Still Missing From 1873: The Gilbert Mollison Schooner

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Gilbert Morrison
Photo Credit: Michigan Mysteries

The 138 foot schooner Gilbert Morrison disappeared somewhere in the Manitou Passage in 1873 during a storm. According to newspapers of the day, she lies near the Manitou Islands. The following newspaper articles of the era give details of her disappearance. The Oswego Palladium published this article Friday, November 7, 1873.

The Missing Vessel

As of this writing there is no intelligence as to the whereabouts of the schooner “GILBERT MOLLISON,” and in the minds of many there is a growing uneasiness that more than the loss of canvass or spars has happened to the vessel. There have been instances where vessels were out from Chicago as long as the Mollison has been, and afterward they have turned up all right. Two or three years ago the schooner ADIRONDACK was unheard from for two weeks after leaving Chicago, and fears wee entertained that she had gone down with all hands, but she was found at anchor on Lake Huron, dismasted, shortly after, and towed through to Ogdensburg, her destination.

This morning a cunning chap started a story that he was told by a gentleman who arrived from Detroit, that the captain of the schooner HENRY FITZHUGH saw the MOLLISON on Lake Huron, dismasted and at anchor. After some little time our reporter found that gentleman from Detroit, and learned from him that he had brought no such news, and had not heard anything about the MOLLISON until his arrival here. The story, as near as we can learn, originated in the fertile brain of the smart young man. Mr. E. Mitchell, one of the owners of the MOLLISON, is at present in Detroit and is doing everything in his power to learn the whereabouts of the schooner.

A few days later, the following article appeared in the Oswego Palladium, dated November 10, 1873, finally accepting the the vanished schooner’s fate.

Two weeks ago last Saturday afternoon the schooner GILBERT MOLLISON, Captain Joel A. Turner, left Chicago for this port with 20,022 bushels of corn, and since that time nothing has been heard of her whereabouts. Several Oswego vessels left at the same time the Mollison did, and all of them have arrived at this port. Mr. E. Mitchell, one of the owners, has returned from Detroit, unable to hear a word from the vessel, and now entertains the worst fears. The gale in which it is feared she was lost was the worst ever experienced on Lake Michigan, bursting upon the vessels without much warning, two weeks ago tomorrow morning. The wind came from the northeast, strong and fearful, accompanied with blinding snow, and continued for two days, driving vessels before it onto reefs and shoals, to harbors of refuge and some, to the bottom of the lake. “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick,” and so it has been with all who have friends and relatives on the MOLLISON. Day after day they have looked for tidings of the missing vessel; awaiting for the morrow to bring something that never came, and at last have brought to look stern reality in the face. If the MOLLISON has gone, she has taken with her as good men as ever trod the deck of a vessel.

Thanks to Ross Richardson of Michigan Mysteries.

Ross’s Latest Quote

I think its the Mollison. I looked a little in the area of her last known position (LKP) this summer, (2022) but need to spend more time out there. I think she will be found in the next decade.

About Ross Richardson

Richardson is a certified technical SCUBA diver who has helped to uncover, identify, and document numerous shipwrecks in Lake Michigan. For many years, he worked as a public safety diver for the Benzie Area Public Safety Dive Team and as a Special Deputy for the Benzie County Sheriff’s Department.

“The Search for the Westmoreland: Lake Michigan’s Treasure Shipwreck” and “Still Missing: Rethinking the D.B. Cooper Case and Other Mysterious Unsolved Disappearances” are two of Richardson’s published books. He also gives talks about Great Lakes maritime history at libraries and historical societies throughout the Great Lakes Region, and his website Michigan Mysteries is well-known.

He and his wife, son, and retired racing greyhound, Claire, live in Lake Ann, Michigan.

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