The Steamer THELMA

26 Apr


Cape Fear to take Place of Lisbon.

Arrangements in Effect.

The steamer Lisbon, of the river fleet at this port, will make no more trips after November 1st, today, but for the present the steamer Duplin will make one trip each week, leaving Wilmington Tuesday mornings, until the new steamer Cape Fear, which has just been built at Point Caswell for the owner, Mr. J. W. Brooks, of this city, is ready to be put regularly in operation.  It is expected that the Cape Fear will be ready in about two weeks and she will be able to take care of freights much better than any service heretofore given on this line.  Those who have been shipping by the Lisbon are asked to get their orders for the Duplin by Mondays so that their shipments may go out promptly the following day.

[Wilmington Morning Star – November 1, 1913]

No Boats between Fayetteville and Wilmington.

The burning of the steamer C. W. Lyon Friday, while on a trip from Fayetteville to Wilmington, makes nil river traffic between the two cities, as there is not a boat left to do the work.

In this connection, we take the following from the Wilmington Star of Saturday:

“The burning of the steamer Lyon leaves the Cape Fear without a boat at present, but it is likely that arrangements will be made for the steamer Duplin to make one trip a week, leaving Monday, going clear through to Fayetteville, instead of to Tar Heel as at present. This arrangement will be continued, it is thought, until the new steamer which Mr. J. W. Brooks is having built for the Cape Fear, is completed within the next eight or ten days. The new boat will be christened ‘the Thelma,’ in honor of the youngest daughter of the owner. The ‘Thelma’ is a good-sized boat and will be able to handle good cargoes.”

[Fayetteville Observer – Wednesday, November 19, 1913]


The steamer “Duplin” will load Monday, November 24th, for points on the Cape Fear river between Wilmington and Fayetteville, leaving Wilmington Monday night and returning Friday, in order to be ready for her regular trip up Northeast river on Saturday, November 29th.

The steamer “Thelma” will load Wednesday, November 26th, for points along the Cape Fear river between Wilmington and Tarheel, and will leave Wilmington Thursday at 3 P. M., returning on Saturday.  She will then load again Monday, December 1st, and leave at 3 P. M., returning Wednesday night in order to load and leave again Thursday at 3 P. M.  December 4th, which will be her regular schedule.

C. P. Love.

(Advertisment.)                          Agent.

[Wilmington Morning Star Daily —  Sunday, November 23, 1913]


Forty-Ton Stern Wheeler Between

Fayetteville and Betsy Town.

Fayetteville, N. C., Dec. 1. – A new boat, a 40-ton stern wheel steamer, will make its initial regular trip down the Cape Fear river from here to Elizabethtown Friday of this week, according to announcement made by Mr. J. E. Register, local agent of the Farmer’s Steamboat Company, who returned a few days ago from Wilmington, where he purchased for the company a light-draft vessel, for use in river traffic between Fayetteville and Bladen’s capital.  At the latter place it will make connection with a larger boat plying between that town and the port city.

The new boat will make two trips a week, leaving Fayetteville at 7 A. M. Tuesday and Fridays, spending the night at Elizabethtown and returning the next day.  Since the burning of the C. W. Lyon several weeks ago, Fayetteville has had no water connection with points down the river.

[WMSD —  Tuesday Morning, December 2, 1913]



Light Draft Stern Wheel Steamer, to

Ply Between Fayetteville and Elizabethtown,

Making Connection at the Latter Point

With a Larger Steamer Going to Wilmington.


Mr. J. E. Register, local agent of the Merchants and Farmers Steamboat Company returned last week from Wilmington, where he purchased a light draft stern wheel steamboat to be used in handling freight between Fayetteville, and Elizabethtown, and connecting at Elizabethtown, with a larger boat going to Wilmington.

The new steamer will make two trips a week, leaving Fayetteville Tuesdays and Fridays at 7:00 a. m., spending the night at Elizabethtown and returning the next day.  This will give Fayetteville merchants an excellent opportunity to sell goods along the river.  As said above, the boat is a light draft ’40-ton vessel, and will not be troubled with low water to the extent that former boats on the Cape Fear River have been.

The new steamer will leave Wilmington tonight, and will make her first trip from here to Elizabethtown Friday, December 5.  She will receive all freights Thursday, the 4th.

