The Steamer J. S. UNDERHILL

27 Sep


The Western Excursionists – A Trip Down the River – The Return to the Mountains.

The excursionists from the mountains, who came down on the double excursion train under the management of Mr. Tomlinson, took their proposed trip down the river, yesterday, on the steamer J. S. Underhill. They had an excellent day for it, and we learn that they enjoyed the trip very much, which can well be imagined when it is probable that many of them had never seen a steamboat or large vessel before, or even a sheet of water of any considerable dimensions. The boat went a short distance outside, and a few of the party got sea-sick. A considerable stoppage was made at Smithville, where some indulged in a bath, while all enjoyed the splendid sea breeze.

A number of the ladies, accompanied by gentlemen, paid a visit to the Revenue Cutter Colfax, which was at anchor in the harbor, and the officers took much pleasure in showing them around, even firing a salute for their benefit. One of the young ladies from Davidson College, we learn, expressed the opinion that they (the officers) were “the best housekeepers she had ever seen.”

The boat, with its happy freight, including a goodly number of “city folk,” returned late in the afternoon.

The excursionists, which will include quite a number from this city, will leave on the double excursion train for the West this morning at 6:45 o’clock. Among the managers of the grand ball to take place at Hickory Monday night, are Messrs. J. W. Gordon, A. T. London, Wm. L. Smith, Jr., J. H. Hardin, Jas. W. Lippitt and A. H. Kelley, of this city.

[Wilmington Weekly Star – Friday August 4, 1876]

Excursion by Moonlight and Otherwise.

We learn that it is the intention of Mr. J. S. Tomlinson, of the Hickory Press, who recently got up the grand double excursion, to give another excursion from the mountains to the seashore at an early day, probably during the latter part of this month, at which time Capt. Latham, of the steamer J. S. Underhill, proposes giving a grand moonlight excursion for the benefit of our visitors from the up-country and others who may wish to participate.

[Wilmington Weekly Star – Friday August 11, 1876]

More Effects of the Late Storm.

“… The steamer J. S. Underhill, the Wilmington and Smithville packet, had her rudder disabled and was towed up to this city yesterday morning by the steamer Waccamaw.”

[Wilmington Weekly Star – Friday April 20, 1877]

Sudden Death of an Old Citizen.

Our community was startled yesterday afternoon, by the announcement of the sudden death of Captain T. F. Peck, one of our oldest and most esteemed citizens. The sad event occurred on the steamer J. S. Underhill, which left here yesterday morning, about a quarter past 10 o’clock, to take a number of excursionists down to Smithville. Just as the boat arrived at a point opposite the Orton plantation, Capt. Peck, who had been on the upper deck, descended to the lower one to get a drink of water, and had reached a spot near the foot of the steps on his return, when he was seen to stagger and fall against the side of the boat, whereupon two or three persons took hold of him. He was then borne, pursuant to the Captain’s instructions, to the cabin, upon reaching which a physician, who was among the Shelby excursionists, felt of his pulse and pronounced life extinct. He never uttered a word or showed a sign of consciousness after he was attacked. The deceased has been subject to heart disease for some time past, and no doubt is entertained that his was the malady with which he was stricken with such a sudden and fatal result.

As soon as it was known that the unfortunate gentleman was dead, Capt. Latham had the steamer turned about and came back to Wilmington, when the sad intelligence was conveyed to his son, Mr. Geo. F. Peck, the most of the remaining members of his family being on the boat with him when the sad calamity occurred.

Capt. Peck was a native of Milford, Connecticut, but had been a resident of this city since 1821, with the exception of a few years he spent in California. He was in the 78th year of his age, but looked to be much younger.

[Wilmington Morning Star Weekly – June 7, 1878]

Several Stores, Warehouses, Sheds and Stables and Two Steamboats Destroyed – Loss About $60,000 to $75,000.

