Great Lakes Maritime History
History of the Great Lakes
Vol. 1 by J.B. Mansfield
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Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899
Vol. 1 of History of the Great Lakes
AFTER THE WAR OF 1812.
Building Of War Vessels In 1815 – The Building Of The Frontenac, A Canadian Steamer – Other Events Of 1815 - The First Steamer On Lake Ontario – A Monopoly Of Steam Navigation On Lake Ontario - Warehouse At Black Rock – Other Events Of 1816 – Steam Navigation Begins, 1817 – First Trip Of The Frontenac – An Adventure On Lake Erie – Other Events Of 1817 – The Memorable Walk-In-The-Water, 1818 – Wreck Of The Hercules - Other Events Of 1818 – Walk-In-The-Water In 1819 - Other Events Of That Year - Schoolcraft's Trip In 1820 – The Governor Cass Expedition – Other Events Of 1820.
Soon after the close of the war of 1812 the straggling and struggling commerce of early years was revived, and speedily attained a vigorous growth. Shipbuilding sprang up at many ports, vessels multiplied, trade grew proportionately, and modern lake history may be said to have had a commencement. In the following pages are noted chronolog-ically the principal events of the Great Lakes, gleaned from many sources.
Last Year of the War. At the beginning of 1815, war was still active in the region of the Great Lakes. At Sacket's Harbor, January 5, six hundred ship carpenters were at work on boats under the direction of Mr. Brown.
In 1815 Porter, Barton & Co. built a warehouse at Black Rock, nearly opposite where the Queen City mills afterward stood.
The building of the Frontenac, a Canadian steamer, was begun in October, 1815, advertisements having been published asking for tenders to build the boat. These advertisements were answered by two parties – one a Scotchman named Bruce, of Montreal, the other being Henry Teabout, of Sacket's Harbor. After some little delay in considering the propositions, that of the latter was accepted. Mr. Teabout, who was making a bid for a company of which he was a member, after a couple of days spent in looking around for a proper site, selected Finkle's Point in consequence of the gravelly nature of the shore. Mr. Teabout was thoroughly qualified to build this boat, having served his apprenticeship with that remarkable man, Henry Eckford, who built the American fleet of vessels at Sacket's Harbor during the war of 1812. The other members of his company were James Chapman and William Smith. This shipbuilding firm had then recently built at Sacket's Harbor a vessel named the Kingston, which was the only craft plying between Kingston and Sacket's Harbor, and they had also built a fine schooner named the Woolsey.
Other Events of 1815. - May 23: Waters of Lake Erie the highest ever reported. July 17: Brig Caledonia and schooner Amelia go to Erie for rebuild. August 10: Schooner Lady of the Lake ashore near Cleveland during a gale. Cargo seriously damaged. Boat condemned for repair, and towed to Cleveland for rebuild. September 2: Schooner Tecumseh severely damaged during a storm near Point Albino. October 25: Schooner Julia in command of Captain Wilkinson, and owned by Capt. O. Coit, ashore while attempting to enter Buffalo creek in a storm. Schooner Weazel ashore near Buffalo. November 10: Schooner Experiment in command of Captain Lovejoy, ashore near Long Point. December 31: Sixty-four arrivals and clearances at Buffalo harbor during the season.
The First Steamer on Lake Ontario. - In the summer of 1816, the side-wheel steamer Ontario was build at Sacket's Harbor, but did not go into service until April of the following year. This was the first steamer on the lakes, the Frontinac coming out, at about the same time, on the Canadian side. The Ontario measured 232 tons and had beam engines and 34-inch cylinders of a 4-foot stroke.
According to the Kingston Gazette: "On Saturday, September 7, 1816, the steamboat Frontenac was launched at the village of Ernettstown. A numerous concourse of people assembled on the occasion; but in con-sequence of an approaching shower a portion of the spectators withdrew before the launch actually took place. The boat moved slowly from her place and descended with majestic sweep into her proper element.
"The length of the keel of this boat was 150 feet, the length of her deck, 170 feet, and her tonnage about 700 tons. Her proportions struck the eye very agreeably, and good judges pronounced her to be the best specimen of naval architecture that had ever proceeded from an American [Canadian] shipyard."
After giving the above account the Gazette says: "A steamboat was lately launched at Sacket's Harbor. The opposite sides of the lake, which not long ago vied with each other in building ships of war, seem now to be equally emulous of commercial superiority." From this it would appear that the Frontenac was the second steamboat built on the Great Lakes, the one built at Sacket's Harbor, named the Ontario, and mentioned above, being the first.
The application of steam to navigation had already assumed import-ance on the Hudson and other waters.
