Windsor, ON Steamboat GEN. VANCE Explosion, June 1844
Detroit, June 26th.
Our city was yesterday shocked by the most terrible and mournful accident that has ever occurred in its vicinity. Yesterday morning, the steamboat Gen. Vance, Capt. S. D. WOODWORTH, left the wharf of J. N. Elbert, at 8 o'clock, with a full load of passengers and freight, for Toledo. She proceeded across the river to Windsor, and just as she stopped at the wharf, and was letting off steam, the boiler exploded. The sound was like the report of a cannon, and was heard with fearful distinctness on this side. The fore part of the boat immediately sank, and the aft soon followed. But this was of little consequence, compared with the melancholy loss of life.
Four persons at least, are supposed to have lost their lives. MR. SAMUEL D. WOODWORTH, the captain of the boat, the eldest son of Mr. Benjamin Woodworth, the late well known proprietor of the Steamboat Hotel, was thrown into the air and killed. His body was found some hours afterwards in the river. The body of GEORGE SWEENEY, of Chatham, C.W., formerly employed on the Kent, has also been found. ROBERT MOTHERWILL, engineer of the ferry boat United, who had just stepped on board the Vance, is also supposed to be killed, though his body has not been found. Major A. C. TRUAX, of Truago, one of our oldest and most respectable citizens, was frightfully and mortally wounded, and tho' living at the moment of writing, cannot survive. MR. GAYLORD, the engineer of the Vance, was severely but not dangerously injured, and also two of the firemen, whose names we have not learned. Some 30 or 40 passengers were on board, and their preservation is almost miraculous.
The boat is of course an utter wreck, and her cargo all of nearly all lost. It is of course, too early to judge calmly of the cause of the explosion, but it is due to MR. GAYLORD to say, that he is an engineer of skill, experience, and of the highest integrity and fidelilty, in whom our citizens repose entire confidence. The following statement by him has been furnished to us for publication.
MR. GAYLORD the engineer, says, her steam was low, and not so as to blow off, when she left the wharf on this side, but as usual on leaving port, he caused the fires to be replenished, not knowing that the boat was to land on the other side. But on coming to the dock, he had her fire door opened, and himself raised the safety valve and tied it up, so as to blow off freely. At the moment of the explosion he was standing upon the rail, with his hand having hold of the shroud, saying to Captain WOODWORTH, "that he should have given him notice of his intention to land there -- that the steam was making fast, and he must not stop long," that instant the explosion took place. MR. GAYLORD was blown from the rail where he was standing, on to the forward deck of the Ferry Boat United, and was badly bruised, and somewhat scalded, but not dangerously.
P.S. Major TRUAX has since died.
Racine Advocate Wisconsin 1844-07-09