01 Nov

A New Steamer – Her Successful Trial Trip, &c.

The new steamer Excelsior, which has just been completed by Capt. Bowdoin, made her trial trip yesterday afternoon, and we are pleased to know answered every expectation of her owner. The peculiar character of her construction renders the Excelsior an object of interest upon our waters. She is about the ordinary dimensions of our river steamers, her propelling power being a screw, which is adjustable to any depth of water not less than thirteen inches, and by these means her owner claims to practically overcome the inconveniences of the low water in the Cape Fear and its tributaries. The guests on the occasion of her trip were splendidly feted, the honors being done by Capt. W. H. James, and they, with us, join in wishing the new enterprise all success.

[Wilmington Weekly Star – Friday, April 25, 1884]

I do not know much of Capt. Bowdoin, but recall reading that he was an innovator, as is seen in the Excelsior’s adjustable depth propeller.



— Capt. S. W. Skinner went up the river yesterday on the steamer Excelsior, with two steam pumps and a gang of hands for the purpose of raising and floating the steamer Wave, sunk at Whitehall.  From Capt. Jeff Robinson, who came down for assistance, we learn that the Wave lies close in shore, with the freight deck out of water.

[The Wilmington Star – December 4, 1884]

  —  Capt. R. P. Paddison informs us that the steamer Excelsior has been to Lisbon, at the head of Black River, in Sampson county, which is now quite a flourishing village.  Capt. Paddison has a new steam flat running regularly between this place and Lisbon, for which point she started yesterday afternoon.  A good business is being worked up at that place and a regular line will hereafter be run there for at least six months in the year.  The river is now in fine condition.  The steamer Lisbon runs to Clear Run, about twelve miles this side of Lisbon village.

[Wilmington Star – February 25, 1885]

New Steamboat.

The attention of our readers is directed to an “ad” in this issue of the new Steamboat Excelsior, which will run in the place of the ill-fated Wave.  May better success attend it than its predecessor.  Mr. James DeL. Smith is an experienced boatman, and we sincerely hope that success may attend the Excelsior.

[The Sun – Fayetteville, N.C. – March 25, 1885]



The Steamer Excelsior


Leave Fayetteville on Wednesday and Saturdays.  The customers of the Wave and all who have freight is solicited.  Cheap rate from Wilmington to Bennettsville.

For freight and passage apply to

J. DeL. Smith.

P. O. Box 44, Fayetteville, N. C.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, March 26, 1885]

The Excelsior Burned.

The steamer Excelsior, which has for a week or two past been on the dry dock in Wilmington undergoing repairs, on last Wednesday the 22nd, the boat was relaunched and at about 1 p.m. commenced her journey to Fayetteville.  She proceeded only a short distance on her journey, and had arrived opposite Point Peter when the dreadful cry of fire!  fire!! Rang out from every side and the flames were rushing through the hatch.  The vessel having been on the dry hock was almost like tinder, all efforts to stay the wild career of the fire proved futile.  The Murchison and the tug Alpha came to her assistance and rescued the crew, but were unable to save the boat from the devouring elements.

The crew were able to save only a small portion of their own baggage.  In one hour from the time the cry of fire rang out, the vessel had sank.  No lives were lost and no one suffered any serious hurt.  The Excelsior was building up quite a handsome trade and its prospects were bright.  Its owner, officers and crew have our sympathy in this hour of disaster.  The damage to the boat was estimated at $2,500, to the cargo at $200.

[The Sun – Fayetteville, N.C. – April 29, 1885]

Sent  to the Asylum.

     Last week, under a writ of habeas corpus, J. Del. Smith was carried before his Honor Judge McRae, a jury was empaneled and the expert testimony of four physicians pronounced him insane.  The jury rendered a verdict in accordance therewith, and Smith was sent to the asylum at Raleigh.

[Fayetteville Observer & Gazette – Thursday, January 7, 1886]

  — The steamboat Excelsior having been repaired and refitted with new machinery by the owners, Messrs. R. E. Lloyd & Co., made her trial trip yesterday.  Her machinery proved to be in perfect working order and everything satisfactory.  The Excelsior will be used for towing and freighting purposes.

[Wilmington Star – February 19, 1886]

  —  The steamer Excelsior, Capt. J. L. Thornton, will take the place of the burned steamer Bladen on the river between Wilmington and Fayetteville.  The Excelsior has accommodations for a few passengers and is of about two hundred barrels capacity.

[Wilmington Star – February 25, 1886]

  —  There are four light draught steamboats — the Delta, Excelsior, Susie and Lisbon — rnning between this city and points on Black river — Point Caswell, Newkirk’s Bridge and other places.  They make regular trips and carry good freights both ways.

