Joseph Bennett of the Town of Evans - Table of Contents

Excerpt from
Chapter 3:"Young Man in Evans"
Joseph Bennett of Evans and the Growing of New York's Niagara Frontier

Spruce Tree Press

Copyright © 2006 by Kevin H. Siepel, all rights reserved

Before winter's chill surrendered its hold that year, Joseph, who had learned to love sailing in his years on Cayuga Lake, and who now had some change in his pocket from the previous summer's canal work, felt the growing call of the water. "Sometime during this winter (1824)," he wrote, "I bought a small vessel, the sloop Ohio from a man by the name of Brown of Ashtabula, Ohio."

The sloop was lying in Buffalo Creek, at the foot of Main street. She was a small vessel of not more than 25 ton burden. Vessels on the lake are all small. Over 50 tons burden is considered too large for the trade, average size between 30 and 40 tons. There was one vessel, schooner 150 tons burden, the Michigan, she not profitable, freight all up the lake, nothing down. There is one steamer on the lakes, the Superior.

In mid-April 1824 20-year old Joseph went to Buffalo, put up at a boarding house, and started looking around the waterfront for a sailor to help handle his new vessel, with which he intended to enter the lake trade. He found and hired a small, wiry Scotsman by the name of John Love [later murdered by the Thayer brothers], a man who claimed to have been at sea since running away from home at the age of 10. Love told young Bennett that he had served aboard the U.S. frigate Constitution in its famous actions against the HMS Guerriere and HMS Java during the past war. Joseph took him aboard gladly, and was pleased to find that he was indeed an excellent seaman.

"Commenced fitting out the sloop," he wrote, "had her fitted out in good condition the 10th of May. As soon as the ice was out of the lake we sailed with a small cargo for Dunkirk and Portland."

This first of Joseph's trips on the Ohio was to prove memorable.

After discharging our freight took in part of a load of Pot. [potash] and Pearl Ash and a family, man, wife and children, for Buffalo. We sailed from Portland, one evening, about sundown, with a very heavy south wind. About 11 o'clock, just off Dunkirk a terrible gale struck us. We saw it coming, just had time to take in our main sail, were running under light canvas. The jib went, like a piece of brown paper. For a short time we scud before the wind. About one o'clock we laid the vessel to and lashed ourselves to the quarter rail. John Love lashed by the side of me. The sea very high and washed us severely. The little vessel behaved beautifully.

The passengers had remained in the sloop's small cabin throughout. "They were terribly frightened," said Joseph,

and not without cause or reason. It was really a frightful time. At daylight were about fifteen miles out of Buffalo. We then set the flying jib and wore away before the wind, it blowing right into Buffalo. When we arrived in a short time all right, our little vessel proved to be a splendid sea craft.

Being responsible for the now potentially damaged cargo, Joseph, prior to "breaking bulk," entered a protest before Stephen G. Austin, Justice of the Peace and Notary Public, describing the circumstances over which he had had no control. But, to his relief, "after opening the hatches, found the cargo all right, no damage done."

Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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