A Monopoly of Steam Navigation on Lake Ontario. - The subject having been investigated in the summer and fall of 1815, articles of agreement were drawn up early in 1816, between Harriet Fulton and William Cutting, N. Y., executors of Robert Fulton and Robert R. Livingston, and Edward P. Livingston, of Clermont, owners of the right and privilege of steam-boat navigation in the State of New York, by special Act of the Legis-lature, on the one hand, and Charles Smyth, Joseph C. Yates, Thomas C. Duane and David Boyd, on the other hand, by which the latter acquired the sole right to navigate boats or vessels (steamships and vessels of war excepted) by steam on all or any of the waters of Lake Ontario, within the State of New York, and the full and entire and exclusive right of employing in the navigation of the same waters such inven-tions and improvements in the navigation of boats by fire or steam, to which the grantors or any of them had or thereafter might have right or title by patent.
It was provided and stipulated that but one boat should be employed at a time on any route to be established on the said waters by virtue of this contract without the consent in writing of the grantors, and until the net proceeds of the same should or said one boat should exceed 20 per cent. per annum. One boat was required to be built within two years. The grantees paid $10 on the execution of this agreement, and covenanted to pay annually on the 1st of January (deducting $1,500 from the gross receipts of each year, and the current expenses of running the boat) one-half of all moneys received above 12 per cent. on the investment. The $1,500 was to be withdrawn annually until it should amount to $12,000, which sum was to consti-tute a sinking fund for re-building the boat. Should the grantees acquire from the British Government any privileges for the navigation of the lake, these privileges were to be shared equally between the contracting parties, and these privileges were not to be transferred. Application was to be made for the incorporation of an association to be styled the Ontario Steamboat Company with a capital of $200,000.
In February, 1816, a petition from Charles Smyth, David Boyd, Eri Lusher, Abraham Santvrood, John J. De Graff and their associates was granted, in which the essential facts above stated were given, and an Act of incorporation solicited. A Bill was prepared and passed the House by a vote of 76 to 40, but did not become a law in consequence of the early adjournment of the Legislature. On the 16th of August, same year, Eri Lusher and Charles Smyth became by assignment of DeGraff and Boyd, partners in the enterprise, and a boat was commenced at Sacket's Harbor the same summer, after the model of the Sea Horse, then running in the Sound near New York. She was 110 feet long, 24 feet wide and 8 feet deep, and of 237 tons burden. The boilers are said to have been 17 feet long and 3-1/2 feet in diameter, with a cross-head engine. The cylinder was 20 inches in diameter and 3-feet stroke; the wheels were 11 feet 4 inches across, and the engine was of 21-horse power.
Warehouse at Black Rock. - In March, 1816, the forwarding and commission house of Sill, Thompson & Co., took possession of the warehouse built the previous year at Black Rock. This one warehouse furnished ample storage for all property required to be put under shelter, going to or coming from the West, during all that time; and the company owning it and transacting all the business was called an "overgrown monopoly." As much business is transacted in a single day now as was then transacted in an entire season.
Other Events of 1816 - May 14: Ice disappears at several Lake Erie ports. Navigation open at Ogdensburg. June 11: Schooner Erie, 80 tons, launched at Black Rock. Owned by Col. J. Thomas and William Miller, and built by Capt. Asa Stanard. July 23: Brig Union, in command of Capt. James Beard, aground near Grosse Isle; released July 24. July 24: Captain Alien drowned at Erie. September 7: Steamboat Frontenac launched at Ernettstown, Lake Ontario. Keel 150 feet long; deck 170 feet long. December 31: Eighty arrivals and clearances at the port of Buffalo during the year.
The schooner Washington, in command of Capt. Daniel Dobbins, made a voyage in 1816 to Green Bay, as a government transport to convey troops to establish Ford Howard. At this time Captain Dobbins discovered and anchored in Washington harbor at the entrance of the bay, the schooner Washington being the first vessel that ever entered it.
During the year 1816, and the three following seasons, there were plying on the British side of Lake Ontario, between Fort George (now Niagara) and York (Toronto) the schooners Crazy Jane, Catherine and Asp, transporting passengers and freight.
Steam Navigation Begins. - The steamer Ontario made her first trip in April, 1817. The Ontario was the first steam vessel ever placed on water subject to a swell, and hence the real meaning of her being built to "test the power of steam against wind and wave." She was built under a grant from the heirs of Robert Fulton, and marks an important era in steam navigation. Previous to her construction steam navigation had been confined to rivers, and the mere weight of the paddle wheels and shaft was relied on as sufficient to deep them in place on their bearings. It was on this plan that the Ontario was constructed, because it was not known that any other plan would be necessary; but on her first trip she encountered considerable sea, and the waves lifted her paddle wheels off their bearings, causing the revolving wheels to tear away their wooden coverings. The Ontario was taken back into port disabled, but her repairs included a proper device for securely holding the shaft in its place.
Early in 1817 the steamer Ontario was completed and started on her first trip, being everywhere greeted with the most lively demonstrations of joy. Bonfires, illuminations, and mutual congrat-ulations of friends expressed the satisfaction with which this achievement was regarded, and the event was hailed as the opening up of a new era in commerce on the lakes. Weekly trips from Ogdensburg to Lewiston were at first attempted, but on July 1, 1817, the owners of the steamboat advertised that, finding the trip of above 600 miles too extensive to be performed within that time, it would be changed to once in ten days. The fare through was fixed at $15. Capt. Francis Mallaby, U. S. N., was her first master. The Ontario continued to run until 1832, seldom exceeding five miles per hour. In the year last named she was broken up in Oswego.
