Back

Darlene E. Kelley
donkeyskid@webtv.net
May 2, 1999
***********************************************************************
Historical Collections of Ohio                    
The Kelley Family Book
compiled by Hermon Alfred Kelley  1897    
And Then They Went West by D. Kelley  1998     (Part 12c)
***********************************************  

Boats that Served Kelleys Island (Part 3)

There were other boats
that served the island.  The B.F. Ferris would bring a load of cattle
for the butcher, Mr Henry Trishman, every few weeks.  The U.S. Grant and
the R.B. Hayes ran between Fremont and the Sandusky Bay ports of Venice,
Plaster Bed, Danberry, Sandusky City to Ottawa City ( later called
Catawba Island).  They often stopped at Kelley's Island enroute.  She is
still in service at Erie, Pennsylvania.  The side wheel steamer Pearl
ran from Cleveland to the islands for several years beginning in 1874.
An interesting side light on the steamboats can be obtained from the
little article which appeared in Volume16 in "The Islander under date of
January 15, 1875;  " Just twenty-one years ago last Friday, the Island
Queen was towed to Sandusky for her machinery. She was ready to launch
on Thanksgiving Day, but owing to defects in the way, she did not slide
off according to program.  the next day being Friday, all work was
suspended. On Saturday she was launched, but the Bay froze up and the
Queen had to lie a the dock till the 7th day of January, when she was
towed to Sandusky by the steamer Ariel.  We have had strange experiences
since that time.  She was sold and replaced by the Evening Star, a very
fine boat.  Opposition became the order of the day, and we had the
Reindeer operated by Mr. Fox of North Bass, which gave us two large side
wheel boats for a time which finally degenerated ( by the sale of both
of them after a consolidation of interests) to a rolling Saw Log, the
Riverside, and finally settled down to the Gazelle, a fast steamer, but
will discount the Riverside rolling.  The Riverside would stop rolling
in still water, but the Gazelle never knows when to stop.  The people
would be very glad to go back twenty years as far as communication with
Sandusky is concerned."   In the year 1872 the steam barge Charles
Hickox was built for carrying lime and limestone from the island to
Cleveland for Calkins & Company, owners of North quarry. In 1878, Norman
Kelley bought the barge or propeller Monitor which served N. Kelley &
Company until they sold out in 1891. The Kelley Island Lime and
Transport Company operated the steamer N.Y. Cowan, which carried lime to
Cleveland and Detroit.  Later they purchased the steamer Desmond and the
steamer Isabelle J. Boyce for the Cleveland stone trade and the steamer
Norma for carrying freight between Sandusky and the island.  The Norma
was later suceeded by the steamer Recor'.  In addition to these, the
company operated two steel barges and a tug to tow them in carrying
stone to Cleveland. During the seventies and eighties there was
considerable fire wood brought to the island for domestic consumption.
Practically everyone on the island was still using wood-burning stoves.
Those who owned wood lots were few and were unwilling to sell wood to
their neighbors, for it was becoming scarce on the island.  There was
still heavy timber along the banks of the Portage River, and the
settlers were clearing up the rich land and were anxious to get it into
cultivation.  Accordingly, firewood was bought cheaply by the captains
of the river boats that ran up the banks of the stream by the farmers
and was loaded directly aboard the boats that could run alongside the
river bank at many places.  For the benefit of any reader not familiar
with boat construction, a description of the several types will help him
to understand these river boats.  But first we will describe the lake
boats.  They were of two styles, the so-called paddle wheel boat and the
propeller.  The paddle wheel boat had a large paddle wheel on each side,
located about midshp.  These wheels were encased in a " house" which
came within four or five feet of the water.  Each wheel had a double
frame and the frames of it were connected at the extremity of each so
called spoke by a board or blade about four feet long and two feet wide.
When the wheel was revolved by the turning of the shaft, corresponding
to an axle, the blades or paddles were immersed and by pushing the water
they drove the boat forward.  The propeller was the screw, set in the
stern of the boat below the water's surface.  This screw was composed of
three or four blades that were shaped much like the blade of an electric
fan. The screw was at the end of a propeller shaft which extended
lengthwise of the ship from the stern to the engine which was about
midship also.  The engines of most of the early steamboats were high
pressure type, and the exhaust of the steam made a noise that could be
heard for miles on a quiet day. The river boats had either two paddle
wheels, one on each side located near the stern, instead of amidship, or
they had only one large wheel at the stern which was almost or quite as
wide as the boat. These boats were flat bottomed and were built to run
