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Wreck of the Daniel Steinmann, April 3, 1884

From the New Brunswick Daily Evening News, Friday, April 4, 1884.

Terrible Disaster
One Hundred Lives Lost on the Nova Scotia Coast
Special Despatch to Daily Evening News

Halifax, April 4.–Steamer Daniel Steinman (White Cross Line), from Antwerp for Halifax, was wrecked at Sambro last night between ten and eleven o'clock. Ninety passengers and thirty-four of the crew were drowned. The captain and several men were saved. No particulars have been received. Believed vessel went ashore in fog and tide setting shoreward. Another despatch received here says loss of life will not exceed seventy persons.

From the New Brunswick Daily Evening News, Monday, April 7, 1884

Sunk Off Sambro
The Latest Disaster on that Treacherous Coast
Details of the Loss of S.S. Daniel Steinmann
The Captain's Account of the Wreck–Recovering the Bodies
The Story Of The Wreck

is thus told by the survivors. Captain Schoonhoven makes the following statement:–We had a pleasant passage all the way across, with nothing particular to report, and were just 13½ days out up to the time of the disaster. At 6 on the evening of the 3rd what I thought was Chebucto head light, by dead reckoning and soundings bore W. ½ S. by compass, and was thought to be distant 25 miles. There was a dense fog prevailing with occasional heavy rains and brilliant lightning. I steamed ahead dead slow, steering W ¼ S., taking soundings every hour. About 9.25 o'clock I saw through the mist a faint light, which was located about two points on the starboard bow. It disappeared at times for four or five minute intervals. Still thinking it was Chebucto head light, I kept the ship on her course accordingly, the soundings giving 30 fathoms. Between ten and twenty minutes later I discovered that it was the fixed light off Sambro, it now appearing clear and at the same time making out a faint glimmer of what I took to be the Chebucto light, about four points on our starboard bow. The soundings then gave twenty-six fathoms. I ordered the helm hard aport, but it was too late, for a minute afterwards the steamer struck heavily but drifted over the ledge and the anchors were let go. The passengers and crew came rushing on deck and I ordered the first and second officers to launch the boats and get the women and children into them. Good order was observed, and the crew all worked with a will. All this time the vessel continued to drift and drag her anchors, getting nearer and nearer to the breakers, which were quite visible, the sea breaking over her in immense waves. All this time I was on the bridge, but I now ran forward to ascertain if the cable had parted, and had just reached the foremast when the ship again struck. At the same time an immense wave came pouring over her, carrying off every living soul. There was one despairing wail from strong men, weak women and innocent children, which rose above the fury and tumult of the waves, and then the ship settled down into the waters with the rapidity of lightning, so fast, indeed, that I was obliged to let go the rigging, up which I was climbing, and rise with the water. On coming to the surface I found myself beside the yard-arm, which was only about two feet above the surface of the water, and clutching the ropes succeeded in dragging myself on to it. I had not been long seated before somebody came floating by. I clutched him and drew him on to the yard. He proved to be a passenger, a young man named Saco Nikole, bound to New York. I divested myself of coats, vest and boots, in order that if the worst came I should swim to the shore; but the masts stood secure, and we remained in our perilous position seven hours, until rescued in one of our own boats. Up to that time I did not know that anybody, except myself and the passenger I rescued, had been saved. I cannot account for getting so far out of course, except on the following grounds. We had had foggy weather for several days previous to the accident, on the last two of which I had been unable to take observations. Added to this there must have been an exceedingly strong easterly current and my compass must have been subject to some attraction. While on the yard I did not observe any bodies floating past. I think the vessel has the projection of some ledge protruding through her, at about her centre, which keeps her in a steady position, as she sits on an even keel, the masts being perfectly upright. I do not think any of the freight will get out or the vessel break up unless a very heavy easterly blow comes on. The figures I give you are what I suppose to be the correct ones, as my log, papers, etc., all went down with the ship.

