20 May

A New Steamer for the Black River Trade.

A new steamer, constructed for and under the supervision of Captains R. P. Paddison and David Sherman, of Point Caswell, was launched at that place on Thursday last, and christened John Dawson, in honor of our venerable and esteemed fellow-citizen, ex-Mayor Dawson, of this city.  Her dimensions are 78 feet in length, 16 feet in width of beam, and 4 feet in depth of hold, and she will be furnished with a pair 12×36 cylinders.  Messrs. Hart, Bailey & Co., of this city, are constructing the engines and other machinery.  She will be commanded by Capt. Sherman, and will be run in connection with the steamer Isis on the upper Black River.  The new steamer is expected to be ready for work about the first of October ensuing.  It is encouraging to see such enterprise being displayed, as it denotes increased business between this city and the Black River section.

[Wilmington Star – August 27, 1879]

— On Wednesday night last, about 9 o’clock, when the new steamer John Dawson was on her way from this place to Point Caswell, and when within about four miles of her destination, the crank-pin of the steamer broke, knocking they cylinder-head out and causing considerable consternation for a few moments.  The engineer was standing in the door of the engine-room at the time and a stray bolt struck him on the leg, but without inflicting any injury.  The steamer completed the trip with one engine, and returned here yesterday, where she is undergoing the slight repairs necessary to put her in proper trim again.

[Wilmington Star? – March 26, 1880]

Excursion up the River.

A family excursion is advertised to take place on the new steamer John Dawson tomorrow, (Monday), to the Hamme plantation, the boat to leave her wharf foot of Princess street at 8 A. M.  A good band of music will be in attendance, refreshments furnished at city prices, and no objectionable persons will be allowed on board.  The Committee of Arrangements consists of James W. Monroe, D. B. Futrell, E. G. Parmlee and W. J. Smith.  Thanks for an invitation to participate.

The Hamme place is one of the favorite resorts of pleasure seekers.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Sunday, July 4, 1880]

The Excursion Monday.

One of the most enjoyable and pleasant excursions of the season was that on the steamer Passport, Capt. Harper, on Monday, the 5th.  The crowd was limited to just enough to make everybody comfortable, and it was altogether one of the most orderly and well behaved excursions we have ever participated in.  The boat left her wharf at about half past 8 o’clock A. M., touched at Fort Fisher, stopped at Smithville a few minutes, and then steamed to Fort Caswell, where a large number of the excursionists, with the Italian String Band disembarked, while the remainder went out to the Blackfish grounds.  Those who stopped at Caswell amused themselves by walking about among the ruins of the fort, in strolling on the beach, and in dancing in the building erected there for that purpose.

When the boat arrived from the Blackfish grounds there was a rush to get on board, but the crowd were turned back, with the information that it would take fully a half hour to wash off the decks and cleanse the boat, which told a tale that it needed not the ghastly countenances and demure aspect of many of those who ventured out among the “rolling billows” to verify.  On the homeward trip the boat stopped for an hour at Smithville, again touched at Fort Fisher, to take in those who had stopped at the rocks to fish, and reached her wharf at a very reasonable hour, the excursionists being delighted with their trip, much of the pleasure of which was due to the admirable arrangements of the Committee.

The Passport was very handsomely decorated with flags in honor of the day and the occasion.

Owing to the short notice given the excursion to the Hamme plantation, on the Steamer John Dawson, Capt. Sherman, was not as largely patronized as would otherwise have been the case, but about forty ladies and gentlemen embarked for the trip and enjoyed it immensely.  Dancing was kept up all the way there and back, and also in the building used for that purpose on the grounds.  The boat returned to her wharf about half-past 4 o’clock, no untoward accident or incident happening to mar the pleasure of the voyage.

The day was a very pleasant one for excursions.



—  There is no improvement in the river.  There was a rise of about three inches a few days ago, but it has fallen off again.  The boats are now refusing to take passengers on account of the delay they will experience in reaching Fayetteville.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Wednesday, July 7, 1880]

Lamp Explosion.

A little excitement was created on the steamer John Dawson, just before her arrival here on Friday night, by the explosion of a lamp filled with signal oil,  No damage, save the slight burning of the desk upon which it was standing and the momentary frightening of two ladies.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Sunday, January 9, 1881]

A Severe Fall.

Mr. John R Paddison, of Point Caswell, Pender county, left the steamer John Dawson, at the foot of Princess street, on Monday evening, to attend the temperance lecture at the Opera House, at which time the tide was so high that a person could step from the boat to the wharf or from the wharf to the boat without any difficulty.  When he returned, after the meeting was over, the tide had fallen considerably, causing the boat to  be some distance below the cap of the wharf, and he, not being familiar with the wharf or with the actions of the tide, attempted to step on board of the boat, when he slipped and fell a distance of about four feet upon the deck of the steamer, his head striking one of the fenders, by which he received a severe gash over one of his eyes, besides being badly shocked.  A physician was called, who pronounced his injuries painful but in no wise serious.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Wednesday, January 12, 1881]

The Steamer John Dawson.

We learn that Capt. R. P. Paddison has purchased the interest of Capt. David Sherman in the steamer John Dawson, on the line between this city and point Caswell, Pender county, and that hereafter he will be the sole owner of the boat.  Capt. A. M. Calvin is in command under the new arrangements.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Wednesday, June 13, 1883]



Destruction of the Steamer “John

Dawson” by Fire – Loss Estimated at $5,500.

The well known river steamer John Dawson, R. P. Paddison captain, was destroyed by fire Wednesday morning last at the wharf at Maultsby’s Point, on Black river.  The first intelligence of the disaster was brought to the city yesterday by Hayes Jones, colored, but he was unable to give any particulars.  Last night, however, a letter from Capt. Paddison was received at the STAR office, giving an account of the accident.  Capt. Paddison says:  “About 11 o’clock this (Wednesday) morning, while the steamer John Dawson was at the wharf as Maultsby’s Point, she caught fire from the smoke-stack, and despite all efforts by officers and crew, she was burned to the water’s edge.  We succeeded in scuttling the hull, and sunk her in about eight feet of water.  The John Dawson was built four years ago, expressly for the Black river trade; and as a passenger, freight and towing boat was exactly suited to all requirements.  She cost $5,500, and when burned was worth fully that amount.”  It is presumed here that there was no insurance on the boat, as Capt. Paddison makes no mention of it in his letter.  Fortunately, there was no freight on board.  The Dawson was built by Capt. Paddison at Point Caswell; Messrs. Hart, Bailey & Co., of Wilmington, constructing the machinery.  Under the command of her popular captain she was a great favorite among river people.

[Wilmington Star – May 29, 1885 (Bill Reaves Collection 1992)]

The Cape Fear River Steamers—-

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 20, 2009 in The Boats


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: