The Steamer D. MURCHISON – Part III

07 Jun

Carolina Beach.

The steamboat Murchison is chartered to run between Carolina Beach and Wilmington.  The managers are fortunate in securing this steamer, one of the best boats of the Cape Fear River Line, for she is commodious and speedy.  Being of light draft and independent of steering to a channel course she can make the voyage either way, a distance of 13 miles, in 45 minutes.  She is a vast improvement over the Clarence, and, thus facilitating transportation must largely increase the popularity of this delightful Resort by the Sea.—Fayetteville Observer.

[Wilmington Messenger – July 6, 1894]



The Steamboat D. Murchison Running

Between Wilmington and Carolina Beach

Pier – Insured for $6,000.

The steamer D. Murchison, Captain John S. Sellers, running on the Cape Fear river between Wilmington and the Carolina Beach pier, was burned to the water’s edge Sunday last about noon, near the mouth of Brunswick river, three miles below Wilmington.  The boat was on her return trip to the city.  There were only four passengers—a gentleman on his way to the city, Capt. Sellers’ wife and two children.  The fire broke out near the furnace and spread rapidly.  The pilot headed the boat for the west side of the river and beached her in shoal water, and the passengers and crew were safely landed in boats.

The following statement was made to a STAR reporter by Capt. Sellers:

“We left on the regular trip from Wilmington at 9.30 o’clock with quite a number of passengers, and it was on the return trip, at about a quarter to twelve when the alarm of fire was given.  It was discovered in a pile of wood in the bow of the boat near the furnace, by my little son, who at once notified the pilot.  It was not over two minutes after the alarm was given that the hose and buckets were brought in use.  At the time there was a brisk wind blowing and although the boat was quickly turned stern to the wind, the fire had gained such headway that it was impossible to extinguish it.  While I was throwing the burning wood overboard, my clothes took fire and seeing that the fire was rapidly gaining on us, I went up stairs, (where the smoke was becoming very dense) for my wife and children, and took them to the stern of the boat.  We then launched the lifeboat which was struck by the revolving wheel and capsized.  A boat then came from the shore in which I sent my wife and children ashore.  The rest of the crew came ashore in the life-boat, after it was righted, and in a boat from the shore.  All the crew stood at their posts until ordered away by me.  There was only one passenger, my wife and two children and the crew on board.  The burning took place near Clark’s Island, about three miles from the city.  The boat burned to the hull, which is of iron.”

The crew of the Murchison—all colored men and all from Fayetteville—were:  David Jackson, pilot; Jno. W. Webb, engineer; Larkins Bell, fireman; Irving Dedmer and Jno. Manuel, deck hands.

Jno. H. Waddell, colored, who lives on the east side of the river, near the scene of the accident, launched a boat and went to the rescue of the people on the Murchison, and assisted them in getting ashore.

The Murchison was owned by the Express Steamboat Company, having stockholders in Wilmington and Fayetteville.  She was built at Wilmington, Del., in 1869, at a cost of $24,000, and had been running on the Cape Fear river nearly twenty-five years.  She was a light-draught, speedy boat, with good accommodations for passengers, and was always one of the most popular of the river craft that ploughed the muddy waters of the Cape Fear between Wilmington and Fayetteville.  Up to the first of June last she ran a regular schedule between the two places under command of Capt. Robeson, and was then withdrawn and the steamer Cape Fear put on her run.

About the first of this month she was chartered by Mr. Hans A. Kure to run the Carolina Beach schedule.  She was insured for $6,000, in agencies at Fayetteville.

[Wilmington ? – July 10, 1894]

The Steamer D. Murchison Burned.

The steamboat D. Murchison which has been plying between this city and Wilmington for more than 24 years, and which was recently leased by Mr. Kure to run from Wilmington to Carolina Beach, was burned to the water’s edge last Sunday morning about three miles below Wilmington. The Murchison was one of the three boats belonging to the Express Steamboat Company which ply between this city and Wilmington. The other two are the Hurt and Cape Fear, both good boats, and still in active service. Mr. A. H. Slocomb is president, and Col. W. S. Cook is manager of the company.

The stockholders are Messrs. S. P. McNair, D. McEachern, Dr. A. J. DeRosset, of Wilmington; A. H. Slocomb, R. M. Nimocks, Mrs. J. A. Tomlinson, W. A. Robeson, J. H. Currie and W. S. Cook, of Fayetteville; Mrs. C. S. Love, of Elizabethtown, Bladen county, and Mr. L. Shaw, of St. Pauls, Robeson county.

