The Steamer WILMINGTON Chronology

02 Nov


Capt. Jno. W. Harper Meets with a Bad Accident.

Capt. Jno. W. Harper, of the steamer Wilmington, met with an accident Friday afternoon of an exceedingly painful and serious character. The Wilmington was steaming down the river to Southport, and near Clarendon plantation, about five miles below the city, was hailed by the master of the German steamer Remus, who asked that the Wilmington take his vessel in tow. Capt. Harper went on board the steamship to make arrangements to tow the Remus, and in passing through a gang-way struck his head against the sharp edge of an iron beam, which almost completely scalped him. The loss of blood was very great and Capt. Harper fainted from exhaustion. Capt. Schwaren of the Remus showed Capt. Harper every possible attention. With a German preparation of balsam he quickly checked the profuse hemorrhage produced by severed arteries, and bandaged the wound with the skill of a ship’s surgeon. Capt. Harper was taken to his home in Southport and at last accounts was as well as could be expected. The wound, however, will keep him a prisoner at his home for several weeks.

[Morning Star – Sunday, January 20, 1895]

Personal Paragraphs

— A friend of Capt. John Harper, who visited him at Southport yesterday, informs the STAR that his condition is very much improved. He is able to walk about the house, and hopes to be out in a few days.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Wed., January 23, 1895]




Hundreds of People Patronzie the 5.15

And 7.30 Trips to the Pier—A

Band Employed.


Capt. Harper is to be congratulated upon the increasing popularity of the 5.15 and 7.30 P. M. trips by the steamer Wilmington to the pier and return these warm afternoons and lovely moon light evenings. Yesterday there were fully 150 people who patronized the 5.15 boat and quite as many more on the 7.30 boat. No pains or expense are being spared in ministering to the comfort and pleasure of the passengers.

Special arrangements are made for boat parties on these trips to the pier. Then, too, Captain Harper has engaged a good string band which will in future discourse good music during these trips and thus combined with the bracing breezes and the bright moon light will certainly afford irresistible allurement for the people to tear themselves away from the heat and dust of the city to spend a few hours midst such delightful environments as the Wilmington now affords on these evening trips.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Tuesday, July 19, 1899]

Captain Harper, of the steamer Wilmington, told a member of the STAR staff that not in eight years has he known no large a number of visitors on Carolina Beach. The Oceanic Hotel is crowded with guests. The Captain also whispered into the STAR man’s ear that he hasn’t seen so many pretty Summer girls there in years as now.

[Wilmington Morning Star – July 23, 1899]



Interesting and Pleasant Visit to This

Historical Spot Yesterday

Captain Harper, the gallant commander of the steamer Wilmington, gave a trip to Old Brunswick yesterday, complimentary to the guest at Carolina Beach. The party was composed of just the persons to appreciate and enjoy the occasion, with its many historic associations. Among them were Professor and Mrs. Birney, from Columbia, S. C.; Mrs. Judge Douglas, of Greensboro; Miss Chitty and Mrs. Sibley, of Salem; Mrs. R. A. Jenkins, Messrs. Jenkins, Mr. and Mrs. R. M. McArthur and Mrs. Blum, of Winston; Miss Davidson, of Charlotte; Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Howell, Jr., Miss Whitaker, Mrs. Barrows, of Rocky Mount., and many others. There were in all forty or fifty.

After refreshments, the party gathered within the walls of St. Phillip’s church, and Mr. A. J. Howell, Jr., read from Mr. James Sprunt’s “Tales and Traditions of the Lower Cape Fear” extracts bearing upon the historic locality. Then most of the party explored Fort Anderson, while some walked to Orton plantation, finding enroute the remains of the foundation of Governor Tryon’s palace.

In all, it was an enjoyable occasion. One of the party remarked, “What a grand work it would be for the young people of Wilmington to raise the means for preserving the old church and churchyard, and show their appreciation of the historic treasure they have in the site of the once important town of Brunswick.” A suggestion, it was, which was well put.

[Wilmington Messenger – Semi-Weekly – Tuesday, August 1, 1899]

Some photos of Old Brunswick Town, St. Philips Church ruins, and Fort Anderson, and the Cape Fear River shoreline. (c2006)

Carolina Beach and Old Brunswick.


Correspondence of the Observer.

The 9:45 a. m. train from Carolina Beach the other day took away all of the guests of the hotel Oceanic and many of the cottagers.

