Rogers Ship Building

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David Rogers was a prolific ship builder during the mid 1800s rivaled only by Henry Doville. Rogers was the owner of what is now Silver Waters Bed and Breakfast and is said to have provided a safe house for fugitive slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. Ironically, he built the schooner Free Trader which would transport the fugitive Slaves from Sodus Point to Canada.
A very special Thanks to Richard Palmer for sharing this article
Toronto Telegram
Sept. 9, 1939
Schooner Days No. 414
More Ships Thought Built at Sodus Point
Adjoining Doviel’s or Doville’s yard on the shores of Great Sodus Bay at Sodus Point, N.Y., on the south shore of Lake Ontario was the yard of Rogers and Betts – David Rogers and Lewis Betts. From this a number of schooners were launched, some of them of considerable size for their time. Taking them alphabetically, there were:
The AUSTRALIA, launched in 1853 and bought in 1864 by J.G. Beard and Co., Toronto. Joshua Beard was mayor of this city, and owned many vessels, which he employed in the milling industry. The Australia was saled by the late Capt. Frank Jackman when he was 21 – his first command. One of his early voyages with her was delivering a cargo of locomotives for the early railways. Perhaps the Australia was the schooner which made the historic landing of a locomotive for the old Great Western Railway at Port Britain, sixty miles down the shore from Toronto. (Note: She was registered registered at 103 tons. Rebuilt 1870).
They used good names in the old days, often much more interesting than the dreary telephone book entries now heaped upon the helpless vessels. And do you know why? Not just to gratify the vanity of some manager or director or head of a line, although that has its place. But marine departments make such a difficulty about registering a name with meaning (because that name may be in use somewhere else around the world) that the blushing owner is forced to fall back upon his own name, unless he is protected by membership in the great company of William Smiths and John Joneses. What harm would be done if a dozen Charters were on the list, if they were registered as the Charger of Toronto, the Charger of Chicago, and so on? But it’s an unpicturesque world. For example, Will G. Reilly had difficulty getting a “warrant” for his pretty little mahogany launch San Toy, of Toronto, because some battleship out at Singapore using the name might be confused with it! Knowing William as we do, all we can say is woe to Nippon if either San Toy ever gets after them.
But about the Charter of Sodus, we know more than the name. (Note: She was registered at 277 tons, built by Rogers in Nov., 1867. Owned by Rogers).
Many of us remember the steamer Corsican plying to Toronto plying to Toronto forty years ago in the Richelieu and Ontario Co.’s fleet, but another Corsican was a schooner of 281 tons built by Rogers, not at Sodus but at Olcott. Like other lake builders, Rogers probably travelled from place to place, wherever a contract was to be had, it being cheaper in their time to build on the ground where the timber was growing than to haul the timber to the yard, possibly hundreds of miles away. The schooner Corsican was built for the great Oswego firm of Smith and Post, in 1862.
At Olcott, sixty or seventy miles west along the shoe from Sodus, in 1853 Rogers built this schooner for George Shaw, of Oswego. She measured 183 tons.
The FREE TRADER, a small schooner built by Rogers in 1849. She measured 46 tons and was owned by Yolt of Montreal in 1864. From her size and her name she may have been intended as a smuggler, for smuggling was an organized business on the lakes in the early days If so, and seeing that it was ninety years ago, let’s hope she made a fortune for her owners, whoever they were.
The B.R. LUMMIS, named after a prominent pioneer of Sodus. She was a large schooner for her time – 1855 – measuring 227 tons, and Rogers built her for Morley Bates and Co. of Sodus. Possibly this was in partnership with his neighbor, Henry Doville, whose yard adjoined. The Lummis is also listed among Doville’s products.
This was, as far as it is known, Rogers’ largest launch. She was a fine two-masted schooner of 297 tons register, with a clipper bow, high sheer, monkey-rail running all the way around her, and a bowsprit staysail, that is, fore staysail and standing jib all in one, set on a stay extending to the bowsprit end. The details are from an old print showing her in Manitowoc. On Sunday, June 22, 1871, she arrived in Manitowoc from Buffalo with a locomotive on her deck. This bulgine was christened the Ben Jones, after Manitowoc’s founder, and the occasion of its arrival was high holiday in the Wisconsin town. The Mediterranean foundered off the Wisconsin shore, near Sheboygan, in 1891.
This schooner of 108 tons was launched by Rogers in 1860 for E. Blanchard nd Co., of Sodus, but she is better known under her Canadian registry, where she appears as the Mail of Montreal. She was bought by Capt. George Sherwood, of Brighton, and traded out of Presqu’isle until she sank in that harbor about 1878. She was an older vessel than her building date would indicate, for she was a rebuild on the bottom of the Isabel, one of the many schooners bearing her name.
Although H.N. Throop, of Pultneyville, is given as her owner in Thomas’ Register of 1864, and Alexandria Bay, down the St. Lawrence, as a place of building, in 1857, the Rival is said to have been another of Rogers’ products. She was a large schooner, measuring 331 tons, and probably three-masted.
The FRED L. Wells.
Fifty years ago this smart-looking little two-master, with clipper bow, raking transom, white top, green rails and coveringboard and lead-colored bottom, swam into the recorder’s ken at the old Queen’s Wharf. Mother had seen her earlier, unloading cedar posts at Charlotte, and had faithfully reported her to her schooner-loving firstborn. The Fred L. Wells then hailed from Oswego. It was at Oswego when she was lost, in 1900. She was an old vessels, for Thomas’ Register gives her builder as Louis Shickluna, at St. Catharines, and states that she was built in 1849, using the bottom and outfit of the schooner Raney, and was rebuilt in 1854. Cash and Dingman, of Buffalo, were her owners in 1864. She registered 158 tons.
But Mr. Claude P. Doville, of Sodus, grandson of Henry, the builder, believed the Fred L. Wells was originally built by Rogers, of Sodus, for McNett at Pultneyville, five miles west along the shore. This may have been the schooner Raney, and the Raney may have been rebuilt as the Fred L. Wells by Shickluna in 1854; or Shickluna may have built the Raney at St. Catharines in 1849, and Rogers may have rebuilt her as the Fred L. Wells at Pultneyville in 184. Old records often take a lot of disentangling.
The COL. A. B. WILLIAMS, 1856. This deponent knoweth not what local patriot, perhaps a conqueror in the Mexican War, was commemorated by this schooner’s name, but she was launched by Rogers for Morely Bates and Co. and was a big one, measuring 242 tons.