The steamer was built at Wilmington, Del., in 1869, and cost $24,000. The insurance on her is about $6,000 and is in the agencies of D. H. Ray and J. A. Pemberton, of this city.

The Murchison was the finest of the three boats and was recently thoroughly overhauled and repainted. She had a passenger capacity of 50.

The Wilmington Messenger says:

The Murchison was under command of Capt. J. S. Sellers, and Dave Jackson, colored, was pilot. The steamer left here Sunday morning at 9:30 o’clock with quite a number of passengers for Carolina Beach. They were landed safely at the Beach pier and the steamer started back immediately for Wilmington, the only persons on board being Capt. Sellers, his wife and two little sons, Louis aged 7 years and Hood aged 4 years. Mr. Will Pinner, the mate, Dave Jackson, the pilot, and the engineer, the fireman, two deck hands and Mr. Nance Windsor, former engineer on the steamer Clarence, who was coming up as a passenger. At 11:45 a.m. Capt. Sellers was aft when his little son Louis came and told him a pile of wood was on fire. The pilot also blew the alarm from the wheel house. Capt. Sellers had been forward only five minutes before the fire broke out, and as soon as his little son told him about it he and Mr. Windsor hurried forward and when they got there the wood pile was in a pretty good blaze. He and Mr. Windsor went to throwing off the wood, and in a minute all hands were at work throwing water with the pumps and buckets. The wind was blowing from the east so the steamer’s stern was put to the wind and the engine was stopped.

The fire gained rapidly, but Mr. Windsor and Capt. Sellers stood their ground until several holes were burned in the latter’s clothes. Seeing that there was no chance to control the fire, the captain went upstairs for his wife and children. He met her on the stairway badly frightened and carried her and the children aft and launched the life boat.

When the Murchison caught on fire she was a quarter of a mile from the west shore, but Capt. Sellers says if a large number of passengers had been aboard he would have saved them by running ashore. After the steamer had been abandoned, she drifted on the point at the south side of the mouth of Brunswick river. It was floodtide at the time, and the iron hull of the steamer can be seen from boats passing on the river. She will be a total loss.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, July 12, 1894]

Wreck of Steamer D. Murchison

For Sale At Auction.

The wreck of Str. D. Murchison, which consists of iron hull, boiler, engine, and other machinery, will be offered for sale at public auction TUESDAY, September 25th, 1894.  At 11 o’clock a. m.  Sale to take place at the mouth of the Brunswick river, about 4 miles below Wilmington, where wreck can be seen.  For further information apply to


Manager Express Steamboat Co.,

Fayetteville, N. C.

[? – August 16, 1894]

Echoes of the Freshet.

From all accounts the damage done along the banks of the Cape Fear by the great freshet was phenomenally small.  The river is now about at its normal condition.  At a meeting of the steamboat stockholders in this city Tuesday it was decided to rebuild the Murchison, the iron hull of which is at the company’s wharf in Campbellton.  The contract was given to Capt. W. S. Skinner, of Wilmington, who says he will have the steamer ready for service in six weeks.

The Hurt is still where the waters left her but we are informed that she will, as soon as possible, be railroaded into the water, fifty feet below.  The Cape Fear is, as we stated last week, a total wreck and is fit for little more than kindling wood.

There are various opinions as to the height of the Butler freshet in comparison with the Sherman freshet.  The most authentic places the former at about four inches above the latter.

[Fayetteville Observer – January 24, 1895.]

Cape Fear River Boats.

Mr. D. McEachern returned yesterday from Fayetteville, where he attended a meeting of the Cape Fear and People’s Steamboat Co. He confirms the announcement made in the STAR several days since that the company decided to rebuild the steamer Murchison and to launch the Hurt. The contract for both was given to Capt. S. W. Skinner of Wilmington. It is expected that the Hurt will resume her regular trips in about three weeks, and that the Murchison will be ready for service in six weeks.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Thurs., January 24, 1895]

Fayetteville, N. C., Feb. 5. – The steamer D. MURCHISON, which was burned to the water’s edge last summer, below Wilmington, is being rebuilt in handsome style.  The hull was made of steel and was not injured.  The cabin, state rooms, etc., will be handsomely finished and when the steamer again takes her place on the river she will be the handsomest one that has ever yet ploughed the waters between this city and Wilmington.

