The Steamer, L.R. Doty Goes Missing

The L.R. Doty from a painting by Rev. Edward J. Dowling courtesy Historical Collections of the Great Lakes (Image from http://www.ship-wreck.com)

LAKE BOAT IS LOST.

BIG FREIGHT STEAMER L.R. DOTY WITH CREW OF FIFTEEN.

CAUGHT IN BIG STORM.

She Left Chicago Monday With 107,000 Bushels of Corn — Believed to Have Sunk in the Lake Off Kenosha.

Reports of Wreckage.

Chicago, Ill., Oct. 28. — The loss of the steamer L.R. Doty, with her entire crew, during the gale of Tuesday, is now conceded. Wreckage brought here has been fully identified by Captain Elison of the steamer George Williams, which belongs to the same line, as having come from the Doty. The Olive Jeanette, which the Doty had in tow, was towed into Chicago today. Her crew confirmed the loss of the steamer.

Chicago, Ill., Oct. 28 — The steamer L.R. Doty with her crew of fifteen men is believed by marine men to have been lost in the great storm in midlake off Kenosha. The probable fate of the Doty was learned by the tug Prodigy, which was sent out by the Independent Tug line to search for the Doty and the schooner Olive Jeanette, which the steamer had in tow. When twenty-five miles off Kenosha the Prodigy came on a large amount of wreckage, consisting of pieces of deck, a pole mast painted brown, cabin doors, stanchions from the after part of a steamer, and much lighter woodwork. A piece of the steering pole which projects from the bow was also brought in.

The Olive Jeanette circa 1890 courtesy C. Patrick Labadie Collection, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The Doty left south Chicago Monday with the schooner Olive Jeanette in tow, for Midland, Georgian bay. The Doty had on board 107,000 bushels of corn, shipped by Counselman & Co. After discharging the cargo at Midland the two vessels were to go to Lake Superior where they were chartered for cargoes to Lake Erie. During the storm when there was such great anxiety among vesselmen over the vessels which were known to be buffeting the tremendous seas along the west shore, the Doty and Jeanette were lost sight of. Both were staunch vessels, and the Doty was known to be a powerful steamer, capable of living through any sea. When the Susquehanna reported having sighted a four masted schooner off Kenosha, it was figured out that the vessel must be the Olive Jeanette, as she was the only four-masted boat within 200 miles of that point at the time.

Still there were no fears for the Doty, particularly as it was given out that the steamer was out searching for her consort. Yesterday afternoon a telegraphic search was made for the Doty, and then it was learned that the steamer had not been seen at any point along the west shore nor been sighted by any incoming boats since she had been seen with her consort off Milwuakee on Tuesday afternoon, before the full force of the gale swept down from the north. When this became known it was felt that the Doty had been lost and the news brought it by the tug Prodigy that wreckage from a large steamer had been found off Kenosha was quick confirmation.

The dead so far as known are: Capt. Christoper Smith, Port Huron; Chief Engineer Thomas Abernethie, Port Huron; First Mate Harry Thorpe, Detroit; Steward ____ Doss, West Bay City. The names of the rest of the crew are not known to the owners at Cleveland.

Cleveland, O., Oct. 28. — The steamer L.R. Doty, which is believed was lost during the recent great storm on Lake Michigan, was owned by the Cuyahoga Transit company, of this city. She carried a crew of sixteen men. A telegram was received at the office of the company here today stating that there were strong indications that the Doty had been lost with all on board. The Doty was a wooden steamer and was built at West Bay City, Mich., in 1893. Her capacity was 1700 net tons. She was 291 feet long and forty-one feet beam. Her insurance was $190,000.

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Oct 28, 1898

FIFTEEN MAY BE LOST

Steamer Doty and Crew Missing on Lake Michigan.

Chicago, Oct. 27. — The steamer L.R. Doty, with a crew of fifteen men is believed by marine men to have been lost in the great storm in midlake off Kenosha.

The names of the crew so far as known are:

Captain — Charles Smith, Port Huron.
Chief Engineer — Thomas Abernethie, Port Huron.
First Mate — Harry Thorpe, Detroit.
Steward — ______ Doss, West Bay City.

The remainder of the crew are not know[n] to the owners in Cleveland.

