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History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



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Black Friday 1916 History Column

David K Petersen

The Marshall Butters was a lumber hooker built in 1882 at the Milwaukee Shipyard Company for the Butters and Peters Salt and Lumber enterprises. The vessel a 164 foot long, 30 foot wide propeller was named after Horace Butter's son Marshall.

Marshall F. Butters (the son) was manager of the mills at Buttersville and was described in 1896 as " deservedly popular throughout the community and is recognized as one of the most reliable businessmen of the northwest. He is interested in various enterprises in the City and is a director of the First National Bank" Marshall lived at 509 E. Ludington Avenue at that time and was married to Maggie Arnott.

The ship served the Butters & Peters concern transporting lumber and shingles until being sold to the Stearn's Salt and Lumber Company. She sank on October 20th 1916 on Lake Erie during a treacherous storm on what was to be called Black Friday. The M.F. Butters was carrying a load of lumber and shingles to Cleveland at the time she was lost. Her cargo shifted and the ship listed and began to take on water, 10 of the crew were able to launch in a lifeboat, the Captain and two crew members remained on the ship.

Unlike many stories of ships lost in storms the M.F. Butters was luckier then the other ships lost during that raging storm as the freighters F.G. Harwell and the Frank R. Billings arrived in time to rescue the crew of 13, a lucky number for them on that Black Friday.

Other ships caught in the storm were the Schooner, D.L. Filer. The D.L. Filer was a 156 foot long, 30 foot wide vessel built in 1871 at Manistee as a barge and rebuilt in 1881 as a schooner. During the storm the ship foundered with the loss of 6 lives, one sailor was found clinging to the mast and rescued by the Steamer Western States.

Delos L. Filer, the schooner's namesake was a familiar face in Ludington's history as well. Arriving in Manistee in 1853 as a bookkeeper in the employ of E.&J. Canfield earning 400.00 a year he began making investments in pinelands and a sawmill in 1858. Although his mill burned during a forest fire in 1864 he immediately went back into business and was able to rebuild sawmills and his lumbering interests. In 1868 he left his sons to run the Manistee Sawmill and moved to Ludington where in 1869 he invested in the Pere Marquette Lumber Company and was named President.

The James B Colgate a whaleback steamer built at Superior Wisconsin by the American Steel Barge Company in 1892 was lost with 26 lives, the only survivor was the Captain who was found two days later in a lifeboat by the Carferry Bessemer and Marquette No. 2.

The Merida, a 360 foot freighter built in 1893 by F.W. Wheeler and Company at West Bay City Michigan was lost with all 23 hands.

Storms on the Great Lakes are nothing new to those of us who live in the region, but the storm of October 20th 1916 on Lake Erie was devastating, taking the lives of 55 of our Great Lakes Mariners in it's wake.

Two of the four ships that were lost had close connections to Ludington and Manistee and are as deeply enter twined in our local history as they are in the history of shipwrecks on the Great lakes and Lake Erie.

If you have any stories or photos you would like to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 or davep@blackcreekpress.com

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