collision in 1884 and M. M. Drake, a 1902 collision result. Mr. Farnquist presented me with an engine gauge off the Drake for deposit in the Duluth Marine Museum. He also invited us to his home in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, the next after- noon. There we had a fascinating session listening to his reports of diving discoveries. He also showed us iron and timbers from the first steamer on Lake Superior, the Independence, which was lost by boiler explosion in 1853. He had salvaged these from a Corps of Engineers dump area where they had been scheduled for burning. The Corps had removed the old wreck in deepening the channel at the Soo. While we were at Farnquist’s, two Canadian divers from Batchawanna Bay appeared. They furnished us detailed information on the Canadian Coast north of the Soo which I wished to visit.

After spending a day and a-half taking pictures at the Soo Locks, together with a visit to the interesting Valley Camp Museum, we crossed into Ontario, contacted correspondents at the Canadian lock headquarters, and headed up the east side of Lake Superior. Leaving the main highway we took a secondary road to a resort near Point Mamainse where we parked the car, then hiked to the old lighthouse, which we photographed, and walked the boulder-strewn beach northward. A half-mile or more to the north, I came across a boulder- studded bay of Lake Superior which matched a description given by a survivor of the area where the schooner William O. Brown was torn to pieces after stranding in the hurricane of November 28, 1872. Searching the edge of the forest at the high water mark we came across a number of wooden remnants which seemed to be portions of a wooden ship. Perhaps we had hit upon the site of the Brown’s destruction, with a loss of all but three of her crew. Two of my crew, investigating some flashing material on the beach which I detected with field glasses a half-mile further north, came up with a piece of aircraft wreckage. As yet, we do not know the source, though we have reported our discovery to the American Civil Aeronautics Board as well as to the U.S. Coast Guard. We obtained good pictures of the base structure of the old Mamainse lighthouse. Unfortunately, the tower has been removed and now graces an eating establishment a few miles to the north on the high way.

The remainder of our trip was uneventful, though we did visit Wawa, the iron ore producing center, the Pic River park area, the waterfront at Thunder Bay, and the iron ore ports of Taconite Harbor, Silver Bay, and Two Harbors, Minnesota. The boys procured fine pictures of modern Canadian ships at the docks in Thunder Bay. Thus we concluded our July 1978 investigation of the Lake Superior coast which had taken us nine days, and we could easily have spent nine more. Discussion of next summer’s “rambling” now is in the planning phase.

Read More of Inland Seas Online

Learn more about our award-winning Inland Seas© journal and become an Inland Seas member

The Bradley Transportation Line – Spring 1979

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By Gerald F. Micketti


This is a short history of the Bradley Transportation Company, home ported at the Port of Calcite at Rogers City, Michigan. They were called “the Bradley Line “, “Bradley Boats “, and sometimes “the Greyhounds” because of the grey hulls of the ships. The vessels are still sailing but no longer under the Bradley name; they are now part of the Great Lakes Fleet of the U.S. Steel Corporation. This article is divided into three parts: the first includes the development and expansion of the fleet, 1912-1927; the second covers the second expansion period, and losses, 1950-1967; while the third and final section includes brief notes concerning a few of the vessels.

Image taken in 1919 of Carl D. Bradley (left) and William White (right) at the Calcite Quarry. Photo from

The beginnings of the Bradley Transportation Company go hand-in-hand with the Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company. They both started out about the same time. The development of the Calcite Quarry at Rogers City began in 1908. In an article in the Advance of January, 1908, it was noted that Mr. Henry H. Hindshaw, a mining engineer and geologist from New York City, looked over certain properties between Rogers City and Crawford’s Quarry.’ He commenced drilling for the Solvay Process Company of Syracuse, New York, and the samples of limestone were tested and found suitable for commercial purposes. The Solvay Process Company then took out an option on the land. Mr. Hindshaw went back to New York and interested the White Investing Company in the venture. W.F. White was the president of the firm and instrumental in organizing the Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company in 1910. The Limestone’ Company then purchased the land from the Solvay Process Company.

The next two years were spent in developing the facilities at the Calcite plant and production started in June 1912. Mr. Hindshaw was the general manager of the plant for a short time. He was replaced in October 1910, by Joseph R. Jenkins: Carl O. Bradley of Chicago replaced him in 1912.

Early in its life, the Limestone Company recognized the need for delivery of limestone. Prior to this, users had gathered their stone from nearby quarries. If this was not feasible then the stone had to be brought in by ship. Not all customers had a dock or unloading facilities to receive the stone. But a self-unloading type vessel could deliver the stone without the use of unloading facilities, or docks, for that matter. All that is required is a channel deep enough for a vessel to move in close to shore, swing out the boom, and unload the stone.

The operation of a self-unloader is quite simple. The stone in the cargo hoppers is dropped through the bottom of the hopper onto two large conveyor belts running the length of the hold. These belts carry the stone forward to a bucket-type elevator which lifts the stone up to another conveyor belt on the unloading boom. The boom is swung outboard to discharge the stone. Realizing this, the Limestone company decided to use self-unloading vessels to transport the stone to its customer

The Detroit Shipbuilding Company at Wyandotte, Michigan, built a steel steamer for the Calcite Transportation Company of Detroit. This vessel, the Calcite, was chartered for ten years and christened by Miss Elva A. Farr, daughter of President M. E. Farr of the shipbuilding firm. She was 416 feet long with a 54-foot beam and a 29-foot depth. The Calcite had a capacity of 7,000 tons. She was called “the largest self-unloading vessel in the world.”2 Her first load was taken on June 15, 1912, at Calcite. As a tryout for the unloading mechanism, the stone that was loaded was transferred from the hold to make a fill alongside the wharf. After the successful test, she was loaded with stone for Buffalo, New York.

The Calcite continued to operate for the next three years, when the Limestone Company decided that a second vessel was needed, and contracted with the American Ship Building Company, to build another self- unloading steamer at Lorain, Ohio, in 1915. The owner this time was the Limestone Transportation Company of Rogers City. The W.F. White, which included some improvements, was 550 feet long with a 60-foot beam and 32-foot depth. She was capable of carrying 10,000 tons of crushed stone. The steamer was named to honor the president of the Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company. Her maiden trip was a load of coal from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Menominee, Michigan, leaving Erie on September 2, 1915, under the command of W.J. McLean of Detroit.3

Self-unloader CARL D. BRADLEY on its maiden voyage in 1917. Image from the Alpena Public Library.

Two years later another vessel was built and launched at the Lorain shipyards. This ship, the Carl D. Bradley, was owned by the Bradley Transportation Company, Carl D. Bradley, President. There were more improvements made on her and she had the same dimensions as the W.F. White. The Bradley arrived at Calcite on June 12, 1917, with A.M. McLean, Captain, and Herman Lange, Chief Engineer, both of Detroit.4

A note in Screenings, Summer issue of 1957, states that in 1923 the Bradley Transportation Company was expanded. This company now included the Calcite Transportation Company, Limestone Transportation Company, and Bradley Transportation Company.5 The charter on the steamer Calcite mentioned earlier, expired and she was acquired by the Bradley line. Also, the steamers W.F. White and Carl D. Bradley were included in the fleet. Now there was one transportation company with three vessels.

Another ship was being built that same year. This was the B.H. Taylor. Her dimensions were the same as the White and the Bradley with a capacity of 10,500 tons of crushed stone. She was named for the treasurer of the Bradley Transportation Company, and Mrs. Taylor had the honor of christening the vessel at the Lorain shipyards with a “bottle of Limestone Plant water over her big bow.”6 The Taylor arrived at Calcite in October under the command of Capt. William McLean and her chief engineer was Harry B. Moore of Cleveland.

The mood of the country at that time was toward expansion and the Bradley Line followed suit. An article in the Advance December 1924, stated that a contract with the American Ship Building Company to build another vessel was signed. 7 This vessel, the T. W. Robinson, was launched at Lorain shipyards on Saturday, April 25, 1925. Her dimensions were 586 feet long, 60- foot beam, 32 feet deep, and a capacity of 10,800 tons of crushed stone. She was named for the vice president of the Illinois Steel Company, a predecessor company to the United States Steel Corporation and one of the early customers for the Calcite limestone.8 The Robinson arrived in Calcite for her first load on the 12th of July.9

Up to this time the Bradley fleet had five vessels, but the biggest and best was yet to come. The steamer Carl D. Bradley was renamed the John G. Munson. An article in the November 1926, Calcite Screenings noted that the Michigan Limestone Company had accepted a contract to deliver one million tons of stone to the Universal Portland Cement Company’s new harbor at Buffington, Indiana, and a new steamer to transport this stone was built at the Lorain shipyards of the American Ship Building Company. The construction was similar to the Robinson but she would be the largest tonnage carrier on the Great Lakes, under the command of Capt. William J. McLean.10

The new Carl D. Bradley was launched on April 9, 1927, and christened by Mrs. Bradley who smashed a red, white and blue ribboned bottle of Calcite water over her bow? Her dimensions were 638 feet long, 65-foot beam, 33 feet deep and a capacity of 14,000 tons of crushed stone.

