The Tar Heel Steamboat Company – Part II

26 Apr



River Steamers Tar Heel and Lyon Together With Crash Early Yesterday Morning




Accident Eighteen Miles Up Cape Fear.  Colored fireman Severely Injured and Brought to Hospital In This City.


As the result of a misunderstanding of signals by the pilots of the respective boats, the river steamers Tar Heel and C. W. Lyon, both belonging to the Tar Heel Steamboat Company, of which Mr. S. M. King is agent in this city, were in collision eighteen miles above Wilmington on the Cape Fear river yesterday morning about 4 o’clock.  The Tar Heel was slightly broken up and came into port slightly leaking.  The Lyon, being of iron hull, was not damaged and proceeded to Fayetteville.  Frank Cain, colored fireman on the Tar Heel, was jammed between a pile of wood on the deck of his boat and the colliding steamer, the result being that all the flesh was torn from the calf of his right leg to the bone, a very severe injury.

The Tar Heel was bound to Wilmington with light cargo of naval stores and about 20 steerage and cabin passengers.  The Lyon was bound to Fayetteville with general cargo.  It was yet dark when they met at Raccoon Bluff, the channel being very crooked at that point.  Each steamer blew one blast of its whistle, meaning to pass to starboard.  As they met and were in an oblique position, the Tar Heel blew four whistles, which means reduce speed and come along side.  The man in charge was slow to read the signal or it was given too slowly and the Lyon took it that they were to pass otherwise than first signaled.  The Lyon changed her course and the Tar Heel was struck on the port side by the other boat, both at reduced speed, however.  Fireman Cain started to run aft to escape but was caught on the pile of wood and severely jammed.  No bones were broken but the tearing of the flesh from the calf of his leg was a frightful injury and he will be laid up several weeks in the hospital in consequence thereof.  He has been on the river a number of years and has a family at Fayetteville.  The stair case of the Tar Heel was torn down on the port side and the hog chain parted.  The guards were carried away and the hull was cut into, causing the steamer to leak somewhat.  However, the pumps were put to work by Capt. J. A. Peoples, the engineer, and she came into port in good shape about 8:15 o’clock in the morning.  Temporary repairs were made and the steamer expected to resume her schedule last night.

The injured fireman was brought to Wilmington on the steamer and taken out to the James Walker Memorial Hospital in the ambulance.  Capt. Jeff Bradshaw is master of the steamer Lyon and Capt. Henry Edge is master of the Tar Heel.  They desired to come alongside and exchange a pilot when the accident occurred.

[Wilmington Star – April 18, 1906]



The Tar Heel and the Lyon Come
Together on the Cape Fear.


Yesterday morning, before daylight, the Steamers Tar Heel and C. W. Lyon, meeting on the Cape Fear, and desiring to exchange a pilot, by some misunderstanding came into collision, being about 18 miles above Wilmington.  The Tar Heel was somewhat broken up, and went into its wharf at Wilmington leaking; the Lyon was not damaged, and proceeded on its way to Fayetteville.  Frank Cain, colored fireman on the Tar Heel, was jammed against a pile of wood, receiving a severe injury to his leg, and was carried to the Memorial Walker Hospital in Wilmington.

[Fayetteville Observer – April 19, 1906]

—  Mr. S. M. King, agent for the Tar Heel Steamboat Company, leaves this evening for his old home in Pennsylvania where he will spend a week or ten days.  During his absence, Mr. W. J. Davis, purser on the Tar Heel, will be in charge of the agency of the line in this city.

[Wilmington Star —  May 20, 1906]

The steamer Tar Heel having undergone an overhauling resumed her running on the river today.

[Wilmington Dispatch —  June 19. 1906]

—  The steamer Tar Heel, of the Wilmington and Fayetteville line, is laid up at her wharf here for a day or two, having broken her crank shaft on the last trip down.  She will repair and proceed as soon as possible{.}  The steamers C. W. Lyon and City of Fayetteville cleared last night for the return to Fayetteville.

[Wilmington Star —  October 23, 1906]

A River Steamer Tragedy.

John McDowell, a young negro deck hand on the steamer C. W. Lyon, was shot twice in the shoulder by Engineer J. A. Peoples, of Fayetteville, on the deck of the boat, which was lying at the wharf in Wilmington, Friday p.m. between 6 and 7 o’clock, and may die as the result of the wound.  He is in the Hospital and Dr. Gray, of the hospital staff, who made an examination of the wound, found that one of the main arteries had been severed and that the patient was having internal hemorrhages.  Engineer Peoples claims that the shooting was in self-defense and gave himself up at the police station at once.  Pending the result of McDowell’s injuries he is being held without bond.

