The Steamer D. MURCHISON – Part I

07 Jun

A NEW STEAMER – Observing a fine new steamer lying at the wharf in front of Messrs. Williams & Murchison’s, yesterday, and knowing from her name which flaunted gaily from her flag-staff, that she was a stranger in our waters, we made some inquiries and were favored with an opportunity, by her obliging commander, Capt. Green, of a thorough inspection of the splendid craft, and with the following particulars concerning her, which may be of interest to our readers.  Her name is the D. Murchison, in compliment to a prominent gentleman of that name in Fayetteville and father of Capt. D. R. Murchison, of the firm of Williams & Murchison of this city.  She is 120 feet in length; is 20 feet in breadth of beam; has two inclined engines, with 5 feet stroke, and her cylinder is 15 inches in diameter, and works with link motion and the latest improved slide valve.  She has superior accommodations for thirty six passengers, and also has comfortable state rooms, fitted up with special reference to the accommodation of families.  This beautiful steamer was constructed at Wilmington, Del., by Messrs. Pussey, [Pusey – name misspelled] Jones & Co., is designed for the Wilmington and Fayetteville Express Company’s Line and, we suppose, will commence her regular trips immediately.  She will be commanded by Capt. T. J. Green, formerly of the steamer R. E. Lee, of the same line, in which capacity he gained many friends, who will be pleased to congratulate him on his promotion to the command of so fine a steamer as the D. Murchison.  In her trip to this place, where she arrived this morning, she made about 10 miles an hour.

[Wilmington Star – November 2, 1869]

(Correspondence of the Eagle.)



The new and elegant iron steamer “Duncan Murchison,” arrived at her dock in Campbellton on Thursday last from Wilmington, Del., via Wilmington, N. C., making her trip around, outside and to this place without the least mishap.  She will no doubt prove a splendid acquisition to our already large fleet of passenger and freight steamers now plying between this place and Wilmington.

She is 129 feet long— 20 feet beam—5 feet depth of hold – and is driven by two splendid link motion engines of 69 horse power each attached to a stern wheel of large dimensions.  She draws 17 inches of water light, and 4 feet loaded to her full capacity—which is 750 to 809 bbls. of naval stores.  It is thought she will make the trip from this place to Wilmington when fully prepared for the waters of this river, in 8 to 10 hours.

She floats like a feather,

In all sorts of weather.

Whether it be murky or clear.

On the bosom of the noble Cape Fear.

She speeds like a Roe.

Be the tides rapid or slow.

Or the bottom be near

To the bosom of the noble Cape Fear.

On the main deck, are her boiler, a ### #### “doctor,” engine room and galley—also a pump and nose to be used in washing down the decks, and in case of fire.  Her boiler and engine room are supplied with all of the latest improved water and steam gauges and patent safety valves.

On the upper deck are first the Captain’s office, furnished with a neat deck lounge, chairs, etc., where all ### ### ### walk up and settle when ### ### rings” –next is a very pleasant gentleman’s sitting and smoking saloon, with neat oak chairs and the floor covered with oil cloth—still aft of this is the gentleman’s berth cabin with accommodations for 12 passengers with berths running “athwart ### adjoining this are two state rooms on either side of a small passage which leads to the dining saloon.  T#### of the state rooms have three stage berths the others—one single and one double berth, the latter are intended for new married couples and #### are all carpeted with ##### carpeting, and furnished with everything that could be desired.

Adjoining these rooms is the dining saloon which is capacious enough to seat all who wish to take first-class passage, except on some “extra occasion”—the floor is covered with the same pattern of oil cloth as spoken of before, the furniture is of black walnut of elegant design and finish—upon which we noticed some beautiful wine bottles, cut wine glasses, wine goblets, elegant silver castors, pitchers, coffee urn, &c., all of which lead us to believe the inner man would “be fortified” at the proper time.  Last but not least is the ladies’ saloon with berth accommodations for 12, provided they should not wish to take state rooms.  This is a rosey little place—the floor is carpeted with Brussels carpeting; elegant rocking and sitting chairs of modern styles, berths with d#### s### and a good supply of things the ladies always delight to look into mirrors.  The painting throughout is all as white as the driven snow.