The arrival of the Carl D. Bradley at Calcite on July 28, was a festive occasion. Operations at the plant were suspended for several hours to give the employees a chance to witness the arrival of the vessel. Flags were flying that day. The Rogers City Community Band, Mrs. Bradley and her guests boarded the new tug, Rogers City, and steamed out to meet the Bradley and escort her into the loading slip. The village president, Rudolph Dueltgen, greeted the vessel and the party on board. Mr. Bradley expressed warm appreciation for the welcome and told about the vessel’s construction.12 Her first load was nearly 15,000 tons of stone to be delivered to Buffington, Indiana. After the construction of the Bradley, expansion of the company halted. The depression years and war years saw no new construction for the Bradley fleet which now had six vessels. Any additions would have to wait.

In the fall of 1950, Screenings noted that the Bradley Line would now have another vessel. A contract with the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, was signed and that company would build a self- unloading vessel to be ready for service in the 1952 season. The new vessel’s dimensions were 666 feet long, 72-foot beam, 36 feet deep and a capacity of 20,000 gross tons.13 During the 1930s and 1940s the Carl D. Bradley was one of the largest vessels on the Lakes. During, and after the war, ships that were as large or larger than the Bradley were built, and with the coming of this new vessel, the John G. Munson, the Bradley Line again had the largest ship on the Lakes. Mr. Munson was the president of the Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company after the death of Carl D. Bradley in 1928; in 1939 he became vice president in charge of raw materials for U. S. Steel, retiring in 1950.

The Munson was launched on November 28, 1951, At Manitowoc, Wisconsin; Mrs. Munson had the pleasure of christening the ship. The Munson arrived at Calcite on August 24, 1952, and an open house was held for the people of Rogers City and vicinity, with the Rogers City Band providing the music for the occasion.

Now, it might seem, there were two vessels with the same name. That was taken care of by renaming the older John G. Munson after another president of the Michigan Limestone Company and she became the Irvin L. Clymer. This took place on October 23, 1951, at Calcite.

The eighth ship was added to the Bradley fleet in October 1956. The Myron C. Taylor of the Pittsburgh Steamship Division was converted to a self-unloader at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, by the Christy Corporation, during the summer of 1956. She was built in 1929 by the Great Lakes Engineering Works at River Rouge, Michigan. Her dimensions are 604 feet long, 60- foot beam and 32 feet deep.

Still another vessel was added, and again the Pittsburgh Steamship Division provided the ship. This was the A.F. Harvey, renamed Cedarville. Her dimensions were the same as the Myron C. Taylor and she was built by the same company in 1927. She was later converted to a self-unloader by the DeFoe Shipbuilding Company at Bay City, Michigan, and her christening day was May 25, 1957, at Port Dolomite, Cedarville, Michigan.

Five days previously the B.H. Taylor was renamed the Rogers City. Again, these were gala occasions. Both plants, Calcite and Cedarville, held open house. At Rogers City, schools and stores were closed for the afternoon event.14

At the beginning of the 1958 season the Bradley fleet was comprised of nine vessels. The fleet had set safety records and was recognized for this by the National Safety Council. It had sailed three and a-half years, 1,303 days, without a lost time injury? Then tragedy struck!

On November 18, 1958, the Carl D. Bradley broke in two and sank in Lake Michigan. Thirty-three men were lost on that stormy night; there were only two survivors. She was returning home after delivering a load of limestone to Gary, Indiana, the same area where her first cargo of stone was delivered in 1927. Several books have been written which cover this sinking.

In 1960 a second vessel left the Bradley Line, but not through tragedy. The Calcite, the first Bradley self-unloader, was scrapped at the end of the 1960 season. For 48 years she had sailed under the flag of the Bradley Transportation Line. A brief program was held at Calcite where members of the clergy praised the ship’s part in the economy of the town and blest her final voyage to Conneaut, Ohio. She had carried 4,605 cargoes for a total of 24,794,340 tons of limestone and 6,526,170 tons of coal. As a final tribute to her when she passed down the Detroit River, the Bradley house flag was raised on the halyard at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum at Belle Isle?

A final note on the Calcite; her pilothouse was spared destruction, and was returned to the Port of Calcite, serving there at the harbor as both a tourist attraction and a memorial to the first vessel of the Bradley Line.

Even though the steamer Calcite was gone, the name was continued and is still in use today. The William C. Clyde, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steamship Division, was converted to a self-unloader at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company during the Winter of 1960-61. She was renamed Calcite II, at Calcite, in August of 196 1. Her dimensions are the same as the Myron C. Taylor and the Cedarville. She was built in 1929 by the American Ship Building Company.

At this time there were again eight vessels in the Bradley Fleet, but tragedy was to strike again. On May 7, 1965, the Cedarville, while navigating through the fog on Lake Huron near the Mackinac Bridge, collided with the Norwegian freighter Topdalsfjord and sank. Ten of her crew were lost. Again, like the Bradley, the story is told in detail in several books.

Two years later the steamer George A. Sloan, again from the Pittsburgh Steamship Division, was added to the Bradley Line. She was converted at the Shipyards at Superior, Wisconsin. Originally launched in. 1943 as the Hill Annex, she is 620 feet long, 60-foot beam, 35-foot depth and has a capacity of 17,000 tons.

The year 1967 saw the end of the Bradley fleet under that name. In the summer, U.S. Steel consolidated the Pittsburgh Steamship Division and Bradley Transportation Line into one fleet-the Great Lakes Fleet. The Bradley Transportation Company which was formed in 1923 and became part of U.S. Steel in 1928, no longer exists. The black and gray stacks with the M-L on them have been repainted with the U.S. Steel colors, black and silver.

We will add here just a few brief notes to close. Both the Myron C. Taylor and the Calcite II have been reclassified as motor vessels because of the changes in their engines.

The W.H. White left the Lakes in 1963 to transport coal on the Chesapeake Bay to the Fairless, Pennsylvania plant. She returned to the Lakes in 1965. In 1976 she was sold to Westdale Shipping Ltd., of Canada, and now operates under the name Erindale.

The Irvin L. Clymer is still laid up at Calcite where she has been since 1974 after failing to pass her inspections.17

The John G. Munson, the only vessel of the Bradley Line to sail in the winter, was lengthened in 1976 by adding 102 feet to her center. This increased her capacity to 28,000 tons. The work was done at the Fraser Shipyard at Superior, Wisconsin.

  1. Presque Isle County Advance, 28, 1909, hereafter cited as Advance. The Calcite Plant is on the site of Crawford’s Quarry.
  2. Advance, June 27,
  3. , July 29, 1915, p. 1, and Sept. 9, 1915,p. 1.
  4. , Mar. 29, 1917, p. 1, and June 14, 1917, p. 1.
  5. MLD Screenings,, Summer 1957, p. 25, Originally published as Calcite Screenings, by Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company for their employees, beginning in 1926. Name changed in 1957 to MLD Screenings and in 1958 to ML Screenings. Discontinued publication in 1963. Hereafter cited as
  6. Advance, 6, 1923, p. 1.
  7. , Dec. 4, 1924, p. 1.
  8. , Aug. 3, 1962, sec. 3, p. 2.
  9. , July 16, 1925, p. 1.
  10. Screenings, 1926, 6. p.
  11. , May 1927, p. 6.
  12. , Aug. 1927.
  13. . Fall 1950, p. 10.
  14. , Summer 1957p, . 25.
  15. , Winter 1958-59,p. 8.
  16. , Jan.-Mar. 1961, p. 14
  17. Lake Log Chips, June 13, 1974, 4.

Read More of Inland Seas Online

About the Author: The author, Gerald F. Micketti, was born and raised in Rogers City, Michigan. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University, and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He admits that his special interests are the Great Lakes in general, and Northern Lower Michigan in particular. Mr. Micketti is a member of the Great Lakes Historical Society.

Learn more about our award-winning Inland Seas© journal and become an Inland Seas member

A November Storm Firsthand – Winter 1978

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By M.S. Macgillivray

The following letter was written to my brother, John Campbell Macgillivray, by the late Capt. James McCannel of Port McNicoll, Ontario, who for many years was Master of the steamer Assiniboia, built in 1907, and Commodore of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Upper Lakes Steamship fleet. Captain McCannel was a relative, and he and my brother John kept in close touch over the years. I came across this letter recently, in my brother’s papers. The envelope in which it was mailed was addressed to him at the Canadian Government Trade Commission, Hamburg, Germany.

The parts of the letter I am enclosing describe Captain McCannel’s last trip across Lake Superior just prior to his retirement.

My dear Clansman: Feb. 15th 1937

Yes, here I am now retired and to be candid I have no regrets–47 years seems a long time to be a mariner . . .

I certainly got an awful trimming on the 27th and 28th Nov. (1936) on Superior. For a time it did not look too good. In fact I wondered if old Father Neptune was going to close my career rather suddenly on the eve of my retirement. We had only 350 tons. The storm struck me 110 miles above Whitefish Point. It came like a tornado and half an hour after it hit us I could not hold her up nearer than 35° of her course, and going sideways and rearing in the air, like a mad horse. I decided to run for shelter off Keweenaw. She rolled so hard and deep the railings were going under each time, and then the deck load shifted. There was a 45 ton car of steel pipe, and bars about 30 feet long. I could hear freight breaking on the bridge. The watchman came up and said everything was going to pieces. I sent the mates down, but they reported it would be death to go in to try and secure it. I then turned for Whitefish Point, but she was going sideways and in a couple of hours I would be trying to keep her off a lea shore. I then hauled up as close as she would come to the wind and head for Michipicotin Island.