The probable fate of the Doty was learned today by the tug Prodigy, which was sent out to search for the Doty and the schooner Olive Jeanette, which the steamer had in tow. When about twenty-five miles off Kenosha the Prodigy came on a large amount of wreckage, consisting of pieces of deck, a pole mast painted brown, cabinet doors, stancions from after part of a steamer, and much lighter wood work. A piece of steering pole which projects from the boat was also brought in.

The Doty left South Chicago Monday afternoon with a cargo of corn for Midland. Her consort, the schooner Olive Jeanette was sighted today in the lake off Grosse Point, but the steamer has not been heard from since the gale broke. A description of the wreckage was telegraphed to Cleveland tonight and the owner of the Doty said it corresponded with the Doty.

The Daily Review (Decatur, Illinois) Oct 28, 1898

THE DOTY WRECK.

Chicago, Ills., Nov. 2 — Positive evidence of the loss of the steamer L.R. Doty has been furnished by Captain H.R. Nelson of the schooner D.S. Austin.

Twenty-two miles north-north-east of the Chicago last Thursday, a lifeboat painted black on the outside and brown on the inside and lettered “L.R. Doty” on the stern was seen.

Farther on was the entire roof of the pilot house, with a large door and rope attached to it. Lighter stuff was encountered for a distance of fifteen miles.

The Daily Review (Decatur, Illinois) Nov 3, 1898

UPDATE: Additional information  left by Tamara in the comments mentioned that the name of one of the victims was spelled incorrectly in some of the news accounts. She states:

An earlier article about the L R Doty has W J Hossie, second mate listed as W J Bossie. Hopefully this can be corrected.

I tried to find an article with the “Bossie” spelling, but didn’t find one, but did find the following one with him listed as W.D. Hossie:

LAKE STEAMER LOST.

Fate of the L.R. Doty — No Longer a Matter of Doubt.

CHICAGO, Oct. 29. — The loss of the steamer L.R. Doty with her entire crew, during the lake gale of Tuesday, is now conceded. Wreckage brought here have been fully identified by Captain Ellison of the steamer George Williams, which belongs to the same line, as having come from the Doty. The Olive Jeanette, which the Doty had in tow, was towed into Chicago today. Her crew confirmed the loss of the steamer.

The above was the list of men on the boat on Oct. 9, when they were last paid off. It is possible that one or two changes have been made since that time. The Doty was a wooden steamer and was built at West Bay City, Mich., in 1893. Her capacity was 1,500 net tons. Her insurance valuation was $100,000.

Reports from Toledo say that the schooner St. Peter foundered and six lives were lost: Mrs. John D. Griffin, wife of the captain; John McGra?e of Kingston, a seaman named Bosworth and three Swedes, names unknown, who shipped at Oswego. The captain says that the storm was the worst he had ever seen, and he has sailed the lakes since 1867.

Adams County Free Press (Corning, Iowa) Nov 10, 1898

L.R. Doty Windlass

The following article can be found on the  Fox News website. (LINK)

L.R. Doty, ship that sank in Lake Michigan 112 years ago, found largely intact near Milwaukee
Published June 24, 2010 | Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A great wooden steamship that sank more than a century ago in a violent Lake Michigan storm has been found off the Milwaukee-area shoreline, and divers say the intact vessel appears to have been perfectly preserved by the cold fresh waters.

Finding the 300-foot-long L.R. Doty was important because it was the largest wooden ship that remained unaccounted for, said Brendon Baillod, the president of the Wisconsin Underwater Archaeology Association.

Read the rest at the link.

The Doty at the Soo Locks 1896 - Andrew Young photo courtesy of the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes

Brendon Baillod at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Research website has a complete article with lots of pictures, explaining the history and their findings. Definitely a must read and see! (LINK)

Christopher Ring, with his wife, Donna, is the great grandson of Christopher Smith who was captain of L.R. Doty when it was lost in a storm in 1898. The attended a presentation at the Discovery World Sunday, July 11, 2010, on the recent finding of the ship's wreckage.

Image and complete article at the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. (LINK)

Ship went down in Lake Michigan amid storm in 1898

By Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel

For the first time, Christopher Ring glimpsed the deck where his great-grandfather had earned his livelihood.

He looked through the open hatches to see where his ancestor’s last cargo still lies. And he saw the rudder, turned hard to port, which his namesake would have ordered moved to turn his great steamship around in a brutal gale.

Ring, 64, was awe-struck.

