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National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Loss of the Steamboat Swallow while on her trip from Albany to New-York, on Monday Evening April 7th 1845. When opposite Athens she struck a large rock, took fire broke in two and sunk - By which melancholy occurrance, it is supposed that nearly 40 lives were lost.

 

Why did Theodor Fontane use the name "Swallow" for the ship in "John Maynard"?

Norman Barry has written essays on this topic. He has also located a 1967 Fontane Blätter article that sheds some light on this question, and he has provided a transcription of the original article and an English translation of it. To these he has added his speculations on the name of the ship used in "The Helmsman of Lake Erie." These are all presented in PDF format through the links below. Beyond these articles, you will find a chronology of news items relating to the loss of the Swallow that have been gathered and organized by Norman.

 

The Mysterious Swallow in Theodor Fontane's "John Maynard" by Norman Barry (2007)

 

NEWLY REVISED! The Swallow Revisited by Norman Barry (2009)

 

Weiteres zu „John Maynard“: Der Schiffsname „Schwalbe“ by the editorial staff of the Fontane Blätter

 

More about "John Maynard": The Ship's Name, The Swallow Norman Barry's translation of the above article

 

The Author's Signature: The Good Ship Jersey in "The Helmsman of Lake Erie," and the Significance of the Geography of New Jersey in the Works of James Fenimore Cooper by Norman Barry

 

NEWLY REVISED! A Reevaluation of the Impact of the Shipwreck of the Swallow on the Creation of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie:" The Literary Transformation of Two Shipwrecks, One on Lake Erie and the Other on the Hudson River, Together with a Time Frame for Smuggling a Manuscript to England by Norman Barry

 

NEW! A Timeframe for Smuggling a Manuscript into England

 

Chronology of News Items Relating to the Loss of the Swallow

Norman has used red text to indicate instances in the items below that may be related to "The Helmsman" story.

U.S.A.

1a) Tuesday Morning, April 8, 1845, New York Herald: "Accident to the Swallow — Fearful Excitement" (—"gross carelessness of the pilot") Article

1a-i) Attached: A Letter from Livingston & Co. — Steamboat Rochester, 10 o'clock, P.M. (— Capt. Squires' comment on the difference between Lake Erie and the Hudson River.)

 

1b) Tuesday Afternoon, April 8, 1845, Commercial Advertiser (New York, NY): "Accident to the Swallow — Fearful Excitement" Article

1a-i) Attached: Correspondence of C. Livingston. — Steamboat Rochester, 10 o'clock, P.M (Identical to April 8, New York Herald Attachment)
1b-ii) Attached: A Letter from Henry Harrington to the editors of the Tribune. — Steamboat Rochester, 3 A,M.
1b-iii) Attached: Meeting of the Passengers on Board the Steamboat Rochester.

1c) Tuesday Evening, April 8, 1845, New York Evening Express: "Dreadful Accident on the River. Loss of the Steamer Swallow and Three Lives!" Article

1b-iii) Attached: Meeting of the Passengers on Board the Steamboat Rochester.,
1c-i) Attached: List of Passengers Saved.

1d) Tuesday Evening, April 8, 1845, Albany Evening Journal: "Appalling disaster: Loss of the Steamer Swallow." Article

2) Wednesday Morning, April 9, 1845, New York Herald: "Further from the Wreck of the Swallow. Recovery of Several Bodies — Numbers Supposed to be Lost." Article

2-i) Attached: Correspondence of the Herald from O. G. Brown — Hudson, April 8, 1845.
2-ii) Attached: Hudson Gazette, Extra, April 8, 6 P.M.: "Terrible Steamboat Accident."
2-iii) Attached: From Catskill Democrat, April 8, 2 P.M.
2-iv) Attached: From the Albany Evening Atlas, April 8.
2-v) Attached: From the Albany Journal, April 8.[An excerpt of the 2nd & 3rd paragraphs. Cf. 1d) April 8, Albany Evening Journal for the complete article.]
2-vi) Attached: From an Athens Letter, April 8. (— Mr. Earnest of Cooperstown; Miss Wood: "When [her body was] found, she had a book clutched in her hand.")

3) Friday, April 11, 1845, Albany Evening Atlas: "The Scene of the Wreck." (Strong argument for culpability of pilot presented) Article

3-i) Attached: Chart of the Hudson channel at the site of the wreck
3-ii) Attached: Hudson Gazette, April 9.