[Wilmington Star – April 28, 1886]


Vessels Wholly Engaged in Domestic


Few people have any idea of the number of steamboats, small schooners and other craft, tributary to the trade and commerce of Wilmington and plying upon the waters of the Cape Fear, Northeast and Black rivers, and along the coast to New River, Shallotte, Little River, S. C., and other places adjacent.  The total number of craft of all descriptions engaged in this local traffic and in river and harbor towage is forty-three—sixteen of which are propelled by steam.  And if to these are added the revenue cutter and the government steamers engaged on river improvements the total number is forty-eight.  Not the least among these craft are a number of flat-boats that make regular trips between this city and points in Pender, Bladen, Brunswick, Sampson, and Onslow counties, and carry from two to four hundred barrels of naval stores.

A carefully compiled statement of these vessels and boats, made by Capt. J. M. Morrison, of the Produce Exchange, is as follows:

Steamers engaged in river and harbor towage—Passport, Capt. J. W. Harper; Blanche, Capt. Jacobs; Italian, Capt. J. T. Harper; Louise, Capt. Woodsides, (mail boat to Smithville); Marie, Capt. Williams; Pet, Capt. Taft; Dudine, Capt. Bowdoin.

River steamers to Fayetteville—D. Murchison, Capt. Smith; Cape Fear, Capt. Green; A. P. Hurt, Capt. Robinson, J. C. Stewart, Capt. Bagley.

Black River steamers—Delta, Capt. Hubbard; Lisbon, Capt. Black; Excelsior, Capt. Burkhimer; Susie, Capt. Snell.

Flat-boats bringing naval stores—Cudger Larkins;, from Long Creek, Pender; Sessom’s from Beatty’s Bridge, Bladen; McIntire’s, from Long Creek, Pender; Pound’s, from Town Creek, Brunswick; Lon Johnson’s, from Beatty’s Bridge, Bladen; Littleton’s, from Town Creek, Brunswick; Johnson & Son’s, from Ingold, Sampson; Shaw & black’s from Clear Run, Sampson; Herring & Peterson’s, from Ingold, Sampson; Marshburn’s, from Shaken, Onslow.

Schooners of less than seventy-five tons.

—E. Francis, from Little River; Snow Storm, Little River; Minnie Ward, New River; Lorenzo, New River; William, Shallotte; Mary Wheeler, Calabash; Katie Edwards, New River; Argyle, Lockwood’s Folly; Stonewall, New River; Gold Leaf, New River; Fairfield, Smithville; Rosa, New River; Jos. H. Neff, Smithville; Maggie, New River; John Griffith, Orton, Mary and Ray, New River.

The Government vessels in port are the Revenue Cutter Colfax and the steam tugs Gen. Wright, Woodbury, Easton and Oklahoma.

[Wilmington Star – August 13, 1886]

Local Dots.

— New River Craft. Capt. H. P. Bowdoin, who has built several of the small steamboats that ply on the waters of the Cape Fear, has turned out a new craft in the shape of a steam-flat, to be used for lightering. It is at present lying at the wharf of the upper cotton compress, awaiting the arrival of the government boiler inspector before entering upon its career.

[The Morning Star, Wilmington, NC, Friday, Sept. 10, 1886. Vol. XXXVIII.— No. 146 September 10, 1886]

Steamer Sunk.

     The Excelsior, a small steamboat plying between Wilmington and points on the Northeast river, overturned and sunk at a place called Cowpens, about twelve miles above the city, between two and three o’clock yesterday morning.  The boat was on the way down and had on board about five tons of fertilizers, belonging to the Messrs. French Bros., ten barrels of tar and a bale of cotton.  The night being very dark, Capt. Dixie, in command of the boat, tied her up at Cowpens, alongside of a flat in charge of a colored man named Williams.  The line with which the boat was made fast to the shore proved to be too short for safety, for when the tide rose during the night it held the boat down and the water poured in over the side and overturned her.  The crew were all asleep, but Williams, on the flat, was awake, and aroused the steamboat men in time to enable them to escape, but barely with their lives, for they saved nothing of their clothing but what they had on, not even hats or shoes.

     The Excelsior belongs to Mr. B. F. Penny of this city, who bought the boat at auction a few weeks ago for $400.  The owner sent assistance yesterday afternoon to the crew of the steamer, who were on Williams’ flat and will take steps to recover the boat and machinery.  As the boat overturned it is probable that her boiler is at the bottom of the river, and at a point where the water is about twenty feet deep.

[Wilmington Weekly Star – February 25, 1887]

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