W. H. Gilcher 

Lost October 1892

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From the Cleveland Press, November 2, 1892.
For The Safety of the W. H. Gilcher.
Sister Ship to the Western Reserve Missing
Wreckage Discovered and Little Doubt That All Hands Perished.
The report came Wednesday morning, that a sister ship of the ill fated Western Reserve, the great steel freight carrier, W. H. Gilcher, had foundered in Lake Michigan.

A Chicago special was as follows; The terrible gale of Friday and Saturday, wrecked a large steamer and schooner near the North Manitou islands and there is but little doubt that both crews found watery graves. The schooner John Shaw, weathered the gale under the Manitous and arrived at Chicago Tuesday afternoon. Captain George Dennis of the Shaw said; "We passed through a large quantity of wreckage, doors, stools, windows, sashes, and part of a steamers bridge with the bell still upon it, were floating in the lake. The stanchions to the bridge, which was painted white, were of stripped oak; the bridge was about five feet wide fore and aft, but I do not know how long it was. The doors had glass in the top panels. The glass, of course, was broken out. We could see nothing which would give any indication of what the name of the unfortunate craft was."

Other masters furnished similar reports as to passing through wreckage and it seemed almost certain that the Gilcher had gone to the bottom. The Gilcher had left Buffalo last Wednesday, with coal for Milwaukee. She passed through the straits early Friday afternoon, and was due at Milwaukee Saturday afternoon, but her passage reported at Mackinaw was the last thing heard of her. The Gilcher was commanded by Captain L. H. Weeks, owned by J. W. Gilchrist of the firm of Moore, Barton & Gilchrist and carried a crew of 20 men. She was built by the Cleveland ship building company and was an exact duplicate of the Western Reserve, being 318 feet over all, 41 feet beam and 25 feet molded depth. She had triple expansion engines, two Scotch boilers and was rated A1 in Lloyds Register with a valuation of $200,000.

From Cleveland newspaper November 2, 1892.
Hope For The Gilcher Given Up.
Another Terrible disaster On The Lakes
The Owners of The Gilcher Have Given Her Up As Least- Eighteen men Perished.

The fears that the steamer W. H. Gilcher was lost in Lake Michigan, have been confirmed. Captain Joseph Gilchrist, her managing owner, gave her up Wednesday. With the ill fated vessel 18 lives were lost. Capt. Lloyd H. Weeks, of Vermilion was in command.

The greatest consternation was created in the local marine circles, Wednesday, when it became known that the Gilcher was lost.. Every effort to obtain news from the Manitou islands was made, but not a word could be obtained. There is no telegraphic communication.

The steamer evidently went down Friday night or early Saturday morning when the gale was heaviest.

Cleveland newspaper November, 3 19892

Washed Ashore on North Manitou Island-- Disaster Confirmed.
"Further confirmation of the loss of the steamer Gilcher was received Thursday morning in the following dispatch from Leland, Michigan to the United Press:
"Furniture and wreckage has been picked up n North Manitou island marked, 'W.H. Gilcher.' The steamer must have foundered on the night of the 28th north of Manitous."

From Cleveland newspaper November 3, 1892
Wreckage At The North Manitou Station.
No Trace of Captain Weeks And His Men.
The Life Crew Now At Leland on the Mainland.
They Report That The Lost Steamer Was The Gilcher.
Nothing to Indicate That Any Persons On Board The Ill Fated Vessel Survived the Storm- Plenty Of Wreckage Near The Manitous.

Detroit, Mich., Nov. 3.-[spl.] The NEWS correspondent at Leland, Mich., wires that the crew of the North Manitou life saving station are now at that port.

They confirm the loss of the steamer W. H. Gilcher, and say that pieces of the steamers wreckage have been picked up near their post. Nothing can be learned indicating the survival of any of those on board the boat."

same page column 4.