First Trip of the Frontenac. - On June 5, 1817, the Frontenac left Kingston for her first trip to the head of the lake. She was 500 tons burden, and the first Canadian steamer on the lakes. She had no guards, except at her wheels. She carried three masts, was painted black and presented much the appearance of an ocean steamer, but carried no yards. Her deck was 170 feet long, her breadth being 32 feet. She cost in the neighborhood of £20,000. Capt. James McKenzie, a retired officer of the Royal Navy, was her commander. She began her trips in 1817. At first Captain McKenzie was not over-confident of his vessel, for advertisements were thus qualified: "The steamer, Frontenac, will sail from Kingston for Niagara, calling at York, on the 1st and 15th days of each month, with as much punctuality as the nature of lake navigation will admit of." But, later on, becoming familiar with his boat, he became more confident, and announced his days of departure with greater precision.
An Adventure on Lake Erie. - The adventure of Salmon Sweatland, of Conneaut, who crossed Lake Erie in an open canoe, in September, 1817, is one of unusual interest. He had been accustomed, with the aid of a neighbor, Mr. Cousins, and a few hounds, to drive deer into the lake, where, pursuing them in a canoe, he shot them with but little difficulty. The circumstances which took place at this time, are vividly given in the annexed extract from the records of the Historical society, published in Howe's "Historical Collections of Ohio":
"It was a lovely morning in early autum(sic), and Sweatland, in anticipation of his favorite sport, had risen at the first dawn of light, and without putting on his coat or waistcoat left his cabin, listening in the meantime in expectation of the approach of the dogs. His patience was not put to a severe trial ere his ears were saluted by the deep baying of the hounds, and on arriving at the beach he perceived that the deer had already taken to the lake, and was moving at some distance from the shore. In the enthusiasm of the moment he threw his hat upon the beach, his canoe was put in requisition and shoving from the shore he was soon engaged in rapid and animated pursuit. The wind, which had been fresh from the south during the night and gradually increasing, was now blowing nearly a gale, but intent on securing his prize, Sweatland was not in a situation to yield to the dictates of prudence. The deer, which was a vigorous animal of its kind, hoisted its flag of defiance, and breasting the waves stoutly showed that in a race with a log canoe and a single paddle he was not easily outdone.
"Sweatland had attained a considerable distance from the shore and encountered a heavy sea before overtaking the animal, but was not apprised of the eminent peril of his situation, until, shooting past him, the deer turned towards the shore. He was, however, brought to a full appreciation of his danger when, on tacking his frail vessel and heading towards the land, he found that with his utmost exertions he could make no progress in the desired direction, but was continually drifting further to sea. He had been observed in his outward progress by Mr. Cousins, who had arrived immediately after the hounds, and by his own family, and as he disappeared from sight, considerable apprehensions were entertained for his safety.
"The alarm was soon given in the neighborhood, and it was decided by those competent to judge that his return would be impossible, and that unless help could be afforded he was doomed to perish at sea. Actuated by those generous impulses that often induce men to peril their own lives to preserve those of others, Messrs. Gilbert, Cousins and Belden took a light boat at the mouth of the creek and proceeded in search of the wanderer, with the determination to make every effort for his relief. They met the deer returning toward the shore nearly exhausted, but the man who was the object of their solicitude was nowhere to be seen. They made stretches off shore within probable range of the fugitive for some hours, until they had gained a distance of five or six miles from land, when meeting with a sea in which they judged it impossible for a canoe to live, they abandoned the search, returned with difficulty to the shore, and Sweatland was given up for lost.
“The canoe in which he was embarked was dug from a large white-wood log for a fishing boat; it was about fourteen feet in length and rather wide in proportion, and was considered a superior one of the kind. Sweatland continued to lie off, still heading toward the land, with the faint hope that the wind might abate, or that aid might reach him from the shore. One or two schooners were in sight in course of the day, and he made every signal in his power to attract their attention, but without success.
“Fortunately Sweatland possessed a cool head and a stout heart, which, united with a tolerable share of physical strength and power of endurance, eminently qualified him for the part he was to act in this emergency. He was a good sailor, and as such would not yield to despondency until the last expedient had been exhausted. One only expedient remained, that of putting before the wind and endeavoring to reach the Canadian shore, a distance of about fifty miles. This he resolved to embrace as his forlorn hope.
“It was now blowing a gale, and the sea was increasing as he pro-ceeded from the shore, and yet he was borne onwards over the waters by a power that no human agency could control. He was obliged to stand erect, moving cautiously from one extremity to the other, in order to trim his vessel to the waves, well aware that a single lost stroke of the paddle or tottering movement would swamp his frail bark and bring his adventure to a final close. Much of his attention was likewise required in bailing his canoe from the water, an operation which he was obliged to perform by making use of his shoes, a substantial pair of stoggies, that happened fortunately to be upon his feet.