4) Saturday, April 12, 1845, The Weekly Herald: "Wreck of the Steamboat Swallow. Many Lives Lost." (— Cf. p. 6 of transcript: "strong-hearted ruffian") Article

4-i) Attached: Illustration of the wreck
1a-i) Attached: A letter from C. Livingston & Co. — Steamboat Rochester, 10 o'clock, P.M.
1b-iii) Attached: Meeting of the Passengers on Board the Steamboat Rochester.,
1c-i) Attached: List of Passengers Saved.
2-ii) Attached: Hudson Gazette, Extra, April 8, 6 P.M.: "Terrible Steamboat Accident."
2-iii) Attached: From Catskill Democrat, April 8, 2 P.M.
2-iv) Attached: From the Albany Evening Atlas, April 8.
2-v) Attached: From the Albany Journal, April 8.]
2-vi) Attached: From an Athens Letter, April 8.)
3-ii) Attached: Hudson Gazette, April 9.
4-iii) Attached: Albany Evening Journal, April 9"At this moment a fireman rushed from the boiler room and gave the cry of 'fire.'"
4-iv) Attached: Columbian Republican, April 9?.

5) Monday, April 14, 1845, New York Herald: (Cf. William Burnett, pilot of the Swallow) Article

5-i) Attached: From the Albany Journal, April 12.
5-ii) Attached: From the Albany Advertiser, April 12.

6) Saturday, April 19, 1845, The Evening Post (New York, NH): (Cf. Judge Nelson & Wm. Burnett) Article

6-i) Separate: Albany Argus, April 11, 1845. "U.S. Circuit Court, Judge Nelson presiding, will open today."
6-ii) Separate: Daily Richmond Enquirer, February 27, 1845. "Appointments by the President."
6-iii) Separate: Commercial Advertiser, April 22, 1845. "Burnett arrested / bail."
6-iv) Separate: True Sun, April 14, 1846. "The Case of the Swallow / Burnett not guilty."

7) Tuesday, April 22, 1845, Albany Argus: "The Pilot of the Swallow" (Wm. Burnett / Grand Jury: "indictment charges") Article

8) Thursday, May 1, 1845, Indiana State Sentinel: "Nobody to Blame!" (Irony applied to blame everyone.") Article

9) Monday, May 5, 1845, New York Herald: "Further Particulars of the Swallow." (The barge named De Witt Clinton) Article

10) Wednesday, May 7, 1845, American Republican and Baltimore Daily Clipper: "The Swallow." (Quotation — "The De Witt Clinton, while being employed at this work, stove a hole in her bottom, and went down alongside the Swallow.") Article

11) Wednesday, May 7, 1845, Ohio Observer: (Body count: 14) Article

12) Wednesday, May 7, 1845, Rockford Forum [From the Boston Atlas]: "The Loss of the Steamer Swallow." (Cf. "The rescue of Miss Cornelia Platt, of Detroit — with 'Helmsman' elements.") Article

13) Thursday, May 8, 1845, Pittsfield Sun [From the Boston Atlas]: Domestic — "The Wreck of the Swallow." (Cf. The barge De Witt Clinton) Article

14) Wednesday, June 4, 1845, Milwaukie [sic] Sentinel: (Cf. Captain Abraham H. Squires of the Swallow and his role in rescuing victims of the Erie conflagration while in command of the De Witt Clinton Steamboat — No bodies found in the vessel.) Article

15) Wednesday, June 4, 1845, Cleveland Weekly Plain Dealer: ( No bodies found in the vessel.) Article

16) [Possible epilogue on William Burnett — William Burnett's age at the time of the Swallow disaster remains a mystery. That "William Burnett" in the following two articles and the pilot of the Swallow are one and the same is alluded to in the following article: http://hudsonriverzeitgeist.com/home/2016/7/16/the-wreck-of-the- steamboat-swallow]

Friday, March 30, 1855, Boston Evening Transcript: (William Burnett acquits two accused pilots.)

Tuesday, September 15, 1874, Cincinnati Daily Gazette: (Wm. Burnett: New Supervising Steamboat Inspector.) Article

UK

1) Friday, May 2, 1845, The Globe and Traveller (London, England): "Dreadful Steam-Boat Disaster" Article

1-i) Attached: Additional Particulars from Cl Pratt, Esq."
1-ii) Attached: Passengers Lost or Missing."

2) Tuesday, May 6, 1845, The Belfast News-Letter. Excerpt from the New York [Weekly] Herald, April 12. : "Wreck of the Steamboat Swallow" Article

3) Thursday, May 8, 1845, The Morning Chronicle., (London, England): "Some further particulars" ( — Wm. Burnett) Article

4) Saturday, May 17, 1845, The Illustrated London News, (London, England): "Wreck of the American Steamer 'Swallow'." Article

4-i) Attached: Illustration of the wreck"

5) Wednesday, May 21, 1845, Dumfries and Galloway Standard, (Scotland): "Affecting Incident" — "An elegantly bound volume which she [= Miss Wood] had grasped firmly in the agonies of death." Article


 

 

 

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