[Fayetteville Observer – Wednesday, December 3, 1913]



Made First Trip to Fayetteville Wednesday,

Arriving With a Cargo of Cotton.


The Pioneer, the new steamboat of the Merchants and Farmers Steamboat Company, made her first trip to Fayetteville Wednesday, bringing a solid cargo of cotton from White Oak, Bladen County, all shipped by one man, R. A. Burney, and consigned to Charles Haigh.

As before stated, the Pioneer will ply between Fayetteville and Elizabethtown, making connection at Elizabethtown with a boat going to Wilmington.

Captain J. E. Register is well pleased with the Pioneer, and thinks he now has a boat exactly suited to the needs of Fayetteville shippers.




Arrived at Wharves Here and Loaded

With 525 Bales of Cotton by Charles Haigh.


Captain Price arrived at the wharves here Saturday night, from Wilmington, with his big steam lighter for a cargo of cotton.  Charles Haigh, leading cotton buyer, Monday loaded her with 525 bales of cotton, which he consigned to Alex. Sprunt & Son, Wilmington.  The lighter is about the biggest boat of the kind that we have seen on the river here in some time, but we hope to see it at our wharves frequently hereafter.

[Fayetteville Observer – Wednesday, December 10, 1913]

Largest Cargo Ever Brought Down


Wilmington Star, Dec. 11.

The new steamer John W. Fredricks, which will run between this port and Fayetteville, broke all previous records in the way of cargoes shipped to Wilmington from Fayetteville on her maiden trip.  She arrived at the lower compress yesterday at 12:30 o’clock with 525 bales of cotton consigned to Alexander Sprunt & Son.

Capt. Jesse D. Price, the chief officer in command of the new boat, stated last night that she left Fayetteville Tuesday at noon and considering the low water in the river made remarkably good time.  The initial trip was successful in every particular and there was not a single mishap of any kind in spite of the fact that she had on board such a large cargo for a river boat.  When she discharges her cargo she will return to Fayetteville and will be regularly engaged in the river trade.

[Fayetteville Observer – Wednesday, December 17, 1913]



Kennedy Destroyed by Fire on Way to

This Port – Peculiar Coincidence.

News was received here yesterday morning by telegram that the river steamer Kennedy, belonging to the Florida Navigation Company and which had been chartered by Mr. S. M. King and others, of this city, for use on the Cape Fear between Wilmington and Fayetteville, had been destroyed by fire while on the way from Jacksonville to this port.

The loss of this boat, intended for use on the Cape Fear between Wilmington and Fayetteville is peculiar, in view of the fact that within the past six months two other steamers plying between these points have been lost.  One was destroyed by fire, and the other broke in two and sank at her wharf here.  The two other boats were owned by the Merchants and Farmers’ Steamboat Company.  Mr. King, who was connected with that corporation, had chartered the Kennedy from the Florida Navigation Company, and had received a telegram Saturday morning that the boat had left for Wilmington, with the intention of following the inland route as far north as Georgetown, and then to come round the remainder of the way on the outside.

Yesterday morning he received a route as far north as {appears to be several words missing} telegram from Capt. Geo. H. Pryor, master of the Kennedy and president of the Florida Navigation Company, stating that the boat had been destroyed by fire.  The particulars of the burning were not given, but it is presumed that the boat was some where near Savannah at the time of the fire.

Mr. King will probably make some other arrangements for putting on a steamer between Wilmington and Fayetteville immediately, as the fertilizer season is now at its height, and there is considerable traffic in this commodity on the river.  Later it is expected to put several steamers in operation between Wilmington and Fayetteville.

In the meantime shippers along the Cape Fear are being served by the steamer Thelma, which is making two trips regularly to Tar Heel and return and is reported to be giving excellent satisfaction, while the steamer Pioneer has recently been fitted up and is making one trip regularly to Fayetteville.

[Wilmington Star – February 24, 1914]

Steamer Thelma towing a flat.

Steamer Thelma towing a flat.



Member of Crew of Steamer

Thelma Fell From Boat

It was learned here today that a colored man, member of the crew of the steamer Thelma, fell from the boat on her trip up to Elizabethtown Monday night and was drowned. The steamer was near King’s Bluff at the time of the accident. At the offices of the company here today it was stated that the name of the negro who was drowned had not been learned here. The steamer arrives on the return trip tonight.