“Hitherto he had been blessed with the cheerful light of heaven, and amidst all his perils could say, ‘The light is sweet, and it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold the sun;’ but to add to his distress, the shades of night were now gathering around him, and he was soon enveloped in darkness. The sky was overcast, and the light of a few stars that twinkled through the haze alone remained to guide his path over the dark and troubled waters. In this fearful condition, destitute of food and the necessary clothing, his log canoe was rocked upon the billows during that long and terrible night. When morning appeared he was in sight of land, and found that he had made Long Point, on the Canada shore. Here he was met by an adverse wind and a cross sea, but the same providential aid which had guided him thus far still sustained and protected him; and after being buffeted by the winds and waves for nearly thirty hours, he succeeded in reaching the land in safety.
“What were the emotions he experienced on treading once more ‘the green and solid earth’ we shall not attempt to inquire, but his trials were not yet ended. He found himself faint with hunger and exhausted with fatigue, at the distance of forty miles from any human habitation, whilst the country that intervened was a desert filled with marshes and tangled thickets, from which nothing could be obtained to supply his wants. These difficulties, together with the reduced state of his strength, rendered his progress towards the settlement slow and toilsome. On his way he found a quantity of goods, supposed to have been driven on shore from the wreck of some vessel, which, although they afforded him no immediate relief, were afterwards of material service.
“He ultimately arrived at the settlement and was received and treated with great kindness and hospitality by the people. After his strength was sufficiently recruited, he returned with a boat, accompanied by some of the inhabitants, and brought off the goods. >From this place he proceeded by land to Buffalo, where, with the avails of his treasure, he furnished himself in the garb of a gentle-man, and finding the Traveler, Capt. Charles Brown, from Conneaut, in the harbor, he shipped on board and was soon on his way to rejoin his family. When the packet arrived off his dwelling, they fired guns from the deck, and the crew gave three loud cheers. On landing he found his funeral sermon had been preached, and had the rare privilege of seeing his own widow clothed in the habiliments of mourning."
Other Events of 1817. - January 1: Seven vessels enrolled in Buffalo district for navigation of the season. April 1: A steamer put on the route between Ogdensburg and Niagara, touching at Sacket's Harbor and Oswego. April 29: Ice leaves Lake Erie ports. August 19: Schooner Tigress sustains damages during a storm on Lake Erie. Her cargo of furs considered the most valuable ever floated on the lake. December 31: Fishing interests near Sacket's Harbor cleared $6,000 during the season. One hundred arrivals and clearances during the season at Buffalo. The first bridge connecting Goat Island, Niagara Falls, with the mainland was built in 1817 by Judge Porter.
In 1817, very soon after Fort Dearborn had been reconstructed, at Chicago, the schooner Heartless arrived off the lake shore. Attempting to run up the Chicago river she was beached in the sand. Efforts to float her proved unavailing, and there she remained, a complete wreck, the first one which occurred within sight of Fort Dearborn.
The Memorable Walk-in-the-Water. - The year 1818 is memorable for the construction of the Walk-in-the-Water, the first steamboat on Lake Erie. During the winter of 1817-1818 the following named persons associated to build a steamboat to navigate Lake Erie: Joseph B. Stuart, Nathaniel Davis, Asa H. Curtis, Ralph Pratt, James Durant and John Meads, of Albany, and Robert McQueen, Samuel McCoon, Alexander McMuir and Noah Brown, of the City of New York. Of these, Mr. McQueen, a machinist, built the engine, and Mr. Brown, a shipwright, super-intended the construction of the hull.
Early in 1818 Mr. Brown laid the keel at the mouth of Scajaquada creek. There, May 28, 1818, he launched a boat of the following dimensions: Length, 135 feet; width, 32 feet; depth, 8 feet 6 inches; 338 tons, with two masts, carrying mainsail, foresail and foretopmast staysail. On August 25, the Walk-in-the-Water departed on her first passage over the waters of Lake Erie, with twenty-nine passengers on board, bound for Erie, Grand River, Cleveland, Sandusky and Detroit. Her license and enrollment were dated August 22, 1818. She reached Detroit, over this course, in 44 hours and 10 minutes running time, developing a speed of about seven and a half miles per hour. She was commanded by Capt. Job Fish, who had sailed the lakes for several years, master of a trading schooner.
The scene presented when the boat was ascending the Niagara from Black Rock was picturesque. The primitive steamboat struggled with the rapid current, aided by several yoke of oxen on the beach, tugging at the end of a long towline. This was the historical "horn breeze" prevalent on Niagara river, when the current was stronger than the applied steam power.
