14 May 2022

We both go down together


In Memory of Stephen Gilbert aged 34 years: Also Adolphus Spafford aged 16 years: Who were both drowned Lake Erie, April 19...

The story, according to The Early History of Cleveland - public domain, so reproduced here:

“Stephen Gilbert, Joseph Plumb, Adolphus Spafford, a son of Amos, and Mr. Gilmore, started early in the spring for Maumee river. They were in a Mackinaw boat, with provisions and goods which Nathan Perry, senior, was sending to his son Nathan, at Black river. A young woman named Mary Billinger, was a passenger for Black river. Mr. White of Newburg, and two sons of Mr. Plumb, were too late for the boat. They were to go by land along the Indian trail, to overtake the party at the river, where young Perry had a store. When about half way there, they observed a wrecked boat on the beach, and hallooing as loud as they could, had a response from Mr. Plumb the elder. He was on the beach, below a cliff sixty or seventy feet high, benumbed with cold and very much injured.

“They soon learned from him that a squall had struck their craft about a mile from shore, capsizing it, and that all but himself were drowned.

“They were unable to reach him, down the steep rocks. Mr. White and one of his sons started off rapidly for Black river. The son who remained, getting out upon an ironwood sapling, bent it down with his weight, and dropping twenty feet or more, reached his farther at the foot of the cliff. During the night Mr. White returned with Quintus F. Atkins, and Mr. Perry. They all managed to haul Mr. Plumb up to the top of the bank. As he was a corpulent man, of two hundred to two hundred and fifty pounds weight, and quite helpless from exhaustion, this was no small undertaking. It was done after midnight, by the light of torches.

The bodies of Gilbert, Spafford and Gilmore, were near by, and were taken to Cleveland by Major Perry, who came along there with his boat. They were all good swimmers, except Mr. Plumb, who held fast to the boat after it upset, and was thus driven ashore. Gilbert told his fellows to rid themselves of their clothing, and thus they swam towards the shore.”

“Had the weather and water been warm, they would probably have reached it. The corpse of the hired girl Mary, was found afterwards on the shore west of the wreck, and was buried at Black river.

“Of eighteen deaths which had occurred within this settlement, during the twelve years of its existence, eleven were by drowning. There had been no physicians nearer than Hudson and Austinburg up to this time.”-(Barr.)

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