Sheboygan in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
During the late 1840s thousands of immigrants flooded into Buffalo, New York. Most considered the water route through the Great Lakes easier than traveling overland to reach the farmlands of mid-America. Approximately 350 of these boarded the Phoenix in Buffalo on November 11, 1847, for the last trip of the shipping season.
Built in 1845, the propeller driven Phoenix was among the latest and newest of her type. (Until that time most of the steamers built were sidewheel steamers. The first propeller-driven steamer, the Vandalia, had appeared on the Great Lakes only two years before, and most considered it a very radical departure.) Captain G.B. Sweet was in command of the vessel.
During the stormy passage through the lakes the captain fell and suffered an incapacitating injury. The battered Phoenix entered Manitowoc Harbor November 20 to discharge a few passengers and take on fuel. Near midnight the
After several hours of travel, passengers sighted the lights of Sheboygan, now just seven miles away. Excitement spread among the immigrants. After traveling thousands of miles, they were at the end of their journey.
Suddenly crewmen discovered a small fire in the engine room. Overheated boilers had set the overhead wooden beams on fire. At first the crew contained the flames, but soon the fire raged out of control. The first mate gave the order to abandon ship.
The Phoenix's two lifeboats carried 41 persons to safety, and two crewmen saved themselves by clinging to the side of the ship. All the rest perished. Entire families disappeared in the roaring flames, or beneath the frigid water. Most of those who died were children.
The crew of the steamer Delaware, in the Sheboygan Harbor, saw the flames and set out for the disaster as soon as they could get up steam. But when rescuers arrived they found only the dead, and a burnt out drifting hulk. The ship had burned to the water line. The Phoenix towed the smoking hull to the Sheboygan Harbor, where it settled to the bottom in shallow water.
Many survivors reported Mr. David Blish, a first class passenger, to be a hero. Mr. Blish, a merchant from Southport
Location. 43° 45.125′ N, 87° 42.184′ W. Marker is in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in Sheboygan County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Broughton Drive and New York Avenue, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. The marker is between the marina and the parking lot in Deland Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 901 Broughton Drive, Sheboygan WI 53083, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Home Fleet (here, next to this marker); Bustling Shipyards (approx. 0.2 miles away); Heroic Seamen (approx. 0.2 miles away); Seils–Sterling Circus (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Phoenix Tragedy (approx. 0.9 miles away); Schooner Gallinipper (approx. 0.9 miles away); North Point /Sheboygan Point (approx. one mile away); Revolutionary War Veteran (approx. 1½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sheboygan.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. This is a list of markers regarding Wisconsin Dutch settlers, including another marker regarding the Phoenix.
Categories. • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 21, 2011, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 518 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 21, 2011, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.