According to Capt. Barton Atkins, of Buffalo, the origin of the name was as follows: "When Fulton first steamed his boat, the Clermont, up the Hudson, in 1807, an Indian standing on the river bank, gazing long and silently at the boat moving up stream without sails, finally exclaimed: ‘Walks in the water.' The man in the forest saw the boat stemming the current unaided by any power known to him. He observed the paddle wheels slowly revolving, and intuitively comprehended that when a paddle struck the water there was a step forward."
It may be here stated briefly that the name, "Walk-in-the-Water," being so long, was not generally used, either in conversation or in print. As she was the only one of her class on Lake Erie she was usually designated as "The Steamboat."
The arrival of the steamboat at Cleveland is thus chronicled by a local historian: "On the first day of September, 1818, an entire novelty - the like of which not one in 500 of the inhabitants had ever before seen - presented itself before the people of Cuyahoga county. On the day named the residents along the lake shore of Euclid saw upon the lake a curious kind of a vessel, making what was then considered very rapid progress westward, without the aid of sails, while from a pipe near its middle rolled forth a dark cloud of smoke, which trailed its gloomy length far into the rear of the swift-gliding mysterious traveler over the deep. They watched its westward course until it turned its prow toward the harbor of Cleveland, and then returned to their labors. Many of them doubtless knew what it was, but some shook their heads in sad surmise as to whether some evil powers were not at work in producing such a strange phenomenon as that, on the bosom of their beloved Lake Erie. Meanwhile the citizens of Cleveland perceived the approaching monster, and hastened to the lake shore to examine it. ‘What is it?' ‘What is it?' ‘Where did it come from?' ‘What makes it go?' queried one and another of the excited throng. ‘It's the steamboat, that's what it is,' cried others in reply.
" ‘Yes, yes, it's the steamboat; it's the steamboat,' was the general shout, and with ringing cheers the people welcomed the first vessel propelled by steam which had ever traversed the waters of Lake Erie. The keel had been laid at Black Rock, near Buffalo, in November, 1817, and the vessel had been built during the spring and summer of 1818. It had received the name of ‘Walk-in-the-Water,' from a Wyandot chieftain, who was formerly known by that appellation; which was also extremely appropriate as applied to a vessel which did indeed walk in the water like a thing of life.
"The harbinger of the numerous steam-leviathans of the upper lakes, and of the immense commerce carried on by them, was of 300 tons burden, and could carry a hundred cabin passengers, and a still larger number in the steerage. Its best speed was from eight to ten miles an hour, and even this was considered something wonderful. All Cleveland swarmed on board to examine the new craft, and many of the leading citizens took passage in it to Detroit, for which place it soon set forth."
In the Detroit Gazette is found an account of her first passage to that city: "The Walk-in-the-Water left Buffalo at one and a half P.M., and arrived at Dunkirk 35 minutes past six on the same day. On the following morning she arrived at Erie, Captain Fish having reduced her steam in order not to pass that place, where he took in a supply of wood." [The boat was visited by all the inhabitants during the day, and had the misfortune to get aground for a short time in the bay, a little west of French street.] "At half-past seven P.M. she left Erie, and arrived at Cleveland at eleven o'clock, Tuesday; at twenty minutes past six P.M. sailed, and reached Sandusky bay at one o'clock on Wednesday; lay at anchor during the night, and then proceeded to Venice for wood; left Venice at three P.M. and arrived at the mouth of Detroit river, where she anchored during the night.
"The whole time of this first voyage from Buffalo to Detroit occupied 44 hours and 10 minutes - the wind ahead during the whole passage. Not the slightest accident happened during the voyage, and her machinery worked admirably.
"Nothing could exceed the surprise of the ‘sons of the forest' on seeing the Walk-in-the-Water move majestically and rapidly against wind and current, without sails or oars. Above Malden they lined the shores and expressed their astonishment by repeated shouts of ‘Taiyoh nichee'! [An exclamation of surprise.]
"A report that had circulated among them that a ‘big canoe' would soon come from the ‘noisy waters,' which, by order of the ‘great father of the Chemo Komods' [Long Knives or Yankees] would be drawn through the lakes and rivers by a sturgeon. Of the truth of the report they were perfectly satisfied."
Her second arrival at Detroit was on September 7, of the same year, having on board 31 passengers, including the Earl of Selkirk and suite, destined for the far Northwest.
The cabins of the Walk-in-the-Water were fitted up in a neat, convenient, and elegant style, and a trip to Buffalo was considered not only tolerable, but truly pleasant. She made an excursion from Detroit to Lake St. Clair, with a party of ladies and gentlemen, and returned to Buffalo in time to be again at Detroit the following week.
Tradition has it that Captain Fish was not particularly pleased with the lake, and returned in a short time to his former command on the Hudson, the Firefly, running between Poughkeepsie and New York. Capt. John Davis being a thorough and accomplished seaman (which Captain Fish did not profess to be) amused himself by exciting his fears and magnifying the dangers of lake navigation. Captain Davis had been master of the schooner Michigan, had command of the Walk-in-the-Water after Captain Fish resigned, and previous to the appointment of Capt. Jedediah Rogers.