Shortly after our paper had gone to press on Tuesday morning, or about half past 3 o’clock, our firemen and citizens were again called upon to battle with the fiery element in one of its most spiteful and destructive moods.  The flames were first discovered in the starboard quarter of the steamer J. S. Underhill, which has been laying up at Mr. O. G. Parsley’s wharf for some time awaiting repairs.  The steamer was laying with her bow down the stream, and the fire is supposed to have been communicated to her by a spark from a fire on a raft, which was close alongside.  The steamer North East, Capt. R. P. Paddison, running between this city and Point Caswell, was tied up at the stern of the Underhill, with a space of only about twenty – five feet between them.  With an ebb tide and the wind blowing directly towards the wharf, it was found impossible to move her.  The flames spread with great rapidity, and soon the wharf to which the Underhill was moored was, on fire, which was speedily communicated to the North East.  Captain Paddsion’s family, together with quite a number of other passengers, were on board, and so rapidly did the flames spread, after once getting headway, that the passengers had to be hurried from the burning steamer.  Captain Paddison’s private papers and about $100 in money were in his desk, and were consumed, together with his apparel, &c.  The North East burned to the water’s edge and sunk, while the wreck of the Underhill was towed to the west side of the river, in the neighborhood of Mr. C. W. McClammy’s distillery, where she was sunk, her smoke – stack being just visible above the surface of the water.

In the meantime the devouring element, fanned by a brisk Southwest wind, was making rapid headway towards Front street, sweeping in its resistless course everything that came in its way.  First the wood – yard of Mr. O. G. Parsley was swept by the flames, which thence communicated to the adjacent sheds and warehouses, destroying them and their contents, and finally taking hold upon the block of stores facing upon Front street, which were soon a mass of seething flame.  Up to this time the Fire Department had been mainly endeavoring to stay the march of the insatiate fiend, and now, under the direction of their worthy Chief, they commenced an herculean effort to prevent the flames from crossing the street, or diverging from their hitherto straight course the to direction of Dock street, which in either case would have resulted in woeful disaster to our city.  The steamer “Adrian” was broken down early in the battle and could not be made to work.  It therefore devolved upon the “Little Giant” and the “Cape Fear” to stay as far as possible the progress of the flames, in which they were greatly assisted by the Hook and Ladder Company.

In the meantime, the fierce wind wafted showers of sparks and cinders and tufts of burning hay over the entire width of the city, in an easterly or northeasterly direction, and parties had to be stationed on the shingle roofs, for squares from the scene of the conflagration, in order to keep the fire from communicating to them.  The danger was at its height when the flames burst forth from the warehouse on the corner of Front street and Muter’s alley, which as filled with hay and other combustible material, the flames almost lapping the residence of Mr. J. Loeb, on the opposite side of the street, while the showers of sparks were redoubled in their density, falling upon the buildings, in the yards and on the sidewalks like snowflakes, calling for the utmost vigilance on the part of those who were on the lookout.  It was about this time that a burning brand fell upon the roof of Mr. T. M. Smith’s kitchen, on Market, between Sixth and Seventh streets, and set fire to it, which would have resulted in starting a fresh conflagration but for the vigilance of a near neighbor, who hastily procured a ladder and mounted the roof, when the fire was speedily extinguished after burning a hold about a foot square.  The roof of the residence of Capt. W. M. Stevenson, on Fourth street, between Market and dock, also caught in the same manner.  A large tree in St. James’ Church yard caught fire, and the flames were also communicated to the grass in the vacant lot corner of Third and Dock streets, adjoining the Catholic Church, and also to the grass plat in the middle of the street adjoining.

By the almost superhuman efforts of the firemen and hook and laddermen, after the flames had communicated from Lippitt’s Block to Mr. C. Stemmerman’s store on the corner of Front and Orange streets, which was partially destroyed, the fire was finally gotten under control.
Through the exertions of Messrs. Robinson & King (who had an office in the building on the corner of Orange and Water streets), Jimmie Smith, Martin Willard, and a colored man named Hankins, aided by the crew of the Norwegian barque Frank, the large warehouse, filled with hay and spirits turpentine, and the adjacent wharf with tar, on the south side of Orange street, were saved, thus preventing an extensive spread of the conflagration in that direction, with great destruction of property.