Mr. Peoples’ version of the affair is to the effect that he was employed to go on the steamer Lyon to Fayetteville to bring the boat back, while the regular engineer went up on vacation.  Mr. People’s is regularly employed as engineer of the steamer Tar Heel of the same company which is now laid up for repairs.  He said that he went aboard the Lyon yesterday evening.  The negro was crowding the passage-way and he told him to get out of the way.  McDowell went off cursing him.  The engineer said he went on board the Tar Heel, which lay alongside, to get his belongings to transfer to the Lyon; that as he was crossing over to the Lyon in the dark some one shouted to him to lookout and as he turned his head the negro had an iron spade drawn to strike him.  In self-defense he drew the pistol and fired twice.  The negro dropped and later the ambulance was summoned and he was taken to the hospital.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, November 15, 1906]

—  The steamer Tar Heel, of the Tar Heel Steamboat Company will be laid up here some time for repairs.  The steamer Lyon is making the regular schedule to Fayetteville and was here yesterday, clearing at 6 o’clock yesterday evening for the return.

[?? – November 17, 1906]

Inspecting River Steamboats.

United States Steamboat Inspectors Fred B. Rice and J. T. Borden Thursday inspected the steamer City of Fayetteville and also the Tar Heel.  The City of Fayetteville was found to be in good condition, but such was not the case with the Tar Heel.  The Wilmington Messenger says that when the inspectors went on the steamer they found men at work patching the boiler, which appeared not to be in the best of condition.  After examining the boiler Supervising Inspector Oast advised his local inspectors to condemn the boiler, which of course, will be done.  The boiler has been in use for the past 26 years and is said to be absolutely worn out.  It will take some time to get a new boiler here and get it installed, so the Tar Heel will be out of commission for some time to come.  Both of these boats run between Wilmington and Fayetteville.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, November 29, 1906]



Cape Fear Steamboat Men Have

Formed New Connection.

Mr. S. M. King, for several years the Wilmington agent of the Tar Heel Steamboat Company, operating the steamer C. W. Lyon between this port and Fayetteville, has severed his connection with the corporation and will leave this week for Augusta, Ga., where with Mr. A. E. Martin, of Fayetteville, and Captain J. D. Bradshaw, of this city, they have purchased a controlling interest in the Gibson Steamship Line, operating a large freight and passenger steamer between Augusta and Savannah on the river.  The change went into effect yesterday, June 1st.  Mr. King and Mr. Martin will be conected with the executive management of the line while Captain Bradshaw will be on the steamer.  Mr. King will be succeeded as Wilmington agent of the steamer Lyon by Mr. Fred Powell, who takes charge upon the arrival of the steamer this week.

Another rumored change in local steamboat circles is that Captain LeRoy Smith has resigned as master of the steamer City of Fayetteville and will go to Savannah, Ga., to engage in railroad work.

[Wilmington Star – June 2, 1907]

(Supreme Court of North Carolina. Oct. 28, 1908.)

Where, in an action for death of a steamboat passenger by drowning, defendant proved the condition of the bateau sent from the steamer to the rescue of deceased, plaintiff could, in order to lay the foundation for evidence to impeach the witness, ask him if, shortly after the drowning of deceased, witness had not stated that he could have saved deceased if he had had another man with him to bail the water out of the bateau.
[Ed. Note.-For other cases, see Witnesses, Cent. Dig. 5§ 1233-1237; Dec. Dig. § 388.«]

In an action for death of a steamboat passenger through falling off a boat and being drowned, evidence held sufficient to warrant the submission to the jury of the question whether, notwithstanding deceased’s negligence, defendant could, by the exercise of reasonable care, have prevented his death.
[Ed. Note.-For other cases, see Shipping, Dec. Dig. § 166.*]
Appeal from Superior Court, Cumberland County; Long, Judge.

Action by James Pate, administrator, against the Tar Heel Steamboat Company. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant appeals. No error.

Civil action to recover damages for the death of Hector Lloyd Pate, alleged to have been brought about by the negligence of the defendant. The following issues were submited: “(1) Was the death of the plaintiff’s intestate caused by the negligence of the defendant, as alleged? Ans. Yes. (2) Did the plaintiff’s intestate, by his own negligence, contribute to his death? Ans. Yes. (3) Notwithstanding such negligence on the part of said intestate, could the defendant, by the exercise of reasonable care and prudence, have prevented his death? Ans. Yes. (4) What damages, If any, is plaintiff entitled to recover? Ans. $1,000 (one thousand dollars).” From the judgment rendered the defendant appealed.

