Charlevoix, MI (off shore) Steamer CHAMPLAIN Disaster, June 1887




Chicago, June 24. -- The schooner Racine, the crew of which rescued the survivors of the Champlain disaster, arrived here last evening. At the time the Champlain caught fire the Racine was lying alongside a pier six miles from Charlevoix. Capt. HANSON woke up, saw the burning steamer, and sent a part of his crew in a yawl to rescue the perishing passengers. With the remainder of his crew he ran down the beach to an old fish boat, launched it, and started for the wreck. The boat had not been used for a long time and leaked. When about half way out to the Champlain, Capt. HANSON came across a young woman who was swimming toward shore with a child. This was MISS MARY WAKEFIELD, of Charlevoix. She had jumped overboard from the steamer with the 6-year-old child of Capt. KEHOE clasped in her arms. Grasping a broken fender she clung to it, and seizing the clothing of the child in her teeth she bravely struck out for the shore. Capt. HANSON says she is the pluckiest woman he ever saw in his life. When he started to take her and the child into the boat she told him to hurry away to the others, as she could take care of herself. She reached the shore in safety, and when another of the shipwrecked passengers was taken from the boat in an almost frozen condition she took off here flannel underskirt and wrapped it around him. When Capt. HANSON reached the wreck the yawl of the Racine had picked up fifteen persons. He saved six more, and seventeen others floated ashore by the aid of planks and life preservers. Among the bodies picked up by Capt. HANSON was that of MRS. ELLA COOPER SMITH, of Charlevoix. It was found floating on the surface of the lake, and the position of the life preserver showed that MRS. SMITH had worked it down, so as to keep as much of her body as possible out of the icy water. Becoming benumbed and fatigued, here head had fallen over until it was submerged, and she was drowned. In speaking of Capt. CASEY, Capt. HANSON said he never knew what courage in a man meant until he witnessed the heroic fortitude displayed by the brave commander of the Champlain.

The New York Times New York 1887-06-25

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