The Cooper, with Capt.
Fred Lorenz at the helm, made her final voyage across Lake Michigan from Sheboygan to Pine Lake, Michigan,
where she took on 230,000 feet of elm lumber for the Mattoon Manufacturing Co.
On the return trip the
vessel encountered heavy weather and develop a leak. Lorenz said she was leaking so badly that water covered the forecastle
and cabin floors and the ship was nearly waterlogged by the time it reached Sheboygan
at around 11 p.m. By then a full gale was blowing and the captain said the ship was so deep in the water that it would not
carry canvas to enter the harbor on its own.
He said he ordered torches
lit and dropped anchor just outside the harbor, hoping that a tug would steam out and tow the schooner into safe harbor. But
no tug appeared.
Later that night the
storm increased to a gale from the southeast. Lorenz and the four other members of his crew, Mate William Huhme and hands
Charles Esbach, August Pegelow, Barney Haynes and Edward Ellison spent a terrible night enduring the cold wind, sea and water.
Every wave washed over the deck. By morning the Cooper was flying her colors, indicating she was in distress. The forecastle
was washed away, and shortly after sunup, the bulwarks got swept away. The vessel was breaking up.
By now the Sheboygan
Life Saving crew was preparing a boat and the local tug Sheboygan
was getting up steam, but they were too late.
Lorenz said the Cooper
capsized, throwing everyone in the cold sea with stacks of dangerous deck logs. Everyone was clinging to the logs, taking
a battering as the lumber slammed against them in the heavy seas, by the time the tug Sheboygan
arrived to pull them out of the water.
Ellison drowned in the
mishap, however. They said he apparently lost his grip, or got too cold to hang on any longer, and disappeared in the seas
before help arrived.
The Cooper floated upside
down for a while before sinking.
During its years on the
lakes, the Cooper apparently remained a lumber carrier. There is at least one previous mishap recorded. In August, 1884, she
was blown ashore near Port Sanilac, Michigan, while sailing on Lake Huron, from Port Sanilac
to Drummond’s Island for a load of cedar. The wrecking tug Winslow pulled the vessel