La Petite (1866)
La Petite (1866)
By The Numbers
Lives Lost
Depth (ft)
Service History

The wooden three masted schooner,La Petite, was built at Huron, Ohio, in 1866 by Master Shipbuilder Captain Frederick D. Ketchum. Originally, she came out as a brigantine, but was later altered into three masted schooner. The vessel was valued at $9,500 and rated A2 in 1874 by the Board Of Lake Underwriters. The official registry number was 15100.

December 1866: Lost the deck load of wood staves on Lake Erie.

November 1869: Damaged by a collision at Cleveland, Ohio.

October 1871: Capsized in a gale on Lake Huron. Later recovered at Chance Island in Georgian Bay by the tug Brockway.

1872: Lengthened. Altered from a brigantine into a three masted schooner.

November 1874: Went ashore at Big Point Sable with a cargo of wheat in bulk and corn in bags. The vessel lost her jib, flying jib, forestay sail, bowsprit, jibboom, foremast , main mast and mizzen mast.

May 1878: Collided with the schooner Bay State.

July 1883: Went ashore on South Manitou Island. The tug Welcome towed the La Petite to Wolf & Davidson's drydock in Milwaukee.

1896: Rebuilt.

May 1896: Ashore on North Manitou Island.

Last Document Of Enrollment, No. 73, Surrendered: Milwaukee: September 25, 1903; "Vessel Lost".
Final Voyage

September 6, 1903: The three masted schooner, La Petite, enroute from Torch Lake to Milwaukee, with a cargo of wood slabs, encountered a heavy southeast gale on the Sunday night. At first, Captain William Glockner attempted to stay on the east shore of Lake Michigan, but eventually, he turned the schooner across the lake in hopes of the gale abating, or finding shelter. Unfortunately, the gale worsened, and the schooner began to leak. He tried to maneuver into the port at Manitowoc but over shot it, and tried again at Kewaunee with the same results. In the mean time, he lost the deck load of wood slabs. But finally, the La Petite was brought to anchor three miles south of Algoma.

The distress signal flying from the La Petite was spotted by the Sturgeon Bay Canal Lifesaving Station and the tug, Sydney Smith, was summoned. As the vessel was being towed to the canal, however, an especially large sea struck, and the La Petite capsized. After clinging in the water, the crew and three lifesaving members were successfully removed, while the schooner drifted onto the beach seven miles south of the canal on a shallow reef (Stoney Creek Reef?) at Clay Banks.

By Thursday September 10th 1903, the La Petite had gone to pieces, two of her masts had washed away and her stern broken off. "The schooner German, Capt. Isabell, is engaged gathering up what he could from the wreck." Door County Advocate September 12, 1903. The vessel was also partially salvaged by Dan Hitt and Lee Woodward. Eventually, the wreck went to pieces with considerable debris washing onshore, with the main mast surviving for a while.

The vessel was a total loss of about $2,000 and the cargo at $275 to the owners, Captain Glockner and Theodore Plathner. There was no insurance.

"The wreckage of the La Petite was discovered in the early 1960's by Fritz Balsely of Clay Banks and the site was thoroughly investigated in 1965. The remains lie in about 10-15 feet of water almost, directly off the mouth of Woodard Creek. Relatively little is life of the hull except ribbing and large structural beams. Miscellaneous debris is scattered over a wide area of the bottom." Hirthe

More recently, the Wisconsin Underwater Archeological Association (WUAA) has investigated some of the wreckage off private beach property that could be remains of the La Petite. Parts of the hull along with an anchor and chain were found. They reported that shifting sands are constantly covering and uncovering pieces of the wreck.
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