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NAME: Chesapeake
REASON: Collision
DATE: June 8, 1847
LOCATION: Lake Erie, 2 miles off Conneaut Light
TYPE: sidewheel steamer
HULL TYPE: wooden
BUILDER: D. Stebbins, Maumee, Ohio - 1838
OWNER: D. N. Barney & Co., (D. N. Barney of Cleveland and B. Higgins of Sandusky City, Ohio)
Sandusky & Mansfield Railroad Company
MASTER: Capt. Henry R. Warner
TONNAGE: 412 gross
LENGTH: 172 ft
BEAM: 24 ft
DEPTH: 10 ft
CASUALTIES: at LEAST 8 (sources vary ranging from 1 to 13)

  The morning of June 8, 1847, found the sidwheel steamer CHESAPEAKE bound up from Buffalo with passengers and freight. When about 7 miles south- west of Conneaut Light she collided with the down bound schooner, J. F. PORTER, carrying 4,000 bushels of corn and 70 barrels of pork.

  The crew of the heavily damaged PORTER were taken aboard the CHESAPEAKE which made for Conneaut Harbor. It was soon found that the CHESAPEAKE was also seriously damaged and quickly filling with water. All attempts to stop the leak or keep the water down failed. The pumps were running and Captain Warner had the jib lowered over the bow to be drawn into the opening and slow the rush of incoming water. The water level rose so rapidly that the fires were soon extinquished and left the CHESAPEAKE with no power while still about 2 miles out. With the seas running high the anchor was let go to prevent her from drifting back out into the lake.

  A life-boat was immediately loaded with as many of the passengers as it could carry and set off for Conneaut but the gusting winds carried it almost 2 miles past the pier. Mr. Shepherd, clerk from the CHESAPEAKE, reportedly ran the 2 miles back to the pier where he found the steamer GENERAL HARRISON just entering port. It seems the HARRISON had passed the sinking CHESAPEAKE in the darkness with- out seeing her. Without delay Capt. L. B. Parker took his boat back into the heavy seas, along with a small boat from shore, to rescue the passengers and crews of the two stricken vessels.

  Captain Warner had advised the passengers who re- mained aboard after the life-boat was launched to stay with the CHESAPEAKE. Some, in fear for their lives with the boat sinking beneath their feet, chose to prepare makeshift floats and take their chances on them instead. When the HARRISON arrived on the scene only the upper deck of the CHESAPEAKE was still above water, having separated from the hull, with the remaining passengers gathered there. All the fatalities were from the number that decided to take their chances and leave the sinking vessel on floating hatches, doors, etc. The following persons were known to have been lost:

Mr. George Van Doren, a Merchant of Lower Sandusky, Ohio
Mr. Hock, of Watertown, N.Y.
Eli Cohn, of Belville, Ohio
S. York, of Tiffin, Ohio
(*note: some sources say Wm. N. York)
Mr. Daniel A. Folsom, of Rochester, N.Y.
R. Sutherland, 1st engineer
O. Wait, porter
R. McMann, deck hand

  An indictment was presented in U. S. Court at Columbus, Ohio, in August, 1847, charging Captain Henry R. Warner, 1st mate Charles H. Wilson and 2nd mate R. Demond (or Dimond) with manslaughter due to misconduct, negligence and inattention in the discharge of their duties resulting in the loss of life. Charges were also presented against D. N. Barney & Co., and Captain Henry R. Warner, owners and master of the CHESAPEAKE, for not pro- viding the boat with yawls. In December, 1848, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty as to all the defendents.



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