No visibility on account of snow and vapor.

I was blown down below Caribou and I then got her up north passing east of Michipicotin, and when abreast of Otterhead I hauled on another tack across the middle of the lake for Passage Island and after battling the gale for 40 hours I arrived in Fort William. When heading into the gale she would go down so deep the cargo of steel would slide forward and dig further each time into the freight, and when the bow went up it slid down to the bulk- head. The Superintendent and others in Fort William never saw a cargo mixed up and out of place like it.

Seven of us got hurt. One fellow was down street the other day for the first time. I was thrown off my feet backwards and fell, hitting my head, but fortunately I had a big cap on, fur collar turned up, and a big scarf around all, or else my head would have been split.

I was knocked out. The first I knew they were trying to get me on my feet. I never saw so many stars before. My left shoulder and right arm are still very bad. Some nights I can hardly sleep for the pain of right arm and cannot lift it up very high. Later on the wind swept me down the icy deck. I grabbed the rail at the stairway and swung clear around and hit my side on the other end of railings, knocking the wind out of me.

I was knocked all to hell that night yet I stayed on the job. Cabin girl was thrown out of bed clear across the room. The dressing table went flying through the air and left her black and blue. Three fireman hurt and two waiters had hand dressings. Piano got adrift, furniture in cabin, dining room and pantry smashed and the new refrigerator was completely wrecked. Stairs carried away. My room was a complete wreck. Well I sailed the flagship 24 years and that was the worst hammering I ever got . . . .

With all good wishes, I am, etc.

(Signed) J. McCannel

It can be mentioned here that Fort William was the Lake Superior terminus for Canadian Pacific’s Great Lakes fleet at the time this letter was written. It is now, of course, part of Thunder Bay. Also, the Assiniboia was totally destroyed by fire on November 9 and 10, 1969, at Philadelphia, where, after leaving the Lakes, she was to have been converted into a floating restaurant.

Relating to Captain McCannel’s retirement, on November 20, 1936, a testimonial banquet, sponsored by the city and attended by the citizens of Fort William, was held in his honor, at the Royal Edward Hotel. Tribute was paid to him as one of the city’s staunchest friends, and he was presented with a beautiful “easy chair” in which he could relax after forty-four years of sailing twenty-four of them, as stated in his letter, as captain of the Assiniboia.

His death on June 28, 1939, came suddenly as he would have wished, when a fatal heart attack brought his life’s voyage to an end. He left behind one and a-half million miles of devoted service on the Great Lakes and an unexcelled record of never having lost a ship, or ever needing assistance! His dedicated service is certainly a commendable addition to Great Lakes history.

Read More of Inland Seas Online

About the Author: Mr. M. S. Macgillivray has been an interested member of the Great Lakes Historical Society for the past several years. He has already contributed to our journal, and is currently engaged in compiling the histories of some of the lesser known vessels of the Great Lakes. Mr. Macgillivray is a resident of Montreal, Quebec.

Learn more about our award-winning Inland Seas© journal and become an Inland Seas member

My Twelve-Year Wait – Fall 1978

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By William Maher Howell

I was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, in what would be classified today as a nice middle-class neighborhood. Our section of the city bordered on Presque Isle Bay and was inhabited by families associated with waterfront activities.

As an example, in the block where I lived, there were four families who owned their own fish tugs, a family who owned one of the leading fish companies, and another family owned a boiler works which specialized in ship repair and barge building. My grandfather, Capt. R. Paul Howell, and my uncle, Capt. Paul V. Howell, had lived next door to our home and had sailed for the Bradley Transportation Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Both men had passed on before I was born but grandmother Howell and my aunt Anne still lived in the Erie homestead which was rich in memorabilia from grandfather’s sailing days on the Great Lakes. I spent a good deal of time at grandmother’s house and it’s no small wonder that I was fascinated with Great Lakes ships; my parents were on constant call to take me down to the waterfront. Our trip home from church on Sunday always included a ride to the foot of State Street to the Public Dock to see “what was going on.”

Steamer JOHN J. BARLUM – Image from Alpena Public Library.

I remember especially the year 1927 when I was eleven years old. There were quite a few freighters laid up at Erie. I can’t recall if the layup was brought about by some strike or an economic slowdown, but I do remember sitting on the hill above the Cascade docks and studying the ships through my grandfather’s binoculars— thrilled beyond measure at being that close to the ships. Some of the ships docked were the Henry Steinbrenner, Philip Minch, Adriatic, John J Barlum, Thomas Barlum and the W. G. Pollock. Even the colors of the ships comes back to me; the Pollock was green hulled, the Barlum ships were grey and white and the other ships the common rust-colored hulls. It is quite a contrast to today’s standardized colors—rust or black hulls. As excited as I was at watching these ships practically every day, my biggest thrill was yet to come. My father received a phone call at his office one day from Mr. Crebo Jones. Father remembered Crebo immediately as the cook on the Gladstone. My father and his brothers had taken a few trips up the Lakes on the Gladstone each summer when school was dismissed and Crebo was well remembered for his exceptional cooking ability. He and his wife Grace still sailed the Lakes, cooking on various ships and now were aboard the John J. Barlum as cooks, and in its present layup state had stayed on as shipkeepers. Crebo invited father, mother, grandmother Howell and me to Sunday dinner aboard the Barlum. Try to imagine the feelings of an eleven-year-old boy who was enthralled with ships but had never stepped aboard one! Now the greatest dream was to come true. Crebo sensed my feelings immediately and from the moment when I climbed the ladder and stepped aboard the Barlum, he had a captive audience in me.

After we finished dinner, he took me on a tour of the ship. Not an inch of that vessel was left unexplored. To quote the oft-used expression, I was “on cloud nine”! Crebo then promised me that he would see to it that I would take a trip up the Lakes the following summer on the Barlum. My parents took me aside and tried to reason with me that Crebo was making a promise he couldn’t possibly keep. But I wouldn’t hear it— Mr. Jones had promised me and that was that! Even they never dreamed it would necessitate a twelve-year wait. I never lost hope for that trip but events took shape which caused it to fade into the background. The Barlum ships left their Erie lay-up later that summer and unfortunately we never again heard from Crebo Jones.

It had been an annual occurrence for me to stay at my grandmother’s house when my parents went away on their vacation. Early in the summer of 1928, grandmother Howell suffered a heart attack and died and my parents had to alter their vacation plans to include me in their travels. In retrospect, I’m sure they planned this trip to make up for the Great Lakes trip promised me by Crebo Jones: they decided to leave the car home and travel as much as possible by ship.

At that time the steamers Erie and Dover sailed between Erie and Port Dover, Ontario, on alternating trips carrying passengers and automobiles. I remember the ads promoting these trips as saving many hours of tiresome automobile travel around the Lake, by taking your car aboard ship directly across the Lake and enjoying a lake ride at the same time. To me this trip was like a journey to a foreign land. I had never been to Canada—this was a land far away across the Lake. We sailed aboard the Erie early on a Saturday morning for the 3½-hour trip to Port Dover. We passed the Dover on her return trip to Erie and sighted several freighters making their way up or down the Lake. It was a beautiful day for a lake trip, with not a cloud in the sky, nor an affecting wave on the Lake. I satin a chair near the bow and I remember for certain that I never left that chair during the entire trip.

The next leg of our vacation would have to be made by land inasmuch as there was no way of traveling by passenger ship to our next stop—Toronto. Walking to the trolley depot in Port Dover one thing struck me and has remained in memories to this day-the uniform the policeman wore. He was dressed in the same uniform as the oldtime English Bobby, complete to the tall hat. The present-day uniform is modern, of course, but at that time to this then eleven-year-old boy, that person might as well have stepped off the boat onto English soil!

The trip to Toronto was made by electric interurban trolley, a mode of transportation which has all but disappeared from the scene. I don’t recall too much of this part of our travels except such names as the “Telephone City,” Brantford, Ontario, and Hamilton, the high speed of the trolley and the seemingly endless and beautiful Canadian countryside. We arrived at Toronto in late afternoon and took a cab to the harbor to start our next leg of the trip which would take us by steamer through the Thousand Islands.

When we arrived dockside, I was surprised to see the steamer Kingston. She was a beautiful steamer but I remember having reservations about her at the time. I remarked to my father that she must be an old ship because I had seen a picture of her in one of my grandfather’s books. Father assured me that she was in her prime in spite of her twenty-seven years. Unfortunately the habit of “overbooking” didn’t originate with the modern day airlines. A group from Allentown, Pennsylvania Fire Department had also booked passage on the Kingston, had arrived before us, and every stateroom was taken. There were quite a few of us who would be left behind for the next trip if we didn’t protest, so after a session of raised voices the company agreed to set up wooden folding cots in the steamer’s lounge. Trying to sleep on those cots made up the roughest part of the passage, and I was reminded of it in later years in the Army, trying to sleep under other than favorable conditions.

