06 Jan

The Kate McLaurin.

The above is the name of a new steamer recently placed upon the Cape Fear by Messrs. Orrell & Dailey of Fayetteville.  She is named after one of Fayetteville’s fair daughters, and is a credit to her builders and all interested.  She is a very pretty boat, is 126 feet in length, and 22 1/2 wide, 3 feet depth of hold; is said to be a very fast boat, and is commanded by Capt Wm. Evans, a skillful and obliging officer.  She arrived here yesterday, and consigned to Messrs. Allen & Clarke.

[December 1859]

weeklycourier03101860a 02

[ Weekly Courier Article – 1860 ]

BOILER EXPLOSION OF THE KATE MCLAURIN  [Advertisement for Kate McLaurin & Sun – p.103]

A SAD DISASTER.— We are pained to announce another fatal steamboat explosion on the Cape Fear.  The boiler of the Kate McLaurin, a new and handsome freight and passenger boat, exploded on Tuesday morning last about 4 o’clock, at the Little Sugar Loaf, about 50 miles below this place, by which Capt. Wm. T. Evans and three hands lost their lives.  Capt. Evans is supposed to have been thrown 75 or 100 feet into a cane-brake, which being overflowed in the high state of the river, his body was not found when we last heard.  Charles, a free boy of color, is supposed to have been thrown into the river.  William, a negro man belonging to Mr. Duncan McLaurin, was blown over the top of the new steamer A. P. Hurt, which was delivering goods at a landing near by.  Capt. Hurt very promptly had him picked up, alive; he was brought to town in the Hurt, but died before he could be landed from the boat.  The third boat hand lost was a free boy named John Henry Hayes, who was unhurt by the explosion, but was drowned in attempting to swim ashore.

At the time of the explosion the Kate was just in rear of the A. P. Hurt; both boats were stationary—the Hurt had stopped to land a box, the Kate came up and made an effort to pass, but not finding sufficient room had backed down a few feet.

Great credit is awarded to Capt. A. P. Hurt for his kindness to the crew of the ill-fated steamer.

The Kate drifted about 33 miles down stream and was then tied up by the men who remained on board.  Most of the cargo was insured—all of it ought to have been.  The boat is supposed to be not very greatly injured, and nothing in a pecuniary view distressing about it, in comparison with the sad loss of life.

The Kate McLaurin belonged to Messrs. Orrell & Dailey, cost perhaps $6,000, and had been running less than six months.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday Evening, May 31, 1860]

For the Courier.

RICHMOND, Va., May 26, 1860.

Editor of the Courier:–I left Fayetteville on Monday morning on board of the Kate McLaurin, Capt. Evans, whose politeness and attention is commendable to all who travel with him. The Cape Fear River reminded me of the stories I have heard of streams in tropical regions, the banks of which were lined with a rich luxuriant foliage almost reaching over the stream. It was to me a curiosity; exceedingly crooked and sufficiently narrow to enable a person to converse with others on the banks, and yet scarcely a habitation to be seen the entire distance, 120 miles; but to suffice it to say the Kate arrived about 10 o’clock, while I was sound asleep, and when I awoke the next morning I saw a flat country on one side of the river, on the other a gentle sloping upward, on which the mansions of refinement and taste were erected. Some I saw would compare favorably with any I have ever seen in any of the great cities of the North west. Being unwell I did not move about much, I looked around the shops of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad Company and saw plainly that the work of renovation was going on both in road bed and rolling stock, but I am sorry to say that some of the passenger cars looked as if they had been recently painted and varnished on the out side at the same time the inside was exceedingly filthy, a thing that should never be allowed on a well conducted trunk line like the Wilmington & W. Railroad. The question occurred to me whether the man—that is the Fremont that “Graely” said was a Catholic in 1856, was not the great I am on the road—endeavoring to be everything instead of managing the transportation and assign the Locomotive and Car departments to complement men and hold them individually responsible for the proper administration of their respective departments.

The completion of the W., C. & R. R. must add largely to the business of Wilmington, and will have a tendency to take from Fayetteville some of the trade now centering there, and I think it will be to your interest to construct a branch from Fayetteville to the nearest point on the North Carolina Railroad.

I left Wilmington at 2 o’clock and arrived at Weldon about 10, where I stopped for the night to recruit. Along the whole line there seems to be a spirit of improvement. At one o’clock on Thursday I left Weldon for this place, there being a marked change as I neared Petersburg and Richmond in the cultivation of the soil and diversified character of its surface. I shall look around to-day, and give you my impressions of the place where the seceding Democracy are soon to assemble for deliberation.

Yours, truly, IAGG.

[The Weekly Courier – Fayetteville, N.C. – Saturday, June 2, 1860]


BODIES RECOVERED.—We learn that on Friday last the body of Capt. W. T. Evans, late of the Steamer Kate McLaurin, was found at Elwell’s Landing, on the Cape Fear River, about twelve miles below the scene of the fatal explosion by which Captain Evans lost his life.  Captains Hurt, of the A. P. Hurt and Barber, of the North Carolina, paid the last sad respect to the remains, which could not be removed, but were buried near to the place where found.  There were no indications of any blow or other severe injury.  The bodies of the two deck hands have also been recovered and buried.

[Wilmington Journal – Thursday, June 7, 1860]

The body of Capt. William T. Evans, who was killed by the explosion of the Steamer Kate McLaurin, on Thursday of last week, was found on Friday last about seventeen miles below the place at which the disaster occurred.

A friend has just handed us a brief obituary of the deceased.


For the Courier.


Though we must all die and “ are as water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up, “ – and though we are all hastening to our long home, yet it is impossible for man to contemplate the sudden and unexpected extinction of life without concern.  To perish in a moment, to be instantaneously hurried into the presence of the Supreme Judge, has something in it inexpressibly awful and affecting.

Such has been the fate of our lamented young townsman, Capt. Wm. T. Evans, whose untimely death has cast a heavy gloom over our whole community, and pierced the heart of many, many warm friends.  The universal expression of sorrow in our midst at his loss attests well the high esteem in which he was held by all who knew him.  He was an accomplished gentleman and a generous friend, ardent and vigorous in his vocations, yet, discretion and a thorough knowledge of his business, combined with noted urbanity of manners, made him a favorite with those who ever took passage on his boat.

Capt. Evans was in the very prime of manhood and usefulness, warmed with bright hopes for the future; fondly attached to the innocent pleasures of this life, as he was, yet we have reason to believe that a heart so noble, so kind, found favor with God.  His preparation for eternity was not a death-bed repentance.  He thought much of death, and talked of eternity when in health, and with his bosom friend none knew him better, or loved him more than the writer of this brief notice.

He leaves no parents to mourn for him, no children to grieve after him, no wife to weep and sorrow, but, he does leave those who weep in the bitterness of despair, and like “ Rachel refuse to be comforted, because he is not “ –  He was an only brother.

“ The Lord will not cast off forever. “

“ But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. “

[The Weekly Courier – Fayetteville, N. C. – Saturday, June 9, 1860]

The wreck of the steamer Kate McLaurin arrived here yesterday.  She seems badly torn up from the effect of the recent explosion.  She has been sent to Mr. Cassidey’s shipyard for repairs.  The amount of damage is not yet ascertained.

Wilmington Herald.

[Weekly Courier —  Saturday Morning —  June 16, 1860]

NOTES:  The Stmr. Kate McLaurin was burned prior to the arrival of the Union troops at Fayetteville, NC, in March 1862.  Her owner at the time was R. M. Orrell. *See his testimony.

The Cape Fear River Steamers

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