John B. Lyon

Sept. 12, 1900

From the Erie Daily Times, Pennsylvania Newspaper

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Sept. 12, 1900


Subtitle: The John B Lyon a Victim of the Waves. Fifteen Men in the Wreckage.


Word was received in this city at quarter to 4 o?clock this afternoon that the barge John B. Lyon with 15 men on board had gone down in Lake Erie, five miles north of Springfield. The men are now in the wreckage waiting to be rescued. Two men walked to Girard and telephoned to this city, asking that tugs be sent to the rescue of the men at once. Erie tugs responded immediately and are now on the way to the scene of the disaster. Undoubtedly some of the men will be lost before they can be reached.


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Sept. 13, 1900



Subtitle: The John B. Lyon and Schooner Dundee, Unable to Weather Storm, Are Lost




All Vessels Caught Out in Open Lake Tuesday Night More or Less Injured. Many Narrow Escapes From Disaster. All Captains Report Highest Seas Ever Seen.


Lake Erie, the most feared in the chain of great lakes, in the olden maritime days, has again demonstrated that she is able to maintain has (sic) reputation, and early yesterday morning claimed as another victim of her angry waves the steam barge John B. Lyon which foundered and went to pieces a few miles west of the mouth of Elk creek, near Miles Grove, this county. The following are missing and it is almost certain drowned:

Captain Sanges, Marine City

First Mate Oscar Colson, Cleveland.

Second Mate George Tyler, Cleveland.

Chief Engineer Willis, Cleveland.

Steward Loskie, Cleveland.

________ Tyler, father of the second mate, Cleveland. He shipped at Marine City about 28 hours before the Lyon went down.

Fireman Smith, Cleveland.

Watchman Michael Webster, Akron.

Unknown deckhand called ?Billy.?

The saved are as follows:

Assistant Engineer Brown, Cleveland.

Mrs. Loskie, steward?s wife.

Wheelman W. H. Braund, Detroit.

Wheelman James Spencer.

Unknown deckhand called ?Charley.?


From the above it will be seen that nine have undoubtedly perished and six have been saved out of the crew of 15. Up until this morning it was thought that Engineer Brown had been drowned but was fortunate enough to have drifted ashore on piece of wreckage a few miles west of Miles Grove.




This morning the body of Steward Loskie was found on the beach about one mile east of the mouth of Elk creek, and several miles from where the ill-fated Lyon found a watery grave. It was properly cared for.


The story of the terrible battle against the fury of the wind and waves is a most thrilling one in which courage and heroism play an important part.


It was a struggle against vast odds and the 15 souls aboard the doomed vessel strained every nerve for hours to keep her afloat, but to no avail. The waves, mountain high, were going entirely over the barge, finally breaking in her decks and causing her to plunge head first for the bottom, carrying most of the crew with her and the remainder began the greatest struggle ever attempted to save their own lives.


Wheelman Braund gave The Times a graphic account of the disaster over the ?phone from Miles Grove this morning. He said the Lyon was owned at Vermillion and had started from that port for Ashtabula with a consort, the Georgia. She left at that harbor and the Lyon proceeded on her way to Cleveland. When she arrived off Fairport the weather became too heavy and being short of coal the captain decided to turn and run back to Erie for shelter. The gravity of the situation was realized and the men were constantly at their posts. The steamer had passed Ashtabula and that port was several miles astern when a mammoth wave broke her in two in the middle. Previous to this all the men with one exception had been provided with life preservers. The captain had one but he saw a deckhand had been neglected and promptly too it off and gave it to him.




The captain?s chances of being saved were greatly lessened by his generous action. When the wave broke over the propeller and she gave her last lurch and went down the crew was gathered together. There was a scramble for pieces of wreckage and those who could not get on a support were drowned. The description of the ---ble ride on the pieces of wreckage was realistic of horror. Had the water been cold none of them could have survived the terrible ordeal.




The Lyon was bound from Marquette to Cleveland with ore and was drawing 18 feet. She had been to Ashtabula to drop her tow and was returning up the lake when the gale struck her. The captain thought at first he could make Fairport, but in this he was doomed to disappointment and had to turn back. He then thought he could make Erie and started for this port, with the gale behind him. When she passed Ashtabula no attempt was made to enter the harbor, owing to the great danger of such and undertaking in the tremendous seas, which were running.


Shortly after this she began to leak and alarmed at this several men were sent below to attempt to check the inflowing water, and it was while thus engaged that waves mountain high broke over the ill-fated vessel, smashing in her decks, literally breaking her to pieces, and she went down head first. The men on deck had been ordered to cut holes in her sides to let the water out, but did not have time to execute the command.