[Wilmington Dispatch – August 11, 1915]



Planters Steamboat Company Buys Well Known River Steamer.

Mr. J. W. Brooks, president and general manager of the Carolina Transportation Company, of this city, announces the sale today of the steamer “Thelma” to the Planters Steamboat Company, also of Wilmington.

The steamer Thelma has been operating for the past several years between Wilmington and Tar Heel, N. C., making all points on the upper Cape Fear, occasionally as far as Fayetteville, and the officers and management of the Company wish to thank the patrons and friends of the line for the loyal support and business given them.

In connection with the sale, Mr. Brooks states that the new owners will extend to the merchants and farmers of this section the same prompt and courteous treatment accorded them by his Company in the past.

[Wilmington Dispatch – November 6, 1917]

Steamer “Thelma” Sold.

Mr. J. W. Brooks, president and general manager of the Carolina Transportation Company, of this city, announces the sale today of the steamer “Thelma,” to the Planters Steamboat Company, also of Wilmington. The steamer Thelma has been operating for the past several years between Wilmington and Tar Heel, N. C., making all points on the upper Cape Fear, occasionally as far as Fayetteville, and the officers and management of the company wish to thank the patrons and friends of the line for the loyal support and business given them. In connection with the sale, Mr. Brooks states that the new owners will extend to the merchants and farmers of this section the same prompt and courteous treatment accorded them by his company in the past, and will thank all his friends and former patrons to give them the same support and cooperation as given the former owners.

[Wilmington Star – November 6, 1917]





Leaves on First Weekly Round

Trip Today With Much



The good stern wheel steamer Thelma will set sail this afternoon on her first voyage to Fayetteville under her new owner, with her hull rebuilt, a sharp prow taking the place of her former square nose. She is expected to make better time than she ever made before.

The Thelma was built by J. W. Brooks and was bought by the Planters’ Steamboat company to put her out of competition. For two years she has been tied up. Then Capt. H. Hart, who has worked up a profitable business to Elizabethtown, with the old Oaste, bought her January 1. He took her over to the R. F. Hamme marine railway on Eagle Island and had her hull repaired and her blunt bow sharpened. The Wilmington Iron Works repaired the engines and boiler, while the work on the hull was going forward. The upper works were painted, but the hull will not get its coat until later. A new stack will give the 60-horse power engine plenty of steam. The boat is 150 feet over all.

The Thelma draws 15 inches of water light and will run on a heavy dew, but loaded she has a four-foot displacement. Until the new lock is built between Fayetteville and Elizabethtown to give water all the year round the Thelma will run only to Elizabethtown in time of low water. But now she will make Fayetteville, stopping at Elizabethtown the first night out of Wilmington and making the round trip once a week. She will get back to Wilmington, Tuesday mornings, discharge and load cargo Tuesday and sail at 6 a. m. Wednesdays.

The Thelma carries 53 tons of freight and is licensed for 40 passengers. There is one lifeboat and one working boat and plenty of life preservers. There is a crew of 10 men. The Oaste is to be dismantled and made into a barge which will be towed alongside the Thelma when freight warrants it.

[Wilmington Morning Star – February 28, 1924]

R. Fred Hamme c1900

NOTES: R. Fred Hamme photo in “Early Days in Wilmington” pp. 64 & 65.  Group photo of Confederate Veterans on p. 64, first row, second from left.

Rejuvenated Thelma Takes Maiden Trip


The stern wheel steamer Thelma, rebuilt and with a new smokestack, steamed up the Cape Fear yesterday on her maiden voyage to Fayetteville and intermediate landings, including Elizabethton, which she was expected to reach last night. She carried several passengers and a full cargo of general merchandise supplied by Wilmington wholesale merchants. She will reach Fayetteville tonight.

The new line, which is to make one round trip a week, is expected to develop trade for local jobbers by furnishing completion in rates with the railroads and demonstration the soundness of Governor Morrison’s port and water transportation development program.

[Wilmington Star – February 29, 1924]

The maiden voyage of the stern-wheel steamer THELMA, under the ownership of Captain H. Hunt, was tempestuous. High water beyond all recent records, was responsible for abandonment of the trip to Fayetteville.

The high water filled the Cape Fear with deadwood which almost wrecked the THELMA’s wheel. The crank shaft was cracked but held until the return trip from Elizabethtown was finished at 9 o’clock Monday night. Then it was welded electrically and is stronger than ever. New paddles have been added to the wheel.

