Ship "Henry Clay" History, Great Lakes Shipping 

Copyright February 1998 by Jean Loehde. This copy contributed for use in the GLS - Downward Bound Archives. 

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Henry Clay 
1. Steamer 348 ton Built Black Rock 1825 Broken up (no date) 
2. Schooner Capsized near Port Dalhousie 1831, several lives lost 
3. Prop 315 ton built Dexter 1845 wrecked near Long Point 1851. 16 lives lost 
4. Schooner 59 ton lost off Ashtabula, 1851. Page 394. 

In 1820 there were only four steamers on the Great Lakes---- during the next decade 8 steamers were built on the Great Lakes---came out of Buffalo in 1826, the Henry Clay. 

Page 606. Mckenny's trip up the Lakes. An interesting series of letters describing a trip up the Great Lakes during the summer of 1826, was written by Thomas L. Mckenny, of the Indian Department, while on his way to Fond du Lac to negotiate the treaty with the Chippewa Indians. Writing from Detroit, June 16, 1826, he says, " I arrived at this place this morning, after an agreeable passage from Buffalo of 37 hours, exclusive of the time lost in stopping at the Grand River, Cleveland, Sandusky, etc., to put out and take in passengers- a distance of 330 miles. It is due to the Henry Clay, in which I made my first Lake voyage, that I should speak of her as being one of the first class. She is schooner rigged, and has a depth and beams suited to the use of sails, when these are needed, and her timbers are stout and well put together, that she might endure the shocks of the inland sea, and the stormy route for which she is built. In this fine boat I left Buffalo in the company with some 30 cabin and perhaps 40 deck passengers, the latter chiefly emigrants from New York and the New England states, to this territory, and three Indians. A word about Lake Erie. I knew its length, its breadth and depth, and yet I confess I had no more correct conceptions of the lake as it appeared to me than if I had never had the slightest acquaintance with its dimensions. All my previous conception of a lake fell so far short of its actual vastness and ocean like appearance, as to be wholly absorbed in the view of it. I could not but wonder what my opinion of the lakes will be, after I have seen and navigated Huron and Lake Superior. Lake Erie, though considerably smaller than either, is a vast sea, and often more stormy, and even more dangerous than the ocean itself." "It is hardly possible for anything to exceed in beauty the river Detroit, and its shores and islands. The British schooner, the Wellington, was lying at Malden, full of British soldiers, destined, we were informed, to Drummond's Island." "The steamboats Superior and Henry Clay are surpassed by few, if any, either in size or beauty of model, or in the style in which they are built and furnished." 

Page 608. Other events of 1826. August 1: The steamer Henry Clay damaged on Lake Erie by the breaking of her shaft. Page 608. Trip to Greenbay. The steamer Henry Clay made a trip to Greenbay in June 1827, and was the third steamer to visit Lake Michigan waters. On her return voyage she had as passengers Generals Scott and Brady, with other U.S. officials. 

Page 612. April 1831. Schooner Henry Clay, in command of Captain Brown, driven ashore at Maumee Bay 

Page 612. July: Schooner Henry Clay, bound from Oswego to Cleveland, capsized near Port Dalhousie. 1832 Blackhawks War, and Cholera. The year 1832 was notable in lake history for the transprtation of troops to Chicago to quell Blackhawk's war and for the simultaneous and destructive breaking out of cholera. In 1832 the first steamboat visited Chicago. There were few traces of civilization after passing the straits of Mackinac, not a single village, town or city being in the whole distance. Four steamers, the Henry Clay, Superior, Sheldon Thompson, and William Penn, were chartered by the United States Government for the purpose of transporting troops, provisions, etc., to Chicago during the Blackhawk War; owing to the fearful ravenges made by the breaking out of the Asiatic Cholera among the troops and crews on board, two of these boats, the Henry Clay and the Superior, were compelled to abandon their voyage, proceeding no further than Fort Gratiot. On the Henry Clay nothing like discipline could be maintained. As soon as the steamer came to the dock each man sprang to the shore, hoping to escape from a scene so terrifying and appalling. Some fled to the woods, some to the fields, while others lay down in the streets, and under the covert of the river bank, where most of them died, unwept and alone. On the Sheldon Thompson, commanded by Capt. A. Walker, with General Scott aboard, 88 deaths occurred from the pestilence. Not one officer of the army nor any officer of the boat was attacked with such violence as to result in death, though nearly one-fourth of the crew fell prey to the disease while on board the passage from Detroit to Buffalo. The Thompson reached Chicago, July 10, 1832, also with the Asiatic cholera. At that time there was a fleet of vessels at anchor in the offing. Some eight days after the arrival of the Sheldon Thompson, the William Penn appeared in Chicago harbor, with troops and supplies. The first visitation of cholera to this country made its appearance in 1832, first at Quebec, June 11, on which date 34 deaths occurred, principally among the emigrants just landed; many had died on the passage. Its next appearance was in New York City, Albany and in Buffalo the forepart of July, and it gradually worked its way westward. The steamboat Henry Clay, on her arrival in Cleveland had five deaths onboard, and the steamer Superior two deaths. The schooner Benjamin Rush also arrived with three dead on board, and like instances were not infrequent on the lakes. 

Page 649. Events 1845. November 5; The schooner Henry Clay ashore at Lake Erie. Page 661. 1851 The most disastrous event of the season of 1851 was the total wreck of the propeller Henry Clay, which rolled over near Long Point, Lake Erie, with a loss of sixteen lives. The Henry Clay left Detroit, October 24, for Buffalo, and on the night of the following day, in a severe gale off Long Point, a part of the deck load shifted and was thrown upon the engine, breaking it and making the vessel unmanageable. The high waves tore the deck from the hull and it floated off with ten of the crew, all of whom were lost except one deck hand, picked up by a passing schooner. The hull was beached near Long Point. The Henry Clay was commanded by Capt. George Callard. She was loaded with flour and wool. Of the crew only one was saved. Page 662. Events 1851. May; Schooner Clay lost off Ashtabula.

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