Our overnight trip to Rochester, New York, and Kingston, Ontario, was uneventful. Being wakeful most of the night, I remember the ship docking near an amusement park on the American side and it was raining quite hard when we docked at Kingston early the next morning. Fortunately, the weather cleared and by the time we reached the Thousand Islands the sun was shining and the trip through the islands has to be one of the most beautiful a traveler can enjoy. The panorama of the islands with their great homes and castles was further enhanced by our cruise director who gave glowing descriptions of the islands, the homes and their inhabitants. He informed us that on the island owned by the Pullman family, the clock in the tower had hands of solid gold. The descriptive tale about Hart Island and Boldt Castle was almost beyond belief. Years later I was to take this same trip by smaller craft and visit some of the islands, and I came to the conclusion that the cruise director of 1928 had much too vivid an imagination!

Steamer RAPIDS KING – Image from Alpena Public Library.

Our last stop on this part of our vacation was Prescott, Ontario, where we were to transfer to the steamer Rapids King for the spectacular trip through the Rapids and onto Montreal. I was looking forward to shooting the rapids as I had been told this was an unforgettable thrill. I was doomed to disappointment however, because word of the overbooking at Toronto had preceded us and I can now appreciate the company’s reluctance to overload the Rapids King on this thrill-packed journey. When we docked at Prescott we were told that the Rapids King would not be making the trip through the rapids. Father, acting as spokesman for our group, approached officials of the line to inquire as to the reason for cancellation of the trip. When he returned, he smilingly informed us that “the King had lost his rudder. ” While we Americans chuckled over this remark, our Canadian friends responded with an icy stare. Whether or not the Rapids King had lost a rudder I never did learn, but I have since been told these ships took a beating on their run through the rapids and that such damage could occur.

We spent the rest of the day sitting on our luggage on the waterfront at Prescott while CSL had a special train made up to take us the rest of the way to Montreal. We spent several days in Montreal sightseeing and my parents took me to the Shrine of St. Joseph on Mont Royal. Father was as disappointed as I at having missed out on shooting the rapids and after inquiries in Montreal found another trip we could take through the rapids. The following day we hired a car and were driven to Lachine. There we boarded the side-wheeler Empress. The Empress was a sorry-looking old girl but we gave little thought to her seaworthiness, we were going to shoot the rapids after all! I was told that the pilot was an Indian; the Indians were familiar with the river and its safe channels. (I took this particular trip again the following year and it was still a great thrill. The ship seems to be traveling at great speed through the angry frothing waters, rocking from side to side and occasionally a hard thump is felt as it strikes some submerged obstacle.) After a while we reached calm waters and eventually entered Montreal harbor.

My parents and I were on top deck at this time and I was treated to a view of what is one of the world’s busiest harbors. Ships of all sizes and types were either dockside or sailing by us in the harbor. I had a notebook and pencil with me and I was writing down the names of vessels as fast as my parents could call them out to me. The Empress next entered a lock in the harbor and was raised to dock level where we disembarked and returned to our hotel after this thoroughly satisfying trip.

Our original plans to travel by ship were to end at Montreal, but luckily this wasn’t to be. One day we were walking through the lobby of the Windsor Hotel and mother spied an advertisement describing an overnight trip to Quebec on Canada Steamship Lines’ new ship, the St. Lawrence. This trip looked like the frosting on the cake and also would enable my parents to take me to the Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré in Quebec. Late that afternoon we boarded the St. Lawrence and were shown to our stateroom. This ship was only a year old, and in my eyes she was beauty beyond description. We stayed up quite late watching the lights of the ships passing us on the river. The next morning we docked at Quebec in the shadow of the Chateau Frontenac. We hired a car and a driver for the day to take us to points of

Steamer SEEANDBEE – Image from the Alpena Public Library.

interest and act as an interpreter when we should go to lunch. We traveled to the Shrine, Montmorency Falls and other places in and about Quebec. Late that afternoon we returned to our ship. An ocean liner, Empress of Scotland, had tied up during the day near the St. Lawrence. Our guide wanted to take us aboard for a tour but time did not allow it. He explained that this ship, the Empress of Scotland, had been designated by Kaiser Wilhelm to be his private yacht on a world cruise after he won World War I!

Our return to Montreal aboard the St. Lawrence was the last part of the vacation by ship. Our vacation days were overspent and we had to hurry back to Erie, so the speediest form of travel in 1928 was the train. The two-day trip by train is hardly remembered; travel by ship is still the best as far as I am concerned. As I look back, my parents more than made up for any disappointment I may have felt at missing out on that Great Lakes trip on the Barlum and I’m sure that they were aware of the great happiness they gave me.

Twelve years later I married the nicest girl in the world and after our wedding reception we drove to Cleveland, Ohio, and boarded the Seeandbee for a honeymoon cruise up the Great Lakes. Although taken twelve years late, this trip was well worth waiting for.

Read More of Inland Seas Online

About the Author: William Maher Howell, as he states in his article, was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. His father’s side of the family produced two shipmasters: his mother’s family was associated with the fishing industry, and as a young lad he made trips on fishing tugs with his uncle “Bill” Maher.

Following retirement, after thirty-two years of service with the Post Office Department, Mr. and Mrs. Howell now reside in Salisbury, Maryland, and devote their travel time mainly to harbor tours. A recent trip on the Mississippi River was a fine experience, but couldn‘t compare with an excursion on the Great Lakes! Hoping now for a trip aboard a Great Lakes freighter, he fully realizes that he will “never give up!”


Learn more about our award-winning Inland Seas© journal and become an Inland Seas member

Aboard the HURON in 1910 – Summer 1978

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By Clarence H. White

It was early morning. We had just left the St. Clair River and were shaping a course eastward toward the Canadian shore, thence northward to Goderich, Kincardine, and the North Channel to Sault St. Marie. It was a halcyon morning. Far to the west could be seen the never-ending procession of large freighters diverging from our course to follow the Michigan shore of Lake Huron. The downbound boats lay low in the water, their holds weighted with heavy cargoes of iron ore: those upbound light ship, towering high above the Lake. They would call at the iron ore ports—Escanaba on lake Michigan; Marquette, Allouez, Ashland, Superior and Duluth on Lake Superior. There they would take on their heavy return cargoes and return to the Lower Lakes ports.

Steamer HURON – Image from Alpena Public Library.

Our little ship, the Huron, skipped lightly over shining small waves with an almost imperceptible motion. The seas seemed to laugh as they played about the ship’s hull. It recalls to me now something out of the Iliad; Thetis herding her Nereides eastward in the light northwest breeze. All the Nereides were there including Glaucus, Thalia, and Menelaus. (Limnorea, the wave that runs along the shore, give her a wide berth, for we are coasting a lee shore.) The woodwork of the cabins sang the song of the cricket as the ship danced lightly through the laughing waves.

We had come up the St. Clair River the night before, having left Detroit in the evening. Our ship had been scheduled to leave Cleveland that morning, but repairs to one of her paddle wheels, damaged in an encounter with a floating log resulted in her laying over for the day at Detroit, where we boarded her at the foot of DuBois Street. So we were off at last! Leaving the shore and casting off has always carried with it a sense of release from the land and all its cares.

There were five of us in our party—my parents, my young sister, my older brother and myself. I was twelve and the year was 1910. Cruising up the river we were enthralled by the continuous parade of shipping. Most were ore boats—red ore boats, black ore boats, and the odd-shaped “whaleback”, looking for all the world like gigantic submarines. The long ships disappeared in the growing darkness, and became fantastic displays of lights—masthead lights, green and red running lights, and lighted cabin ports as they glided slowly by.

Now we were on the open lake. I was aroused from this reverie by the realization that a sinister change was taking place. Thetis had fled with her brood of Nereides and was racing for the Canadian shore, thereto be swallowed up by the breakers that were soon to form. Poseidon was approaching us in pursuit. No longer did our little steamer skip gaily over the laughing waves. She plunged, she wallowed, then rolled alarmingly in the ever increasing seas which rushed at her from the northwest and crashed against her iron hull with a hollow boom like the sound of a great bass drum. The wind blew fresh from the northwest. The sky, still clear, took on a harsh, hard blue shade. The seas, dotted with white-caps, was of a deep green-blue color.

We met a few downbound vessels making heavy weather of it as they stumbled along before a following sea. They were not the large ore carriers we had left making their way up the west shore— miscellaneous vessels of a type no longer seen on the Lakes. There were little wooden lumber hookers, their decks piled perilously high with sawn products of the northern forests, deep-laden lumber schooners, trim little package freighters, known as “rabbit steamers,” a type once ubiquitous along the St. Clair River— trim little vessels, with all their cabins aft, “stumbling” along before seas breaking against their starboard quarters. We met the Wexford, a fair sized oceangoing tramp that had been brought into the Lakes some years before, and which traded frequently out of Goderich. Some three years later this same ship disappeared in this same locality in the notorious November storm of 1913.

