African American | Colored | Negro

18 Feb

I have attempted to go through the collected materials and segregate those articles which referenced “colored” folk:

1885 – 1917

Steamer Wave Explodes Her Boiler and Sinks.


Yesterday afternoon shortly after 3 o’clock, a heavy explosion shook the offices and other buildings about the wharfs and created widespread alarm for a few moments, as no one knew what to make of it. Some thought the deadly dynamite had begun its work in their midst. There were some, however, who were witnesses to the sad cause of the terrible concussion, and soon it was known that the steamer Wave, on the line between this city and Fayetteville, had exploded her boiler and almost immediately sunk. She was lying at the time of the accident near Mr. A. A. Willard’s wharf, on the west side of the river, nearly opposite Messrs. Worth & Worth’s wharf, and soon tugs, yawls and other small craft were taking excited crowds to the scene of the disaster. Crowds also lined the wharves and eagerly awaited tidings from the wreck, and as one and another of the boats would return to this side of the river the persons on board would be quickly interviewed.

     First along it was reported that all hands on board had gone down with the boat, but later information places the loss of life at only three. They were Neill Jessup, a stevedore; Jim Stedman, an employee; and Kitty Harvey, the cook—all colored. The injured were Perry Cotton, pilot, and Dave McPherson, a deck hand—both colored. They were both badly scalded; both of them were taken to the Marine Hospital. All the killed and wounded were residents of Fayetteville, except Cotton, who is said to live here at present.

     Mr. J. D. L. Smith, engineer of the boat, says he had just come from the boiler, and was sitting in the engine room when the explosion occurred. He says there was plenty of water in the boiler and not too much steam, the pressure being only eighty pounds. He saw the three persons drown whose names are given. A boy named Turner had one of his ears blown off, and received several gashes about the head. The flue of the boiler was found after the accident on top of a warehouse several hundred feet distant.

     The boat was taking on fertilizers and there were about four hundred and fifty bags on board, which all went down with the wreck. The bags had been wheeled across a flat to the boat, and at the time of the accident the flat was being loaded.

     Mr. J. G Wright, shipping clerk for Messrs. G. W. Williams & Co., was on the boat, and he and the engineer sprang on the flat. Mr. Wright was slightly hurt. Mr. Smith had to feel his way out of the room, which was quickly filled with a dense smoke.

     Part of the boiler in its upward flight struck the top mast of the schooner Nellie Potter, lying close to the boat, and broke it off. The smoke stack was blown to atoms. The furniture went down with the boat, but a good deal of it was subsequently fished out. The boat went down in almost one minute after the explosion. Several persons jumped into the river besides those that were drowned.

     Mr. L. B. Love, assistant engineer, got jammed between the cabin of the boat and a schooner and made a narrow escape from being carried down with the wreck. One of his hands was pretty badly bruised.

     At the time of the accident Capt. Jeff Robeson was on this side of the river, attending to some business.

     The boat is a complete wreck, the hull, it is thought, being broken in twain. She was owned principally by Capts. W. A. and J. D. Robeson, but Smith, the engineer also owned an interest in her. She was valued at from $8,000 to $10,000, and was insured for $5,000. Much sympathy is felt among the many friends of the owners on account of their loss, and much regret is felt at the loss of live. {LIFE?}

     Mr. Robert Sweet, of Mr. Willard’s establishment, was on the boat at the time and was blown into the water, from which he was rescued, as he could not swim.

     The schooners Nellie Potter and Alice Hearn were in the immediate vicinity of the boat and Capt. Pennswell, of the former, says he was badly shaken up. He rushed from the cabin as soon as he thought safety would admit of it and saw the three persons  drown—Wilmington Star.

 [The Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, March 12, 1885.]


Not Recovered.

     Nothing thus far has been seen or heard of the bodies of the three unfortunate colored people who lost their lives by the explosion on the steamer Wave, which took place on Thursday, the 5th inst., if we may except a rumor to the effect that some fishermen had found some mangled portions of the remains of a man some miles below the city, and that there were some marks by which they were known to be those of Neill Jessup.  This rumor, which was being circulated some two or three days ago, could not be traced to a responsible source.  It has been ascertained to a certainty that the three persons mentioned were the only ones that lost their lives.  No attempt to raise the wreck has yet been made.