The exodus was occasioned by the acceptance of an invitation given by Capt. Harper, of the steamer “Wilmington,” to visit the ruins of the old town of Brunswick a few miles down the river.

This is one of the many interesting localities near Carolina Beach. The town was gradually deserted a century ago for the new town of Wilmington, although it had once been the seat and chief seaport of North Carolina.

Upon landing, the party, preceded by guides bearing material evidences of Capt. Harper’s thoughtfulness, slowly wound its way along a path flanked by high, irregular mounds, outlining what was once Fort Anderson, a hotly contested point of the Civil War. Here and there among the earthworks one found the foundations of houses that crumbled away a hundred years ago. Passing a long, low ridge of the fortifications, the party came, suddenly into view of the ruins of St. Philip’s church and graveyard.

Upon every beholder fell a reverent hush. Before them were the broken walls of an edifice built and consecrated one hundred and sixty years ago. Within the ruin grow stately trees taller than itself, their interlacing boughs its only roof. Without are the graves of some of the most prominent men of their day. To the ravages of time among these broken tombstones the Civil War added Federal pillage.

Not far distant is the spot where the first armed American resistance to British tyranny occurred eight years before the Boston Tea Party.

Within sight of the Brunswick landing are several colonial plantations in a fine state of preservation.

The Carolina Beach party were intensely interested in the scene, which was made more real by the reading within St. Philip’s walls of historical sketches of the spot, from Mr. James Sprunt’s “Tales of the Cape Fear.”

It was a little journey to be treasured in one’s memory, and Capt. Harper never extended a more appreciated courtesy than this invitation was felt to be by the recipients.

[Fayetteville Observer – Wednesday, August 2, 1899.]

Big Picnic Excursion

From Selma, via Fayetteville, to

Wilmington, Ocean View.

Carolina Beach and


AUGUST 11, 1899.

The first, the biggest, the best. There is no place like the Seashore for a day of pleasure. The cool breezes, the salt water, the excellent fish, the association with friends, these make a day of genuine delight and joy.

This delightful party will have special arrangements to go to Wrightsville or Carolina Beach. Capt. Harper will meet us at Wilmington with the magnificent steamer Wilmington and those who desire can go down the river to Carolina Beach. Special arrangements with the Seacoast road will give all an opportunity to go to Wrightsville and Ocean View. Only a few steps to take this train.

The Dunn Brass Band will give the excursionists free music. There will be coaches left at Fayetteville for the benefit of those who desire to get on at that point. Remember that this is strictly a white excursion. Refreshment car attached to the train. Come along and go with us—we will try to make you happy for one day. Train arrives at Wilmington at 11 a. m. and leaves at 10 p. m.

Train leaves Fayetteville at 8:10 a. m. Fare for round trip $1.25. Children under 12 years old half price.

Committee: Walter Fuller, Smithfield and Selma; J. E. Johnson, Benson; Dr. Goodwin and E. Lee, Dunn; J. A. Burns and J. W. Ingold, Fayetteville.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, August 3, 1899.]

Sawed Off.

Something rather amusing occurred on the up trip of the steamer Wilmington last Saturday afternoon. Three ladies and two young gentlemen were seated forming a party upon the upper deck. The young ladies finally engaged in singing when the two young men joined in, one of the two gentlemen making, probably for fun, discordant notes, and finally turning to one of the young ladies asked if she had ever heard a billy goat sing, to which she replied, “not until I heard you a few moments ago.” Passengers near by who overheard it roared, while the young man held for a time a carpet-bottom stool before his face. Sufficient to say he was quiet for the remainder of the trip.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Thursday, August 17, 1899]

Twentieth at ” The Rocks. ”

The Fort Fisher Rod and Gun Club want to give the public an opportunity to spend a day at their club house and invites any who may wish to do so to visit them on the 20th inst. The Wilmington will stop at the ” Rocks, ” on that day, going and coming, on its run to Southport.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Tuesday, May 19, 1903]


— The steamer ” Wilmington ” will run the last regular excursion of the season to sea Sunday, leaving the city at 9:30 A. M. Sunday week the steamer will inaugurate its regular Summer schedule, making two trips to Southport that day.

[Wilmington Morning Star — Saturday, May 23, 1903]

City of Wilmington 1904 Steamer Schedule

1904 Steamer Schedule


Effective September 11th, the steamer Wilmington will leave Wilmington daily for Southport at 2 P.M. and leave Southport daily at 8 A.M. Fare 25 cents.