Endlessly the seas buffeted us. It was inexorable, it was relentless, it was ruthless. We despaired of relief from the monotony of ceaseless turmoil. Then, at last, Goderich sensed our discomfort, and came slowly to relieve us, stretching out her jetties like arms to draw us into her haven. Thankfully we watched her shore installations as we glided into the harbor. We passed a grain elevator; a large grain ship was tied up alongside. We passed some fishing boats, a lumber hooker and a schooner. A trim little package freighter was there also, loading produce. At last we tied up at a dock and disembarked. As we did so, we became aware that there was something not quite right about the terra firma, for which we had so recently yearned— it was not always where we expected it to be! Sometimes it was too close, and again it would be too far away. We stumbled and flopped our way up the road to town like a flock of penguins.

Goderick was not a north country town. Rather it was more like a small Western Reserve community, with its quaint village square and variety stores. At length it was time that we return, not unwillingly, to our ship. For the ship was our home, we belonged to her and the land burned our feet. It was back to the restless seas outside.

Soon it was time for lunch. Refreshed by our stay in town, we attacked our repast with zeal. But not for long. I made a dash topside and to the loading port in the lobby. “Avast there,” called the mate, “lee side sonny!” So I rushed across the port away from the wind. And thus did I receive my first lesson in practical seamanship.

All that afternoon the seas continued to throw us around. Late in the day we made the tranquility of Kincardine. This was more a north country town. Lumber shipping was in evidence. Mud streets prevailed, improved only by wooden board walks.

After leaving Kincardine it was apparent that the seas were lessening a little. We were approaching the lee of Manitoulin Island, which stretches across the north end of Lake Huron. After a relatively restful night we arrived at Killarny, situated at the eastern end of the North Channel and the entrance to Georgian Bay. It was a typical north country town, with its unpaved streets and wooden sidewalks, and an occasional Indian plodding along its street.

A few hours passage brought us to Little Current, on the north shore of Manitoulin Island, and its main port. Here again were the unpaved streets, boardwalks and false store fronts. At that time it resembled a setting for a Western. One could visualize the sure-shooting marshall, the Indians and bad hombres. It was a busy little place though, and I believe it now has an ore loading installation, although I do not recall seeing any such facility at that time.

The rest of the afternoon we cruised westward on the North Channel. It was a beautiful day—sparkling blue atmosphere, under clear blue skies. To the north stretched the granite mountains of the Canadian Shield. We met a few vessels that day, a lumber hooker, several schooners plodding leisurely along, a large grain carrier, and a graceful passenger liner out of Port Arthur headed for some Georgian Bay port.

The next morning found us in the St. Mary’s River as we joined the procession of large freighters bound for the iron ore loading ports of Lake Superior. There were other vessels too. The trim package freighters of the Anchor Line, out of Buffalo, were there, with their bright green hulls, white upper works and red stacks. They all bore the names of Pennsylvania rivers. I recall the name of one, Wissahickon. Later we met the passenger liner Tionesta, also an Anchor Line ship, as she glided majestically by. Perhaps the most impressive sight was the lordly Northwest, all in dazzling white, a true replica of an oceangoing passenger liner.

A few more hours brought us to the Soo, where all passengers disembarked and made their way to the famous locks, there to watch the large freighters being raised or lowered to the level of the lakes of their destination. I still remember the name of one ore boat, the Alexis W. Thompson.

That evening we cast off, retracing our steps back to Cleveland. The following evening we touched at Little Current, tying up across the slip from a magnificent steam yacht, the Capitola, out of Chicago. She was resplendent in her gleaming white hull trimmed in gold, her brightly varnished cabins and upper works. Music issued from the cabins, and elegantly dressed women escorted by men in yachting attire strolled her decks. She was the envy of all the Huron’s passengers. A day-and-a-half later we arrived early in the morning at Detroit, then left for Cleveland, after a stop at Toledo. It was an interesting and delightful cruise. We saw a variety of vessels, many of a type no longer to be found on the Lakes. No more do opportunities for cruising exist on the Lakes except for those offered by an occasional excursion, or a crossing of Lake Michigan on one of the splendid large railroad-operated car ferries. Perhaps that is why these experiences aboard the Huron in 1910 are so well remembered today.

Read More of Inland Seas Online

About the Author: Born in Brooklyn, New York, Clarence H. White moved with his family to Warren, Ohio, in 1900, and to Youngstown in 1902. Disclaiming any valid reason for his “predilection for things nautical, ” he simply states “it is there and has been” as far back as he can remember. However, he did serve in the U.S. Navy at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in 1918, and his “favorite loafing place” in Cleveland, when he attended Adelbert College of Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology (now combined as Case Western Reserve University) was the waterfront, where he strolled along the shores of Lake Erie.

After becoming an engineer in Youngstown, he was transferred to Cleveland in 1929. In 1934 he filled a position in Warren, later transferring to Salem, Ohio, where he currently resides in the Salem Convalescent Center. A devoted member of the Great Lakes Historical Society, this is his first contribution to Inland Seas.

Learn more about our award-winning Inland Seas© journal and become an Inland Seas member

Bumboats – Spring 1978

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By Theodore N. Ferris

When sailors couldn’t get ashore for weeks at a time, how did they buy the things the needed “from the store”? Their most urgent needs were met by the bumboat – a floating general store that tied up alongside incoming freighters, raised a ladder to the ship’s rail, and was open for business when the sailors came down the ladder. A wide variety of items was for sale at prices comparable to those in stores ashore. Sailors could buy boots, shoes, and work clothing, drugstore items, novelties, souvenirs, soft drinks, snacks, newspapers, magazines, and books. They could even leave such things as radios for repair, to be returned to them by mail.

Bumboat HENRY L. Image from Bowling Green State University Archives.

Bumboats, like heroes, are made, not born-usually being converted from vessels that were originally built for some other kind of service. The Reliance, that plied the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland, Ohio, from 1948 to 1957, had been converted from a World War II Coast Guard fireboat. She was 52 feet long, with 15-foot beam, and was powered by a 225-horsepower marine engine. Shirts, toothpaste, cigarettes, and suspenders were displayed with the other items, on shelves along the sides of the boat and in display cases in the center of the deck. As many as twenty sailors might be aboard at once, and business was always brisk as the boat sometimes serviced eleven ships in fifteen hours.

Another bumboat, the Henry L., came to the river in 1957-a lady with a lively past. She had started life routinely enough as a fishing tug at Lorain, but had an errant eye, and, during prohibition days, took to rum running between Canada and Cleveland for her keep. But the Coast Guard finally caught up with her in a rain of tracer bullets. Eventually, she changed her name and settled down to a more respectable career as a bumboat on the Cuyahoga.

However, there was still excitement ahead for the Henry L., despite her merchantile career. One December night in 1960, a ruptured pipeline between the seacock and engine let water into the hold, and she sank at her dock. The next day, two hoisting cranes raised her enough that she could be pumped out and floated again. Fortunately, her goods had been stored ashore for the winter before she sank, and the Henry L. was able to resume her duties on the Cuyahoga the following season without delay.

Read More of Inland Seas Online

About the Author: Mr. Theodore N. Ferris is a resident of Lakewood, Ohio, and Chief Editor for the Educational Research Council of America. He is a member of the Great Lakes Historical Society and has written before for INLAND SEAS.

Learn more about our award-winning Inland Seas© journal and become an Inland Seas member

Artist Paul Kane Paints Indian Life Around the Great Lakes – Winter 1977

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By Roy F. Fleming

In 1845 the noted Canadian painter of Indian life, Paul Kane, started out to visit the Indians of the Upper Lakes in order to make a series of paintings of the American aborigines.

Paul Kane’s book Wanderings of an artist among the Indians of North America. Image from Library of Congress.

“I left Toronto on the 17th of June 1845,” he tells in his illuminating book, Wanderings of an Artist among the North American Indians, “with no companions but my portfolio and box of paints, my gun and a stock of ammunition.”

Kane’s task was self-appointed. Born in 1810, he and his parents had emigrated from Cork, Ireland, to York (Toronto), Upper Canada, in 1819, where he observed with great interest the Mississagué Indians living in the neighbor-hood. It is probable that he had seen some of George Catlin’s paintings of the Indians of the United States of that period, but from whatever cause, the ambition seized him to become an artist to paint Indian life. With almost no means of livelihood he went to Europe for two years, learned to paint in oil, and returned home to York.

After slight preparation he set out as recorded above, to seek the Indian settlements on Lake Huron. Not only on this journey did he paint on canvas, but he wrote in a journal records of his travels and adventures which later formed the basis of his book, Wanderings, one of the valued classics of our Great Lakes literature.

The painter travelled north by Lake Simcoe and Orillia, to reach Georgian Bay at Coldwater, where he expected to catch the steamer Gore for Owen Sound. However, the packet had left a short time before. But our pilgrim was not to be frustrated; he hired a man with a canoe to try to catch up with the boat. “After paddling all night,” he relates, “we overtook the steamer the next morning at Penetanguishene, the Bay of the Rolling Sands.” This picturesque inlet then had a small naval depot where the dismantled remains of the two American gunboats Tigress and Scorpion could be seen lying in the shallow water by the shore.

The steamboat landed Kane in Owen Sound the same evening, June 20. There the traveller met three men who were bound for Saugeen (now Southampton), an Indian village thirty or forty miles to the west on the main shore of Lake Huron where a council of chiefs was being held to negotiate the sale of a tract of land to the Government.