[Wilmington Weekly Star – March 20, 1885]


Our city has had probably the most disastrous fire within its history. At about 2:30 o’clock on the afternoon of Sunday last, the steamer Bladen coming in from Fayetteville was found to be on fire when near the wharves on the city side of the river. Before she reached the wharf of the Clyde steamers, for which she was headed, the flames had enveloped the fore-part of the boat and driven the passengers to the stern. Fortunately, help was near and all of the passengers were safely landed. The flames from the burning steamer were communicated in a twinkling to a flat loaded with wood, lying at the landing place, and almost immediately, under the influence of the gale that was blowing at the time, to the shed on the New York Steamship wharf. Thence with lightning-like rapidity the devouring element sped its course in a northeasterly direction to the fine large warehouse and store only recently erected by Col. F. W. Kerchner. Soon the building of Messrs. Kerchner & Calder Bros., was in flames, and on the fire swept taking in its course the buildings and yards occupied by Messrs. S. P. Shotter and A. H. Greene. Crossing Water street the building occupied by M. J. Heyer was seriously damaged, but not destroyed, but all buildings from Heyer’s north to Mulberry fell before the fury of the flames. Leaping to the warehouse of Messrs. Worth & Worth all the buildings on their premises and contents including sheds, naval stores, cotton and general merchandise were swept away.  Messrs. Patterson & Downing’s office in the Worth building went of course with the building. The flames kept hence a steady onward course bounded by the river on the west, and there fell rapidly before them the office and warehouses of Messrs. Alex. Sprunt & Son, with such stocks of naval stores and cotton as were in them, the saw-mill of Mr. J. A. Fore, the Champion Cotton Compress with some 2,500 bales of cotton and the freight warehouses of the Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta and the Wilmington and Weldon Railroads. On the east side of Nutt street, the Seaman’s Hotel was the first to go. Then followed the meal and flouring mills of Messrs. G. J. Boney and C. B. Wright, and in rapid succession a long row of buildings mostly of wood till Red Cross street was reached. The freight office of the Railroads, on the north side of Red Cross street, was destroyed and the general offices of those companies, on Front street, as were also every other building in the square upon which they stood.

     The residence of Hon. George Davis on Second street was ignited by sparks before the flames in their steady progress had reached Front street. The Front Street Methodist church took fire in the belfry from sparks before buildings on the opposite side of Front street had encountered the flames.  Every building on the square bounded by Front, Mulberry, Second and Red Cross was reduced to ashes except the Methodist parsonage which stands on the corner of Second and Mulberry streets. About 7 o’clock the fire attacked the former residence of Mr. Henry Nutt on the northwestern corner of Second and Red Cross streets. This was consumed and here the work of destruction in this part of the city ceased. We should have noted the total destruction of the steamer Bladen and her cargo of some 125 bales of cotton, the burning of the steamer River Queen, and of the three-masted schooner Lillie Holmes, of New Bedford, Mass., the last named valued at $30,000.

     While the fire we have described was raging, over in Brooklyn, a suburb of the city, something like a mile away from the great disaster, the sparks had caught the steeple of St. Barnabas school-house in the charge of St. Mark’s colored Episcopal church. It was consumed as also Trinity Methodist church (colored) and a large number of dwelling houses occupied by white and colored families. Some nineteen buildings were consumed in this part of the city. The loss of property falls heavily on many who are little able to bear it, and on none more heavily than those who suffered in Brooklyn and some of whom have no places of shelter.

     The total loss is variously estimated, some rating it at one million dollars, none lower, we think than $500,000. The amount of insurance on property destroyed is about $400,000, and as none of the railroad property, it is understood, was insured, and there was much other property in the same category, it seems not unreasonable to estimate the loss total as at least $700,000.

     We ought not to close without bearing testimony to the self-sacrificing members of the Fire Department and to the trying services of the Wilmington Light Infantry, who spent the night under arms guarding the property which had been saved from the general wreck.