Fritz Nich,
the second boatswain, said the weather was bad on Wednesday and Thursday. Went on duty at eight o'clock Thursday night; was foggy, blowing heavily with rain and snow. About nine the rain held up and looked as though it was going to clear up. The captain had been on the bridge two days and two nights. Saw the second mate take soundings at nine o'clock. He reported 35 fathoms. Half or three-quarters of an hour later he threw the lead and reported 36 fathoms–just then I heard the fog whistle. After the first sounding was taken I saw the captain going aloft to see if he could make out the light. When he came down he ordered the mate to immediately throw the lead. That was the second time. Just as the lead was being hauled in the ship struck easily. The ship at this time was going dead slow. I was in the act of calling the first mate when the ship struck. Within fifteen minutes after the ship first struck, she struck a second time with great force and became unmanageable. Then I rushed to the bow to help to get out the port anchor. All the crew had been called up after the ship struck the first time and were now on deck and, with the passengers, were at or near the boats, while I was helping to get out the anchor. From the time the ship first struck up to the time of throwing the anchor, I had been working at the first life boat on the port side. While the anchor was running out the ship struck violently the third time and almost immediately went down. As soon as I left the anchor I rushed back to the life boat and got in at the stern, cutting it adrift. Just at that moment a heavy wave swept over the ship under which it sank. A number of the people jumped into the boat at the same moment. The ropes at the bow had been cut, but not those at the stern. The result was that the life boat went down bow first with the ship, and as she went down I sprang out of the stern and into the jolly boat. I don't know anything about the boats on the starboard side. When I called the first mate I noticed that he put on his gold watch and a big ring on his finger. These were presented to him at his marriage six months ago. But when his body was found ashore on the island by the fishermen they were both missing. I remember seeing the doctor and chief steward on the bridge as ship went down. I was saved in the jolly boat and landed on the island. There was great excitement on the ship after she struck; the passengers and crew alike were shouting, swearing and praying. In the consternation and excitement that prevailed it is impossible for me even to form an idea of the time that elapsed between when the ship first struck and when she sank. I had worked on the Daniel Steinmann for eighteen months. I regard Capt. Schoonhoven as a capable and thorough seaman.

Later,
The captain in an interview this evening denies that an hour and a half elapsed between the time of the first striking and sinking of the ship; also the statements that the greatest confusion prevailed on the ship. He is certain that not quite an hour elapsed between the time he first saw the light and the sinking of the ship. He says there was no panic among the crew, they obeyed orders coolly and promptly. He thinks there were not more than twenty minutes between the time when the ship struck first and her going down.


Recovering The Bodies Halifax, N.S., April 6.–Reports from the wreck of the steamer Daniel Steinmann, up to this evening, state that the wreck remains in the same position. The water was comparatively smooth to-day, and a large number of boats were about the water grappling. They only secured three bodies to-day, making eleven altogether so far recovered from the water. None of the cargo has drifted ashore or floated.

Captain Schoonhover arrived in town this evening. The first body recovered this morning was that of a little girl five or six years old. The body was conveyed to the shore and placed beside the others previously laid out in the temporary dead house. Her features were disfigured, one of the eyes being almost torn out by coming in contact with something. She was comfortably dressed and evidently the child of respectable parents. With another girl, apparently a few years older, these make the only females recovered. None of the women have yet been brought to the surface. Beside the youngest girl in the dead house is the body of a boy about 16 years old, who is supposed to be a brother. One body was that of a man about 25 years old, of medium size and build. It was marked in various places with India ink devices. Near it lies the body of a heavily-built man of about 40 years, with a black moustache. Next is a little boy about 11 years old, whose black hair is thickly matted with blood; the body is clad in a brown suit of good material. Then comes the body of a man with brown curly hair; the face is clean shaved; about 35 years old. The remains of Wm. Lamper, chief mate of the Steinmann, which were recovered on Saturday, came next. Next it is the corpse of a small man, bald-headed, dressed in moleskin pants and vest and heavy cloth overcoat, apparently between 40 and 45 years of age. On him were found the only valuables on any bodies after being brought to the island. In his pocket were found a silver watch, 27 francs in gold and a package of papers. Among the latter was a ticket, for a passage by steamer to New York, bearing the name August Richter, of Dusseldorf, and there is no doubt that this is the name of the man from whose pocket it was taken. The body of a man about fifty years old is laid out next. The 11th and last corpse, so far recovered, is the Steinmann's lamplighter, whose name is not known. He is about 50 years old, with heavy grey whiskers and moustache.

All the bodies recovered are badly disfigured, the features in some cases being so completely destroyed that they could not be recognized by their nearest relatives.

About fifty boats were engaged to-day in grappling, but no more than the three bodies mentioned above were recovered.

Three schooners with diving crews will go to work to-morrow if the weather is favorable. Captain James Farquhar, formerly of the Cromwell Line, will represent the owners of the steamer at the wreck.

An official investigation into the loss of the vessel will, it is expected, open here on Tuesday under Capt. Scott, of the Marine and Fisheries Department.


From the New Brunswick Reporter, Wednesday, April 9, 1884

Halifax
Halifax, April 6.–No more bodies have been recovered from the wrecked steamship Daniel Steinmann. Divers went down this morning and made an inspection of the sunken vessel. They report that very little difficulty will be experienced saving the cargo, and the work will be commenced at once. An investigation will be held on Wednesday by the Government authorities at which Captain Schoonhoven and the rescued passengers will give evidence.

The Daniel Steinmann
The loss of the steamship "Daniel Steinmann," of the White Cross line, at Sambro, N.S., on Thursday night last, adds another to the record of such ocean disasters. Sambro Island is twenty miles west of Halifax, and one of the most dangerous places on the coast. Chebucto Head, on which there is another light, and which the Captain appears to have taken the Sambro light for, was five miles to the north-east, and the ship was about eight miles out of the course taken by ocean steamers to and from Europe. Only nine persons out of 130 passengers and crew were saved, and the bodies of eleven have been recovered.

