Wreck Of The Daniel Steinmann
By James Donahue
Fog was blamed for the loss of the iron steamship Daniel Steinmann on Mad Rock Shoal while approaching Halifax Harbor
on April 3, 1884. A total of 121 passengers and crew members perished in the disaster.
Captain Henry Schoonhoven, one of only nine people to survive the wreck, said he steered the ship toward what he thought
was the Chebucto light as he attempted to fix his position on a course into Halifax, but discovered his mistake too late.
When soundings revealed that the water was too shallow he said he ordered the helm “hard aport, but it was too late.
The steamer struck heavily” at about 9:25 p.m.
Schoonhoven said he ordered the ship’s anchors dropped and the lifeboats launched. He said passengers and crew
members rushed out on the deck after the steamer struck and where caught when the vessel was swept by a giant wave that swept
everybody overboard. The vessel then settled quickly in about 80 feet of water.
The captain said he was near the bow of the ship when the wave struck and managed to grab a rope and hang on. While
there he said he managed to grab a young man named Saco Nikole, who was a passenger. Together they clung to a mast for seven
hours until they were rescued.
Schoonhoven said the Daniel Steinmann had been steaming through fog
for several days before the wreck so he was unable to take bearings from the stars. He said he was relying on compass readings
alone which accounted for his getting off course.
Another survivor, seaman Fritz Nich, said he was at one of the life
boats at the stern and was cutting it adrift when the wave struck and the ship foundered. He said the boat was rushed by a
number of people who jumped into it. Not all of the ropes to the boat were cut and it was pulled down with the ship.
Nich said he managed to get to the jolly boat with a few other people.
This boat got away from the steamer and carried survivors to nearby Sambro Island.
The 277-foot steamer was launched in 1875 as the Khedive. It was
rigged as a barquentine although it was equipped to operate under steam power. The ship, owned by the White Cross Line of
Antwerp, Belgium, carried both passengers and general cargo.