John B. Lyon

Lost Sept. 12, 1900

From the Daily Sentinel- Review

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Researcher's personal notes on the Senghas family:  Captain Alfred H. Senghas was brought to Michigan by his father Louis to live and were naturalized in 1889 and 1877, respectively.  Many winters were spent in Canada visiting family while the shipping season was closed.  This is where he met Mrs. (Gilchrist) Senghas. After Captain Senghas died his wife moved back to Plattsville with their children to raise them. The children moved back to the US during the 1920s.  


Daily Sentinel-Review

Date: Woodstock, Ontario, Monday, September 17, 1900 page 5


Subtitle: Tragic Death of a Man Well-known Here.




Captain Senghas Went Down With the Lyon in Tuesday Night’s Storm on Lake Erie – Born in New Dundee and Visited Woodstock Last Winter.


A. H. Senghas, the captain of the steamer John B. Lyon, which was wrecked off Conneaut on Lake Erie, in the great storm of Tuesday night, was a Canadian and well known in Woodstock and vicinity. By the foundering of the steamer, nine persons are known to have been drowned. Six have been saved. Mrs. Senghas, wife of the captain, who was reported at first to have been saved by clinging to some wreckage, it now transpires was not aboard. She is a sister of Mrs. R. J. Neil, of Plattsville. Her maiden name was Ghilchrist and her parents still live in Clinton.




Captain Senghas, though was only 36 years of age had made an enviable reputation for himself as a sailor. He was born in the village of New Dundee, in Waterloo County, where his father was a well-known physician. His grandfather is still living at an advanced age, in Germany, after a long and distinguished career in the medical profession. For years he was a physician to the family of the Emperor Frederick. The captain, whose life has been taken in such a tragic manner was his only grandchild and the news of his death will come as a severe blow to him.


Alter receiving his education in New Dundee, Captain Senghas removed his father to Marine City, Michigan. He decided to enter upon the profession followed by his father and grandfather and became a student at a medical college in Detroit. But the fascination of a life on the water proved too strong for him and he abandoned his course and became a sailor. He worked himself up gradually from an inferior position. Seven years ago he was first mate on a steamer which was overtaken by a bad storm near, Erie, Penn. After the rest of the crew had decided to abandon the ship he and a deckhand took her safely into Erie. He shortly afterwards was made a captain. Some years later he had another thrilling experience out of which he came with the utmost credit to himself. The St. Lawrence, which he then commanded, went aground in a snowstorm on Lake Huron. He again stayed by his boat after part of his crew had deserted and succeeded in saving its cargo. When the Lyon floundered on Tuesday night he was down in the hold, letting some water out. He thus had no chance whatever of escape.




Captain Senghas was an interesting man to meet. He spent a week last winter with his cousin, J. G. Wegenast, on Vansittart Ave., and made many friends during his stay in town. His relatives in Ontario are numerous. Among them are: Robert Deeton, harness maker, Plattsville, cousin; John Lindsay, bookkeeper for Whitelaw, Baird and Co., Paris, cousin; W. H. Wenenast, jeweler, Drumbo, cousin; James Miller, piano agent, of Toronto, uncle; J. G. and A. E. Wegenast, Woodstock, cousins.


His father, Dr. Senghas, was drowned some years ago while on a fishing excursion in River St. Clair. He was a very clever physician and will be well remembered by many in this section.


Capt. Senghas leaves a wife and two children. J. G. Wegenast received a telegram yesterday stating that Mrs. Senghas was completely prostrated by the shock. He husband’s body has not yet been found.




A dispatch from Erie says:

On Wednesday J. A. Gilchrist, on of the owner of the Lyon, went to Girard to take care of survivors of the wreck and to establish a lookout for the bodies of the victims of the wreck. It is believed they will be washed up on the beach in a day or two and a careful watch will be kept.


Charles Allen, called upon J. C. Gilchrist, who owned the Lyon. He told of a terrible experience in the wreck and in the water after the boat went down. He states that the Lyon sank on an even keel. When the heavy sea struck the steamer, it crushed in the decks, and the hold instantly filled.


The boat went down in a second. Allen secured a position on top of a piece of cabin, which had been torn loose. He held onto this for several hours, while the sea drove him nearer to the shore. He was landed on the beach a mile from Girard. Many times had he given up hope, but the sight of land inspired him to hold on to the wreckage.


After reaching the sand, he had to rest for a long time until he got strength enough to get into Girard, where he received food and medical attention.


Allen believes that ten persons were lost in the wreck. Mr. Gilchrist does not know how many persons were on the boat. Allen brought the first information that Mrs. Senghas was not on board and that second engineer Brown had been saved.


Image (lyon4_columns.jpg) of news article.

Donated and copyright © 2002 by Nancy Z. 


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