The arrangement of the saloons, state rooms, &c., is such that in the summer seasons of the year—a fine draft of air can be obtained throughout the whole extent of her upper apartments, which is a great luxury when traveling upon our river.

She was built by Messrs. Pusey, Jones & Co. of Wilmington, Del., (who have an extensive reputation as builders of iron boats and engines, for the Messrs. Williams & Murchison of this place and Wilmington, at cost of $24,000 for the steamer, and $2,000 for the furniture delivered here.  Taking her in all her apartments she is decidedly the finest stern wheel steamer we have ever had upon this river.  They deserve and no doubt will receive a large amount of the travel and freight for their very commendable enterprise and large outlay.  They have shown to all, that energy and enterprise have not as some would make others believe, departed entirely from our good old town.

The name which she floats from her  #### is one familiar to all of our people and is synonamous of energy, industry and enterprise.  If she purposes her avocation with one-half the assiduity and success of the gentlemen after whom she is named, her owners may look for large dividends.  She will be commanded by Capt. Green—the former gentlemanly commander of the Lee.  We congratulate him upon his promotion, and as Bernard would say Green may his age ever be.  She will run in the Express steamboat line in connection with the General Lee.


[The Eagle – Fayetteville, N.C. – Thursday, November 11, 1869]

— Says the Eagle: A dangerous collision with two of our steamboats occurred last Friday evening, the 4th inst., some 20 miles above Wilmington.  The Steamer D. Murchison going down the river, while turning one of the short curves in that part of the river, ran into the Gov. Worth which was coming up.  The Worth has side wheels and one of these was completely crushed and disabled, and the adjoining upper portions of the boat were badly damaged.  A negro woman on the lower deck of the Worth was severely and perhaps fatally wounded.  Fortunately the Worth was not damaged below the water’s edge, and by the use of one wheel reached Fayetteville Saturday evening.  The Murchison was not seriously hurt.  The Gov. Worth is now being repaired and will be on duty again perhaps in a month.

[Wilmington Star – March 12, 1870]

STEAMER D. MURCHISON. – The Steamer D. Murchison came in on a flying trip from Fayetteville, having left that place at 7:04 A. M., and reached Wilmington at 4:08 P. M.;  making the trip in nine hours and five minutes, including two stoppages.  The late fast trip of the A. P. Hurt was made in nine hours and forty-five minutes, including four stoppages.—There is evidently but little difference in the trips; but we think the Murchison has the advantage by a few minutes.

There is no telling what our Fayetteville boats may accomplish.  Soon, no doubt, passengers will take breakfast in Fayetteville, and dinner in Wilmington.

For the benefit of parties at a distance we will add that the distance from Fayetteville to Wilmington, by river, is 120 miles.

[Wilmington Star – April 6, 1870]

Wilmington Star - February 9, 1873

Wilmington Star - February 9, 1873

The steamer Cumberland on the up trip yesterday morning, we learn, rescued three men from a very perilous situation some miles below here.  They had landed from the Murchison a few hours before.  The river was so high they could not be put out at the place where they wanted to go, but were put on the opposite bank.  In attempting then to cross the river in a canoe, they were upset, but held on to limbs of trees and kept above water until the Cumberland came along.  The captain had a small boat at once sent to them.  As it got near, one of them jumped in so hastily and violently, that he upset the boat and things were again “at sea.”  But by diligent effort the steamer backed down to a convenient position and ropes were thrown to the men, and they were thus drawn aboard, and saved.  One of the men had a tickler of of {repeated in article} “old rye” in his coat pocket which he had kept safe through all his troubles and dangers.