The losses and insurance, so far as can now be estimated, are as follows:

The Steamer J. S. Underhill, the property of Mr. O. G. Parsley, Jr., was insured for about her full value, $3,000 in the Phoenix, of Hartford, represented by Mr. Norwood Giles, and $3,000 in the Connecticut, represented by Messrs. W. L. Smith & Co.

The Steamer North East was valued by her owner, Capt. R. P. Paddison, at $3,600 and was insured for $2,000 in the Phoenix, of Hartford, Mr. Norwood Giles.

Mr. O. G. Parsley, in addition to the steamer Underhill, loses seven hundred tons of coal, from four hundred to five hundred cords of wood, from two hundred thousand to three hundred thousand shingles; two engines on the wharf, tools, wheelbarrows, two or three carts and drays, &c., altogether valued at $7,000 or $8,000, upon which there was no insurance.
Mr. J. E. Lippitt owned all but one of the buildings destroyed, and his loss upon the various stores, warehouses, sheds and stables amounted in the aggregate to about $17,000, upon which there was only $7,800 insurance.  This is divided up as follows:  $2,000 in the Phoenix, of Hartford, Mr. Norwood Giles; $1,000 in the Home, of New York, Mr. Norwood Giles; $2,400 in the Lancashire, Messrs. DeRosset & Northrop; $2,000 in the German – American, Messrs. W. L. Smith & Co., and $400 in the Petersburg, Metsrs. DeRosset & Northrop.

The brick building on the corner of Front and Orange streets, the property of Mr. C. Stemmerman, was insured for $4,000 in the Underwriters’ Agency, Messrs. DeRosset & Northrop.  Mr. S.’s stock of furniture was also badly damaged, upon which there was no insurance.  Messrs. E. Kidder & Son lose about $10,000 in molasses stored in one of the warehouses, upon which there was insurance for $5,000 on the Queen of Liverpool, Messrs. Atkinson & Manning.

Mr. P. Cumming & Co., lost in hay, grain, horses and harness about $4,000, in which there was insurance in the AEtna, of Hartford, and North America, of Philadelphia, for $3,400.
Messrs. Adrian & Vollers lost about $1,400 in salt and fish stored in one of the warehouses, on which there was insurance for $1,000 in the Howard, of New York.

Mr. H. B. Eilers lost 800 barrels of rosin and had a small lot of spirits turpentine destroyed, valued at about $1,500.  Insured for $2,000 in the Hartford, of Hartford, Messrs. Atkinson & Manning.

Messrs. Robinson & King lost in office furniture $150.  Covered by insurance in the Atlantic, of New York, DeRosset  Northrop.  They also lose some rosin, &c., amount not asceretained, which is covered by insurance in the London Assurance.  Their books and papers were all saved, being in a safe.

Mr. B. D. Morrill’s loss in stock, tools, & c., is about $800.  Insured for $300 in the Wilmington Mutual, Mr. S. N. Cannon.

The house on the east side of Front street, owned by Mr. W. G. Fowler, and occupied by Mr. A. Weill, was damaged to the extent of about $250 by water.  Covered by insurance in a company represented by Messrs. J. W. Gordon & Bro.  Mr. Weill’s furniture was considerably damaged, which was covered by insurance with Messrs. DeRosset & Northrop.

Messrs. Paterson, Downing & Co., had a small loss in naval stores, which was covered in the London and Liverpool and Globe, Messrs. J. W. Gordon & Bro.

Messrs. Preston Cumming & Co. lost two valuable mules, Mr. Edgar Parmlee two horses and harness and drays, and Mr. O. G. Parsley a driving horse, all of which were burned in their stables, it being impossible to remove them.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Wednesday, December 25, 1878]

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