Considered to be the last major wreck at Southampton, the Francis P. Ritchie met its fate August 29, 1931. The ship, a wooden schooner, was built in 1888 and was originally named The Marguerite. Through the years it was re-registered as several different styles of ship including a yacht, gasoline screw and fishing vessel. In 1925 it was renamed the Francis P. Ritchie, and in 1929 was purchased by Ralph Peller and brought into the Great Lakes.
For two days prior the wreck, the ship met with heavy waves on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and the crew decided to head for a safe haven. As the Ritchie was attempting to enter Southampton it lost its rudder and drifted into the shoal north of Chantry Island. A local fishing crew, headed by John D. McLeod, made the rescue. The life-saving service crew also attended to the wreck but arrived after the fishing crew and stayed at the scene in case their services were needed. The five crewmen of the Ritchie were saved – three by the fishermen, and the other two, who couldn’t swim, made it to the mouth of the Saugeen River in the Ritchie’s lifeboat.
Though the Ritchie was considered a loss, its cargo was not. Arrangements were made for John McLeod to look after the Peller interests, with the intention of coming back the next summer to salvage the machinery, but it is unknown if they ever did return. Part of the cargo included three trucks, 4,000 gallons of gasoline, and office equipment – Ralph Peller, along with his brother, were on their way to Miami to set up a fuel delivery business.
As time went on it became more and more difficult to determine the site of the wreck, with it being positively identified in the late 1960s. The wreck had broken up and due to the ways of the waves and sand, the wreckage had become scattered. Added to that was the difficulty of poor visibility to the divers. Several items from the wreckage of the Francis P. Ritchie were recovered by salvage divers and became part of the museum’s collection.