     The Goldsboro engine was telegraphed for, but could not reach us on account of the blocking of the railroad track. The Florence fire engine came through and did efficient service. Both these companies received the thanks of a public meeting of citizens assembled on Monday. At the meeting just referred to measures were taken looking to the relief of distress among the sufferers by the fire, and a generous response will no doubt be made.

[North Carolina Presbyterian – Wilmington, N.C. – February 24, 1886.]


     —  The steamer Cape Fear has been chartered to run to the colored camp meeting grounds at Gander Hall, a few miles down the river.  Yesterday carpenters were at work on the boat, putting in benches on the lower deck, to accommodate passengers.  The camp meeting opens to-day.

[Wilmington Star – May 27, 1887]


A Missing Boat Hand.

     Jim Armstrong, a colored man employed on board the steamer Cape Fear, is reported missing, and it is feared has been drowned.  About 4 o’clock last Saturday morning Armstrong came on board the boat and laid down in the engine room, after which nothing was seen of him.  His disappearance was not noticed until after the steamer left Fayetteville for Wilmington.  His hat, shoes and coat were found on the boat.  He is said to have been addicted to walking in his sleep, and his friends are apprehensive that he came to his death by drowning.

[Wilmington Star – December 28, 1887]


Gone for the Sylvan Grove.

     The Sylvan Grove, the elegant steamer which the New Hanover Transit Company will run to Carolina Beach this summer, will be brought out from New York in about ten days.  Captain John W. Harper left by rail several days ago and will be joined in New York by Captain W. A. Snell, who will act as coast pilot, Mr. A. M. Wilson, who will be mate, Mr. W. C. Price, who will be engineer, William Brown, who will be cook, and Prince Swain, colored, who will be fireman on the steamer.  Captain Snell and his party left on the last New York steamer.

[Wilmington Messenger – April 24, 1888]


     —  The Cape Fear brought a large number of colored excursionists from Fayetteville to spend the Fourth in this city.

[Wilmington Star – July 6, 1888]




Another Excursion Boat for Trips on the Cape Fear – The First Excursion To-day Something About the New Comer.

     The long looked for, much talked of and extensively written of steamer Queen of St. John’s has arrived in Wilmington at last.  She steamed in yesterday afternoon at 12:05 and was greeted with salutes from all the steam whistles of the boats in the harbor and of the saw mills along the river.  She came up the river slowly, and responded to the salutes with her musical chimes whistles that awakened the echoes along the river and struck the ears of the busy people in the city.  The whistles were a signal to the people that the Queen must be coming, and when she steamed up to the wharf several hundred people, white and black, big and little, had gathered to get a glimpse of her.  She moored at Walker’s wharf, between Dock and Orange streets, and when she came alongside, the crowd greeted her with cheers and rushed aboard in a mass.  For the moment it seemed as if the crowd considered that the boat belonged to them, as the people without ceremony scattered all over her, taking possession of her decks, saloons, cabins and state rooms.

     The principal of the Queen’s crew aboard were Captain R. P. Paddison, master and general manager, Mr. W. H. Christopher, purser, Mr. Frank Kurtse mate, Captain C. C. Morse, pilot, and Mr. William Hearn chief engineer.  All of the crew came around with the boat from Jacksonville with the exception of Captain Paddison and Mr. Christopher, who came through by rail and had been here several days.  They, and some ladies, went down the river yesterday morning on the Passport, and met the Queen about half way between this city and Southport and came back upon her.

     The Queen having left Fernandina, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27th, arrived at Southport yesterday morning at 7:40 o’clock, and leaving there at 9:20 arrived in Wilmington at 12:05 p. m.  A MESSENGER reporter, who boarded the new comer found her to be a side-wheel steamer one hundred and ninety-three feet length of boiler deck and fifty-nine feet length of boiler deck and fifty-nine feet over all across decks.  She was built in 1884 at Cincinnati, Ohio, and rebuilt in 1885 at Jacksonville, Florida.  She is a wooden hull vessel of 413 68 100 tons net burthen, and is run by two high pressure engines of twenty-inch cylinder and seven feet three inches stroke of piston.  The engines are fed by four steel boilers twenty-four feet in length and 3 2-12 feet in diameter.  The steam pressure allowed is 191 pounds.  She carries life lines, three life boats, one life raft, 274 cork life preservers, 300 feet of hose and other fire apparatus.  She draws 3 ½ feet of water and 4 ½ feet when freighted.  She is owned by Capt. J. G. Christopher, the clever proprietor of the Pablo Beach Hotel, near Jacksonville, Fla.

