I’ve occasionally mentioned the trials (including shipwreck) that my ancestors, John and Julia (Hyland) Keating, undertook when they came to America in 1854. While trying to discover the name of the ship they were wrecked in, I found an article from the New York Daily Times that gives an idea of just how dangerous that crossing could be.
The disasters on the water, perils of the sea in 1854, present a sad catalogue of death, suffering, and loss. One of our assistants has been seven months engaged constantly in compiling the accounts of shipwreck and loss of life and property on the Ocean in the year 1854 — his manuscript pages already number 1,245, exclusive of a large volume covered by the index. The number of vessels which have been lost or injured are 5,382, exclusive of steamers and boats on the Lakes and Rivers yet to be added, which will swell the aggregate to about 6,000. The loss of life has been very great and will exceed 9,000, and the loss of property may be estimated at the round sum of $40,000,000.
The several and respective cases of loss are being classified and arranged under separate heads, embracing losses by fire from lightning, fire from spontaneous combustion, fire from other causes, loss by ice, by collision, by storm, &c. The whole will be so arranged and stated as to present the facts in an instructive form, but it may require all the time intervening between this and the meeting of the next Congress to complete it.
Maritime Disasters. New York Daily Times (1851-1857); New York, N.Y.; Aug 11, 1855.
(This article originally written for the Frostburg Keatings monthly mailing, November 2005.)