Three members of the crew and the woman managed to reach some floating wreckage and clung to it with a desperation that ended in safety for them. The woman was lashed fast and the shipwrecked party began to drift down the lake and toward the shore.


The first seen of this party from the shore was when Wm. Daggett, a fisherman at the mouth of Elk creek, saw a peculiar looking object out in the lake near his pound net stakes. He was soon able to distinguish a man, who was standing with great difficulty on one of the stakes and waving frantic signals toward the shore. His glasses showed him that there were a couple more parties in the amass of wreckage which was lodged against the pound net stakes. Daggett summoned aid and as the sea was running too high for boats to venture out, a lot of men with ropes volunteered to attempt the rescue. A strong swimmer, named Robert Daggett, managed to get out to the stakes and amid thrilling excitement and attended by serious danger managed to save the people, one at a time, who were dragged to the shore with a great deal of difficulty.


They were taken to the home of Fisherman Andrew Joles and Mooney nearby, and put to bed and Dr. H. E. Flint, formerly health officer of Erie, now of Miles Grove, rendered the necessary medical assistance.


The woman and one of the men was quite seriously injured and they are still at the Andrews home.


The deckhand, ?Charley,? came ashore near North Springfield. He was discovered when some distance out and an effort was made to launch a boat to go to his rescue. However, the surf was too heavy and every attempt resulted in the craft being swamped.


Finally the rescuers got ropes and managed to get the half-drowned sailor ashore. He was in bad shape but managed to walk to Miles Grove, where he was given medical treatment.


Peter Bishop and Deckhand ?Charley? went to Ashtabula this morning and the others will go to their respective homes as soon as they recover.


The survivors all think that the sinking of the Lyon occurred about 2:30 yesterday morning. All seem to think the vessel went to pieces. This view may not be far from the truth, as the amount of wreckage strewing the beach both east and west of the mouth of Elk creek would seem to indicate that such was the case.

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Sept. 13, 1900 page 8



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Chester Joles and Clarence Andrews went out from the mouth of Elk creek this morning to pull their nets and saw floating in the water. At a considerable distance farther out they saw what appeared to be a man on a raft. They rowed out as fast as they could and found that it was only some buckets and other wreckage from the Lyon. They then went back to where they had seen the body, but it was nowhere to be found.




Capt. Sanges? (sic) trunk was found on the beach today about of Elk creek and an examinatin showed that all the papers were intact and in good condition.




A telephone message this afternoon from Miles Grove contained the information that Mrs. Loski?s condition was considered very serious and that grave fears for her recovery are entertained.




Girard, Sept. 13. ? The first that was known of the wreck was when four survivors drifted ashore north of this place. They were lashed to a mast from the wrecked boat and were in an exhausted condition. They had battled with the furious waves for over fifteen hours.


From Fireman James H. Spencer it was learned that the storm overtook the boat near Fairport. The captain thought, notwithstanding the ominous signs of a heavy gale, that the Lyon would be able to make port at Erie.


Shortly after midnight the Lyon began to leak badly and it was seen that the boat was in imminent danger of speedily going to the bottom. By this time the sea had increased so that steps to save the ship were taken with difficulty.

The captain at once ordered men below to try to discover the leak which was filling the boat with water. The heavy sea was breaking over the deck and the captain also ordered that the rail be cut away to permit the water to escape. The men however, had no time to finish the task.


Before the work was well under way a mammoth wave struck the boat. She collapsed amidships at once. It at once became necessary for each person on the boat to attend to his or her individual safety. The men were able to tender the woman assistance, so that she did not go down with the sinking boat.


The woman was only rescued by Spencer and his companions at great peril to themselves. Spencer and the men who drifted ashore with him managed to get the woman to a mass of wreckage, which had formed on the deck. To this they lashed the woman and themselves. As the boat sunk under them they drifted into the open sea.


The battle which they then began with the waves was a terrible one. With the heavy sea breaking over them they clung to their ?rall support while they slowly drifted landward. The woman?s predicament was a terrible one. She nearly died from sheer fright and exhaustion. It was nearly fifteen hours after the boat went down that they drifted to the shore east of her, more dead than alive.


What became of the other members of the crew is as yet conjecture. There is no doubt in the minds of the rescued, however that the others met death in the sinking ship. Spencer is positive that the men who went below never came on deck again, and that they went down to death obeying the captain?s orders to look for the leak which was rapidly filling the ship with water. No trace of the other members of the crew was seen by those rescued after they drifted out into the open sea.


As soon as Spencer and his companions came ashore Conneaut and Ashtabula harbors were communicated with. At those places steps were at once taken to begin a search for those who, it was feared, had gone down with the sinking boat.