He heard tales of his great-grandfather, whose body was never found, whose shipwreck was lying somewhere unknown and unseen at the bottom of Lake Michigan. But not until last month when the Salem, Ore., man was surfing the Internet did he learn that his great-grandfather’s ship, the L.R. Doty, had finally been discovered 20 miles off Oak Creek in 320 feet of cold water.

Read the rest at the link.

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11 Responses to “The Steamer, L.R. Doty Goes Missing”

  1. charlene abernethy Says:

    The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Oct 28, 1898
    With great excitement I read the article about the great grandson of the LR Doty captain.
    I am the great granddaughter of Thomas Abernethy, the engineer.
    The article mentioned an account of the storm written by a Jeanette Oliver sailor.
    Does any one know how to get a copy of this story?

    Thanks

  2. mrstkdsd Says:

    Hi Charlene,

    You might try contacting Brendon Baillod. It sounds like he is the one that has the document/info you want:

    http://www.ship-wreck.com/shipwreck/doty/

    I thought I had linked that website in my post, but I guess I forgot to add it.

  3. Lise Labbe Says:

    Good Day and Happy New Year

    My question is on genealogy

    My great-grand-father was Joseph A. Seguin or Seaguin depending in which country census. He was born in 1862
    But on the US Census of New York of 1900 my GG-mother Emaly is now widowed and her husband was a boat pilot …So My question is where do I find records to find when and where he might of died on a shipwreck or …

    The last child was born in August 1894 in Ogdensburg NY….so if that helps and she stayed there until 1902 when se came back to Canada with her living 4 kids out of 17….

    If you can lead me in the right directions to follow my research would be very appreciated…..

    Again thanks Lise Labbé

    • mrstkdsd Says:

      Lise,

      I did a quick search of the newspapers on ancestry.com, but didn’t find anything. Looking at the 1900 census, it appears the family wasn’t in the U.S. all that long. The only child listed as being born in the U.S. was the youngest who was 5 years old. The 10 year old was born in Canada, as were the others.

      If Joseph died in a steamboat accident, it is possible his whole name (if any of it) would be listed in the newspaper articles (if there were some) so it would be next to impossible to find more info unless you had a boat name to search for. If you have that, I would be happy to do some more looking.

      Sorry, I couldn’t be of more help.

  4. Tamara Langford Says:

    I had two ancestors aboard the L R Doty when it went down. Captain Christopher Smith’s brother-in-law, William J Hossie was second mate aboard the steamer and also lost his life on that fateful voyage. As Capt. Smith was already a widower at that time (Agnes Hossie his wife had died in 1889) both men left behind young sons who were raised in part by William Hossie senior.

  5. Tamara Langford Says:

    An earlier article about the L R Doty has W J Hossie, second mate listed as W J Bossie. Hopefully this can be corrected.

  6. Dawn Says:

    My maiden name is Doty. I was wondering if anyone knew anything about the ship’s name.

    • mrstkdsd Says:

      I meant to leave this info as a reply to you, rather than a general comment:

      Here is some info from ship-wreck.com about the name:

      “The L.R. Doty was built in 1893 at West Bay City, Michigan by F.W. Wheeler & Co. for the Cuyahoga Transit Company of Cleveland, Ohio as hull number 97. She was named after Mr. Lucius Ramsey Doty, the general manager of the Cuyahoga Transit Company, and was one of the last of the giant wooden Lake steamers, as steel hulls were quickly replacing wood for large bulk carriers. ”

      Link to the website:

      http://www.ship-wreck.com/shipwreck/doty/

  7. mrstkdsd Says:

    Here is some info from ship-wreck.com about the name:

    “The L.R. Doty was built in 1893 at West Bay City, Michigan by F.W. Wheeler & Co. for the Cuyahoga Transit Company of Cleveland, Ohio as hull number 97. She was named after Mr. Lucius Ramsey Doty, the general manager of the Cuyahoga Transit Company, and was one of the last of the giant wooden Lake steamers, as steel hulls were quickly replacing wood for large bulk carriers. ”

    Link to the website:

    http://www.ship-wreck.com/shipwreck/doty/

  8. Tamara Langford Says:

    Wonder if anyone was aware that Captain Christopher Smith’s grandson lives in Michigan. He’d remarried after his first wife died and with his second wife had twin girls Olivette and Jeanette (after the boat in tow) who never really got to know their father due to fateful demise of the L R Doty. Smith’s grandson however does know the story.

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