     The queen is licensed to carry 1,500 passengers, and has 60 state rooms with 180 berths.  The state rooms are on the promenade deck and open from each side of an elegant saloon 170 feet in length.  Altogether she is quite well suited for excursions, and will no doubt be a popular boat during the season which has set in so auspiciously.

     Her first excursion down the Cape Fear will be run this evening as a compliment to the Chamber of Commerce and Produce Exchange.  She will leave her wharf at 2:30 o’clock, and will return about 7 p. m.  The Cornet Concert Club, the Germania Cornet Band, the Wilmington Light Infantry, the Mayor and other representatives of the municipal government, a large number of ladies and other citizens have been invited.

[Wilmington Messenger – July 6, 1888]


Local Dots.

—  The letter carriers will give an excursion to Carolina Beach on the Sylvan Grove next Friday.

—  The Queen of St. Johns carried a large excursion party of colored people to Southport yesterday morning and last night.

—  The first of the new series of ten-cent excursions on the Passport, yesterday afternoon, was a pronounced success.  They will doubtless be continued.

—  The Passport will give a moonlight excursion to-night.  Fare only ten cents for the round trip.  The boat will leave at 8.30 and return about 11 o’clock.

[Wilmington Morning Star – Tuesday, July 17, 1888]




The Loss $30,000 With Insurance for

$20,000—A New boat Will be Built or

A Railroad Will be Built to Carolina


     In yesterday morning’s MESSENGER we chronicled the burning of the steamer Sylvan Grove at Northrop’s wharf on the west side of the Cape Fear River, where she was laid up for the winter.  The flames were first discovered by the watchman at the Carolina Oil and Creosote Works and he sent in the alarm.

     There was a watchman, Daniel L. Smith, colored, on board the steamer, but he was asleep in the after cabin, just below the ladies’ saloon.  He states that his first intimation of the fire was when the hurricane deck fell in.  he arose hurriedly and made his escape with difficulty, taking to his skiff which was tied near the cabin.  His opinion is the fire caught from a steamer passing during the day or perhaps caught from the stove pipe running up out of the cabin where he was asleep.  He lost all his effects, except the clothes he wore.

     Mr. W. L. Smith, a member of the Southport Steamboat company, which owns the Sylvan Grove, went over to the burning vessel after she had been burning about an hour and a half, thinking probably the watchman was not safe.  Other than this, the boat could not be reached by the fire department.  The Marie played on the fire to prevent the hull from sinking but the fire was too hot, and when it burned to the water’s edge the hull sank.  Only the flag staff could be seen above the water’s edge yesterday morning.

     The Sylvan Grove cost the Southport Steamboat Company $30,000 and was insured for $20,000 in several companies represented by New York agencies.  They cannot replace her for $30,000 and consequently their loss over and above insurance will be more than $10,000, including the expense in sending after and bringing out another boat.

     The burning of the Sylvan Grove will not be in any way to the disadvantage of Carolina Beach, as the Steamboat [Steamcoat – misspelled word] company will buy another steamer and have her here in time for the opening of the season.  The directors held an informal meeting yesterday and that much was decided.  They propose this time to select a boat exactly suited to the purpose—that is running trips from Wilmington to Carolina Beach during the summer months.

     We learn that parties interested at Masonboro Sound have approached the Steamboat company with a proposition to build a railroad to Carolina Beach instead of buying another steamer to run on the river.  It is desired that the railroad be run by way of Masonboro and citizens owing interests or living there propose to take considerable stock, if the Steamboat company will build the road.  The Steamboat company will hold a meeting soon to consider the matter and we would not be surprised to hear of their deciding to build the road.  At least we understand this much, if the inducements held out to them are of a particularly encouraging nature.

[Wilmington Daily Messenger – January 11, 1891]


Black River Freshet.

