Chicago Tribune, April 14, 1870
Another New Tug.—A new tug is building at Doolittle & Bates’ ship yard, designed for harbor service. She is the property of Messrs. H. Prindeville and E. Harmon, of Chicago, and is of the following dimensions: Length over all, 65 feet; breadth of beam, 14 feet; depth of hold, 8 feet, and will cost $14,000. She will be ready for duty about the 15th of May.
Chicago Tribune, June 16, 1870
The Thos. Brown is the name of a finely constructed tug that was launched, yesterday afternoon, from the yard of Doolittle & Bates, in the South Branch. The following figures show her dimensions:
Length, over all, 67 feet; Length of Keel, 65 feet; Breadth of Beam, 14 feet 6 inches; Depth of Hold, 8 feet; Tonnage, 45 tons new style; and cost, $12,000. She has a double engine, with 15-inch stroke and 15-inch bore. Her boiler is 13 feet in length, and 5 feet 6 inches shell. She is the property of Messrs. Harmon, Prindiville & Browne, of Chicago.
15″ cylinder by 15″ stroke HPNC engine, 325hp at 120rpm, Burghess Engine Works, Chicago (1870)
In 1871 the tug’s builder was listed as “J. Grager” and as “J. G. Granger”, which are very likely phonetic spellings of “Gregory”.
Chicago Tribune, August 9, 1870
COLLISION.—We are requested to state that the Bob Anderson (US No. 2866), towing the bark Sunrise (US No. 22349), did not collide with State street bridge as reported yesterday, but that the collision occurred with the tug Tom Brown and the scow White Oak (US No. 26914), in the draw of the State street bridge, the Bob Anderson having given the proper signal.
Inter Ocean, June 3, 1875
Tug Tom Brown, R. Prindiville to M. D. C. Prindeiille, ½, $2,000.
Inter Ocean, April 17, 1879
THE STORMY WEATHER.
The Tug Tom Brown’s Experience at the Piers.
During the day yesterday the wind changed from northeast to north and northwest, and a heavy sea was running outside. The schooner B. Parsons (US No. 2420), which passed in during the afternoon, had a bad list, and it seemed as if she had water in her hold, though it could not be positively learned that such was the case. Most all the arriving craft reported the weather outside as “uncomfortable.” (Of course it is not expected that masters will sacrifice their reputation as “sea dogs, afraid of nothing,” by confessing that it blew a gale. They were glad enough to get into port, though, all the same.”
Last evening, while the tug Tom Brown, one of the very best boats we have, was rounding into the harbor from outside, a sea boarded her, crushed in her engine-room door and filled the deck and engine-room with water. She shook the water off her deck, however, and brought that n the hold into the harbor with her. When the sea boarded her the shock threw Mr. Watson, the engineer, on his face and hands, and, besides his drenching, he was so unfortunate as to have a nail penetrate one of his hands, making a most painful, as well as a dangerous wound. The engine-room door was reduced to splintersby the fiorce of the sea, but otherwise the tug is uninjured.
Chicago Tribune, March 31, 1881
UNION LINE OF TUGS.
The list of tugs that will form the Union Line the present season is now about complete. As will be seen by the array of names appended, the combination is a formidable one:
Negotiations are pending for the purchase of another powerful to be added to the fleet. Should they be consumminated the fleet will consist of eighteen boats, all but four of which range from medium to the largest size harbor tugs.
Chicago Tribune, February 18, 1893
The steamer George T. Burroughs’ (US No. 85662) three days of imprisonment in the ice of Lake Michigan ended at 5 o’clock yesterday morning when Capt. Napier threw a line out at the north slip at the front of Dock street, and the steamer with its prow covered with frozen spray and the paint scraped from uts sides was left in change of a watchman.
The tugs Tom Brown of the Chicago Towing company and Protection of the Vessel Owners’ Towing company left Chicago at 3 o’clock Sunday morning in answer to the summons from the two sailors on the Burroughs who had walked across the ice for eighteen miles to Michigan City. The two sailors, faint from the effects of their perilous walk and with their clothes frozen from the icy bath they got by venturing on the ice at one point where it was not thick enough to support them, had made a miscalculation as to the point where the Burroughs lay frozen in the ice jam. They figured the boat as being south of Michigan City, when, in fact, it was two miles north, and this miscalculation delayed the finding of the Burroughs.
