Sault Ste. Marie, MI Boating Disaster, June 1847


A most distressing accident occurred at the Ste. St. Marie, on Thursday, 10th inst.
A party of citizens and persons from abroad had agreed to descent the Falls of Ste. Marie River, situated immediately above the village, and with that view proceeded to the head of the Portage, where they procured a yawl boat with which to make the descent -- a feat at any time considered hazardous, and yet strange to say, in its frequent performance, hitherto, no accident occurred, ending in the loss of life.
The party on this occasion were nine in number, consisting of Capt. JOHN STENNARD, Capt. ROBERT BROWN, and Messrs. E. G. SEYMOUR, THOMAS RICHES, JOHN PARKER, and WM. FLOYD, of this place; DR. HUGH T. PRONTY, of Monroeville, Ohio; A. SPAFFORD, of Perrysville, Ohio; and MR. WALES, Clerk of the steamboat St. Clair. With this company, the boat started down the Rapids, it shipped a breaker that hilled her nearly half full of water -- at this, bailing was commenced, but a moment more, and the boat having reached what is called the "big leap," (being some eight or ten feet in descent) was by a reaction thrown on end after descending, and all precipitated into the foaming rapids. This catastrophy was witnessed by many of our citizens, who were watching the voyage from the shore -- boats were immediately procured and put out to render assistance to those who should survive the struggle of the dashing waters and reach the foot of the rapids. Messrs. STANNARD, BROWN, WALES, SPAFFORD and PARKER, succeeded in sustaining themselves until picked up by the boats which went out, or by the Indians, who were fishing from their canoes. By the Chief of the latter, MR. SEYMOUR was discovered floating at the bottom of the river, and rescued by means of a spear, with which the chief succeeded in entangling his coat and thus raising him to the surface. So completely was MR. S. exhausted when taken, that for some time resuscitation was considered droubtful; but by proper application and incessant rubbing for hours, animation was finally restored, although at the writing of this
(Saturday morning) he is still considered in a very critical situation.
The other three, DR. PROUTY, and Messrs. RICHES and FLYNN, we are pained to say, were drowned, and their bodies have not yet been discovered. DR. P. was one of the pleasure party who with his wife, were on an excursion to this place.
Capt. Moor of the schr. Merchant, to whom the boat belonged had his leg broken in the attempt to get her back over the rapids.
Lake Superior News.

Weekly Wisconsin Milwaukee 1847-06-19