Burning of the steamers, J. S. Underhill & North East.

18 Apr

River Flat for Sale,
Best materials, and in good running condition.  Length 65 feet, width 12 feet, depth 3 feet.
Apply to
Sept 25 1t*        Steamer “North East.”

[Wilmington Star – September 25, 1878]

Several Stores, Warehouses, Sheds and Stables and Two Steamboats Destroyed – Loss About $60,000 to $75,000.

Shortly after our paper had gone to press on Tuesday morning, or about half past 3 o’clock, our firemen and citizens were again called upon to battle with the fiery element in one of its most spiteful and destructive moods.  The flames were first discovered in the starboard quarter of the steamer J. S. Underhill, which has been laying up at Mr. O. G. Parsley’s wharf for some time awaiting repairs.  The steamer was laying with her bow down the stream, and the fire is supposed to have been communicated to her by a spark from a fire on a raft, which was close alongside.  The steamer North East, Capt. R. P. Paddison, running between this city and Point Caswell, was tied up at the stern of the Underhill, with a space of only about twenty – five feet between them.  With an ebb tide and the wind blowing directly towards the wharf, it was found impossible to move her.  The flames spread with great rapidity, and soon the wharf to which the Underhill was moored was, on fire, which was speedily communicated to the North East.  Captain Paddsion’s family, together with quite a number of other passengers, were on board, and so rapidly did the flames spread, after once getting headway, that the passengers had to be hurried from the burning steamer.  Captain Paddison’s private papers and about $100 in money were in his desk, and were consumed, together with his apparel, &c.  The North East burned to the water’s edge and sunk, while the wreck of the Underhill was towed to the west side of the river, in the neighborhood of Mr. C. W. McClammy’s distillery, where she was sunk, her smoke – stack being just visible above the surface of the water.
In the meantime the devouring element, fanned by a brisk Southwest wind, was making rapid headway towards Front street, sweeping in its resistless course everything that came in its way.  First the wood – yard of Mr. O. G. Parsley was swept by the flames, which thence communicated to the adjacent sheds and warehouses, destroying them and their contents, and finally taking hold upon the block of stores facing upon Front street, which were soon a mass of seething flame.  Up to this time the Fire Department had been mainly endeavoring to stay the march of the insatiate fiend, and now, under the direction of their worthy Chief, they commenced an herculean effort to prevent the flames from crossing the street, or diverging from their hitherto straight course the to direction of Dock street, which in either case would have resulted in woeful disaster to our city.  The steamer “Adrian” was broken down early in the battle and could not be made to work.  It therefore devolved upon the “Little Giant” and the “Cape Fear” to stay as far as possible the progress of the flames, in which they were greatly assisted by the Hook and Ladder Company.
In the meantime, the fierce wind wafted showers of sparks and cinders and tufts of burning hay over the entire width of the city, in an easterly or northeasterly direction, and parties had to be stationed on the shingle roofs, for squares from the scene of the conflagration, in order to keep the fire from communicating to them.  The danger was at its height when the flames burst forth from the warehouse on the corner of Front street and Muter’s alley, which as filled with hay and other combustible material, the flames almost lapping the residence of Mr. J. Loeb, on the opposite side of the street, while the showers of sparks were redoubled in their density, falling upon the buildings, in the yards and on the sidewalks like snowflakes, calling for the utmost vigilance on the part of those who were on the lookout.  It was about this time that a burning brand fell upon the roof of Mr. T. M. Smith’s kitchen, on Market, between Sixth and Seventh streets, and set fire to it, which would have resulted in starting a fresh conflagration but for the vigilance of a near neighbor, who hastily procured a ladder and mounted the roof, when the fire was speedily extinguished after burning a hold about a foot square.  The roof of the residence of Capt. W. M. Stevenson, on Fourth street, between Market and dock, also caught in the same manner.  A large tree in St. James’ Church yard caught fire, and the flames were also communicated to the grass in the vacant lot corner of Third and Dock streets, adjoining the Catholic Church, and also to the grass plat in the middle of the street adjoining.
By the almost superhuman efforts of the firemen and hook and laddermen, after the flames had communicated from Lippitt’s Block to Mr. C. Stemmerman’s store on the corner of Front and Orange streets, which was partially destroyed, the fire was finally gotten under control.
Through the exertions of Messrs. Robinson & King (who had an office in the building on the corner of Orange and Water streets), Jimmie Smith, Martin Willard, and a colored man named Hankins, aided by the crew of the Norwegian barque Frank, the large warehouse, filled with hay and spirits turpentine, and the adjacent wharf with tar, on the south side of Orange street, were saved, thus preventing an extensive spread of the conflagration in that direction, with great destruction of property.
The losses and insurance, so far as can now be estimated, are as follows:
The Steamer J. S. Underhill, the property of Mr. O. G. Parsley, Jr., was insured for about her full value, $3,000 in the Phoenix, of Hartford, represented by Mr. Norwood Giles, and $3,000 in the Connecticut, represented by Messrs. W. L. Smith & Co.
The Steamer North East was valued by her owner, Capt. R. P. Paddison, at $3,600 and was insured for $2,000 in the Phoenix, of Hartford, Mr. Norwood Giles.
Mr. O. G. Parsley, in addition to the steamer Underhill, loses seven hundred tons of coal, from four hundred to five hundred cords of wood, from two hundred thousand to three hundred thousand shingles; two engines on the wharf, tools, wheelbarrows, two or three carts and drays, &c., altogether valued at $7,000 or $8,000, upon which there was no insurance.
Mr. J. E. Lippitt owned all but one of the buildings destroyed, and his loss upon the various stores, warehouses, sheds and stables amounted in the aggregate to about $17,000, upon which there was only $7,800 insurance.  This is divided up as follows:  $2,000 in the Phoenix, of Hartford, Mr. Norwood Giles; $1,000 in the Home, of New York, Mr. Norwood Giles; $2,400 in the Lancashire, Messrs. DeRosset & Northrop; $2,000 in the German – American, Messrs. W. L. Smith & Co., and $400 in the Petersburg, Metsrs. DeRosset & Northrop.
The brick building on the corner of Front and Orange streets, the property of Mr. C. Stemmerman, was insured for $4,000 in the Underwriters’ Agency, Messrs. DeRosset & Northrop.  Mr. S.’s stock of furniture was also badly damaged, upon which there was no insurance.  Messrs. E. Kidder & Son lose about $10,000 in molasses stored in one of the warehouses, upon which there was insurance for $5,000 on the Queen of Liverpool, Messrs. Atkinson & Manning.
Mr. P. Cumming & Co., lost in hay, grain, horses and harness about $4,000, in which there was insurance in the AEtna, of Hartford, and North America, of Philadelphia, for $3,400.
Messrs. Adrian & Vollers lost about $1,400 in salt and fish stored in one of the warehouses, on which there was insurance for $1,000 in the Howard, of New York.
Mr. H. B. Eilers lost 800 barrels of rosin and had a small lot of spirits turpentine destroyed, valued at about $1,500.  Insured for $2,000 in the Hartford, of Hartford, Messrs. Atkinson & Manning.
Messrs. Robinson & King lost in office furniture $150.  Covered by insurance in the Atlantic, of New York, DeRosset  Northrop.  They also lose some rosin, &c., amount not asceretained, which is covered by insurance in the London Assurance.  Their books and papers were all saved, being in a safe.
Mr. B. D. Morrill’s loss in stock, tools, & c., is about $800.  Insured for $300 in the Wilmington Mutual, Mr. S. N. Cannon.
The house on the east side of Front street, owned by Mr. W. G. Fowler, and occupied by Mr. A. Weill, was damaged to the extent of about $250 by water.  Covered by insurance in a company represented by Messrs. J. W. Gordon & Bro.  Mr. Weill’s furniture was considerably damaged, which was covered by insurance with Messrs. DeRosset & Northrop.
Messrs. Paterson, Downing & Co., had a small loss in naval stores, which was covered in the London and Liverpool and Globe, Messrs. J. W. Gordon & Bro.
Messrs. Preston Cumming & Co. lost two valuable mules, Mr. Edgar Parmlee two horses and harness and drays, and Mr. O. G. Parsley a driving horse, all of which were burned in their stables, it being impossible to remove them.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Wednesday, December 25, 1878]


