Racine, WI Propeller LAC LA BELLE Lost, Oct 1872


The crew worked hard all night to prevent the vessel from sinking and threw considerable cargo overboard, but all to no purpose. Finding the steamer about to sink they prepared to take to the life boats, of which there were five. Into one of these five of the ladies were put, with a good crew to manage it. The men were, however, tired, having worked all night, with nothing to eat and suffering from cold. When the last boat left the steamer I saw five men left on her. When she went down I saw four of them in the water, and one clinging to a piece of timber. I think they must have been lost, as we could give them no assistance without danger of swamping the boat. Two of the five boats drivted towards Kenosha."

Statement of the Clerk.
W. SANDERSON, clerk of the Lac La Belle, says: "We left Milwaukee nine o'clock Sunday night, having on board nineteen full passengers and two children, with a crew of thirty-two men all told. About midnight, when about twenty-five miles off Racine, the sea running heavily, we shipped a heavy sea amidships, which put out the fires and stopped the engines. It was blowing hard from the north, when the vessel lost headway. The wind swung her round, and the heavy sea strained open the seams, through which the water rushed with such force that, in spite of all efforts of the crew, it gained rapidly upon us, and about half-past five A.M. it became evident the steamer would go down."
"There were five boats in all, two lifeboats, yawl and two small boats. We got all the people into these boats, with the exception of five or six men, who refused to leave the vessel, and who, I think, were drowned when she went down. I had in my boat seven persons, PETER WETLER; M. WARNER and wife; ROBERT FOGG; LOUIS OECHESTER, REBECCA CAMPBELL. We landed six miles south of Racine at six this evening, having been over twelve hours on the water. During the forenoon a propeller with two smokestacks passed quite near us, but made no response to our signals, although I am confident she saw us."
"Two of the five boats have arrived here, mine and one commanded by the second engineer. My boat, as stated, had seven persons in all on board. The engineer's boat had ten of the crew, including the first and second cooks and night watchman, one passenger and a boy, twelve persons in all."
The captain's boat, which is reported as having arrived in Milwaukee, had four persons on board. She was a very small boat. Two boats, with ten people, were seen by the engineer's boat making north toward Milwaukee. SANDERSON thinks that they were picked up by a schooner. If not, they will land somewhere between Racind and Milwaukee. Of the fifth boat, which, according to the statements of SANDERSON, must have contained thirteen persons, that are as yet no tidings.

New York Herald New York 1872-10-15