Thirty tons of coal, in addition to the usual supply of fuel, were put aboard the Protection and both crews were provisioned for a four days’ trip, besides carrying an extra amount for the men on the Burroughs, who were reported as being half famished. With this supply of fuel and provisions the two tugs cast off their lines at the foot of Franklin street and started on the perilous journey. Each boat had a crew of five men who had volunteered for the hazardous duty and were content to battle with the ice in an attempt to save the Burroughs. Going down the river was comparatively easy, for the reason that passing boats had kepot the channel comparatively clear of ice. When the life-saving station was passed, however, there was a field ice ahead with fissures at varying distances from one another and describing circuitous paths. These cracks enabled the tugs to make headway through the ice, an impossibility under any circumstances, and so they went winding back and forth, sometimes turning completely around in keeping in the fissure until a branch from it would permit a fresh start at the direction of the disabled steamer.
Made Slow Progress.
Daylight found the boats almost within hailing distance of the Auditorium, and the progress when the sun had come up was but a little faster. The trip is one a good tug could make in three hours under an ordinary head of steam when the lake is free from ice, but it was after 2 o’clock before sufficient progress had been made to enable the rescuers to see the boat they were making for.
Shortly after 2 o’clock the Captain of the Protection saw across the waste of ice the faint smoke from the Burroughs. The lake had become comparatively clear from ice before this, however, under the strong east winds, and with an increased speed of the engines the two tugs continued until their signals were seen and answered by the men on the Burroughs. Two men from the ice-bound steamer walked across the ice floes to the edge of the jam, and the tugs running along side handed them a portion of their plentiful stock of provisions to carry back to their companions. Then the work of the rescue begun.
West winds had driven the blocks of ice against the Michigan shore and a jam had been formed which grew until it stretched twenty miles fork shore. The ice had been piled and crushed under the enormous strain of the accumulating blocks until it was forced in places to a height of thirty feet. The Burroughs got into this Friday night and stuck fast. The ice drifted to the windward until it was two miles from water that was even comparatively clear. The work of rescue meant the breaking up of the ice jam surrounding the boat and this was the task the Tom Brown and the Protection started out to do.
A vulnerable point of attack was selected and then one of the tugs, backing off fifty yards, went for it, prow on, under full steam. When the tug struck the ice floe there was a shock that sent the crew to deck and made the boat tremble in every timber. The attack was resumed by the other tug and so the work of the rescue went on. The tugs went a few feet at a time occasionally striking a fissure which gave an easy passage for a few yards. The progress was slow and care had to be exercised to prevent the path from becoming choked up again. It was a task that would have required from twenty-four to thirty-six hours had nit a change in the wind helped the rescuers.
The wind veered from west to north and then to east, and the ice jam, relieved of the pressure from the western side, began to break up and drift away. Two hours of ramming the ice, with an hour of good, strong east wind, broke up the ice so that the Protection git along side. Soon a portion of the thirty tons of coal had been transferred from its bunkers to the almost depleted bins of the Burroughs. The frozen seacocks were opened, a full head of steam gotten on, and the start for Chicago was made.
All Boats in Danger.
The Tom Brown and the Protection reached the Burroughs at 5 o’clock Sunday afternoon. The greatest care had to be exercised, however, to prevent the three boats from getting blockaded. For an hour or two the way was picked with the greatest care under the darkening sky, but by 9:30 o’clock the moon came out from behind a bank of clouds and Lake Michigan was almost as bright as day. There was not romance about the moon shining on the glistening cakes of ice, not much beauty about it to the tired and overworked men, but one of the deckhands of the Burroughs waxed eloquent over it in his story yesterday. He said it was so beautiful that he would have been content to stay out another night. But was called down by one of the crew who had seen nothing worthy of the combination of moonlight and glistening snow.
All night long the boats were kept going at half-speed, dodging ice floes where they could and boldly bucking them when there was nothing else to do, and at 4:30 they came in past the life-saving station and stopped before the North Dock, where the Burroughs tied up. The Tom Brown and the Protection went on to their regular tying-up place at the foot of Franklin street.
When an examination was made of the two tugs it was found that the Tom Brown was leaking somewhat from the excessive strain of fighting ice, but the Protection was in ship shape save for the scraped paint. The Burroughs suffered little from its enforced imprisonment of three days. Capt. Napier, the commander, came out smiling and with an appetite that did credit to him. George Napier and W. J. Healey, the two men who made the perilous trip to shore on the ice, came out tired but otherwise in good shape. They went out on the rescuing tugs, staid up all Saturday and Sunday nights, and went to bed yesterday morning with their alarm clocks set for Thursday morning at 10:30 o’clock.
Inter Ocean, February 21, 1900
The tug Tom Brown was sunk yesterday afternoon in the lake, about two miles out from the mouth of the river, ands her crew had a narrow escape from drowning. The men were rescued just before the deck went under by the crew of the tug Robert E. Burke. The Tom Brown had heard the distress whistle of the Robert E. Burke, owned by the Barry Bros. Transportation company, and had gone to its assistance. The tug Burke was stalled on a windrow, and the Brown, after pulling it clear, was caught in the moving ice.