The fleet on Lake Ontario in 1818 numbered 60 vessels. There was a considerable commerce in timber and staves, picked up on the south shore of the lake. But as there were then no harbors on the lake the timber was floated out to the vessels, and the staves carried out in scows. These articles were carried by vessels down to Cape Vincent and Carlton's island, and other points at the head of the St. Lawrence river, where they were unloaded, made into rafts, and floated thence down the St. Lawrence to Montreal and Quebec.
On April 22, 1818, a second steamboat was launched at Ernettstown, named the Queen Charlotte. This vessel ran twice each week from Wilkin's wharf to Prescott. Up to the time this vessel commenced running the stage coach had run between Kingston and Prescott, but it now ceased to make its trips.
Wreck of the Hercules. - Late in October, 1818, the schooner Hercules was wrecked in Lake Michigan between the two Calumet rivers, and all on board perished. The first intelligence of the fatal catastrophe was communicated by the finding of the wreck of the vessel, and the bodies of the passengers strewed along the shore. Several days, however, had elapsed before this discovery was made, and the bodies were so beaten and bruised by the spars of the wreck that the deceased could not be recognized by their features. Among these was Lieut. William S. Evileth, an intelligent and promising young officer of engineers, whose death was much lamented. He had been employed in the rebuilding of Fort Dearborn at Chicago, and had embarked, the day previous to the shipwreck, at Chicago, to return to his friends, after a summer spent in arduous and useful service. When the unfortunate young man was found his face had been so gnawed by wolves that he would not have been identified, had it not been for the military buttons of his clothes.
The marine interests of Chicago during these early years were centered in the Mackinac trading-boats, which belonged to the American Fur Company, and an occasional craft which stopped at the fort on government business.
Other events of 1818 - March 6: Capt. John Mach dies at the age of 58 years at Chattaraugus Creek. April 15: Navigation opened at Sacket's Harbor by the sloop Arcadia, cleared for Niagara. April 21: Ice leaves many Lake Erie ports. April 25: Schooner Nancy, in command of Captain Fairbanks, of Putneyville, ashore near Eighteen Mile creek. July 16: Steamboat Sophia launched at Sacket's Harbor; built by Mr. Roberts, to play between Sacket's Harbor and Kingston. August 18: Lighthouse completed at Erie. August 23: Steamer Walk-in-the-water leaves Buffalo for Detroit, on her fist trip, in command of Captain Fish. September 27: Steamboat Walk-in-the-water sustains injuries by running aground near Erie. October 10: Capt. Daniel S. Dexter, commandant of the Naval Station on Lake Erie, dies at Erie. October 21: Schooners Eagle and Commodore Perry ashore near Buffalo creek during a storm. November 3: Schooner Hercules in command of Captain Church, wrecked on Lake Michigan during a violent gale. Several lives lost. November 15: Schooner Independence, commanded and owned by Capt. John Brooks, capsized and wrecked off Black river; crew drowned and cargo lost. November 15: Schooner Pauline, loaded with salt, ashore near Grand River. Crew saved; cargo lost. Schooner Boxer sustains serious injuries at Grand River during the storm. Schooner Wasp, dismasted and driven ashore at Cunningham's creek; crew saved; cargo lost. British brig Lord Wellington, wrecked at Point Albino; crew saved; cargo lost. November 18: Schooner General Brown driven ashore and severely damaged, at Black river; crew saved. December 26: Schooner Dolphin wrecked by the ice at Putneyville, Lake Ontario. December 31: Ninety-six arrivals and clearances at Buffalo during the season.
Walk-in-the-Water Visits Green Bay. - The Walk-in-the-Water this year made a trip to Mackinaw and Green Bay, and was thus the first steamboat on the waters of Lake Michigan.
The New York Mercantile Advertiser, of May - , 1819, contained the following notice:
"The swift steamboat Walk-in-the-Water is intended to make a voyage early in the summer from Buffalo, on Lake Erie, to Michilimackinac, on Lake Huron, for the conveyance of company. The trip has so near a resemblance to the famous Argonautic expedition in the heroic ages of Greece that expectation is quite alive on the subject. Many of our most distinguished citizens are said to have already engaged their passage for this splendid adventure.
"Her speed may be judged from the fact that it took her ten days to make the trip from Buffalo to Detroit and back, and the charge was eighteen dollars. The Walk-in-the-Water made this trip to carry up the American Fur Company's goods."
This advertisement appeared in the Buffalo papers in 1819: "Notice - Sealed proposals will be received by Harry Thompson for supplying 600 cords of basswood for the steamboat Walk-in-the-Water, the wood to be delivered on the river bank adjoining the steamboat wharf. Payment will be made one-fourth on the delivery of the wood, the remainder on the first day of May next. Dated Black Rock, October 19, 1819." To make steam for a modern lake steamer, basswood would be considered rather thin. With such fuel it is doubtful if one of them could maintain a speed of seven and a half miles per hour, the boasted achievement of the Walk-in-the-Water.
