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Triple tragedy on the lake

Triple tragedy on the lake
County Tales

Fact or fiction??? You decide ..

fishing sloopOn August 31, 1868, two brothers from Port Ontario, New York, a man named Howard from Bath, and Henry Selleck, a Point Traverse farmer set off in a sloop fish carrier across the lake to pick up, a threshing machine. The machine was lashed to the deck and the men waited for fair weather to set off, but within sight of Main Duck Island, a thunderstorm struck and the top-heavy sloop filled with water and sank.

Howard’s body eventually washed up on shore in front of his home in Bath. The two Port Ontario men were picked up by a passing ship and claimed they weren’t too clear on what happened to the other men. No one would ever have known what happened if one of the survivors hadn’t got drunk one night and told the story in a local barroom. Howard had washed overboard, but Henry Selleck and the other two men had clung to the hatch cover in desperation. Realizing that the hatch would support only two of them, they had grabbed a passing oar handle and beat at Selleck’s hands until he let go. The men subsequently denied the story, but Henry Selleck’s body did finally wash ashore with his fingers bruised and beaten. His remains now lie in the South Bay cemetery.

Moses McCrimmon gravestoneSelleck’s wife, Eliza Jane Dulmage, also lost her brother Moses some years later when his small boat drifted across Lake Ontario. On October 31, 1879 ten schooners laden with coal and grain were anchored near Pt. Traverse waiting for fair weather. Moses Dulmage received permission to visit friends on another vessel and on his return, somehow failed to find his ship. His small boat was swept out into the open lake. Three days later, the lighthouse keeper at Stony Point, thirty miles across the lake, found a frozen body, face down in the thwarts, with his legs lashed to the seat. The keeper surmised that the boy had been alive when he reached the shore, but that his hands were too frozen to untie the ropes that held him and he subsequently perished behind a jumble of ice and rocks, out of sight of the lighthouse. Not knowing the identity of the young man, the keeper took the body to Henderson harbour and gave it a Christian burial. Captain John Walters of Pt. Traverse was in Oswego when he heard that the body of an unidentified man had been found on Stony Point. He hurried to Henderson harbour, where the body was exhumed and identified as Moses Dulmage. He returned the body to South Bay where Moses now lies.

As if Eliza Jane Dulmage had not suffered enough from the lake, some twenty-five years later she also lost her son when the schooner Emerald disappeared without a trace on her last trip.

Stories reprinted with permission of Author Janet Kellough from her book “The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County”.

About Janet Kellough

The tragic tales, outrageous gossip and fascinating history of Ontario’s Prince Edward County are all grist for the mill for writer and storyteller Janet Kellough. From shipwrecks to lost love to the romantic legacy of the dance hall era, Kellough’s writing captures the essence of a unique people and a very special place. Visit Janet at janetkellough.com
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