Milwaukee, WI Steam Barge R. G. PETERS Burned, Dec 1882
IN RAGING SEAS -- A THRILLING STORY OF THE BURNING OF THE STEAM-BARGE R. G. PETERS.
WRAPPED IN FLAMES IN A HEAVY SEA, SHE SINKS WITH ALL ON BOARD.
THE CREW, CONSISTING OF THIRTEEN SOULS, ALL LOST.
Chicago, Dec. 4.
The lake barge A. W. Luckey, one of the consorts of the steam-barge R. G. Peters, arrived here at a late hour Saturday night, bringing news of the loss of the R. G. Peters with all on board.
Ole Swansen, the mate of the Luckey, gives the following statement:
"We left St. Joseph Friday evening, behind the steam-barge R. G. Peters. The weather was very rough. There was a stiff northeast wind and it was snowing thick. Everybody on the Luckey was in good spirits, for we did not forget that this was our final trip of the season. As we got out, I think the storm increased. The wind was terrible and the snow made it blinding. There was a heavy sea, but we didn't mind that, for I think we were in good shape to weather almost any squall.
Some time after 2 o'clock this morning we saw flames breaking out of the Peters, and knew that the steamer was on fire. At this time, as near as I can calculate, we were about thirty-five miles off from Milwaukee. The Peters burned rapidly. We had a long line, and I don't know how it left the Peters, whether it was cut off or burned off. We were in no shape to be of any assistance to the crew of the Peters, as we had lost our center-board, and had burst out mainsail. We were, in fact, only a little better than helpless ourselves. The captain ordered the barge hove to, and we were obliged to see the flames die away and remain utterly powerless to rescue the crew of the burning steamer. It was pretty tough, but it had to be. The wind increased until it blowed a perfect hurricane, and although the captain was disposed to take any risk that promised to help the crew of the Peters, it would have been sure death to put out a boat with such a sea on. We continued to lay to for some time, thinking we might possibly pick up some of the survivors, but we saw nobody. The storm was a mighty savage one, and the water was running higher and higher. I am not able to say how many men went down with the Peters. It was a tough sight to see that steamer burn right before our eyes and not be able to life a hand to save the poor fellows aboard of her."
The Peters was commanded by Capt. CHAS. SMITH, of Manistee, a man aged about 40 years and a very careful and competent man. He was unmarried, but had relatives living at Manistee. The mate was JOHN LARSEA, aged about 42 years, and one of the best known and well liked steamboatmen on the waters of Lake Michigan. His home was in Milwaukee, where he leaves a wife and several children. The first engineer was GEORGE MULLIN, a resident of Manistee, where his relatives reside. The second engineer was named FINAN. He was a resident of Manistee, but formerly lived at Oak Creek, Wis. The names of the balance of the crew are unknown.
Janesville Daily Gazette Wisconsin 1882-12-04