Lights Went Out- Was It The Gilcher?
"Port Huron, Nov. 2.- [spl]- The Captain of the steamer Waukesha, which arrived Wednesday, reported that he saw the lights of a big steamer go out suddenly as he was passing Fox island. He believes that the steamer foundered. Captain Carzello, of the steamer Westover, reported a quantity of wreckage around the Foxes."

Cleveland Leader, Friday November 4, 1892
Wreckage Washed Ashore Sets The Loss of The Gilcher Beyond A Doubt.
Nothing Further Learned As the Circumstances of Her Going To The Bottom.
The Names Of Three Additional Members of Her Crew Learned- Six Yet Unknown.
A New Straightback Steamer to be Built For The Northwestern Transportation Company.

A special dispatch from Leland, Mich., says: "Furniture and wreckage has been picked up on North Manitou Island, marked ' W. H. Gilcher.' The steamer must have foundered on the night of the 28th, north of the Manitous."

It would not be without precedent if nothing more were ever learned about the loss of the steamer. In 1874, the schooner Augusta left Chicago with a cargo of grain for the lower lakes, and has never since been heard of. Not a bit of wreckage was ever found, but the supposition was that she went down with all hands near the Manitous. In this region, where the Gilcher was also undoubtedly lost, the water ranges from forty to one hundred fathoms in depth, and bodies are not likely to be washed ashore.

A special dispatch received from Marine City, Mich., says: "Five of the crew of the lost steamer W. H. Gilcher reside here, and they are now mourned as lost. Their names are Sydney B. Jones, chief engineer; Peter Schakett, second engineer; Charles Huntoon, oiler; two brothers names Hostler, deck hands. So far as known here, the others on the vessel were Captain Weeks, First Mate Ed Porter, Second Mate Thomas Finley, of Buffalo; Wheelman King, of Chicago; Oiler Thompson of Vermilion; Fireman Faulhaber, of Vermilion; and a cook named Wilson, who, with four deck hands, was taken aboard at Buffalo on her last trip down."

Cleveland newspaper (date?)
Appalling Extent of Lake Disaster.
Four More Names of the Gilcher Victims--The Harbor.
"The names of four more members of the ill fated steamer Gilcher's crew have been learned. They are Peter Schakett, second engineer; two brothers named Kostler, deck hands, all of Marine City, and a cook named Wilson, shipped at Buffalo.

In History. Friday Oct 28, 1892, will be known in Lake history as the day on which started one of the fiercest gales that ever raged over the inland seas. In point of disastrous effect on shipping the storm exceeds any of its predecessors. The loss of life was also very great.

It has taken one week to bring in all the news of disaster on so many different shores where the wrecks strewn. No lake of the chain is without representatives. The loss sustained including wrecking expenses will amount to merely $1,000,000.

The lives lost so far as known were: On steamer W. H. Gilcher, Lake Michigan, 18; schooner Ostrich, Lake Michigan, 6; schooner Hammond, Lake Michigan, 1; schooner Zach Chandler, Lake Superior, 1.

In the case of the Gilcher and the Ostrich, the boats were total wrecks and not a member of either crew escaped."

The Cleveland Leader Saturday, November 5, 1892.
Who Saw The Last Of The Gilcher.
She was Headed To The Sea And Ignored Signals.

Chicago, Nov. 5- [spl]- The schooner Seaman arrived in Chicago Friday, and her master, Captain Duncan Buchanan was perhaps, the last person to see the ill fated steamer Gilcher. Said he: "We were about 20 miles northeast of North Manitou Island and 15 miles due west of Fox island light, at 8 o'clock, Friday night, when we sighted the Gilcher just ahead. She was in our track and we burned a torch for the steamer to make room for us. She made not a move and was lying with her head west-northwest, directly in the wind, and did not appear to be working her wheel more than to keep her head to the wind. We had to turn out and pass within 300 feet of her. No attention was paid to us and I believe that Captain Weeks had already discovered the precarious condition his boat was in. It is likely the crew were at work either trying to stop leaks or otherwise to save their boat."

donated and copyright 2002 Maureen Smith

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