Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks - Explore Shipwrecks - Daniel Lyons
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It was clear the Daniel Lyons was mortally wounded. The Kate Gillett had cut her nearly in two. The captain of the Gillett, Jerry McCarthy, worked to keep the Gillett’s bow lodged deep in the Lyons to keep her from flooding until her crew could escape onto the Gillett. The two vessels remained locked together for about 15 minutes while the Daniel Lyons’ crew scrambled to save their possessions. Captain Holland saved some of his clothing and the ship’s books. The crew saved a portion of their belongings, the small boat, and a few lines before the two vessels separated sometime around 4:00 a.m. The Daniel Lyons settled quickly at the stern, rolled onto her port side, and sank bow first.

Leaking badly, the Kate Gillett continued toward Chicago. The crew of both vessels worked furiously at the pumps to keep her afloat. The Gillett safely made Chicago at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 19, a day and a half after the collision.

The day following the accident, the schooner Skylark encountered the wreckage of the Lyons while en route to Racine. Eight miles north of Ahnapee and about five miles from shore, the Skylark’s captain reported that the Daniel Lyons’ white topmasts were protruding from the water, still topped with gilt balls and flying her new red and blue pennant. Her cross trees were submerged and the foremast had been carried away. Dispatches went out announcing the navigation hazard.

At Chicago, the Gillett’s Captain McCarthy refused to accept responsibility for the accident and blamed Madden, the Lyon’s helmsman. Captain Holland made no public rebuttal, but the Lyons’ crew claimed that their vessel had had the right-of-way and the Gillett’s captain was in error.

It is unclear whether a lawsuit was ever filed against the Gillett, but the Lyons’ owners would have had little incentive to do so. The Daniel Lyons hull was valued at $15,300 and was insured by the Orient Mutual Insurance Company and Detroit Fire and Marine Company for $4,000 each. Her cargo was insured by the Chicago Marine Insurance Pool for $10,500. The aging Gillett, however, carried no insurance. A lawsuit against her could recover only the value of the Gillett herself, which was only one-seventh that of the Daniel Lyons and her cargo.


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