[The Eagle – Semi-Weekly – February 11, 1873]

THE STEAMER MURCHISON.— Capt. Garrison’s splendid steamer, the Murchison, has recently been receiving some very handsome improvements; and last Saturday afternoon Capt. A. B. Williams, with a small company of ladies and gentlemen , visited the Murchison at her wharf, and were carried down the river about fifteen miles, on a short trial trip.  The LaFayette Cornet Band were among the invited guests, and gave sweet music during the ride, and also for a dance on the lower deck.  The ladies and gentlemen were full of life and gaiety, refreshments were served, and the excursion, though short, was delightful.  The Murchison is now in capital trim, and, with her popular commander, offers every comfort and facility for a journey down the Cape Fear.

[North Carolina Gazette – Second Edition – June 18, 1874]

Extensive Robery on a Steamboat—

Part of the Money Recovered—Ar-

rests on Suspicion.

We have known for a day or two past that quite an extensive robbery had occurred on the steamerer [steamer – misspelled] D. Murchison, while on the trip from this place to Fayetteville, on Wednesday last, but have withheld the facts for prudential reasons.  It seems that the boat was stopped at some point on the river for the purpose of landing a lady passenger, Capt. Garrason accompanying her some distance.  In the meantime the hands were directed to gather moss on the shore, and it was during this interval that some person or persons of those remaining on the boat went to the Captain’s desk, got the key of the safe, unlocked it and took therefrom a package of money amounting to $5,000, which had been forwarded by Messrs. Williams & Murchison to some party in Fayetteville, after which the safe was relocked and the key returned to the desk.  They money was not missed until the boat arrived at Fayetteville, when circumstances which came to the knowledge of Capt. Garrason led to the arrest of Perry Cotton, Assistant Pilot, and the fireman, known on the river by the appellation of “Big Allen,” who were lodged in jail.  A colored boy employed on the boat was also held until the examination came off.  Subsequent to the arrest of these parties a portion of the missing money, amounting to $2,500, was found secreted in what is know as the “dome house,” which would lead to the impression that there were two persons concerned in the robbery and that the money was divided between them.

The trial of the parties mentioned was to have taken place at Fayetteville on Friday.

[Wilmington Star – November 29, 1874]

The Late Robbery on the Steamer


The examination into the case of Perry Cotton and Allen Gilmore, or “Big Allen,” as he is generally termed, both colored men, who were arrested on suspicion of having appropriated the $5,000 which was stolen from the safe of the steamer D. Murchison on Wednesday of last week, mention of which has been made in the STAR, came off in Fayetteville on Monday.  The evidence was entirely of a circumstantial character, and, not being deemed by the Magistrate sufficient to convict, the defendants were discharged.  It will be remembered that $2,500 of the stolen money was recovered a day or two after the robbery, having been secreted on the boat.

[Wilmington Star – December 3, 1874]

Death of Capt. Dailey.

Capt. Jno. K. Dailey, so well known as an old steamboat man on the Cape Fear River, died of consumption at Mrs. Pickett’s boarding house, in this city, on Friday night, aged about 36 years.  Capt. Dailey was well known throughout this section.  In his last hours he received the kind ministrations of those around him and several old acquaintances and friends in this city.  His remains were yesterday sent to Fayetteville, his home, on board the steamer D. Murchison, being escorted from the house to the boat by Capt. W. M. Parker and several other former members of the LaFayette Light Infantry, of which organization Capt. Dailey was a member during the war.

[Wilmington Star – June 6, 1875]

Local Dots.

— The steamer D. Murchison reports a very heavy freshet in the river, the rise at Fayetteville being at least 40 feet when she left.


—  The revenue cutter Colfax collided with the D. Murchison in the fog yesterday morning, causing some unimportant injuries to the latter.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Sunday, January 2, 1876]

Local Dots.

The steamer D. Murchison is to go on Messrs. Cassidey & Ross’ ways for repairs.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Thursday, March 9, 1876]

FLAT SUNK. – The fine new flat belonging to the Str. Murchison and being carried with the Isis,  Capt. W. A. Robeson, was sunk by “ snagging “ just about Kelly’s Cove Tuesday night.  One hundred bales of cotton went into the river, but we learn that the loss will be slight, as the cotton can all be got out with slight damage, and the flat can be raised.  The flat belonged to the Express Line, and the cargo was the property of Williams & Murchison.