An advertisement in the Kingston, Ont., Chronicle of April 30, 1819, reads as follows: "The steamboat Frontenac, James McKenzie, master, will in future leave the different ports on the following days: Kingston, for York, on the 1st, 11th and 21st of each month; York, for Queenston, on the 3rd, 13th and 23rd days of each month; Niagara, for Kingston, on the 5th, 15th and 25th of each month. Rates of passage, from Kingston to York and Niagara, L.3; from York to Niagara, L1; children under three years of age, half price, above three and under ten years of age, two-thirds price. Passengers are allowed 60 pounds of baggage. Gentlemen's servants can not eat or sleep in the cabin. Deck passengers will pay 15 shillings, and may either bring their own provisions or be furnished by the steward. For each dog brought on board, 5 shillings."
Other Events of 1819. - February 1: Ice leaves several Lake Erie harbors. October 24: Snow at Buffalo obstructs navigation to and from that harbor. November 6: Schooner Kingbird, with a cargo of salt for Portland, ashore near Buffalo creek. Sloop General Huntington sustains losses on Lake Erie during a storm. British schooner Elizabeth in command of Captain Fellows, with a cargo for Malden, ashore near Point Albino. December 8: Navigation closed at most lake ports. Ninety-six arrivals and departures at Buffalo during the season. The Dalhousie, built in 1819, was the third steamer built on the Canada side of Lake Ontario, at Kingston, by Henry Gildersleeve. She plied on the same route as the steamer Charlotte.
Schoolcraft's Trip. - Henry R. Schoolcraft took passage on the Walk-in-the-Water in 1820 while on his trip up the lakes. "On the sixth of May" he writes, "I embarked on board the steam boat, which left Black Rock at 9 o'clock in the morning, and reached Detroit on the eighth at 12 o'clock at night. We were favored with clear weather, and a part of the time with a fair wind. The boat is large, uniting in its construction a great degree of strength, convenience and elegance, and is propelled by a powerful and well-cast engine, on the Fultonian plan, and one of the best pieces of workmanship of the original foundry (McQueen's, New York). The accomodations of the boat are all that could be wished, and nothing occurred to interrupt the delight which a passage at this season affords. The distance is computed at 300 miles; the time we employed in the voyage was sixty-two hours, which gives an average rate of traveling of five miles per hour. The first two miles after leaving Black Rock, a very heavy rapid is encountered, in ascending which the assistance of oxen is required. In passing through Lake Erie the boat touches at the town of Erie, in Pennsylvania, at the mouth of Grande river and at the towns of Cleve-land and Portland, in Ohio, the latter situated on Sandusky bay."
"While detained at Bois Blanc," writes Schoolcraft, "a vessel bound for Michilimackinac passed up through the narrow strait which separ-ates the island from the main shore. It is interesting to contemplate the progress of commerce through regions which at no remote period were only traversed in bark canoes."
The Governor Cass Expedition. - In 1820 General Cass, under the authority of the Secretary of War, directed an exploring expedition of Lake Superior and crossed over to the Mississippi. This expedition had among its principal objects that of investigating the northwest-ern copper mines, and was accompanied by H. R. Schoolcraft, in the capacity of mineralogist and geologist. His observations are recorded in his "Narrative Journal of Travels from Detroit northwest, etc.," from which the following account is condensed:
Schoolcraft, from Grosse Point, was a member of a party of 38 persons, all embarked in three canoes. It included, besides himself, Gov. Lewis Cass, of Michigan Territory, his staff and officers numbering seven, ten Canadian voyageurs, seven United States soldiers, ten Indians, an interpreter and a guide. Only enough provisions were taken to serve the party to the island of Michilimackinac, to which place the stores, arms, Indian goods and other principal outfits had been sent by vessels in order to facilitate their passage through Lake Huron. The three canoes were moved wholly with paddles, but a sail provided to each, as well as a small standard, bearing the arms of the United States. Each canoe had also a tent or marque and an oil cloth, together with the necessary gum, bark and apparatus for mending canoes. "From Port Huron," says Schoolcraft, "it is necess-ary, in order to strike the mouth of St. Clair river and to save a tedious voyage round the shore, to traverse across a large bay, or arm of the lake, but before we had reached half the distance the wind arose and continued to blow with such violence that with every exertion little headway could be made, while the waves were fre-quently breaking across our canoes, which rendered it necessary for one man to be continually employed in bailing out the water. On the fourth day from Detroit, or May 26, 1820, Fort Gratiot, at the foot of Lake Huron, was reached. In ascending St. Clair river nine vessels, detained by head winds, were passed. They were laden with merchandise, military stores and troops for Michilimackinac, Green Bay and Chicago. They also passed a number of Indian canoes, in each of which were generally one family with their blankets, guns, fishing apparatus and dogs.
