Milwaukee, WI (Lake Michigan) Barge SUMATRA Lost, Sep 1896


The Arnold is now moored in the harbor. Large crowds of people congregated in sheltered spots along the shore looking at the wreck, one spar of which is visible above water.
Last night's wind reached a velocity of forty miles an hour in Milwaukee, blowing straight from the north. During the night the barometer dropped to 29.30. This morning the wind was blowing from the northwest at the rate of twenty miles an hour and the barometer stood 29.46.
The ill-fated barge went down with scarcely a moment's notice and according to the statement of Captain JOHNSON and mate, the crew did not even have time to mount the rigging, after realizing the vessel was foundering. "She seemed to go down like a lot of lead, all inside a minute of two," was the way Captain JOHNSON described it. The captain jumped into a yawl boat, which drifted rapidly toward the heavy breakers. The yawl was half full of water and was being rocked in a desperate manner.
Meantime as the tug Simpson was towing the life boat and crew, making toward the wreck against a very heavy sea, Captain Boutin of the life-saving crew discovered the yawl rapidly drifting towards the breakers, and at the risk of losing himself, crew and boat, he quickly cut the line which attached his boat to the tug and began at once a life and death chase for the drifting yawl and her human freight. After a lively run the lifeboat overtook the frail craft and rescued the single occupant, was was then found to be Captain Johnson. The pursuit of the yawl made with the lifeboat under sail, the members of the crew describe the race as something decidedly exciting, dangerous and uncertain as to the result. "We were continually being about swallowed up in the waves, and every man expected to be buried beneath the waves," said one of the crew, speaking of the trip this morning.
The life boat crew then put about and beat out of the breakers, which were washing over their heads every minute, finally making the harbor under sail.
"The lifeboat was under water about half the time,"
said Captain Boulin. "I never before have seen in Milwaukee, such breakers as those we encountered this time. At times the sea passed entirely over the house at the lighthouse station, and the piers all along in parts were entirely covered by water at the time we went out."
Previous to taking out the lifeboat and crew the tug Simpson made a trip to the Sumatra, having gone out as soon as the warning whistle of the steam barge Arnold was heard, and rescued the mate, JOHN BURDICK, from the sinking barge. BURDICK was found drifting among some wreckage.
One member of the Sumatra's crew had been rescued by Robert Werley, engineer of the tug Simpson who was pulling the man on board by the hair of his head, when a heavy piece of drifting timber knocked the unfortunate fellow beyond reach and he sank before the tug could again get near him. Some heroic work was done in a short space of time by Capt. Casewell and crew of the Simpson, but they, like Capt. Boutin and his life-savers, were working against fearful odds, and were only able to save the men named.
The Sumatra was owned by the Mills Transportation company, of Port Huron, Mich. She had an insurance valuation in Inland Lloyds register of $18,000.

Racine Daily Journal Wisconsin 1896-09-30