The Steamer Daniel Steinmann
was an iron ship of 1,785 tons, schooner rigged, with engines of 185 horse power, built at Antwerp in 1875 and owned by Steinmann and Ludwig, of that place. She had ninety passengers and a crew of 34 men. Of the passengers, 14, (two families) were ticketed to Sherbrooke, Quebec, where they intended to settle, the others were bound to New York. She had a general cargo, of which 350 tons, for Halifax, St. John, Amherst, Quebec, Montreal and Toronto parties, were to be landed at Halifax.

The following statements are made by the Captain and Second Boatswain.

Captain Schoonhoven reports:
On Thursday night about 10 o’clock, I discovered that it was the fixed light off Sambro, it now appearing cleared at the same time making out a faint glimmer of what I took to be the Chebucto light, about four points on our starboard bow. The soundings then gave 26 fathoms. I ordered the helm hard aport, but it was too late, for a minute afterwards the steamer struck heavily but drifted over the ledge and the anchors were let go. The passengers and crew came rushing on deck and I ordered the first and second officers to launch the boats and get the women and children into them. Good order was observed and the crew all worked with a will. All this time the vessel continued to drift and drag her anchors, getting nearer to the breakers, which were quite visible, the sea breaking over her in immense waves. All this time I was on the bridge, but I now ran forward to ascertain if the cable had parted, and had just reached the foremast when the ship again struck. At the same time and immense wave came pouring over her, carrying off every living soul. There was one despairing wail from strong men, weak women and innocent children, which rose above the fury and tumult of the waves, and then the ship settled down into the waves with the rapidity of lightning, so fast, indeed, that I was obliged to let go the rigging, up which I was climbing, and rise with the water. On coming to the surface I found myself beside the yard-arm, which was only about two feet above the surface of the water, and clutching the ropes succeeded in dragging myself on to it. I had not been long seated before somebody came floating by. I clutched him and drew him on to the yard. He proved to be a passenger, a young man named Saco Nikolo, bound to New York. I cannot account for getting so far out of our course, except on the following grounds: We had had foggy weather for several days previous to the accident, on the last two of which I had been unable to take observations. Added to this there must have been an exceedingly strong current and my compass must have been subject to some attraction.

The second boastwain [sic], Fritz Nich, says: I went on duty at eight o’clock Thursday night; was foggy, blowing heavily, with rain and snow. About nine the rain held up and looked as though it was going to clear up. The captain had been on the bridge two days and two nights. Saw the secondmate take soundings at nine o’clock. He reported 35 fathoms. Half or three quarters of an hour later he threw the lead and reported 36 fathoms–just then I heard the fog whistle. After the first sounding was taken I saw the captain go aloft to see if he could make out the light. When he came down he ordered the mate to immediately throw the lead. That was the second time. Just as the lead was being hauled in the ship struck easily. The ship at this time was going dead slow. I was in the act of calling the first mate when the ship struck. Within fifteen minutes after the ship first struck she struck the second time with great force and became unmanageable. Then I rushed to the bow to help to get out the port anchor. All the crew had been called up after the ship struck the first time and were now on deck and, with the passengers, were at or near the boats, while I was helping to get out the anchor. While the anchor was running out the ship struck violently the third time and almost immediately went down. As soon as I left the anchor I rushed back to the life boat and got in at the stern, cutting it adrift. Just at that moment a heavy wave swept over the ship under which it sank. A number of people jumped into the boat at the same moment. The ropes at the bow had been cut, but not those at the stern. The result was that the life boat went down bow first with the ship, and as she went down I sprang out of the stern and into the jolly boat. I don’t know anything about the boats on the starboard side. When I called the first mate I noticed that he put on his gold watch and a big ring on his finger. These were presented to him at his marriage six months ago. When his body was found ashore on the island by the fishermen they were both missing. I was saved in the jolly boat and landed on the island. There was a great excitement on the ship after she struck; the passengers and crew alike were shouting, swearing and praying. In the consternation and excitement that prevailed it is impossible for me even to form an idea of the time that elapsed between when the ship first struck and when she sank. I regard Capt Schoonhoven as a capable and thorough seaman.

An official investigation is to be held.

A Sad Reminiscence
On the first of April, 1873, just eleven years ago, the ill-fated White Star liner Atlantic went ashore at Meagher’s head, about five miles west of the scene of the present disaster, w en 575 lives were lost–one of the most frightful disasters that ever occurred at sea. There have been numerous disasters along the coast since. The loss of the Atlantic; the Inman liner City of Washington, at Port le Bear; the Valetta, near Lockeport; the Boston City; the Moravian, at Mud Island; the Cedar Grove, at Torbay; the Scud, at Lunenburg; the Dacian, at Geddore; the State of Virginia, at Sable Island–will all recall painful recollections to the minds of our readers. But the loss of life by the wreck of the Daniel Steinmann is greater than that of any other vessel on our coast since the Atlantic. It is a greater calamity than the loss of the City of Columbus, a few months ago, on Devil’s Bridge.

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