     Capt. J. D. Black, of the steamer Lisbon from Point Caswell, reports an immense amount of damage by the freshet in Black River.  The lowlands were covered until crops were out of sight, and the water spread out until a breadth of two or three miles was reached.  Stores at Mill Creek were flooded.

     He says in some places he lost the river, and the stream ran over corn-fields which were so submerged that he could not see the tops of the corn in some places.  People were taken from their houses on the Lisbon.  One old negro, standing on the top of his house when the boat passed, cried out:  “For de Lord’s sake!  Yonder comes Noah’s ark.”

     When the boat reached Wilmington you could pick up a bushel of acorns on her deck, swept from trees while passing under the boughs.  The crops of corn and cotton in the lowlands are a total loss.  At last accounts the river was falling.—Wilmington Star of last Saturday.

     A private letter from Duplin reports a similar condition of affairs existing throughout the territory contiguous to the North East river, in Pender as well as Duplin.  At Chinquepin, the high water carried away about twenty-five feet of the bridge, which spans the river at that place, where the water is said to have been higher than since 1868.  Thus far heard from great loss to crops along the water courses everywhere is reported all over the State, and the East in particular.

[Fayetteville Observer –  September 10, 1891.]




The Steamboat D. Murchison Running

Between Wilmington and Carolina Beach

Pier – Insured for $6,000.

     The steamer D. Murchison, Captain John S. Sellers, running on the Cape Fear river between Wilmington and the Carolina Beach pier, was burned to the water’s edge Sunday last about noon, near the mouth of Brunswick river, three miles below Wilmington.  The boat was on her return trip to the city.  There were only four passengers—a gentleman on his way to the city, Capt. Sellers’ wife and two children.  The fire broke out near the furnace and spread rapidly.  The pilot headed the boat for the west side of the river and beached her in shoal water, and the passengers and crew were safely landed in boats.

     The following statement was made to a STAR reporter by Capt. Sellers:

     “We left on the regular trip from Wilmington at 9.30 o’clock with quite a number of passengers, and it was on the return trip, at about a quarter to twelve when the alarm of fire was given.  It was discovered in a pile of wood in the bow of the boat near the furnace, by my little son, who at once notified the pilot.  It was not over two minutes after the alarm was given that the hose and buckets were brought in use.  At the time there was a brisk wind blowing and although the boat was quickly turned stern to the wind, the fire had gained such headway that it was impossible to extinguish it.  While I was throwing the burning wood overboard, my clothes took fire and seeing that the fire was rapidly gaining on us, I went up stairs, (where the smoke was becoming very dense) for my wife and children, and took them to the stern of the boat.  We then launched the lifeboat which was truck by the revolving wheel and capsized.  A boat then came from the shore in which I sent my wife and children ashore.  The rest of the crew came ashore in the life-boat, after it was righted, and in a boat from the shore.  All the crew stood at their posts until ordered away by me.  There was only one passenger, my wife and two children and the crew on board.  The burning took place near Clark’s Island, about three miles from the city.  The boat burned to the hull, which is of iron.”

     The crew of the Murchison—all colored men and all from Fayetteville—were:  David Jackson, pilot; Jno. W. Webb, engineer; Larkins Bell, fireman; Irving Dedmer and Jno. Manuel, deck hands.

     Jno. H. Waddell, colored, who lives on the east side of the river, near the scene of the accident, launched a boat and went to the rescue of the people on the Murchison, and assisted them in getting ashore.

     The Murchison was owned by the Express Steamboat Company, having stockholders in Wilmington and Fayetteville.  She was built at Wilmington, Del., in 1869, at a cost of $24,000, and had been running on the Cape Fear river nearly twenty-five years.  She was a light-draught, speedy boat, with good accommodations for passengers, and was always one of the most popular of the river craft that ploughed the muddy waters of the Cape Fear between Wilmington and Fayetteville.  Up to the first of June last she ran a regular schedule between the two places under command of Capt. Robeson, and was then withdrawn and the steamer Cape Fear put on her run.

     About the first of this month she was chartered by Mr. Hans A. Kure to run the Carolina Beach schedule.  She was insured for $6,000, in agencies at Fayetteville.

