Waukegan, IL Steamer LADY ELGIN Wreck, Sept 1860

Lady Elgin In Port Lady Elgin historical marker.jpg Lady Elgin etching of disaster.jpg Lady Elgin wreckage site.jpg

MR. BEMAN, second mate of the Lady Elgin, stated that at half past 2 o'clock a squall struck us; in five minutes more saw the light of the vessel one point off the port bow. I snug out hard-a-port; the vessel seemed to pay no attention, and struck us just forward of the paddle-box, one the starboard side, tearing off the wheel, and cutting through the guards and into the cabin and bull. We were steering N.W. By W., a point to windward. Our course at that time was N.W. After striking us the vessel hung for a moment, and then got clear. I went below to see what damage had been done, and when I got back the vessel was gone.
When the intelligence of the loss of the vessel with the excursion party reached Milwaukee yesterday, it spread like wild-fire throughout the city. The telegraph office was thronged all day with the relatives or friends of those on board. Many who presented despatches[sic] were in tears, and the most intense anxiety and excitement was manifested in the countenances of all. In the first ward of that city, it is said, there is scarcely a house or place of business that has not lost some inmate or employee.
All the survivors unite in according to Capt. JACK WILSON praise for his great bravery and daring throughout. He was foremost in confronting the danger, and earnest for the safety of the passengers. He was drowned within a hundred feet of the shore. Nearly one hundred persons arrived within fifty yards of the beach, but were swept back by the returning waves and lost.
Up to nine o'clock to-night only twenty-one bodies have been recovered, most of which have been recognized by friends as those of residents of Milwaukee.

The New York Herald of yesterday says:
MR. EDWARDS, who lived for a number of years on the shores of Lake Michigan, has kindly furnished us with sundry particulars in regard to the ill-fated steamer Lady Elgin and her captain. They will no no doubt be read with lively interest, in connection with the loss of that unfortunate craft and her immense human freight.
The Lady Elgin was built in Canada about nine or ten years ago, and named after the wife of the then Governor General of British America, Lord Elgin. She was a side-wheel mail steamer, of about three hundred feet in length, and one thousand tons burthen. She was a fast and favorite boat, and went on three or four excursions annually. For the first five years after her construction the Lady Elgin was employed in the Canadian traffic of the lakes, and carried the mails along the northern shores, while the Grand Trunk Railway, which now performs that service, was yet incomplete, or even in embryo.
Four or five years ago she was purchased by Hubbard, Spencer, & Co., of Chicago, to whom she belonged till the calamity which it is our painful duty to record to-day put an end to the history of her now tragically famous career. When she passed into the hands of the Chicago firm of Hubbard, Spencer, & Co., Captain JOHN WILSON became her commander, in which post he continued up to the time of her loss, and it is to be feared that he has undoubtedly shared her melancholy fate. Captain WILSON was a gentleman of ten years' experience in the navigation of the upper lakes, a fine, off-hand, and vigilant man, and a popular commander among travellers[sic] on Lakes Michigan and Superior. He was also a man of family, his family residing in Chicago.
Since the Lady Elgin became the property of her last owners she has been engaged in the travel between Chicago and Bayfield, on Lake Superior, about one hundred miles from the head of navigation of that inland sea. She used to call at the most prominent ports and harbors lying between Chicago and Bayfield to land and receive mails, passengers, specie, and other freight. This last was in a great measure coper on the downward trips, the products of the mines of the giant of the lakes. The ports at which she always stopped were Marquette, portage Entry, Copper Harbor, Eagle River, and Ontonagon, and on her last and fatal trip she had passed all of these places, and had, therefore, a vast number of passengers on board.
The Lady Elgin used to make three similar excursions, annually, to the one in which she was engaged at the time of her loss. The last was invariably the one on which she conveyed the largest number of excursionists and passengers. It was on the last excursion trip of the season she was employed when she met with her calamitous and unlooked-for fate. It is believed that the Lady Elgin was insured, but this is not certain.

Continued on page 3