[North Carolina Gazette – November 20, 1879]

—  The steamer D. Murchison, Capt. Garrason, from Fayetteville, came down on the freshet yesterday in quick time, making the run in 9 hours and 30 minutes, including stoppages.  She arrived at her wharf in this city at 9.30 o’clock last night.  Capt. Garrason reports the river as booming, with a rise of thirty feet at Fayetteville, and a prospect of more.

[Wilmington Star – March 19, 1880]

Wilmington May 30, 1880

Wilmington May 30, 1880


—  Frank Williston, colored, of Fayetteville, who arrived here from Elizabethtown yesterday morning, reports that he left the steamers D. Murchison and A. P. Hurt at Morehead shoals, five miles above Elizabethtown, on Wednesday, trying to pull over, the former making her way up and the latter down.  He went across the country to Abbottsburg, and there took the train for Wilmington.  Up to the time he left Elizabethtown not a drop of the recent rains, so abundant here, had fallen there or anywhere in the vicinity.  The steamer North State, which left here for Fayetteville Tuesday, cracked her cylinder head near Elizabethtown, and will, we learn, return to the city for repairs.  No tidings of the Wave, which left Fayetteville for this place Monday.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Friday, July 2, 1880]


—  A flat loaded with cotton, which was in tow of the steamer D. Murchison, ran on a snag near Kelley’s Cove, about fifty miles up the Cape Fear river, on Sunday afternoon last, and sunk.  The steamer A. P. Hurt, which arrived here on Sunday, left that night about 12 o’clock to render assistance in recovering the cotton, and the steamer Wave, which arrived here yesterday morning, at 4 o’clock, left with the same purpose in view early in the forenoon.  The steamer was bound for this city, and the flat had on it about 300 bales of cotton, the damage to which will probably not be material.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Tuesday, November 9, 1880]



—  The cotton which was sunk by the snagging of a flat at Kelley’s Cove, while in tow of the steamer D. Murchison, on Monday last, has been brought to this city by the steamers Wave, A. P. Hurt and Murchison.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Wednesday, November 10, 1880]

— We have omitted to mention a matter of some moment in steamboating circles, and that is the recent resignation of Capt. Garrason, of the steamer D. Murchison, whose long and faithful services on the river had endeared him to his employers and won him a host of friends.  He gives up his position, we learn, to engage in other business.  He is succeeded in command of the steamer by Capt. Jerre Roberts, of Fayetteville, a gentleman of experience, and who, about twenty-five years ago, was one of a firm who run on the river, between this city and Fayetteville, what was known as the Frank & Jerre Line of steamers, being called after the brothers, Frank and Jerre Roberts.

[Wilmington Star – December 1, 1880]






further notice.

The Steamer D. MURCHISON, Capt. Jerry H. Roberts, will leave Fayetteville every Tuesday and Friday at 7 o’clock A. M. and Wilmington every Wednesday and Saturday at 2 o’clock P. M.

The Steamer WAVE, Capt. Wm. A. Robeson, will leave Fayetteville Wednesday and Saturday at 7 o’clock A. M., and Wilmington Monday and Thursday at 2 o’clock P. M.


Agents Fayetteville, N. C.

[Fayetteville Examiner – March 24, 1881]

— The steamer D. Murchison, Capt. Jerry Roberts, put in her appearance here yesterday, after an absence of about two weeks, in an entirely new and handsome summer suit, having in that time been thoroughly overhauled, repainted, etc.  For a short time she will have as much as she can attend to, as the Wave will go on the ways on her arrival here to have her bottom examined, and undergo whatever repairs may be necessary.

[? – July 21, 1881]

The Cape Fear River Steamers

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 7, 2009 in Uncategorized


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: