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The two-masted schooner JOHN F. WARNER (US 12768) was built at Cleveland, Ohio in 1855 by Quayle and Martin. It was one of the first of a series of vessels built by Quayle and Martin for European trade. The JOHN F. WARNER was enrolled at Cleveland on August 27, 1855 with the following dimensions: 126.75' x 26.5' x 11.19' and 341 55/95 gross tons. Augustus Handy was the owner and Robert Johnson was master. Contemporary marine insurance registers describe the vessel as "rather flat," indicating that the vessel had little deadrise and therefore a substantially flat bottom.

The vessel quickly scored its first mishap when it went ashore on Bois Blanc Island in the Detroit River in October 1855. The vessel was gotten off with $150 damage. A second mishap occurred two years later, in May or June 1857, when the WARNER collided with the brig ANDES in the Straits of Mackinaw. The ANDES was badly injured and was towed into Beaver Harbor where it sank, but was later raised and repaired. The WARNER suffered $500 in damages.

In 1858, the WARNER began its trips to saltwater. On June 4, 1858, a certificate of registry was issued to allow the vessel to participate in foreign trade. Its first trip was to Greenwich, England, where it arrived on July 23 with a cargo of barrel staves. The staves were sold and the vessel returned to Cleveland via Glasgow, Scotland where a cargo of pig iron was loaded.

Another trip was made to Greenwich in 1859, again with a cargo of staves. The vessel made the eastbound trip in a quick 31 days. Pig iron was loaded at Liverpool for the return trip to Cleveland. The schooner laid up at Cleveland during the winter of 1859-60 before again embarking on saltwater.

A second certificate of registry was issued at Cleveland on April 26, 1860. A cargo of staves was taken from Detroit to Liverpool. The return cargo is unclear, but the vessel was back at Quebec by mid-September. The certificate of registry was exchanged for an enrollment at Cleveland on October 9, 1860, indicating the vessel's return to its home port and a reversion to the coasting trade.

The WARNER suffered another mishap in the early morning of September 21, 1862 when it collided with the schooner MARQUETTE off of Mackinaw. The MARQUETTE sank in the south passage off of Cheboygan Light and reportedly became a total loss.

By 1863 the WARNER was owned by Battle and Riley of Detroit, and was still valued at $8,600. By 1864 its value and class fell to $7,000 and B, indicating that its condition was deteriorating. This is confirmed by Lake Underwriters who comment in 1866 that the vessel underwent "large repairs in '65." The vessel was then valued at $8,500 and class B1. In 1865 the vessel was remeasured as 127.3' x 25.5' x 10.7' and 200.94 gross/190.90 net tons. James Battle appears to have remained partial owner of the vessel through at least 1867.

The vessel appears to have been damaged in 1869 somewhere on Lake Huron, but exactly what occurred is not known. By 1871, the WARNER had changed hands, being sold to Joseph Nicholson, converted to a barge, valued at $7,000 and rated B1-. Later in the year the barge was sold by Nicholson to R.J. and H. Hackett for $7,000.

In September 1871 the WARNER was under tow of the steam barge CITY OF PORT HURON when the towline broke and the WARNER went ashore near Cove Island, Lake Huron. Immediate attempts to release the vessel were not successful, but repeated attempts in the summer of 1872 eventually got the vessel off. The boat was towed into Port Huron and repaired.

In April 1873, the barge WARNER was being operated by the Western Transfer & Coal Company when it went ashore on Middle Sister Island. The tug TORRENT pulled the WARNER off.

The JOHN F. WARNER finally met its end with a cargo of lumber at the mouth of the Thunder Bay River near Alpena, Michigan on October 13, 1890. The WARNER was anchored off the river mouth when the anchor chain parted and the master was unable to sail the vessel into the Thunder Bay River. The vessel grounded a few hundred feet from the harbor lighthouse and swung broadside onto the sea. The crew escaped unharmed, but continuous buffeting by the waves broke the vessel in half in clear view of the residents of Alpena. The lath and lumber cargo were later removed and the wreck was moved south of Alpena and abandoned a few days later. At the time of its loss, the WARNER was owned by Henning of Bay City, Michigan. The final location of the wreck has not been identified.


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