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Darlene E. Kelley
donkeyskid@webtv.net
May 1, 1999
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Historical Collections of Ohio                    
The Kelley Family Book
compiled by Hermon Alfred Kelley  1897    
And Then They Went West by D. Kelley  1998     (Part 12a)
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Boats that Served Kelleys Island

A complete list of all
the boats that called at the island for wood and stone or served in
various other capacities would be difficult to compile; but its
interesting to know about some of them and particularly, the earliest in
service.  We know that the Walk-in-the-Water stopped at the island for
wood on its trips between Detroit and Buffalo in 1818 and that when she
discontinued going into Sandusky Bay, that Captain Coit ran a sailboat
ferry to convey passengers from Sandusky and Venice to and from the
island to connect with the steamer.  Captain Napier also had a sailboat,
and made trips from Sandusky to Point au Pele and stopped at
Cunningham's Island.  There are several conflicting accounts regarding
the first boat to serve the island after it came into the possession of
the Kelley's.  According to one account written by A.S.Kelley, it was a
little sailboat with a long bowsprit called the Humming Bird that was
used to carry mail and passengers to and from Sandusky. According to
Addison Kelley the Ben Franklin built at Rocky River launched July 1834
for Datus and Irad Kelley in which he ( Addison ) sailed during the fall
of 1834 was the first.  The Ben Franklin was caught at Buffalo at the
close of navigation season of 1834 and frozen in. She was sold there and
Addison Kelley returned to the island in January 1835.  Mr. Webb in his
account of the adventures of Jake Hay, stated that Mr. Hay went to
Cleveland to Sandusky on the steamer North America, from Sandusky to the
island on the schooner Eclipse and from the island of Point au Pele
Island on the Grampus arriving at the latter isle, June 10th, 1835. He
remained there till the fall of 1836 when he stopped at Kelley's Island
and was employed by Addison Kelley.  Mr. Hay went to work on November
8th, 1836 helping to build the scow Argus which was being constructed
for the Kelley's under the supervision of a Mr. Curtis. Mr. Webb stated
that the vessel was built on a flat at the mouth of the " Tiber. "  The
Argus evidently was an unfortunate boat for Mr. Webb dismissed it with
his comment, " There are many legends connected with the vessel,but as
they are not particularly creditable to the character of the craft, it
is proper that they should be omitted."  In 1839 another ( at the time)
craft was built on the island, near the spot were the Argus had been
built.  She was constructed along  original lines. Her architect or
designer was Addison Kelley. She was called " Number One", an odd name.
for she was not the first, nor was the next boat built on the island
called the " No. Two."  She was thirty feet long and very narrow and
deep and had a fin keel 18 inches wide by 4 inches thick which was shod
with an iron shoe weighing one and a half tons.  She was a deep water
craft and drew too much water to be brought along shore. She was slow to
" mind her helm," and therefore, a difficult craft to handle.  Her
capacity was limited, yet she served for seven years carrying wheat from
the island and Lower Sandusky and other ports to Venice in Sandusky Bay
to be ground into flour at the mills of Mr. Heywood.  In 1846, Mr.
Heywood proposed to Addison Kelley who was at Venice with a load of
wheat, that a steamboat would be better than a sailboat for the purpose
and offerd $2000.00 toward building one.  The sum to be placed to his
credit and repaid by carrying wheat for him. The proposal was accepted
and Addison returned to the island where a stock Company was formed and
the sum of $5,000.00 was suscribed to build her.  The keel was laid
about July1st.1846 at a point on the south bank of the island just above
the division line between lots 2 and 6 of Mr. Huntington's east line.
Her timbers were cut on the island and her upper works were largely
composed of red cedar. She was launched in September, christened, " The
Islander, " and put into service October 20th,1846, and thereafter made
three trips a week during the navigation season between the island and
Sandusky. Like most of the steamboats of her day, she had no whistle. A
large bell was used instead.  She did not go to Put-in-Bay until 1850 or
'51.  The Put-in-Bay people then guaranteed her $5.00 per trip, as an
inducement to go there.  She was a small side wheel or paddle wheel
steamer, so small as to excite great interest whereever she went.  At
one time, she was caught in the ice near Cleveland and when found by the
rescuing steamer United States that set out from Cleveland to release
her, she had been lifted out of the water by the ice pressure.  The
Captain of the steamer United States in telling the story, used to say
with a laugh, that he found her floating on a cake of ice.  The Islander
was built by Captain Dibble,of Sandusky. who had built several other
steamboats.  During her construction, he operated the sailboat Swipes
between the island and Sandusky.  The Islander was run by Captain George
W. Orr.  The yacht Charley owned by A.S. Kelley ran in place of the
Islander when she was absent at Freemont.  The "Charley" was operated as
a ferry on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons, the days
alternating with the Islander's trip.  During 1849 the steamer Bunker
Hill ran between Sadusky and Toledo stopping at the island enroute.
These boats fueled at the Island.  The steamer Forester also stopped for
fuel.  There were by that time many steamboats plying on Lake Erie
between Detroit, Toledo,Buffalo and intervening ports.  It is probable
that many of them stopped for wood at least, if not for merchandise for
the island.  In the spring of 1854, the Islander was sold for $4,000.00
the boat being eight years old.                                     
(to be con't in part 2. )     

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