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Phoenix Ship disaster

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  • Hendrika Voskuil (Landerweerd) (1827 - 1884)
    Reference: Ancestry Genealogy - SmartCopy : Jun 15 2018, 2:28:22 UTC of a handful of survivors of the Phoenix Shipwreak. Her Parents and 4 siblings died. Hendrika and three of her sisters survived.
  • Derk ("Dirk") Voskuil (1817 - 1901)
    Reference: Ancestry Genealogy - SmartCopy : Jun 15 2018, 2:28:22 UTC Their story
  • Gerritje Geerlings (1844 - 1893)
    survived the sinking of the Phoenix - see father's profile for details.Gerritje Geerlings led a singularly eventful life. She was about three and a half years old at the time of the Phoenix tragedy, an...
  • Aaltje Geerlings (1842 - 1898)
    survived the sinking of the Phoenix - see father's profile for detailswedding
  • Jacob Geerlings (1839 - 1906)
    Survived the sinking of the Phoenix. See father's profile for details. Wisconsin census with wife and 3 children Garret age 10, Hattie age 7 and John age 4

The Phoenix Ship Disaster (1847)

In the middle of the nineteenth century a lot of people from the East of Holland emigrated to the US. One of the most popular destinations was Wisconsin. In 1847 a group of those emigrants were on the propellor Phoenix, which would bring them from Buffalo to Sheboygan and beyond. In the early hours of November 21, 1847 the propellor burnt. About 25 people rescued themselves using two lifeboats, while a few other were saved by another ship, the Delaware.

Casualties and survivors

The Loss of the Phoenix article

More information

Link to dutch genealogy page with passengers

The lost are found

As long as I have known the story of the Phoenix and have been attempting to continue the research it has been troubling to me that so many on the list had no name. What a fate to be identified only as 'wife' or 'child.' An accurate account will never be possible, but many of the previously unnamed passengers who were lost have finally regained their identity. Eighty-eight passengers identified only as wife or child now have names. Twenty-five others have also been identified as being passengers lost on the Phoenix when it went down. I think it is important, even 150 years later, that these passengers are given the dignity of their identity.

Letter by Samuel Esselinkpas of Holland, MI to William O Van Eyck telling the story of how his father survived the Phoenix disaster on Lake Michigan on November 21, 1847. He describes how his father traveled with his brother and his family, all of whom perished in the disaster. It also mentions his mother's sister's family (Koffers).

FROM SAMUEL's letter "All that come to my mind that my Father told me was that he was awakened by the cry of fire. A party near him on the boat told him that his wooden shoes were schorched, were they otherwise were simply warm. He went out and was looking for a bucket to help put out the fire. When he saw that the life boats were left down, for a moment he thought and it entered his mind it was life or death and cathching hold of one of the ropes the life boat was left down with, he slid down and was lucky to land in one of the life boats. My Father had a brother who had wife + children. His brother died a few days before and was slid down the gang plank into the ocean. One of those of my father’s brother’s boys was with him at the time on the Phoenix, but went back after some of his belonings and the whole family wiped out. No sooner was he in the boat but one of the crew pushed away from the burning boat while others were still jumping for the boat which was loaded to the brim and made for shore.

While on the boat father well remembered the manager to say as he looked back to all Dutch men. Father’s belongings were all left behind save one shirt 2 pr trouwes + 2 pr sock he happened to have on. When they reached shore the ground was frozen + some were without clothes, he gave one pr of trouwers + pr of sock to one that was minus them.

This happened he said 7 miles from Sheboygan. He said there were 2 life boats the other one came near dipping water but it was a nice still morning. Father staid in Sheboygan that winter cutting cord wood with buck saw + other little jobs for his board."

Geerlings family story

Oberink, Lammert and Willemina Hofs family story

"Three family stories"

jump back to Cause of death portal

this project is in HistoryLink