[Wilmington Messenger – February 6, 1895]

Fayetteville OBSERVER, Feb. 7th – The steamer D. MURCHISON is being rebuilt at the company’s wharf.  The deck has been laid on the steel hull which was not injured by the fire last summer and upon this will be erected an upper deck with handsome cabins and a salon.  She will be completed in a month or two.

[Wilmington Messenger – February 8, 1895]

The steamer D. MURCHISON will be rebuilt and on the river again in about six weeks.  When finished she will be an elegant river craft.

[Wilmington Messenger – February 27, 1895]

The steamer HURT, which left on her trip for Fayetteville yesterday, carried up the boiler for the rebuilt steamer D. MURCHISON.

[Wilmington Messenger – April 3, 1895]

Ready for Her Trips on the River Again.

The steamer D. Murchison, which has been rebuilt at Fayetteville, was inspected on the river at that city on Wednesday and will again be on the river in a few days between Fayetteville and Wilmington.  The steamer was inspected by Capt. O. H. Gannon and Capt. E. E. Groom, United States inspectors of steam craft, who give her a creditable certificate.

[Wilmington Messenger – July 27, 1895]



A New River steamer to Run Between

Fayetteville and Wilmington.

The handsome steamboat D. Murchison, Capt. Sandy Robeson in command, arrived yesterday morning at 6 o’clock from Fayetteville, with a number of passengers and a good freight, including 28 casks spirits turpentine, 153 barrels rosin, 63 barrels tar and two barrels crude turpentine.  She left on her return trip about half-past three o’clock with passengers and freight for Fayetteville and way landings.  The Murchison will (as stated by the STAR) take the place of the Hurt, her regular days for departure for Fayetteville being Tuesdays and Fridays.

A number of persons visited the new steamboat yesterday while she lay at her wharf foot of Chesnut street, and were shown through the boat and cordially received by Maj. Cook, the agent at Fayetteville, Capt. Robeson, Mr. D. McEachern, one of the owners, Mr. A. H. Williams, the mate, and Mr. Jas. Madden, the agent here.

The Murchison is a handsome and commodious boat.  She was built at Fayetteville; is 120 feet long, 20 feet beam and 11 feet 2 inches from main deck to upper deck.  She is a sternwheel boat, with non-condensing engine—14 inches in diameter, with a 4 foot stroke.  The boiler is of steel.  She has accommodations for thirty-six passengers, and can carry 350 bales of cotton or 800 barrels of rosin.

[Wilmington Star – July 31, 1895]



The D. Murchison Rebuilt and Again

on the River Between Wilming-

ton and Fayetteville—A Credit

to the Line.

The steamer D. Murchison, Capt. W. A. Robeson, of the Express Steamboat company’s line, between Wilmington and Fayetteville on the upper Cape Fear, arrived here yesterday morning at 5:15 o’clock with a good freight list and several passengers, among them being Col. W. S. Cook, of Fayetteville, general manager of the Express Steamboat company; Mr. D. McEachern, of Wilmington, one of the stockholders; Capt. T. J. Green, of Fayetteville, one of the company’s commanders; Sheriff W. J. Sutton, of Bladen county; Mr. John W. Hall, of Elizabethtown; Mrs. F. H. Lutterloah, of Fayetteville, and Mrs. Roxanna McNeill, of Harnett county.

The Murchison caught fire last Summer while running between Wilmington and Carolina Beach, and was beached near the mouth of Brunswick river, where she was burned to the water’s edge.  The hull was taken to Fayetteville last spring, and during this summer the boat has been entirely rebuilt by the company.  Her length is 120 feet and her beam 22 feet.  She now has a freight capacity of 400 bales of cotton or 800 barrels of rosin.  She has stateroom accommodation for thirty first-class passengers, and is the finest boat that ever ran on the river between here and Fayetteville.

The steamer is a double decked boat with the first deck for freight and the upper deck for passengers.  Between the decks there is a pitch of eleven feet, giving ample room for freight.

