07 Jun

NOTE: It may be that Capt. Richard Paddison’s first contact with the steamer Queen of St. Johns occurred when the “Queen” became stuck on the Volusia Bar on her first excursion, after arriving from Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Governor Worth came to her rescue, helping her free herself from the Bar.   (*According to info in Edward A. Mueller’s book, St. Johns River Steamboats 1986.)

The upper deck of the steamer Governor Worth was shortened by about 5 feet, and her name was changed to the Rockledge.

“The steamer Rockledge arrived here Monday morning at about 10 a.m., having had good luck in running the St. Johns Bar to Indian River Inlet, but encountered some foul weather which caused her to put in at St. Augustine and Mosquito Inlet.  Captain Cassady says that he had very little trouble coming up the Indian River Narrows.  He followed the east channel, although the steamer could have come through the west channel, but he wanted to be sure.

Captain Tuttle and Captain Dorf Sheldon, of New Smyrna, accompanied as coastal pilots…. “

[Excerpt from “The Golden Era of Steamboating on the Indian River
1877 – 1900” by Fred A. Hopwood — Original source:  The Florida Star – July 28, 1886.]

NOTE: On February 24, 1888, President Grover Cleveland, his wife, and a small Presidential party boarded the steamer Rockledge and travelled

President Cleveland's Excursion - the Rockledge

24 Feb., 1888 Excursion Manifest – President Cleveland

round trip from Titusville to Rockledge.  A picture of the Presidential party, the Rockledge and the day’s trip manifest (signed by all in the group) are included in the Richard Porson Paddison Papers at East Carolina University.  Just five months later, Capt. Paddison would be at the helm of the steamer Queen of St. Johns participating in the Wilmington Marine Parade, July 24, 1888.

— Capt. Dick Paddison is commander, and Mr. H. Clay Cassidey and Mr. Richard Andrews, first and second mates, of the steamer Rockledge, (formerly the Governor Worth), running on the Indian river in Florida from Titusville to Rockledge, on which the President and party were passengers on their recent trip to Florida.

[Wilmington Star – February 26, 1888]


The old steamboat Rockledge that had been a pioneer craft on the Indian River, known as Captain E. E. Vail’s Floating Hotel, appeared in Miami harbor. It offered accommodations for 50 guests and became the first hostelry in town. The more well-to-do of those who were building the city made their headquarters on this vessel, which had served in like capacity at Jupiter and West Palm Beach. It never left the neighborhood and eventually sank near Miami Avenue Bridge in the Miami River, where its hull could be seen for some years thereafter.

[ Henry Flagler’s Railroad Comes to Miami – September 4, 2008 by Research ]

{ This account of the demise of the steamer Rockledge differs from that of the account by Fred A. Hopwood in his pamphlet, “The Golden Era of Steamboating on the Indian River 1877 – 1900”.  His account ends with the derelict boat being towed out to sea and sunk. }


Recently Removed from Miami River

As an Obstruction.

Apropos the recent burning the last of the old river steamers that used to ply the Cape Fear between Wilmington and Fayetteville, a communication by Mr. G. P. Sutton, of Miami, Fla., in the Bladen Journal will be of interest to many of the “old-timers”.  Under the head of “Governor Worth Laid to Rest,”  Mr. Sutton writes:

“Ever since 1897 the old steamer ‘Governor Worth’, which was so familiar to the people of Bladen, Cumberland, Sampson, Harnett, and adjoining counties from 1859 to about 1883, when I came to Florida, has been lying here in the Miami, Fla., river, and for the last ten years nothing but the old steel hull remained.  But on Thursday, November 13th, 1913, it was towed to the three-mile limit in the Atlantic ocean and sunk.

“It will be remembered that while plying the Indian river in Florida, President Cleveland and his bride spent a part of their honeymoon on this boat.  Capt. R. P. Paddison was master and a Mr. Anders, of North Carolina, was mate.  The steamer was named for Governor Jonathan Worth, who was Governor of North Carolina before the Civil War.”

[Wilmington Morning Star Daily  — Saturday, December 6, 1913]

Note from Florida Photographic Collection:

‘Formerly the “Nellie Hudson“. Mr. Flagler sent Captain Paddison to Pittsburg to purchase and pilot home the large steamer which he needed to transport materials for the Royal Poinciana Hotel. The 3000 mile trip down the Ohio River, the Mississippi, around Cape Sable and through Jupiter Inlet to Titusville was a hazardous journey for the shallow draft steamer.’

NOTE: A picture of Capt. Dick Paddison and wife, Mary, from their time in Jupiter, Florida.  It appears that Capt. Paddison often wore his Confederate uniform as he is also seen wearing it (the uniform) in his photo included in Biographical Sketches of Wilmington CitizensPage 227 for Capt. Paddison’s bio.  The Florida Digital Archives also include the following picture of  their son, George.

NOTE: The Cassideys owned a Marine Railway in Wilmington, North Carolina which was purchased by Capt. Samuel W. Skinner in the early 1880’s.

NOTE: President Cleveland’s excursion manifest for 24th February, 1888 aboard the steamer Rockledge from the Richard Porson Paddison Papers, Collection No 327.  East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.  For research and study only; not for deposit in other repositories.  Most manuscripts are protected by copyright laws; permission to publish must be requested.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 7, 2009 in The Boats


One response to “The Steamer ROCKLEDGE

  1. Mary Keener

    October 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    My great grandfather was Captain Richard (“Dick”) Paddison.


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