Five Men Scalded to Death on the Tug "Bennett"
Full particulars of the Sad Affair
Cheboygan Free Press, November 16, 1876
Submitted by Pat Mixen
Our village was suddenly startled with the report yesterday morning that five men on the tug
Bennett had been scalded to death on Tuesday morning, while that boat was aground on Epaufette's
Reef. Mr. W. Newton of St. Helena, one of the owners of the tug, brought the sad intellengence to
the village and from him we learned the following particulars. The Bennett got aground at Epaufette's
on Monday while having in tow a schooner. On the tug is a small room directly over the boiler with
a sliding door on either side opening on to the deck. In the after end of this room there is also
an opening looking into the engine room. The Capt., Paul Pulke, the mate, Francis Martin, the
fireman, William Mulcrone, John Newton, linesman, the son of Obediah Newton, and Veinl Burasaw,
the cook, had all gone into the little room over the boiler for the purpose of warming and drying
themselves as they had become thoroughly chilled and wet while at work and the sliding doors were
closed. The engineer, James Aines, together with Obediah Newton were down in the engine room.
About half past five o'clock in the morning the government valve attached to the boiler, suddenly
blew open and in some manner got caught and was held in that position. The escaping steam and hot
water poured directly into the room where the Capt. and his hands were asleep, with such force and
rapidity as to bewilder the occupants and render escape impossible. The engineer closed the valve
as soon as it could be done, but it was too late, Death had got its victims. In all probability it
was almost instantaneous. One of the five, Martin the mate, was rescued before life was extinct,
but at last reports, he was not expected to live. The sight presented by the dead bodies made the
stoutest hearts quail. They were all black as coal, and the hair on the heads of the unfortunate
victims pulled off at the slightest touch, the poor creatures being litterally scalded to death.
The Captain was a resident of Mackinaw and leaves a wife. John Newton was about 16 years old and was a nephew of A. P. Newton of this place and lived at St. Helena. Mulcrone was also a resident of Mackinaw where his parents and brothers now live. Burasaw, the cook was about 16 years of age and also lived in Mackinaw. His father was one of the victims of the "Dormer" when she was burned a few years ago at Beaver Harbor. Martin the mate, leaves quite a large family in Mackinaw.
There is no blame whatever attached to the engineer. He closed the valve just as soon as it was possible to do it. The fact of the valve getting caught so as to be held open is said to be owing to the slanting position in which the tug was lying while aground. The tug was pulled off and taken to St. Helena in a somewhat leaky condition.
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