Hiring an Indian to carry his pack, Kane and the men set out for Saugeen. Their journey, however, turned out to be very disagreeable as the road was scarcely more than a trail through woods and swamps, turning muddy when the rain came on in torrents. The travellers had to camp for the night with almost no shelter except trees- supperless and wet to their skins.

The next morning the men made an early start and arrived at their destination about noon, where they found a large assembly of Indians holding a religious camp meeting with boisterous singing and praying led by several Methodist preachers.

The village was at the mouth of the river also named Saugeen, the name meaning “mouth of the river,” where about two hundred Ojibway or Chippewa tribesmen lived. The site of an early battle between the tribe and the invading Mohawks was marked by a mound heaped over the slain enemies. Kane was convinced of its genuineness as he could see human bones protruding from the mound’s surface.

Oil painting of Chief Wah-Pus “The rabbit.”

The artist made a portrait of the principal Chief Maticwant or the Bow, then one of Chief Big Pike wearing his prized 1812 medal, also one of a Chief’s daughter from Lake St. Clair. The Chief from Owen Sound was present, named Wah-pus or Rabbit and his picture was also made. “He was the first Indian,” says Kane, “whose hair had been all pulled out except the scalp-lock.” Wah-pus had formerly been fierce and intemperate, but under the influence of the Methodist missionaries had become sober and of good conduct.

After remaining ten days at Saugeen, living with an Indian family, the artist returned to Owen Sound, accompanied by a young man named Dillon who was extremely desirious of going on with Kane up the Lake. After purchasing a canoe and a stock of provisions the two set out for Manitoulin Island, by way of Penetanguishene and the east shore of Georgian Bay. (This route of over two hundred-fifty miles is nearly three times as long as had the travellers gone directly north by the Indian peninsula.)

The two adventurers spent fourteen days in a most pleasant passage up the east coast among the many islands, fishing and hunting, occasionally losing their way in the multitude of wooded shores and channels. They finally came to an encampment of Indians on one of the islands on the north shore, and there Kane painted his first general scene of Indian life.

“The wigwams,” he tells, “were made of pieces of birchbark sewed together with long fibrous roots, placed over ten or twelve poles arranged in a circle.” The canoes were also made of the same bark stretched over a very light frame of split cedar laths, with great attention paid to symmetry of form. Even the “mohcocks” or boiling pots were fashioned out of birchbark.

At the foot of a deep bay off Manitoulin Island the voyagers arrived at Manitowaning, a village of about fifty log houses with an Indian Agent, doctor and blacksmith. It was the time of the annual gathering of the tribes when they should receive their treaty “presents.” Fully two thousand Indians of all ages were there waiting for the arrival of the ship with their many needs aboard- guns, ammunition, axes, knives, kettles, cloths, thread and needles.

After the vessel arrived the next day, the Indian Agent, Capt. Thos. G. Anderson, assisted by his Interpreter Chief Assikinack or Blackbird, arranged the assembly in groups with each chief sitting with his own band. Blackbird (called “Sigenock” by Kane) was noted both as a great orator and warrior of the Ottawas: he had led the Potawatomis and Ottawas in defeating the Fort Dearborn garrison, August 1812. “Sigenock went among the gathering,” Kane writes, “taking lists of names and numbers, dividing the goods with great impartiality; his voice was heard everywhere, above the universal din of tongues, and seemed to have the effect of allaying every envious and unpleasant feeling and keeping all in good humour and proper order.” Soon after the distribution of the gifts Capt. George Ironsides arrived as successor to Captain Anderson, as Indian Agent. As Ironsides was part Indian, a chief of the Wyandots and a descendant of Tecumseh, Kane included him in his series of Indian portraits.

As the government steamer Experiment arrived then at Manitowaning on its way to Sault Ste. Marie, Kane was able to arrange passage with its officer Captain Harper for himself and his canoe. The artist’s companion Dillon now concluded he had gone far enough on the excursion, so he bade farewell and returned down the Lake by the schooner which had brought the Indians their supplies.

At the Sault, Kane met with the Hudson’s Bay Co. factor Mr. Ballantyne. On learning from him that there was a great gathering of American Indians at Michilimackinac Island, at the entrance to Lake Michigan, the artist decided to go there instead of across Lake Superior as he had first planned.

On this historic island Kane found a great gathering of Indians and their families, chiefly Ojibways and Ottawas, over twenty-five hundred in number. They had come to receive their shares of the $25,000 paid annually by the American Government for lands ceded by the tribes. Kane pitched his tent in the midst of their huts, arranging it as a studio. He soon found chiefs and leaders willing to sit for their portraits.

In inducing Chief He-Devil to sit for his portrait the artist told the man that his likeness would be sent across the sea to Queen Victoria. “I have often heard of the Great Mother across the Big Water, ” said the Chief with much interest, “and if I had enough money to go I would pay her a visit; but I am now pleased that my ‘second self’ will be able to see her.”

Speaking of the liquor traffic following the annual payday at Mackinac, Kane says that many traders brought great quantities of liquors which they sold clandestinely to the Indians. Many a native who had travelled a long distance, returned home poorer than he left, his sole satisfaction being that he and his family had enjoyed a glorious bout of intoxication!

The travelling painter went from Mackinac to Green Bay, Lake Michigan, where he painted more Indian life. But as the season was getting late he returned eastward by way of Lake Erie and Niagara to Toronto. In the following year, 1846, Paul Kane passed west over Lake Huron and Lake Superior to meet the tribes in the Upper Mississippi region, then worked his way west to the Pacific coast. In all he painted hundreds of pictures and sketches of Indian life, of buffalo hunts, camp scenes, councils, fetes, and feasts.

Kane’s later years were saddened by the partial loss of his eyesight. He died in Toronto in 1871 leaving two sons and two daughters. In 1922 there was an exhibit of two hundred paintings by Kane in Winnipeg, Manitoba. One reviewer stated, “They are extremely valuable as records of a vanished life of North America, they show original and personal qualities and much genuine poetry.”

Read More of Inland Seas Online

About the Author: The author of this article, Mr. Roy F. Fleming of Ottawa, Ontario, was a Charter Member and early Trustee of the Great Lakes Historical Society. An art instructor at the Ottawa Normal School, he was also a journalist for the Ottawa Sun Times, and wrote for other newspapers as well, mainly about the Great Lakes area in which he resided.

At the time of his death in 1958, considerable material that he had compiled, including chapters for a book he had hoped to publish about the Great Lakes, was given to Inland Seas by Mrs. Fleming and their son, Mr. Bruce H. Fleming. Several other articles have been included in earlier issues of Inland Seas, selected from Mr. Fleming’s writings.


Learn more about our award-winning Inland Seas© journal and become an Inland Seas member

An Afterword to the Battle of Lake Erie – Fall 1977

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By Marjorie Cahn Brazer

June 1977 marked the one-hundredth anniversary of the original incorporation of Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island, as a village. It therefore seems like an opportune time to publish the following biographical commentary and letter, considering that Put-In-Bay harbor served as an important base of operations for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, both before and following the Battle of Lake Erie.


Portrait of Fleet Surgeon Usher Parsons.

One of the most vivid accounts of Perry’s victory at Put-In-Bay in 1813 was written by his young fleet surgeon, Usher Parsons. Although Parsons didn’t get around to putting his recollections into narrative form until 1852, almost three decades after the event, so deep was the impression it had made that the years deprived his memory of little detail. By that time he was a distinguished physician of Providence, Rhode Island, and professor at Brown University. His considerable talent for recall was invoked again, a few years later in 1857, to write a postscript to the battle. This time it took the form of a letter, a letter elicited by the poignant inquiry of a man devoted to the memory of his long dead brother.

On the other side of the battle line that September day that Usher Parsons would never forget, another young officer was performing his duty in the service of the Crown. Lewis Saurin Johnston had, in fact, been born and raised in the United States of America. But he was fighting on “the wrong side” because of a peculiar set of circumstances. His home lay on a remote frontier, unique in that it had yet (in 1813) to be effectively governed by the United States, and its few citizens were mostly loyal to Great Britain. Lieutenant Johnston came from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Territory. Moreover, his personal origins were as unusual as the political sentiments of his neighbors. His father, John Johnston, had emigrated from northern Ireland to Canada in 1791. An improverished gentleman of excellent family and refined tastes, he almost immediately found his way to the Montreal-based fur trade, which was making millionaires of some of his contemporaries. John Johnston never found millions, but he did find comfort and an extraordinary way of life in the western wilderness. In his very first year of trading on Lake Superior he met and married the daughter of the region’s most respected war chief. Susan, as his wife became known, was remarkable for her capacity to adapt to a European lifestyle, while retaining her own cultural integrity. The couple settled at Sault St. Marie, on the south side of the boundary river, where they established a home that became widely known for its graceful hospitality, fine furnishings and extensive library. They had, during the first two decades of their residency, only a few neighbor families— also of mixed marriages, also conducting the fur trade through Montreal agents, also people who, if they thought of national allegiance, thought of the King. Into this setting Lewis Saurin was born in 1793.

