Surviving a hurricane on a boat in the Great Lakes



Date Written

Dec. 24, 1825

John Jermaine was 29 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Alanson Jermaine, was 34 when it was received.

John Jermaine died 55 years, 2 months, 18 days after writing this.
It was written 197 years, 9 months, 11 days ago.
It was a Saturday.

Dec 24th 1825

Dear Brother,

You will be surprised on the receipt of this letter to find me in this place, and it is with considerable emotions, that I now sit down to recount to you of the scenes I and my family have passed through since I last saw you.

We left Pontiac about the 15th Nov. for this state, our youngest boy was taken very sick in Detroit, did not expect his life for several days, and was detained there about 3 weeks, we set sail on the 4th Instant for Buffalo, had scarcely got into the Lake before we were overtaken with a hurricane, which drove us on our passage, a distance about 300 miles in 24 hours but the vessel made out to live heaving to the wind but was obliged to make a harbor under Point Ebino, 9 miles from Buffalo, as we did not think it safe to venture into Buffalo Harbor in the night.

About 12 o’clock at night, we broke boath of our cables and expected every moment to drift ashore in the rocks. The Capt. said if we could get the vessel, out to sea and if she could live by keeping her to the windward up the Lake, he could then put her ashore in the morning some where as to save the passengers if he lost the vessel, we succeeded in getting her out in the Lake and thought the blessing of Providence we succeeded also in keeping the vessel above water until morning, when we put her safe on shore at Blackrock but I cannot find language to describe to you our feelings at that time.

When every person on land was from midnight until dawn of day expecting every moment was our last, you may also imagine what was our feelings, when we discovered ourselves at daylight one mile from Buffalo in [?] of our exertions to keep the vessel up the Lake we had drifted down, so near—I trust our hearts overflowed in thankfulness to that merciful Benefactor, who rides upon the Wind and directs the storm you may ,perhaps, wish to know what were my feelings as to my hope in that trying hour—I cannot say I had that confidence, that I wish I had, nor did I feel as a Christian ought to feel, as my dear Brother, the connection glared me in the face that I had not lived as a Christian, and how could I expect to die like a Christian. I had heretofore set my affections upon the Wourld, and when I come to look upon my money, my property, which we all must soon leave behind, what was it, why it appeared to me like: trash which I must soon leave behind; as it was a striking lesson to me and I hope I never shall let it draw my attention again from the mere, important concerns of my Soul. I sensibly realize the necessity of trying to gain means to live respectable, but hope I shall not sell my heart, upon anything like my Blessed Savior. It was a comfort to me that Sarah’s hope was much more firmly established. I will not take thy liberty to advise you of this important subject, but must thy imperfect accounts of my feelings at that trying moment is not—uninteresting to you, and what is a greater warning to me, than to be brought to realize by experience the importance of living as I should wish I had when I come to die.

I have just arrived here on a visit to Mother and friends, Sarah is at Ored and all your friends are in health. I cannot give you any account where I shall locate, for business I shall be obliged to return to Michigan in the spring to close my business there. I do not expect to commence business, again until spring. If I do not get [an] employ as clerk in a Store, I shall probably return by land to Michigan this winter with a view to purchase Terr. on speculation, as my settlement does not require my going so soon.

I wish all my friends to understand that there was no other reason of my quitting that country but the sickness, and I had sufficient proof that my family could not be there and escape when I returned. I found them dying all around me, my clerk fell beneath its ravages—please write me to [?] and any address you or [?] may give me respecting what course to take will be thankfully rec’d. Yours affectionately,

John Jermaine

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