Old landings were under water and the steamer had to unload her freight in the woods in some cases.

Another try will be made for Fayetteville next Tuesday night at 6 o’clock. The THELMA sails for Elizabethtown this morning at 6 o’clock and the indications are that all the room she has for freight will be occupied.


Freight For Fayetteville

—– by —–

Steamer Thelma

The steamer Thelma will take freight Tuesday for Fayetteville and intermediate points on the Cape Fear river. Boat leaves Tuesday at 6 p. m.

H. HUNT, Captain

Foot of Chestnut Street.

[Wilmington Star – March 5, 1924]

Body of Hunt Found in River


Son of H. Hunt of Elizabethtown; Details Not Known; Dead Several Days


Wilmington, April 30. — The body of a white man identified as James Elmer Hunt, 40, of 232 Russell street, Fayetteville, was found floating on the surface of the Cape Fear river at the foot of Ann street around 4 o’clock this morning and brought to shore by city police.

Hunt was identified by social security cards and other papers found in his pockets. His wife was notified by Fayetteville police who were informed of the affair by attendants at Yopp’s Funeral home, where the body was carried.

M. E. Ward, nephew, connected with Ward’s Motor Express on 13th street, when told of his uncle’s death by Sergeant Coy Etheridge of the Wilmington police, said he had not seen Hunt in several months. Ward said that he understood Hunt had been working at Camp Davis and living in an automobile trailer there.

The body was in such an advanced stage of decomposition that officials said it was almost impossible to tell how long he had been dead, and that it also was not possible to detect any evidence of foul play. Police said, however, that the fact that his body was floating on the surface of the water indicated that Hunt had been dead for several days.

Police are searching for a man, whose name is being withheld, who was arrested Sunday morning for drunkenness. This man, they reported, had been placed in jail after a report had been made to them by a Clyde Line watchman that two men were drunk on his pier. When officers reached the scene, they found only one man, whose clothing was so saturated with water that they surmised he had fallen into the river. Their investigation will be made in an effort to determine if the second drunken man reported by the watchman might not have been Hunt.

It was understood that no inquest will be held unless police develop information which might indicate that Hunt’s drowning was not accidental.

The dead man is survived by his wife and three children.

Mr. Hunt was the son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Hunt of Elizabethtown.

[Bladen Journal – May 1, 1941]

The Remains of the Steamer THELMA on Flickr. (October 2007)




Funeral services will be held this afternoon at 2:30 o’clock for Captain Henry Hunt, of Elizabethtown, who died early Sunday morning at the Highsmith hospital in Fayetteville. The rites will be conducted at the graveside in Sherman cemetery, near Atkinson.

For twenty years, Captain Hunt operated the steamers Thelma and Annabee on the Cape Fear river.

He is survived by his widow, two daughters, Miss Annabell Hunt and Miss Henrietta Hunt, of Elizabethtown; a sister, Mrs. E. U. Horrell, of Atkinson, and a brother, George Franklin Hunt, of Wilmington.

[Morning Star – Monday, June 2, 1941]

Henry Hunt Was Buried Monday


Died in Fayetteville on Sunday;

Operated Steamboat Thelma

For Several Years


Henry H. Hunt, aged 64, well-known citizen of Elizabethtown, died in a Fayetteville hospital on Sunday following a brief illness. Funeral services were conducted on Monday afternoon at 2:30 at the Hunt cemetery near Point Caswell by Rev. E. H. Cannady, his pastor.

Pallbearers were his nephews.

Mr. Hunt was born near Point Caswell in Pender county, and was a member of the Baptist church there. He had lived in Elizabethtown for a number of years, and for a long time operated the steamboat, Thelma, which traveled on the Cape Fear river from Fayetteville to Wilmington. After the Thelma was docked, Mr. Hunt operated a motor bus line for several years. For the last several months he had operated a filling station in Fayetteville.

The tragic death of his son, Elmer Hunt, recently is thought to have hastened his death.

Mr. Hunt is survived by his widow, two daughters, Annabel and Henrietta, and by one brother, C. F. Hunt, of Wilmington. He is also survived by four grandchildren.

[Bladen Journal – June 5, 1941]



The Cape Fear River Steamers

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