September 20, 1873. The brig Hampton
, bound from Racine to Fish Creek for repairs, became waterlogged and foundered 8 miles off Sheboygan. The vessel was a total loss. The crew was forced to fashion a raft and drifted for 12 hours before being saved by the schoonerJo Vilas
The following account was reprinted in the Door County Advocate in October of 1873 which describes the loss of the Hampton
in detail as told by Captain Lane.
"THE BRIG HAMPTON. By request we publish the following letter from Captain Lane to the Chicago Inter-Ocean, giving a true account of the loss of the old brig Hampton
, well known at this place:
To the editor. Sir: As I saw a statement in the Chicago Tribune of the loss of the brig Hampton
, which is false in almost every particular, the story of Mr. Hatchell to the contrary notwithstanding, I wish to enlighten the readers thereof, and the sailing community in particular. I will now narrate the particulars which are true, and I will warrant that the crew (with the exception of Mr. Hatchell) will attest to the same: We left Racine on Sunday morning, Sept. 20, between 9 and 10 o'clock, bound for Fish Creek, Green Bay, where the vessel was to undergo repairs. We held a fair wind until between 7 and 8 o'clock in the evening, when she was taken aback by a fresh breeze from the north, which obligated us to shorten sail, which we did. The Tribune's statement says: "They scarcely knew what to do," which is a mistake We knew what to do, and did it shortening sail; we then put her on a starboard tack, and stood for the land; but the wind being from the northward, and a heavy sea running from the SSW, we took the heavy sea on the lee beam, which made her roll very heavy, and the water at this time was about two feet deep in the hold and washing all the dirt from aft forward, which was liable to clog the pumps. The wind canted to the NW, and we went about and stood to the northward, so as to get the sea after us as much as possible, in order to relieve her of the water; but the pump, when we came to start it, was clogged. We got it clear several times, but it would clog again. After seeing the water gaining on us, and no prospects of clearing the pump, we stood for the land again. By this time there was a heavy sea running from the NNW, and the vessel was rolling very heavy, and the water gaining in the hold. She looked as though she might roll over. We got the boat ready for a launch, and had got the stern on the rail (the boat being on deck), and were getting the bows on, when, by some misunderstanding or excitement, the stern was shoved off, and the boat was swamped our hopes gone in that quarter. Being in fear lest the vessel should roll over, we cut the spars out of her (not by Mr. Hatchell's orders, however, for I cut the main rigging myself). The next thing we did was to relieve her of her anchors and chains - that was not done by Mr. Hatchell's orders - and I doubt whether the idea came into his head until the order haqd been issued. The next thing we did was to burn torches, and also to construct a raft, to escape death if possible. Mr. Hatchell's story that I begged of him to use his ingenuity to save the crew, and did not know how build a raft, etc., is all saloon talk around a good warm stove. We all took hold, every man excepting the steward, Barns, and my son, 16 years of age. They were keeping the torches going, while we worked. The story that Mr. Hatchell stood by with an ax to keep the men from launching the raft, is false-for at the time we built the raft we had no ax, it being lost in cutting away the forerigging; and furthermore, there was not a man on board who showed the least sign of rebellion, or refused to do what he was ordered by Mr. Hatchell or myself. There was as good discipline as at any other time. Some of them, it is true, were anxious to launch the raft, but after talking wuith them they agreed that it would be safer to hold on until the vessel was about sinking altogether. Mr. Hstchell was quite sure that the vessel would not sink with anchors, chains, etc., off, and told me when I was hurrying up about the building of the raft that he should not need it, and stuck to the idea until she went from under us. I told him we had better make it, as I would rather be glad twice than sorry once. If we did need it, we would have it. That is how we built the raft alone. Our floating on the raft for twelve hours is true; but when you come to the shirt part of it, Hatchell divesting him of of his shirt etc., it is all talk. The facts are these: I had held a board with an oil coat on it for two hours, in the morning (relieved by George Williams), as long as there were any prospects of attracting the attention of any passing vessel; but at the time we sighted the Jo Vilas
, Mr. Hatchell had been making a change in his clothing, and wringing out his wet clothing that was in a bag, and some one proposed to put up something white, as it might be discerned sooner than the oil coat. Hatchell, coming across the old shirt, handed it out, and George Williams split it up the back and tied it on , while I held the board, and took my turn holding it up first, and was relieved by George Williams. Mr. Hatchell neither put the shirt on the board nor took his turn holding it up. I have made the above statement to do justice to all concerned, and to give credit to those who deserve it; but the idea that Mr. Hatchell did it all and balance of us looked on is a mistake. I doubt vert much, when Mr. Hatchell told his story that he expected it would ever appear in print. The Inter-Ocean's account of the loss of the Hampton
was a truthful, fair one. THEODORE LANE, MASTER, BRIG HAMPTON."
The wooden two masted brig Hampton
was built in 1845 (launched on May 4,1845) at the Three Mile Bay ship yard on the northeastern end of Lake Ontario by the ship builder Asa Wilcox. In 1861 the vessel was valued at $2,000 and rated C1 and changed to C2 in 1863. Her official number was 11305. The Hampton
was one of the largest vessels on the lakes when built.
1857: Ashore in a gale 4 miles south of New Buffalo, Michigan. Released in April of 1858.
August, 1858: Damaged in a gale on Lake Erie.
August, 1863: Ashore with a cargo of staves during a gale at Windmill Point, Lake Erie.
Last Document Of Enrollment Surrendered: Milwaukee: 9/20/1873: "Total Loss".