in shallow water, and they could run the bow close to the river's bank.
They had little or no cabin, only enough to protect the engine and the
pilot. The signals to the engineer were given by taps on a large bell
that was suspended high above the deck.The bell also served to announce
the arrival of the boat; for at first neither the river nor lake boats
used a steam whistle. As been said before, the river boats made a great
noise by the exhaust of the engines, and as they could not safely
navigate the open water of the lake, except in quiet weather, their
approach was readily heard while they were yet a long way off.
Therefore there was no necessity for ringing the great bell to announce
their coming.  These old river boats presented an odd sight to island
folks accustomed to the trim appearance of the comparatively modern side
wheel steamboat or to the stern wheel propeller.  They, the river boats,
each had an enormous rudder which stood high above the water,as well as
running down to the depth of the boat itself.  This great rudder could
be easily unshipped or knocked off entirely by a wave of ordinary size.
An interesting and uncomfortable experience was endured by a large
company of islanders who boarded the Olcott one December day in 1910 to
go to Sandusky.  All went well until the boat entered the ice channel at
the mouth of the bay, when her condenser intake pipes choked with slush
ice, making it impossible for her to proceed.  After working for hours
in an unsuccessful attempt to clear the boat, a little food on the boat,
and such as there was, was given to the children aboard, for it happened
that there were over one hundred passengers, with many little children
aboard.  It being just before christmas.  The men left the boat at about
six p.m..  About 10 P.M. the U. S.  Government life saving crew from
Marblehead arrived and took off a party of four ladies consisting of
Mrs. Ed Ward, Mrs Titus Hamilton, Mrs. Lester Carpenter and Miss Jennie
Bristol ( the wife to be of Norman E. Hills).  Mrs. Carpenter was put in
to their boat which was mounted on runners, but as the night was
intensely cold, the other ladies preferred to walk and the entire party
proceeded to Sandusky.  The night was dark and the wind drove the cold
air which swept across the bay full of ice, so that the thickest
clothing offered little protection.  Faint from hunger, for they had
eaten nothing since morning, and benumbed by cold, the ladiies were
taken to the first place that promised warmth and shelter.  It happened
to be a saloon near the shore, where a number of men were engaged
playing cards.  The appearance of the ladies at the door occasioned the
greatest of surprises and dismay.  A veritable panic seized the players,
who disappeared like magic, leaving the room empty except for the
ladies,the barkeeper, and Jim Monagan, long known on the island as Iron
Jim, a boat builder and handy man, who showed the ladies every courtesy.
A possible explaination of the precipitate flight of the men in the
saloon is the fact that Carrie Nation was at that time prosecutng her
war on saloons, and it is probable that the men thought the ladies a
party of Carrie Nation's sympathizers.  The fire was replenished and the
ladies made as comfortable whle they awaited the coming of a "hack"
which had been sent for to take them to a hotel.  In due time the "
hack" arrived and the four ladies were taken to the West House where
they arrived about 2:00 A.M. Notwithstanding their famished condition,
they were unable to get food until breakfast time.  In the interval they
went to bed in an attempt to get warm.  Those that remained on the boat
had no place to sleep but, they were fed fish which were taken from a
barrel that had been shipped as freight. Owing to the limited
facilities, it took nearly all night to fry enough fish to supply the
crowd.  Mr. Charley Gibeaut was the man that is entitled to all the
praise for caring for the sufferers remaining on board.  Mr. Gibeaut was
living on the island at the time and was one of the passengers.  When
the life saving crew came to take the names of the four ladies above
mentioned, one of them exclaimed,  "Why, we rescued you once before when
the Arrow went on the rocks off Marblehead."  It was indeed true.  Miss
Jennie Bristol had been a passenger aboard the steamer Arrow two years
before, when it ran on the rocks on its way in the fog from the island
to Sandusky.  There had been little danger but a great inconvenience on
account of delay. On that occasion the lifeboats took off several
passengers, including Miss Bristol.
***********************************************
Ah! there may be danger lurking near, Making the bravest quake with fear,
The treacherous rock where the breakers roar,'Neath the beetling cliff 
that bounds the shore, Yet He'll protect as I dash along, And in his 
strength I'll chant my song.
Onward I'll rush through each voyage, rife  With the malevolent whirl
and tempest's strife  Till the haven I reach to depart no more, or my
timbers bleach on a distant shore, Till then, will I speed my freight
along, And not till then will I cease my song.
***********************************************

Back