Archive for April 15, 2012

Titanic Tale ?- The Shame of Lorain’s Forgotten Maritime History

All week there have been programs and events “remembering ” The Titanic- it is a story that has touched the hearts and minds of people all over the world for 100 years.
Dan Brady has run the local coverage of 100 years ago on his blog

But as I relived the story this weekend , the thousands and thousands that flocked to exhibits I thought how neglected this little corner of the world and her maritime history. And yet there is another connection to Titanic and the people who archive her – She lies in Lake Superior near the resting place of the Edmund Fitzgerald – The John M Osborne

Source Photo Bob Emerson

The fact that the State of Michigan deems the story of the shipwreck and the preservation of the wreck as important to the history of the Inland Seas and the archiver of the Titanic- Ken Marschall has also archived the Osborne but Lorain knew not the worth of her people to the maritime history………

The story of The John Osborne and those heroes of yesterday in 1884 can be found here:

Suddenly, the Alberta itself loomed out of the fog, all lit up, like a great big factory…”

Fannie Wilford’s terror can only be imagined as she stood with her husband, her children asleep below decks, a cruel ending to such a lovely day as the steel-clad Alberta towering above the little freighter bore down upon the hapless couple

“Tom! That boats going right through us!”

Very Quietly Captain Wilford answered


and almost as he spoke the Alberta struck the Osborn square in her side, slightly aft bursting through her steel hull into the engine room and filling the Osborne with escaping steam”

“Keep your nose in the Gap”

Capt Wilford shouted to the Alberta and the Alberta did.

Had she withdrawn the Osborn would have sank immediately, but at it was there were six or seven precious minutes for rescue. Captain Wilford lifted his wife up to the Alberta then ran along the deck through the steam and was lowered to by a rope to get to the cabin where his daughters had been.

Cora, his one daughter, in her night-clothes had wanted to go back and get dressed but a deckhand (Thomas Barnes) told her there wasn’t time and lifted her up into the rigging. The steward, Mr. Austin (the same man who just hours before has held Sunday school services) rescued Addie and rushed her through the scalding steam holding his arm across his face and keeping the little girls face close to him. He handed her up to the deck of the Alberta and went back through the steam for the mangled and scalded sailors below”(HFMC)

“ Steam rushed from the freighter’s crushed boilers, the air was filled with shouts of seaman and those screams from those who had been sprayed by scalding water.”(Lewis)

Meanwhile the Alberta who had a full line of passengers on board including woman and children.

“They were all awakened by the shock of the two vessels coming together and before they could be made to understand that they were not in any danger they had run out of their state rooms and swarmed on the decks. The shrieking of women and the cries of men made the boat seem a perfect pandemonium. Many women in their fright fainted away and the men too were stunned by the sense of their supposed danger to do anything for them.”(Daily reporter Fon Du Lac Wis. July 30th 1884)

In fact the first newspaper editor/owner ( Lorain Monitor) in this place known as Lorain lost his life in a maritime tragedy upon these inland seas.

Links to Part one, two and three can be found in this last post of the series

“About 3 o’clock Monday morning Mr. Munhall got up to let do down the window as it was blowing very cold. While he was doing this he heard loud cries for help from the direction oil lake and apparently 100 yards from the shore. He closed the window and ran down and opened the door and again heard loud cries for help seemingly from a dozen men. He then got a lantern, called me and we went to the shore, but when we got there we could neither see nor hear anything.”

The party then went on to Whites’ Place where there is a small stretch of beach. Here we found more wreckage such pieces of the hull from 10 feet long down to a mere sliver while standing on this beach a coat washed ashore and was eagerly examined The figure was a very small check and the color was gray. There was nothing whatever in the pockets by which the owner could be identified, and none of the party recognized it.

It was preserved by Henry Snyder who now in his possession. One-half of a life preserver also washed ashore but there was nothing about it to indicate where it came from. We then proceeded to bathing house in West Cleveland where found the canvas curtains belonging the yacht spread out on the beach and learned that E. A. Lawler and Con, Ritter had been found

Links to the underwater photos of the John M Osborne can be found in Captain Wilford Posts. Fanny Gilmore Wilford was also the young lady of the Civil War Letters .
The home they share still stands at 416 Washington Avenue and is currently for sale .


April 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm 5 comments

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