[Wilmington Morning Star — Tuesday, October 29, 1907]

Wilmington Loses a Wheel

On her way up from Southport yesterday morning the steamer Wilmington lost her wheel and had to tie up at Fort Anderson until she could be towed to the city. The steamer Southport was on hand and took the run of her sister ship in the afternoon.

[Wilmington Morning Star Friday, November 1, 1907]


The steamer “Wilmington” is having a new coat of paint applied to sides, decks and super-structure. This is the annual coat given before the summer season opens.

[April 26, 1923]

INITITAL RUN OF SEASON – The steamer “Wilmington” will make her initial run of the season to Southport on Sunday morning, it is announced by Capt. L. D. Potter, skipper of the handsome river steamer. During her recent overhaul the craft had been painted from stem to stern, new sanitary toilets have been installed, and every piece of machinery has been worked over by the mechanics.

— After June 1st, the terminals of the steamer “Wilmington,” of the Southport – Wilmington line, will be at the foot of Princess street, it is officially announced by the management of the steamboat company. The change is made principally for the convenience of the passengers, many of whom have complained of the inconvenience of the present terminal at the foot of Orange street.

[May 30, 1923]


Fred Harper, mayor of Lynchburg, Va., a former Wilmington boy, son of the late Capt. John Harper, is to make the principal address at the annual Elks’ memorial service to be held at the Victoria Theatre.

[November 10, 1923]


The steamer “Wilmington” plying between Wilmington and Southport as a freight and passenger vessel and often used by parties for pleasure trips to the sea, will be taken off her run and sold unless her operation shows a profit this year, Captain L. D. Potter announces.

[ May 1, 1924]

Moonlight cruise

A moonlight ride for the Sepa Grotto will take place aboard the steamer Wilmington. A large crowd is expected due to the intensive ticket-selling campaign. Refreshments will be sold on the steamer.

[August 9, 1924]


Story of Her Departure From City Is Told In Interesting Manner

     The historic old steamer Wilmington which long plied between the city and Southport is given much space on page 687 of the current issue of “The Nautical Gazette,” a marine publication of national scope, and will be read with interest by all Wilmington since it is possible that two thirds of the city’s population has been aboard the vessel at one time or another.

     The city has a half-page advertisement on page 618 of the same publication.

     The magazine has this to say of the Wilmington, which will see service in the future in Florida waters:

     “After a long and honorable period of service as passenger carrier on the Cape Fear river between Wilmington and Southport, in North Carolina, the handsome steamer Wilmington will fill a more modern role.  It is now being converted into an automobile ferry and within another thirty days her new career will be started in Florida waters.  Thousands of persons in this state who have had many pleasant hours in past years on trips of this handsome and historic boat, have been glad to learn that the name Wilmington will not be changed.

     “The sale of the Wilmington was recently made by the former owners, Captains L. D. Potter and W. C. Manson, to the Bee Line Ferry company, Charles R. Carter, president of St. Petersburg, Florida.  The boat will be placed in service on Tampa Bay between St. Petersburg and Bradentown and will have a carrying capacity of 20 automobiles.

     “The Wilmington is now being completely remodeled by the Broadfoot Iron Works, at this port.  The steamer was built in 1881 by the Cramp shipyards and has a Norwegian Iron hull.  The length is approximately 130 feet and with the remodeling now in progress the width will be considerably extended over that which the steamer had while a passenger carrier.  Chief among the changes now in progress was the removal of approximately two-thirds of the housing, widening of the decks, installation of steel sponsons, and extension of space otherwise used in the past, for storage of automobiles.  It is also planned to change the power source from coal to oil burning engines.  When Broadfoot company finishes the entire contract, the steamer Wilmington will not look like her old self, but will present a much changed and rejuvenated aspect.  Interests on the Cape Fear river will witness with keen regret the departure of this historic boat but will wish for the new owners material success in the operation of the steamer as an automobile transport.

[ Wilmington Morning Star, Wilmington, NC., Monday, December 6, 1927 ]

NOTE: This is a scant portion of the articles regarding the SteamerWILMINGTON.  To this point I was not focused upon the Wilmington because, she did not run between Fayetteville and the City of Wilmington, and she was a screw.  *I think the UAB has a copious amount of the articles for her.

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Posted by on November 2, 2010 in The Boats


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