Racine, WI Boat Foundering, Oct 1872


Foundering of the Propeller Lac la Belle on Lake Michigan.

The Passengers and Crew Drift in Five Open Boats.

Three Boats Make the Land at Racine, Wisconsin.

MILWAUKEE, Wis., Oct. 14. - A private dispatch from Racine, Wis., says that a boat, with eleven men, had just arrived there from the propeller Lac la Belle, which foundered about twenty miles off that place this morning. The passengers by the boat think that all the boats are safe, and but few, if any, lives lost. The Lac la Belle belonged to the Engelmann Transportation Company.

LATER. - Another private dispatch from Racine says that another boat from the Lac la Belle has arrived, including the Captain, H. W. Thompson, and the Purser, William Sanderson. Four or five boat-loads and one raft left the wreck. Two of the boats started to the southward, one to the northward, and the course of the others is unknown. One of the boats was filled principally with ladies. The vessel sprung a leak at 12 midnight, and went down at 2 P. M. She was heavily laden with flour, grain, and pork.

The New York Times, New York, NY 15 Oct 1872
Another of the Lac la Belle Boats Safe.

MILWAUKEE, Oct. 14. - A despatch [sic] from Racine, dated 10 o'clock to-night, says another boat with persons saved from the wreck of the Lac la Belle has come ashore all right. The names of those on board are Peter Weller, Mr. Warren and wife, Robert Fogg, Louis Ochstein, Beckey Campbell, the chamber-maid, and Will Sanderson. The names of those on the two boats, whose arrival was previously reported, could not be ascertained. There are two boats yet to hear from. No list of the names of the steamer's passengers is registered on land. The other boats have probably come ashore out of reach of the telegraph. The report that some of the passengers embarked on a raft is erroneous.

The second engineer of the Lac la Belle, who was in one of the boats which has arrived here, gives the following account of the disaster: They left Milwaukee at 9 o'clock last night. About midnight the steamer sprung a leak and made water rapidly. There were about twenty-five passengers on board including seven ladies and three children. 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 to swamping the boat. Two of the five boats drifted toward Kenosha.

The New York Times, New York, NY 15 Oct 1872