Lewis, the first of eight children, was named for John Johnston’s illustrious relative, the Archdeacon of Derry. But somehow Lewis never lived up to his namesake. Although he inherited his father’s charm, he did not acquire the sober good sense he might have derived from either of his parents. After he completed his education in Montreal, his father was glad to arrange a military commission for him through London connections. Thus when his native country went to war once more with the former mother country Lewis found himself an enemy in his own land. (His father would pay dearly for misplaced loyalty.) He served satisfactorily at Put-In-Bay, and was wounded there, but he was no more of a success in a military career than he was at fur trading or storekeeping on the Upper Lakes. Lewis died in 1825, at the age of 31, mourned for his lovable qualities and forgiven the disappointment he caused his parents.

It was George, the second son, who became his father’s business aide and confidante. And it was George who retained loving memories of the brother, older by two and a-half years, who had been the companion of his childhood. Although he traveled occasionally as far as Montreal and New York, George spent his entire life in the Mackinac-Sault Ste. Marie-Lake Superior region. By midcentury this area was visited with increasing frequency by travelers from the east coast. It was, apparently, in the course of such a visit to Sault Ste. Marie that Dr. Usher Parsons and George Johnston met. How remarkable for George, after all these years, to encounter a man who had known his long dead brother during the one moment of glory in his short life! Perhaps it was only after Parsons’ departure from the Sault that George regretted not inquiring for more details of his acquaintance with Lewis. At any rate, George, an indefatigable correspondent, wrote to Parsons some time after the visit to ask for the reminiscence. Parsons’ reply, with its flattering and cherished detail, was carefully put away, and resides to this day among George’s numerous letters and papers in the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library. It is offered here with the courtesy of that Library.

George Johnston Esquire

Providence, April 15, 1857 My dear sir:

Your favor dated some weeks before its arrival came since to hand. It affords me great pleasure to communicate any facts that I can call to mind respecting your deceased brother. My acquaintance commenced with him on the 26th of October, when the British wounded arrived at Erie, and it continued until the following winter (of 1813 & 14). The wounded officers of both squadrons were brought to Erie and remained there, the British leaving for Pittsburgh on the 21st of January. They boarded at a hotel kept by Judge Bell. I had daily interviews with them and enjoyed their society very much, particular Midshipman Johnsons, [sic] who I learned was from the Saute Ste Maries [sic] and was able to give me particular accounts of that region and of the Indian customs, character and condition (though I did not once suspect at the time, that he belonged to that race) and I therefore sought interviews with him more than with the other officers. His slowness of speech I referred to his education in french, [sic] which I supposed to be his vernacular tongue. I met these officers often at Dr. Wallace’s and Mr. Murry’s, to both of whom they brought letters from some friend in Canada, who probably served as a volunteer in the British squadron, and was allowed to return to Malden immediately after the fight.

The Battle you know was on the 10th of September. The British vessels as well as ours suffered severely, especially the Queen Charlotte, which had lost her brave commander Captain Finnis very early in the action, her first lieutenant had been soon after mortally wounded, and the loss of life on board her was very severe. The other vessels suffered in like proportion, the Lady Prevost had her commander, Capt. Buchan, and her first lieutenant, wounded and also her midshipman, Johnston, and she became unmanageable. Lieutenants Bignal commanding the Hunter and Campbell of the Chippewa, were also wounded; thus leaving only the Little Belt fit for duty at the close of the action. Capt. Buchan was wounded in the head, Lt. Bignal in the arm, Midshipman Johnston in the arm, and a purser in the leg, requiring amputation, and Barclay in the shoulder blade. The British officers were mostly under the care of Dr. Kennady of the Queen— the surgeon of the Detroit went with Com. Barclay to Buffalo.

I remember to have heard the officers speak very highly of Mr. Johnston, and particularly Captain Buchan, as a brave and faithful officer.

On the 21st of January, the British wounded were ordered to Pittsburg, and I was sorry to learn afterwards that they were there incarcerated as hostages, but I know not how long, as I was ordered in another direction, to Mackinac as Surgeon of the Lawrence, having a part of Col. Croghans troops on board. We returned to Erie in the autumn, and from there sailed for Cleveland, where we took in a large number of British soldiers to land at Long point, having been exchanged. Soon after I was ordered to Baltimore, as surgeon of the frigate Jane, and after serving in her two years, and two years as surgeon of the Guerriere in the same sea, I returned and settled in this city as professor in Brown College, and have practiced medicine here thirty-five years.

It was highly gratifying to me to meet the brother of my early friend Mr. Johnston, who had in our frequent interviews made me well acquainted with the place in which you reside, and his correct behaviour candor, plain good sense and unpretending manners, had in a high degree won my friendship and esteem.

Please to present my respects to your sister and to the Revd chaplain, if he still resides at your place. It will afford me great pleasure to hear from you again.    Yours very respectfully,

(Signed) Usher Parsons

Read More of Inland Seas Online

About the Author: Marjorie C. Brazer, a member of the Great Lakes Historical Society, is the author of two books: Wind Off the Dock, published in 1968, and Well Favoured Passage, 1975, both of which relate to cruising on the Great Lakes.

Her professional time is divided between the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, where she is a research assistant; and freelance writing in the fields of history and travel, including boating. Married to Harvey E. Brazer, Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan, Mr. and Mrs. Brazer are the parents of three children, adding another dimension to what may rightly be termed “a varied career!”


Learn more about our award-winning Inland Seas© journal and become an Inland Seas member

The Schooner D.K. CLINT- Summer 1977

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By Capt. Oscar B. Smith

Sandusky, Ohio August 30th, 1889

Friday 10 A.M.

Arrived Monday after quick and pleasant trip — Cleveland and return in 15 days. We find all well at home. I came up this morning. We are loading for Gladstone, ore back from Escanaba. Will tow up with tug A. Wright.

September 1st, 1889

Sunday 10 A.M.

Towed out of Sandusky this morning. Am now near Put-In-Bay Island, going south passage — warm and pleasant, but quite smoky. The past week has been hot and sultry — no rain for four weeks. Potatoes and corn are suffering.

September 19th, 1889

Thursday 9 A.M.

This has been a long trip! We struck the bottom on the Lime Kiln crossing going up. Had to lighter, detaining us 24 hours. Were detained several days before getting to the docks to unload. The tug Wilcox has me in tow with four others. We left Escanaba Sunday 15th at noon for Sandusky with 1,123 tons of ore. Owing to heavy tow, the tug has made slow work of it. Crossed Saginaw Bay in a heavy blow from the westward. We got considerable of a shaking up. Got across and passed Point Aux Barques Light half past 10 Tuesday night and made smooth water. Yesterday at 3 P.M. had got down St. Clair River as far as Lampton, some 10 miles from Lake St. Clair, when 1 learned from steamer bound up that a steam barge was aground in the channel below. We rounded to and tied up to the docks. Tug taking three of the smaller vessels on down, leaving them at anchor, and at 3 A.M. was back taking us in tow. We got through all OK, picking up the other vessels. Am now nearly to Grosse Pointe and unless we have trouble there, will soon be in Detroit River. I fear the owners will find fault with me; there have been so many delays all summer, although I am not at all to blame. They may decide to give another man the command another season. 1,161 tons of ore is the largest cargo I have brought down this season. I learn that is the most she has ever carried.

September 20th, 1889

Friday 4:30 P.M.

Well here I am at anchor some 3 miles below Marblehead. At this time yesterday we reached Lake Erie. The wind fresh from W.S.W. The schooners Barns, Mineral State and Owasco, being bound for Cleveland were dropped off, also the Rodgers, bound for Sandusky. The tug insisted on letting go my line, but I had not paid my tow bill of $185.00 and told him he would forfeit all claims for pay unless he towed me through as far as Marblehead as he had agreed to do. He finally come on, but hardly held slack of tow line. We could out run the tug with the wind we had. Let go of anchor here at 9 P.M. this morning tug came out and reported water so low in Sandusky Bay that we could not get in (we are drawing 15 feet). At same time I sighted the Rodgers ashore on Starve Island Reef some 8 miles west N.W. of us. The tug run up there, found the schooner full of water and took the crew off and into Sandusky. Wind has canted N.W. blowing fresh, making a big sea.

September 29th, 1889

Sunday 10 A.M.

In tow of tug Wilcox, the Butts and a canaller astern of us. We are light, bound for Escanaba for ore for Cleveland. Butts has coal for above port. I spent last Sunday at home; found all well. It was my birthday on the 22nd. We had oyster dinner. We have just passed Mackinac Island. Two years ago in August, I was traveling in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa for the Chicago Times, Cousin Austin Patterson, Manager. He wired me to meet him at Russell House, Detroit. He met Cousin Ira with me there. After a stay of 18 hours there, we took passage on steamer City of Alpena for Mackinac Island. We spent Sunday and Monday there, then to the Soo on small steamer where we stayed a week, dividing the time between Canada and American towns. Then took steamer City of Duluth for Chicago. We have just passed Old Mackinaw on west side of the Straits. A marine reporter came out in row boat with Chicago and Detroit papers of yesterday. I bought some and sent 3 letters to mail by him. How different from old times!

October 7th, 1889

Monday 6 P.M.