The upper deck with its cabins and state rooms is handsomely finished in North Carolina pine painted white on the outside and finished in oil on the inside.  A handsome saloon eight feet in width runs the full length of the steamer on the upper deck, and on either side of this saloon are twelve double state rooms with berths for three persons each.  The state rooms are handsomely carpeted and furnished with oak washstands, and everything about them is as neat as a pin.  In the forward cabin on the upper deck is a nicely carpeted saloon 12×22 feet in size, to be used as a rendezvous for passengers.  In the middle of the cabin there is a pretty dancing room 10 x 12 feet in size.  The saloons and staterooms are handsomely lighted and ventilated, and in all respects the equipments are a big improvement on the old arrangement.  The captain’s room is forward on the upper deck and is 10 by 12 feet in size.  It is nicely carpeted and furnished.  The pilothouse is commodious and is one the hurricane deck.

Altogether the new Murchison is a credit to the river, and it is gratifying to note the enterprise of the Express Steamboat company in providing their line with such a vessel.

The steamer A. P. Hurt will now be laid off for repairs and the Murchison will leave here for Fayetteville every Tuesday at 2 p. m., and every Friday at 2 p. m. Capt. W. A. Robeson, the old veteran, will be in command.

[Wilmington Messenger – July 31, 1895]


Cape Fear River is rising rapidly. The Steamer Murchison made a quick trip to Wilmington yesterday on the high water.

[Fayetteville Observer – February 5, 1896]

Mr. Madden, the agent there, informs the Wilmington Star that the steamer D. Murchison will not be taken off her run between Wilmington and Fayetteville, but will keep up her regular schedule as heretofore.

[Fayetteville Observer – February 8, 1896]

The Cape Fear River and Boats.

The Cape Fear River reached its highest Sunday.  It was falling this morning.  It was within nine feet of the great “populist freshet” of the 12th of last January.

Mr. Madden, the agent there, informs the Wilmington Star that the steamer D. Murchison will not be taken off her run between Wilmington and Fayetteville, but will keep up her regular schedule as heretofore.

The Wilmington Messenger says that the steamer Hurt from this place arrived there Friday with large freights.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, February 13, 1896]

We regret to learn that Capt. Sandy Robeson, of the steamer Murchison, is laid up at Fayetteville with an attack of rheumatism.

[Wilmington Messenger – February 27, 1896]

Drowned on the Cape Fear.

Tuesday night a colored raft hand named McNeill from Harnett, while drunk, fell or jumped from the Steamer Murchison and was drowned.

The man with his two brothers had taken a raft to Wilmington and were returning on the Murchison.

Two of the brothers were watching the other one who was drunk and laying asleep near the boiler when they too, went to sleep, just after passing the Navassa Bridge.  They were awakened by the Steamer’s blowing for Piney Bluff and looking where they had left their brother found him gone.  A search was instituted but the man was not on board.  One of the brothers took a boat and went in search of him but with the same result.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, April 16, 1896]

The Steamer Murchison to Go to Savannah

The Savannah Morning News of Monday says:

“It is rumored that the steamer Murchison of Wilmington, N. C., is to be brought to Savannah to take the place of the Katie, which sank and went to pieces recently.  The Murchison has been running on the Cape Fear river for several years.  Her owners are interested in Gibson’s line on the Savannah river.  It is said that the Murchison will be manned by the Katie’s crew, with Capt. Bevill in command.”

[Wilmington Messenger – October 14, 1896]

Steamboat Inspection Service


August 25.—Steamers Louise and D. Murchison collided in Savannah River near Sisters Ferry. No loss of life or property. Damage slight. Accident investigated, and license of W. D. Armstrong, master and pilot, and of Ed. G. Turner, Jr., suspended.

Death of Capt Garrason.

Not only the people of Fayetteville but of all the Cape Fear country will receive with sorrow the news of the death of Capt. Alonzo Garrason, who, after a long period of ill health and much suffering, passed away at his residence on Person street at 2 o’clock Thursday night, aged 70 years.

Capt. Garrason was detailed for special service in the machinery department of the Confederate arsenal at this place during the civil war, where his skill and devotion to duty were exceptionally valuable.  About the year 1868 he took command of the Murchison, one of the finest steamers on the river, and for many years he ranked as one of the most popular and efficient captains that ever plied the Cape Fear.  Subsequently he engaged in merchandising, and up to his death was one of the leading grocers of Fayetteville.

The deceased married Miss Belle Beasley, daughter of the late Rev. J. M. Beasley; who survives him with one son, Mr. John Garrason, a daughter, Mrs. T. F. Cheek, having died some years ago.  He was born in Brunswick county, near Wilmington.

Capt. Garrason was a member of the First Baptist church, from which the funeral took place Sunday at 3:30 o’clock.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, November 12, 1903]

The Cape Fear River Steamers

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