In order to cross Saginaw bay with safety in a canoe, says Schoolcraft, it is necessary to pass up the eastern shore from Point aux Barques to Point aux Cheves, a distance of 18 miles. Here, if the lake be calm, the voyageur crosses by a stretch of 20 miles to the opposite shore, with the advantage of landing on the island of Shawangunk, should a storm overtake him in the center of the bay, which is frequently the case. On gaining the opposite shore, it is necessary to pass down the bay about the same distance that was formerly ascended, before the open lake is again reached. The entire crossing can easily be performed in one day if the weather is favorable, but this does not always happen, and the fatal accidents that have formerly befallen those who were too venturesome have operated as a severe caution to voyageurs and canoe travelers of the present day, so that it is difficult to induce the former to attempt it, unless the weather be perfectly clear and the bay calm.
At Presque Isle, three days later, the party carried their canoes and baggage across the portage, which is about 200 yards, over a low, sandy neck of land, connecting the peninsula with the mainland. By this portage they saved a voyage of six or eight miles around a point of land which projects into the lake.
The next day, the fourteenth from Detroit, they reached Mackinac. “Nothing can present a more picturesque or refreshing spectacle to the traveler, wearied with the lifeless monotony of a canoe voyage through Lake Huron,” exclaims the traveler, “than the first sight of the island of Michilimackinac, which rises from the watery horizon in lofty bluffs, imprinting a rugged outline along the sky, and capped with two fortresses, on which the American standard is seen conspic-uously displayed. A compact town stretches along the narrow plain below the hills, and a beautiful harbor, checkered with Americana vessels at anchor, and Indian canoes rapidly shooting across the water in every direction,” The distance from Detroit to Mackinac is computed at 300 miles by those who perform the route in vessels of a large size, but is about 360 miles when all the indentations of the shore are followed.
Mackinac, in 1820, had a permanent population of about 450, but is sometimes swelled by the influx of traders, voyageurs and Indians to one or two thousand.
“During our detention here,” says Schoolcraft, “vessels have been constantly entering or leaving the harbor, giving the town an appear-ance of bustle and business, which was not expected. This appearance of trade has, perhaps, recently assumed a partial activity by the concentration of a considerable military force on the frontier, which has furnished employment to a number of vessels in the transportation of troops, military stores and provisions.”
The provisions and stores shipped from Detroit reached Mackinac several days later, and June 13 the party, now reinforced to 42, embarked for Sault Ste. Marie in four canoes, escorted by a detachment of 22 soldiers in a 12-oared barge, under command of Lieut, Pierce, for the Indians were reported to entertain a spirit of hostility to the United States, and might stop the passage through to Lake Superior.
Other Events of 1820 — April 1: The Lake Erie Steamboat Company incorporated at Buffalo.
April 5: Navigation open at Cleveland. May 6: Navigation open at Buffalo, by the Walk-in-the-Water bound for Detroit.
August 4: Schooner Commodore Perry, bound from Sacket’s Harbor, filled and sank off Putneyville; crew saved. Vessel recovered by the Lady of the Lake.
September 4: Lighthouse at Galo island near Sacket’s Harbor, lighted first time.
October 11: Schooners Commodore Perry and Wolf driven ashore during a severe gale near Buffalo. Schooner Franklin, in command of Captain White, of Erie, and owned by Peter S. V. Hamot, with cargo valued at $3,500, sunk at Grand River; crew lost. Schooner Zephyr, in command of Captain Napier, wrecked; ten lives lost. October 26: Schooner Asp, in command of Captain Prossey, wrecked near the Salmon river, Lake Ontario; several lives lost. October 23: Schooner Lavantia, in command of Captain Stonburner, bound from Oswego to the Genesee river, wrecked off Little Sodus bay; crew saved; cargo lost.
November 12: British schooner Owen, in command of Captain St. Clair, bound from Kingston to Niagara, ashore at Long Point, during severe snow storm; crew saved; cargo lost. November 26: Schooner Erie, bound from Black Rock to Detroit damaged, during a storm.
November 11: Schooners American Eagle, William, and Washington driven ashore at Cleveland during a gale. During a heavy storm and fall of snow, the schooner Triumph went ashore at the head of the Genesee river, schooner Swallow ashore near Braddock’s Point, schooner Minerva ashore near Oswego, the British Wellington ashore at the head of Lake Ontario. The Kingston Packet and the Cornet aground near the Niagara river.
November 24: Schooner Eagle, in command of Captain Manchester, sunk off Long Point.
November 28: Schooner Lady Prevost driven from her moorings at Fort Erie, and beached near Bird Island.
During the autumnal storms 18 vessels were lost on Lake Ontario.
The enrollment of the Walk-on-the-Water for 1820 shows that Mary A. Gillespie and Elizabeth H. Post were part owners.
In 1820 the John Watkins, a Canadian schooner, was afloat, and the schooner Lady Sarah Maitland, named after one of the “fair women,” mentioned by Lord Byron as being present at the celebrated ball, given at Brussels by the Duchess of Richmond, on the eve of the battle of Waterloo. In July, 1820, there was launched at York the sloop Richmond, 100 tons burden, which sailed between York and Niagara.