Rose & Rose and Robinson & Shaw, for appellant. Q. K. Nimocks. Sinclair & Dye, and Cook & Davis, for appellee.

BROWN, J. It is unnecessary to consider any exceptions arising upon the trial bearing exclusively upon the first and second issues. In consequence of the findings of the jury upon these issues, the plaintiff cannot recover, except upon the ground that, after discovering the peril of the plaintiff’s intestate, the master and servants of defendant failed to make all reasonable efforts to rescue him. The intestate was a passenger on defendant’s steamer Tar Heel from Wilmington to Fayetteville. When about eight miles up the river from Wilmington, at about 8 o’clock at night, when about to descend the stairway of said steamer, which was narrow and dark, with a sharp turn near the bottom, and with a loose step which landed at the edge of the boat, and within 18 or 20 inches of the water’s edge, the intestate accidently fell overboard and was drowned. That it was the duty of the master and crew to make every reasonable endeavor, consistent with the safety of ship and passengers, to rescue their passenger after discovering his situation is properly admitted. But it is contended upon the entire evidence that there is nothing to show any dereliction of duty in this respect, and the court was requested so to charge. His honor thought otherwise, and submitted the question for the determination of the jury under the third issue.

1. We think the exception to the question asked Andrew Jackson upon cross-examination cannot be sustained. The defendant had proven by Jackson the condition of the bateau sent from the steamer to the rescue of the intestate. Upon cross-examination the plaintiff was permitted to ask this question: “Q. Andrew Jackson, I want to ask you If, shortly after the drowning of Lloyd Pate down at the river wharf at Fayetteville, you did not state to Mr. Frank Glover that you could have saved Lloyd Pate’s life the night he was drowned if you had had another man in the boat with you to bail the water out of the boat? (Objection by defendant overruled, and defendant excepts; the Court making its ruling understanding that it is offered for the purpose of contradicting the witness and impeaching him.) A. I do not remember whether I told him that way or not. I remember Mr. Glover asked me if the boat leaked any, and was there any water in it when I got back. I told him there was some water in it when I got back.” Of course the declarations of the boat hand made after the occurrence are incompetent for the purpose of proving the dangerous condition of the bateau. Southerland v. R. R., 100 N. C. 100, 11 S. E.

189. But having been examined by the defendant as its witness as to the condition of the bateau, it was competent to impeach or contradict his evidence upon that point, by his declarations on that subject to Glover. To lay the foundation for offering such impeaching evidence it was proper to ask the witness, in cross-examination, the question objected to. His honor properly confined the scope and effect of the question to “impeaching evidence.”

2. The evidence upon the question of a dereliction of duty in attempting to rescue the intestate is not very satisfactory; but, upon a careful examination of the record, we think his honor properly submitted the matter to the jury under the third issue. There is some evidence tending to prove unnecessary delay and confusion in the efforts to save the passenger after his peril was known; that the bateau was very leaky and unfit; that it was not properly manned; that there were no lights; and that with reasonable alacrity the boatman with proper help might have reached the spot where the passenger sank in time to have saved him. The testimony offered for defendant tends to prove that every reasonable effort was made that could have been made, and that the bateau was well manned and in good condition. This question is one eminently proper to be decided by a jury under the circumstances of this case. His honor’s charge properly placed the burden of proof upon this Issue upon the plaintiff, and clearly and fully submitted the question for their decision.

Upon a review of the record we find no error.

[The Southeastern Reporter – Volume 62  – August 29 – December 19, 1908
— St. Paul: West Publishing Co. 1909]

The Boat Line From Elizabethtown to Wilmington.

A correspondent in Elizabethtown to the Lumberton Robesonian of Monday says:

“Our people are much pleased at the schedule boat run on our river.  The C. W. Lyon leaves at 6 o’clock p. m. promptly, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  She leaves Wilmington promptly at 3 p. m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays.  It is a pleasant trip.  No more obliging set of officials, from Capt. Sam King through the roster, including ‘Perry’, the steward, could be found.  Your comfort and pleasure is their concern.  Strangers should always include a run down our historic Cape Fear, in mapping out a trip.”

[Fayetteville Observer – Wednesday, March 22, 1911]

The Cape Fear River Steamers

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Posted by on April 26, 2009 in Uncategorized


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