Sketch of the wreck*
M. J. Diepolder's logs for the week of the wreck
(click for enlarged view)


A Schooner Wrecked near Thousand Island Park

Special Correspondence of the Standard: Syracuse Daily Standard, Aug. 17, 1889

       FRONTENAC, N.Y., Aug. 16. - At 10:30 o'clock last evening the large three masted schooner Vickery of Chicago struck on a shoal off Rock Island light house, just opposite Thousand Island Park and after hanging to the rocks for four hours, sank in about 80 feet of water. She was sailing down the river and had to make atack to clear the light house, but missed in coming about and went onto the rocks.

       A stiff breeze was blowing at the time and she struck hard. The captain and crew were on deck at the time with Pilot Henry Webber of Clayton at the helm. The crew saved all their effects and no one was injured. The Vickery is owned by Vickery & Co. of Chicago and valued at $20,000. She had a cargo of 21,000 bushels of conr, valued at $10,000 which will be a total loss. it was consigned to J.B. Wiser of Prescott. Nothing can now be seen of the vessel except her topmast heads.

       Her crew consisted of Capt. Massey, mate, cook and four men, all of whom are now at Clayton awaiting orders. Two ladies were aboard. They were taken off and cared for at at the light house station on Rock Island. The point where she struck is one of the most dangerous on the river and has been the scene of a number of wrecks. The channel is very narrow and crooked there and the current strong. Preparations for raising the vessel are already being made.



Wrecked on the River

Watertown Herald, Saturday, Aug. 24, 1889

       Fisher's Landing, Aug. 23. - The three masted schooner A. Vickery, with 21,000 bushels of corn for cargo, bound for Prescott from Chicago, struck a shoal near the Rock Island light house near Fisher's Landing, Thursday night, August 15. The schooner left Chicago August 5, and arrived at Clayton Thursday night. Here she took on a pilot to take her through the river. Henry Webber, Jr., of Clayton, was the pilot employed. The vessel struck the shoal at 10:15 p. m., and filled and sank quickly. The crew escaped in the small boats and remained at the lighthouse all night, coming to Clayton the next morning. She was owned by J. T. Vickery, of Chicago, and was valued at $12,000. The grain was consigned to A. Wiser, of Prescott. John Massey was the captain and L. Massey was the mate. There were four other sailors. At two o'clock Friday morning the vessel drifted away from the shoal and sank in deep water, just showing her spars. The vessel was partially insured; the grain entirely so. Captain Massey has abandoned her, leaving the insurance companies to decide as to whether they will raise her or not.




Brockville Recorder and Times, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 1889

       The sinking of Chicago schooner Vickery near Alexandria Bay came near being the cause of a tragedy. Captain Massey, though he has traveled the St. Lawrence a dozen times, owing to so many lights in island cottages, thought it best to go to Clayton and get a pilot. Webber, an old river man, was secured and had not been aboard fifteen minutes when the schooner went aground. The captain got excited and attacked the pilot with a revolver, using violent language and pointing the weapon at him. The mate, a brother of the captain, instantly sprang for Massey's arm, discharging the revolver and sending the bullet into the deck. The revolver fell on the hatch and was picked up by the mate and thrown overboard. Captain Massey states that he would have certainly shot Webber, but now that he is cooled off, is glad the thing happened the way it did. Pilot Webber made himself scarce. Captain Massey sailed the Vickery for seven years, and the carelessness of the pilot lost her, hence the cause of his desperate action. Efforts will be made to raise the vessel.



*Wreck sketch courtesy of Evan Calleia at Bottom Time Dive Charters.
© 2001, Rock Island Lighthouse Historical & Memorial Association