Cleveland, OH Steamer G P GRIFFITH Fire, Jun 1850

Burning of the G P Griffith

MORE INCIDENTS. --- The following interesting incidents connected with the late disaster we found in the Detroit Tribune of Saturday;
MR. STEBBINS. --- We learn from some of the passengers, that MR. STEBBINS, of Maumee, the first engineer, was perhaps the most useful man in the terrible times on the Griffith. He stood by his post till the last moment possible. When she stuck, he immediately swam to the shore, being a man of great physical vigor, he was the first on land, and accidently fell in with a small skiff on the beach, which he instantly launched, and put off in, to the burning wreck. He picked up and brought to shore three loads, which constitute a large portion of the saved.

CAUSE OF THE FIRE. --- The only explanation we have heard of the origin of the fire, is the statement that the tanks for water, around the pipes where they pass through the decks, were dry, the water having been drawn of some ten days since, for some cause not stated.

REMARKABLE INCIDENT. --- Among the saved was a German child; a child of some of the emigrants only about three years old. His cloths was entirely dry; and our informant supposed the skiff picked it upon some float. The infant has no father, mother, brother, sister, friend or acquaintance, or any other person that knows who he is or from whence he came.

REMARKABLE. --- D. H. REED, of Belefountaine, took off his coat and boots, dropped himself from the bow of the Griffith, just as she struck the sand bar and swam to the shore, near half a mile. He never before having swam ten feet in his life, not knowing that he was capable of smimming[sic] one rod. He thought to himself if others could swim, there was no reason why he could not. He made the effort, and succeeded beyond all his expectations. The incident above shows what coolness and decision will do for a man at such a time. MR. REED lost $112 from his vest pocket, and had the good fortune to have it picked up floating near the shore.

COOLNESS. --- A man by the name of S. COOPER, who from his appearance, we should call a Scotchman, just from Scotia, had in his care a young woman named MARY MURRY, and a girl about 12 years old. When he awoke and got dressed, after the alarm, the girl was missing and by dilligent[sic] search he was unable to find her. After the boat struck, and all hope of remaining longer on board was over he took off his thick coat and put on a linen one, threw MISS MARY overboard, and jumped in after her and swam with her to a float sufficient to support her at a distance from the fire, and then started for shore himself, confident the young lady would be safe till a small boat could come of. Reflecting that he was liable to the headache if he remained in the sun without it, he deliberately swam back to the burning boat, found his hat, (a white round crowned wool hat,) and then swam ashore. Very soon after he reached the shore, MR. STEBBINS arrived with his first skiff load containing MISS MURRY.

A WHOLE FAMILY DROWNED. --- Yesterday a brother and sister aged 21 and 18, were recovered from the wreck. They proved to be two, of a family of nine, who left the province of Lorainne and a residence on the Mosolle for a home among strangers, and found instead a grave. Upon one of the bodies was found the Mayor's certificate that they were good citizens, leaving for America. Not one was saved.

SAD CASE. --- An insane man was taken charge of by the authorities yesterday, nearly naked, and in a most pitiable condition. In a lucid moment he gave his name as BENJAMIN BOTSFORD, of Michigan, stated that he was on board the Griffith, and had lost his wife and six children. He gave the names of his wife and three children, and became raving again. He has been as kindly provided for as the poor public provision for such unfortunates will permit.

The Erie Observer Pennsylvania 1850-06-29


reamins of Victiums

According to Website "The History of Willowick, Ohio" about 100 victiums were recovered and buried on a bluff-bit site was erorded in the 1920's
See Also online article Griffith Disaster Burial Ground (Kennedy Farm) (extinct) Lake County Genealogical Society (Ohio)

Burning of the Griffith

Burning of the Griffith. - The navigation season of 1850 was long remembered as the most disastrous in loss of life that had yet been recorded. By the burning of the steamer G. P. Griffith of Chagrin, 20 miles east of Cleveland, June 17, 286 lives were lost, one of the greatest casualties that has ever occurred on the lakes.

The Griffith had just been purchased by Capt. C. C. ROBY and W. STUDDIFORD, his brother-in-law, of Detroit, and took her departure from Buffalo on Sunday morning, the day before the fire, for Chicago. There were 256 in the steerage, 45 in the cabin, and a crew of 25. Not a woman or child was saved except the barber's wife. The steamer was about three miles from shore when she took fire, at four o'clock in the morning. When the first alarm was given the passengers were cool and collected. It was thought that the boat could reach land, for which she was steering, and that thus all would be saved. But the steamer struck upon a sand-bar half a mile off shore and then panic reigned. The passengers became wild with despair and a great number of them plunged madly into the water. Captain ROBY, his wife, two children, and mother were of the lost. As soon as the boat struck he gave the command "overboard all," threw his wife overboard and then jumped after her, when both were drowned together. The mate swam ashore and obtained boats, by means of which several of the survivors escaped, but over 100 of the passengers were drowned soon after jumping overboard.

A searching party set out at once for the bodies of the lost, and in a short time the beach was strewn with 100 of them. So closely had they sunk that at one time 8 bodies were recovered by drawing one to the surface with a hook. The boat was insured in Buffalo for $27,775. The propeller Delaware reached the burning wreck and towed it ashore.

History of the Great Lakes. Volume I, Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1899