The Excursion to Smithville – July 4, 1868

18 Jul
July 4th Excursion to Smithville

July 4th Excursion to Smithville


FOR SATURDAY. —  Messrs. Worth & Daniel, owners of the above steamer, with the liberality ever characteristic of them, have placed in the hands of H. B. Eilers, Esq., a number of tickets for the excursion to Smithville on the Worth, and have donated to the Lutheran church a large percentage of the amount which may be realized from the sale of them by Mr. Eilers.  We advise all who intend taking advantage of this opportunity to enjoy the salt breezes, to purchase their tickets from Mr. E.

[Wilmington Star – July 2, 1868]

— The steamer Oldham carried down a large party of colored people to Smithville, on the Fourth.  As they passed our office they were waving the U. S. flag, with the band playing Dixie! At its utmost strain.

—  The Waccamaw did not go down the river on Saturday, consequently only three excursions of this character came off.

The Excursion to Smithville.


Those Wilmingtonians who omitted to register on board the steamer Gov. Worth, Capt. Hurt, on the 4th of July, may well lament the sacrifice of pleasure they made thereby.  The parties for the Black Fish Ground, the Lake, and the Sound, departed at an early hour, but at 8 o’clock a numerous company of ladies and gentlemen were assembled on the decks and in the parlor and other rooms of the trim and well furnished steamer aforementioned.  A spirited air from the Rose Bud Brass Band, under the leadership of Allen Evans, proclaimed the hour of departure, and the “Worth,” released from her wharf, moved off for Smithville in gallant style.

But, the festivities of the day were not fully inaugurated until the famous Dram Tree had been passed and different groups had heard the legend which runneth that the name was bestowed on the venerable stump because the English, during the first American revolution, made it a point, whether passing up or down the Cape Fear, to appease their thirst, spiritually, when on a water line with it.

When the story was concluded, however, stringed instruments summoned dancers to their places, and the gay multitude thenceforth till the Government wharf at Smithville was touched, indulged in cotillions and waltzes with the spirit and grace peculiar to Southern belles and beaux.

The steamer was securely fastened to the wharf and numbers of the excursionists went ashore, some to visit acquaintances or friends, others to find wherewithal they could be fed, and a still stronger party (numerically, of course,) to ramble through the town.  Sailing clubs, too, were formed, and let me say, en passant, that while their male companions were far from supplying a modern Adonis, our townswomen looked every inch Queens and made a gallery of beauty that might have inspired any mere dauber with genius of the true painter.

Besides these things, a regatta came off, and though strangers to the contestants, our company were much interested in the race and cheered the rival oarsmen vociferously as their success alternated, tigering the finishing dashes of the wooden-propellers which decided the issue.

At 12 o’clock, a salute (once worthy the prefix “national”) was fired by a detachment of troops in garrison at Smithville, Company I, 6th Infantry, recently on duty here.  But to me it savored too much of Nero’s fiddling and I hurried off to drown the mocking echoes in the clangor of Mrs. Steward’s knives and forks, cut-glass and crockery.  And the plan was a success – hungry men on such a dinner would have been almost oblivious to actual bombardment of their domicil.  At the table were a platoon of fair ones from Wilmington, who are spending the summer months in the town.  This is wise in them.  They are within a few hours steaming of home, and yet receive the benefit of as delightful sea breezes as ever wing their way from old ocean.  Not only so, but they can see the broad-breasted billows as they leap and roll in from far beyond their haven.  The wonder to me is, that some enterprising company has not been formed, long ago, to erect suitable buildings at Smithville and open there a regular summer resort.  Such an establishment would soon become so popular as to yield enormous profits on the capital invested.

The hilarities and inspection in the town and on the water beyond it, closed at 3 o’clock, and belling the excursionists aboard, the steamer was loosed from her moorings and moved off homeward.  The dancing was resumed and carried on with full forces; but time enough was found to revive the memories associated with the different localities that dot either shore.  On the right, Fort Fisher, Battery Buchanan, old Marine Hospital, Sugar Loaf Bluff, and on the left, Big Island, Orton, Fort Anderson, and Old Brunswick Town.  These appearings were scanned with intense interest, and while some of them freshened old regrets and revived past sorrows, no one could have felt otherwise than proud of the history each and all of them supply to the living.

Soon, however, contemplation, retrospect, and dancing were terminated.  Church spires, then masts from the shipping, and soon massive piles of brick and mortar, were before the returning excursionists, and in a twinkling the happy throng were at “home again.”

Eulogy of the trip is useless.  The weather was fine, the river placid, the company refined and social, the men gallant, the ladies charming, the music excellent, and the fare sumptuous – including, of course, under the latter head, the ice cream, lemonade, cakes, and delightful confections supplied by Mr. C. R. Banks, of this city, without an iota of advance on ordinary prices.  Indeed, Messrs. Worth & Daniel deserve the thanks of all participants in this excursion, a brief season of genuine, uninterrupted enjoyment.  Our hope is that the dose will be often repeated.

[Wilmington Star – July 7, 1868]

The Cape Fear River Steamers

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