After passing Mackinaw on way, our trip was a stormy one. We had doubled the Shank and gotten abreast of Skilligalee Light; wind S.W. blowing hard. Tug was obliged to let go the vessels astern of us. We all ran back, some to Mackinaw, others to St. Helena, we to the former place. Next morning, tried it again, but all ran back to St. Helena. Wednesday A.M. got under weigh again. While my men were heaving short, the schr. City of Sheboygan ran into us, carrying yawl boat, davits and part of monkey rail away. Hoisted boat on deck and made a start, tug picking us up off the Shank, letting go of the others.

At 5 P.M. off the Beavers, wind a gale again from the south. It proved a very rough night! The run to Poverty Island, entrance to Green Bay, is 53 miles from Beaver Island. I reefed fore and main, furled mizzen, and was more than thankful to get across without any mishap. Anchored off Escanaba some twenty-seven miles from Poverty Island, where we enter Green Bay.

Well, we loaded1,111 tons ore and was held thereby the southerly gale until Saturday morning, the 5 started out and on reaching Lake Michigan, the wind was blowing a gale from N.E. compelling us to run in between Summer Isle and mainland and anchor. Left there 5 P.M. yesterday. Had had fair weather since. Am now within 15 miles of Presque Isle Light. Wind N.W. nearly dead aft. Full moon! Tug has Clint ahead, then the Onasco, Three Brothers and Trowbridge. I hope for a favorable and prosperous run the balance of the way. I wrote Autie a long letter on way up, mailing at Escanaba.

October 22nd, 1889

Wednesday, 7:30 P.M.

Loaded at Cleveland for Milwaukee. The Hurlbut is towing us. Have had good weather and am now nearly abreast North Point, or some 7 miles from the piers. September 20th, 1880,9 years this fall, I arrived at Milwaukee with schr. Carlingford, coal loaded. Edna, then 9 years old, was with me. I left the schr. there, we going home by rail and within two weeks, I started for California, and after 8 seasons, here I am, sailing again.

November 10th, 1889

Sunday 4 P.M.

I took the last load ore to Ashtabula. Towed from thereto Erie Friday night. Loaded 1,139 tons hard coal yesterday for W. S. Scott, Chicago. Left there in tow of steamer Hurlbut at 8 O’C last night, picking up the Butts off Ashtabula at 5 O’C this morning. She is loaded for Escanaba; Hurlbut for Chicago. ‘Tis late in the fall for us to start for Chicago with instructions to go from there to Escanaba and load ore for Lake Erie ports. I was out to Rock Island, Davenport and along the line at this time last year. How little I expected then to be at this time where I now am! Had letter from dear wife while at Erie. All well at home, thank God!

November 14th, 1889

Thursday 11 A.M.

Have had splendid run so far without any head wind. Let go the Butts line off the Beaver at 4 O’C this morning. We came on (steering west by south) to the northard of the N. Fox. Am now steering S. W. by south, a course that will take us close in to Sheboygan. Wind W.N.W. Good breeze! Have mizzen furled; all the other canvas set, and making fully 8 miles an hour. ‘This snowing quite brisk at times. I hope to spend Sunday at Chicago and visit with Cousin Austin and Ira .

November 19th, 1889 Chicago, Illinois Tuesday 6 P.M.

Arrived Friday evening. Have had most provoking time here! Stopped Friday night down town at Ill. slip. Next day took tug tow up 23 St. south branch to Peoples Gas Co. docks, but stuck hard and fast on Washington St. Tunnel. Had to work an hour with 3 tugs to get off and towed back nearly to Wells St. to Richardson’s dock, taking off 100 tons, and Sunday towed up. This morning the hoisting machinery broke down. Then two more tugs, and another tow fully a mile further south, where am now unloading. Called at tug office this afternoon to pay tug bill, in and out. Was astonished to learn I would have to pay $233.20, a mammoth swindle!

Well, I have had good visit with Cousins Austin and Ira Patterson. They were both of them aboard to 3 O’C dinner with me Sunday. I also called on niece Clara Torrey yesterday at 279 N. LaSalle St. Have stopped with Austin every night since arrival, but shall stay aboard ship tonight.

November 24th, 1889

Sunday 10 A.M.

We left Chicago Friday 3 A.M. Had a gale that day from W.&W.N.W. Got as far as Milwaukee and came to anchor in the Bay at 5:30 P.M. Got under weigh yesterday morning 9 O’C with fair wind. At 5 O’C this morning when near the Door (entrance to Green Bay) got the wind strong from N.W. dead ahead. Have finally got through and onto Green Bay, but am scarcely making three miles an hour. We are now some 20 miles from Escanaba. Weather clear and cold—freezing!

Escanaba, Michigan Thanksgiving November 28th, 1889

5 P.M.

Arrived here about 1:30 noon after writing the above. Loaded Monday and waited for the Hurlbut. She finished last eve. It was then blowing a gale from N.E. cold with heavy snow. Vessel at anchor in the Bay some half mile from the docks; schr. Butts also there. Her Captain (Charles Goodsite) had spent the day ashore with me. At 5 P.M. the Mates sent the yawl, manned by 5 men, ashore for us, and they had a pull for it in the strong headwind and heavy sea. I think it was all in all as bad a night as I have ever seen, blowing a gale, freezing hard and a blinding snow storm all night. ‘Tis still blowing hard. The vessel is covered with ice. Have had the snow cleared off since 4 P.M. when it stopped snowing, but decks and rigging are encased in ice. We had a roast goose and duck for dinner. Suppose Anna is in Champaign with the Hardys and Dr. Cole. Hope all at home are well. I would like much to be with them. Last year I was traveling for Chicago Globe. The day before Thanksgiving, I met my little wife at Elkhart on her way to Chicago. We went to the opera that night, stopping at hotel corner Van Buren and Clark, McCoys. Next morning over Ill. Central road to Champaign to Hettie’s sister Mary Hardy, where we met daughter Anna, who was teaching there. I went home with Hettie a few days before Christmas and spent the winter.

November 29th, 1889

Friday 3 P.M.

The sun came out this morning. Set men to work cleaning off snow and ice while the Hurlbut took on some fuel. Started at 12:30 noon and am passing through some floes of new ice on the Bay. A few more such nights as have had, would have frozen the bay over. December 1st, 1889 Sunday morning 10 o‘c. Had good run until after passing Thunder Bay Island at 8 O’C last eve. Have had the wind from S.S.W. since then. Pulled along north shore and at daylight were abreast of Au Sable. The steamer then started to cross the bay. I had single reef mainsail, whole foresail and two jibs set and made good weather of it. When some ten miles off shore, the main gaff of the Butts carried away and finally the steamer put about and stood under the land and let go anchor off Au Sable. The wind rakes along the shore, but there is not much sea on. The terrible storm of Wednesday night and Thursday played havoc with some of those so unfortunate as to be outside. At 3 O’C yesterday morning we saw three ashore on Gray’s Reef. At 9 A.M. just below Sheboygan, passed a steam barge ashore and burned to water’s edge, still smoking, and some four miles further south the schr. Sage, a large vessel, is ashore, covered with ice. Still another on south shore of Hammond’s Bay and now we see another ashore ahead of us on Point Au Sable. The Sage towed from Milwaukee with us this time when we left anchorage there. She left Escanaba Monday night in tow of steamer Vulcan. Thank God we did not get away then, although I was loaded and impatient to make a start. It was all for the best that the Hurlbut could not get her load until Wednesday night, and then we were only too glad to be where we were. I would like very much to get ashore to telegraph wife that so far we were all right. I fear they will worry about me.

December 2nd, 1889

Monday 9 A.M.

The wind blew a gale until about 3 O’C this morning when it moderated, canting from S. to S.W. We just got under weigh again.

December 3rd, 1889

Tuesday 10 A.M.

Had good weather until 4 P.M. yesterday when rain set in, wind light, south (ahead). When near the Rivers at 1 O’C this morning, cant to northard and is blowing a gale. We rounded to at Banbee Landing, waiting until daylight. Am now on Lake St. Clair, wind a gale from north.

December 4th, 1889 Wednesday eve 11 o‘c

We had a gale from northard yesterday. Reached Detroit at noon. Steamer needed fuel. We stopped down near the Fort; did not make a start until 5 O’C this morning. Have had fine weather, light breeze from southard. Let go of the Butts half hour ago off Cleveland. A tug was outside waiting for her.

Ashtabula Harbor December 5th, 8 P.M.

The Hurlbut dropped us at 6 O’C this A.M. off this harbor. At 7 a tug came out, taking our line.

December 8th, 1889 Sunday

Left Ashtabula this morning 9 O’C to try to get to Sandusky. The Hurlbut has our line; wind close from S. by W. We have lower canvas on, hugging along the shore.

Sandusky, Ohio

Tuesday December 10th, 1889 12 noon

We got wind ahead off Black River, but no sea. At 12 midnight were going into Sandusky Bay. When in abreast of Cedar Point, where the red can should have been, the Hurlbut ran aground. We threw wheel hard about and just sheered clear of her. We ran aground, but her wheel working finally pushed us off. I let go anchor. Capt. Farrell finally worked off and came into the docks. At daylight the tug Fisk came out for us. We towed to the upper elevator docks and stripped; have got everything between decks. ‘Tis now raining hard. I went home last night; found all well. Thank God!

Read More of Inland Seas Online

Learn more about our award-winning Inland Seas© journal and become an Inland Seas member