Captain Chamberlain’s Window

Captain Chamberlain’s WindowCaptain Chamberlain’s Window

Stained glass windows at St. Andrew’s church provide both light and beauty to the sanctuary, the entry and the Memorial Room. Many also serve to remind us of parishioners who were once connected to the church community and whose families chose to memorialize them by dedicating a window in their honor. Some of these tributes reach into the distant past and the passage of time has erased memories of those who were once valued members of the St. Andrew’s community.

For example, the tragic story of Captain Chamberlain whose name is inscribed on one of the windows in the sanctuary goes back 108 years to December, 1908 when the steamer D.M. Clemson was lost on the east end of Lake Superior with all 24 hands on board. Among them was Captain Samuel R. Chamberlain. The Clemson had left Lorain, Ohio on its way to Duluth on November 28, 1908 with a load of coal. It passed through the Soo on November 30. No word was received from the Clemson for a week. A massive winter storm raged across Lake Superior and when it became clear that the ship may have met with some disaster, search vessels were sent out to check the entire north shore from Port Arthur to the Soo and from there to Isle Royal.

Captain Chamberlain was a Park Point resident. At home Mrs. Chamberlain and their seven children, some of Captain Chamberlain whom were grown and away from home, anxiously awaited news that they hoped would be good. According to an article in the Duluth Evening News on December 7, she stated, “This was to be his last trip. We are very anxious and hope to hear good news before long. He is a skillful navigator, knows every nook and corner of the Great Lakes and if there is a possible method of escape he can be depended upon.” Neighbors and friends did their best to support the family in their long hours of suspenseful waiting.

By December 9 there was little doubt that the Clemson went down with all 24 of its officers and crew. Twenty three hatch covers and other debris belonging to the missing boat washed ashore. All of the officers, including Captain Chamberlain, and most of the crew were from Duluth. Only one body washed ashore and the others were never found.

Aside from the window in the St. Andrew’s sanctuary, one last memorial to Captain Samuel R. Chamberlain remains to this day on Park Point. In 1972 Richard and Nancy Braun purchased his former home and raised their two daughters there. Shanda Anneke and Nichole Anissa grew up where the spirit of Captain Sam was kept alive with artifacts such as a model of the Clemson and the captain’s oil painted portrait prominently displayed.

Submitted by Arlene Renken