The force of the ice crushed in the heavy plank sides of the Tom Brown and nearly caught the fireman. The tug was manned by Captain John Sweeney, First Mate Robert Harmond, Engineer, H. Castleman, and Fireman William Hank. The Robert E. Burke pushed her bow hard to in the fast-sinking tug and the men jumped for their lives. The accident took place so quickly that the men on board hardly realized the situation.
Members of both crews said that it would have been absolutely impossible for the boat to escape the avalanche of ice. Captain James Barry of the Robert E. Burke said that he expected never to see any of the crew alive, for if the men had been thrown overboard in the grinding mass of ice they would have met instant death. “From the time the ice struck the tug until the craft was out of sight seemed less than a minute,” said the captain. The Robert E. Burke in going to the rescue was placed in danger, but being a much heavier craft experienced no trouble, as the Tom Brown had broken the great force of the solid wall.
The Tom Brown was remodeled last spring and was considered a good, strong boat. It was valued at about $5,000 and owned by Captain William Harmon, who carried no insurance. Captain Harmon is one of the old-time tugmen of the lake, having followed the business for nearly fifty years, but it is said that the loss of the Tom Brown means financial ruin for him. He accepted the loss bravely and said that the boat had gone out to assist another tug in distress and that he never refused to place his property or his life at stake to give relief.
The Tom Brown had met with other accidents recently and had caused its owner a great deal of loss. It was the Brown that let the big freighter Spalding get caught in the current of the river and block navigation until the water had to be shut off in the canal.
Inter Ocean, February 22, 1900
Diver To Risk Cold Plunge.
“Dutch Fritz,” the diver, who claims that his name is known only to six people in Chicago, will make the necessary preparations for the raising of the of tug Tom Brown, sunk in Lake Michigan Tuesday, as soon as the wind from off shore clears the ice floes away. The tug lies at the bottom of the lake, about a mile off the shore line, at Madison street. It is the property of Captain John Harmon, and a hole was stove in its side while assisting the Robert E. Burke to ram a passage to the harbor from the two-mile crib. The diver, at a propitious time, will rig a chain net under the vessel, which will enable a pair of pile-drivers to lift it. “Dutch Fritz” has been a diver here for twenty years.
Port Huron Daily Times, March 17, 1900
Tug Tom Brown Raised.
The tug Tom Brown was raised and beached at the mouth of the Chicago river on Thursday. When the wind blew the ice off shore a few days ago “Dutch Fritz,” the driver.
fastened chains to the propeller shaft and to the stem block. The two pile drivers raised the sunken tug. She was sunk by the ice a few weeks ago while rescuing the Robert E. Burke from icejam.
Buffalo Express, July 29, 1902
A blazing steamer running through a river of fire was the thrilling spectacle witnessed In the stockyards branch of the river at Chicago on Saturday. The steamer T. W. Palmer owes her present safety to the fact that she is of composite construction, steel hull and wooden upperworks. Sparks from the tug Tom Brown set the gashouse refuse afire near the Armour & Co. glue works, and the flames spread over the entire surface of the river. Fortunately, the captain of the Palmer saw the fire start and signaled for full speed. Despite this quick action, the flames enveloped the entire steamer aft and drove the crew forward. The fire followed quickly and was not outrun by the steamer until the south branch was reached. Slight blazes on the woodwork were speedily extinguished.
Inter Ocean, August 12, 1902
Tug Tom Brown Again in Service.
The tug Tom Brown which was badly crippled in a recent accident, came out of the dry dock and went into commission yesterday. It was necessary to almost rebuild the boat, a new bow, sides and stern had to be put in and the work occupied two weeks.
Waukegan News-Sun, August 25, 1906
Dredge No. 4, of the Great Lakes Company, after finishing dredging out the salt dock slips, left this morning for Chicago. The tug Tom Brown was towing hwer and two scows and was making but slow time when last seen. Should a wind come up or a heavy sea much trouble would be experienced by the tug.
According to the April 1914 edition of Directory of Names, Pennant Numbers and Addresses of all Members of the Ship Masters Association of the Great Lakes, this tug was owned by William Harman of Chicago and abandoned in 1910.
1876 Owned Prindiville et al, Chicago, IL.
1879 Owned Brown et al, Chicago.
1881 Owned John Sullivan, et al.
1888 Reboilered, 5’9″ x 12’6″ firebox boiler from National Boiler Works, Chicago.
1899 Owned Joseph E. Everett, Chicago.
1900 Feb Holed & sunk by ice 1/2 mile off Chicago; raised & repaired.
1903 Owned William Harmon, Chicago.