The steamer Isis, Capt. S. W. Skinner, belonging to the above company is now being thoroughly overhauled and refitted.  It is expected that she will be ready to commence running regularly between this city and Point Caswell on or about the 3rd of February.
Capt. R. P. Paddison, formerly of the steamer North East, whose place the Isis fills, is the general agent of the company.  We learn that the loss of the North East has caused considerable inconvenience to shippers, who are compelled at present to resort to the use of flats to move their produce.  Fortunately they will not have to wait long before the line is again reopened, and a steamer running regularly.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Saturday, January 4, 1879]

Local Dots.

—  The Fayettevillians have been in the frigid zone for some time past.  Captain Garrason, of the steamer Murchison reports not only good skating in that region, but miniature specimens of icebergs floating  around, from Haw and Deep rivers.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Thursday, January 9, 1879]

Local Dots.

—  The divers found it too cold yesterday to begin the work of raising the wreck of the steamer North East.  They made a preliminary examination of the situation of affairs beneath the river’s surface, and will do nothing more until the weather is warmer.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Saturday, January 11, 1879]

Local Dots.

—  Operations with the purpose of raising the steamer North East were not in progress yesterday, but Capt. Paddison will not easily abandon a project when he has entered heartily into it.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Sunday, January 12, 1879]

The Sunken Boat.

Nothing was done towards getting up the sunken steamer North East yesterday, on account of the threatening weather early in the morning, but Mr. W. L. Beery informs us that operations will be resumed Monday morning, and that the hull will probably be brought to the surface on Tuesday.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Sunday, March 2, 1879]

Local Dots.

—  The work of raising the wreck of the steamer North East was progressing yesterday, but she had not quite reached the surface.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Thursday, March 6, 1879]

Up at Last.

The steamer North East poked her nose out of the water yesterday and looked like she was ashamed of herself for lying abed so long.  It was suggested that she could very properly be recorded as among the arrivals from below.  Captain Dick Paddison was present when she made her appearance.  The work of raising her will be completed to-day, we understand.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Saturday, March 8, 1879]

Local Dots.

—  The steamer North East was brought entirely to the surface yesterday.

[Wilmington Morning Star – March 9, 1879]

The Cape Fear River Steamers

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Posted by on April 18, 2009 in Uncategorized


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