The tug Erastus Day at once put out in the fact of the gale, which was still heavy. The tug cruised about in the vicinity of the wreck as reported, but succeeded in finding no trace of the boat or of the crew. After remaining out four hours the boat returned, as it had become too dark for anything further to be done.


According to the story of those rescued the Lyon went down 80 feet of water about five miles from shore.


All day long yesterday wreckage was drifting ashore along the beach between here and Erie, and it is feared that the boat has gone to pieces. Spencer says that she was not in condition to stand heavy sea, which was pounding her.


The story told by W. H. Braund, one of the wheelmen of the John B. Lyon is as follow: ?We left Marquette with ore for Cleveland and ran down to Ashtabula with a barge, which we left. Then we set out for Cleveland, but ran into Fairport. The coal was poor and so we started for Erie to get more coal. The wind began to blow when we were twenty-five miles east of Ashtabula. The sea was running so heavy that the Captain ordered the crew into the hold. The upper deck was leaking so the captain ordered holes cut in the ceiling to allow water to run off the iron ore in the bilges. While all hands were below large portions of the upper deck gave way under the heavy seas and the torrents of water that rushed into the hold nearly drowned the men there. The men then clambered on to the deck and put on life preservers and tried to launch the small boat, but it was too long for the davits. In trying to launch the small boat it was filled with water and sank.?


?The heavy seas had by this time burst in the whole deck. The vessel filled and went down like lightning. The crew were thrown into the lake and then all commenced a terrific battle with the floating wreckage for their lives. When I finally got out from underneath the debris I could not see a living soul. I thought I was the only survivor. I had no idea I would ever reach shore, but after a terrible struggle I did. Once on shore I collapsed and became unconscious. When I woke up I found myself in bed. What happened after I reached shore I know nothing of.?


?Throughout the whole battle with the wind and the seas Capt. Cencas (sic) acted in a very heroic manner. He tried to pour oil on the sea out of to pairs of trousers of which the legs had tied. He threw the oil filled trousers over, but the sea was too heavy to be calmed. He did everything in his power to save his ship and when he saw that it must sink he gave his life preserver to a deckhand.?




The John B. Lyon was a 255-foot steam barge of 2,600 tons, was owned by J. C. Gilchrist, of Cleveland, and was insured for $50,000.




Cleveland, O., Sept. 13. ? The schooner Dundee, owned by the Minch Transit Company, in tow of the steamer John M. Glidden, foundered about eleven miles west of this port early yesterday, near where the yacht Idler went to the bottom. The boats were bound for Ashtabula with ore and the storm struck them about 5 o?clock yesterday morning.


The Dundee lost her rudder and a big sea boarded her and carried away her forward hatch. The crew took to the rigging with the exception of Kate Hoffman, the cook, who was drowned. The men were finally taken off by the steamer C. Tower, Jr. and brought to Cleveland, after clinging to the rigging for six hours.


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Sept. 14, 1900




News From the Scene of the John B. Lyon Wreck


No More Bodies Recovered. Mrs. Loskeil a Little Better. No Insurance on the Barge.


A ?phone message from Girard this afternoon stated that there was nothing new concerning the wreck of the ill-fated barge John B. Lyon, which foundered off the mouth of Elk creek, early Wednesday morning, in the terrible gale which swept Lake Erie.


Mrs. Loskeil?s condition is reported by Dr. Flint, attending physician, to be improved over that of yesterday. She is still very ill and has not been told of her husband?s death, and will not be until she is much better.


All the other survivors have departed for their homes or to seek employment.


Young Mr. Gilchrist, son of the owner of the Lyon, was at Miles Grove today, and in conversation said there was no insurance on the Lyon, but that the cargo was insured.


Wreckage is still coming ashore near Elk creek, but no bodies have been found among it. Two were reported to have been found, but an investigation proved the rumors false.


Old fishermen and sailors seem to think the bodies will drift ashore in the vicinity of Erie, and perhaps even further east. A corrected list of those who must have been drowned is as follows: (spellings as is)

Capt. Sanges.

First Mate Oscar Carlson

Second Mate George Tyler

Chief Engineer Willis

Watchman Michael Nestor

Watchman Tyler

Steward Gust Loskiel

Fireman Wm. Smith

Deckhand ?Billy?

This was the man to whom Capt. Sanges gave his life preserver just before the vessel went down. The saved are as follows:

Second Engineer Brown

Wheelman W. H. Braund

Fireman Jas. Spencer

Wheelman Peter Bishop

Deckhand ?Charley?

Mrs. Minnie Loskeil, wife of the steward


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