[Wilmington ? – July 10, 1894]


The Steamer D. Murchison Burned.

     The steamboat D. Murchison which has been plying between this city and Wilmington for more than 24 years, and which was recently leased by Mr. Kure to run from Wilmington to Carolina Beach, was burned to the water’s edge last Sunday morning about three miles below Wilmington. The Murchison was one of the three boats belonging to the Express Steamboat Company which ply between this city and Wilmington. The other two are the Hurt and Cape Fear, both good boats, and still in active service. Mr. A. H. Slocomb is president, and Col. W. S. Cook is manager of the company.

     The stockholders are Messrs. S. P. McNair, D. McEachern, Dr. A. J. DeRosset, of Wilmington; A. H. Slocomb, R. M. Nimocks, Mrs. J. A. Tomlinson, W. A. Robeson, J. H. Currie and W. S. Cook, of Fayetteville; Mrs. C. S. Love, of Elizabethtown, Bladen county, and Mr. L. Shaw, of St. Pauls, Robeson county.

     The steamer was built at Wilmington, Del., in 1869, and cost $24,000. The insurance on her is about $6,000 and is in the agencies of D. H. Ray and J. A. Pemberton, of this city.

     The Murchison was the finest of the three boats and was recently thoroughly overhauled and repainted. She had a passenger capacity of 50.

     The Wilmington Messenger says:

     The Murchison was under command of Capt. J. S. Sellers, and Dave Jackson, colored, was pilot. The steamer left here Sunday morning at 9:30 o’clock with quite a number of passengers for Carolina Beach. They were landed safely at the Beach pier and the steamer started back immediately for Wilmington, the only persons on board being Capt. Sellers, his wife and two little sons, Louis aged 7 years and Hood aged 4 years. Mr. Will Pinner, the mate, Dave Jackson, the pilot, and the engineer, the fireman, two deck hands and Mr. Nance Windsor, former engineer on the steamer Clarence, who was coming up as a passenger. At 11:45 a.m. Capt. Sellers was aft when his little son Louis came and told him a pile of wood was on fire. The pilot also blew the alarm from the wheel house. Capt. Sellers had been forward only five minutes before the fire broke out, and as soon as his little son told him about it he and Mr. Windsor hurried forward and when they got there the wood pile was in a pretty good blaze. He and Mr. Windsor went to throwing off the wood, and in a minute all hands were at work throwing water with the pumps and buckets. The wind was blowing from the east so the steamer’s stern was put to the wind and the engine was stopped.

     The fire gained rapidly, but Mr. Windsor and Capt. Sellers stood their ground until several holes were burned in the latter’s clothes. Seeing that there was no chance to control the fire, the captain went upstairs for his wife and children. He met her on the stairway badly frightened and carried her and the children aft and launched the life boat.

     When the Murchison caught on fire she was a quarter of a mile from the west shore, but Capt. Sellers says if a large number of passengers had been aboard he would have saved them by running ashore. After the steamer had been abandoned, she drifted on the point at the south side of the mouth of Brunswick river. It was floodtide at the time, and the iron hull of the steamer can be seen from boats passing on the river. She will be a total loss.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, July 12, 1894]


Arrest of a Raft.

     Six breathless negroes came rushing into town yesterday morning and were so much excited that it was some time before they could intelligently tell their troubles. They said they had been employed by a man named Raleigh Seabury to cut timber and make a raft on Upper Little River, about 17 or 18 miles from this city. After completing the raft, they carried it to the mouth of the Cape Fear, where they were to be paid off, Seabury and another man carrying the raft on to Wilmington. Seabury took the men to a certain place to pay them, and left them there, saying he would be back in a few minutes with the money. The men waited and waited, until finally suspecting some treachery, they rushed to the spot where the raft was left, only to find it gone. To add to their chagrin they could see Seabury floating placidly down the river on the raft, smoking a pipe.

     When the men had collected their wits, they went before Magistrate Overby and swore out a laborers’ lien, a warrant, and an execution. They started to find Township Constable Maultsby, and when nearing his house in Campbellton, caught sight of Seabury hurrying towards the river. A lively chase ensued, in which officer Maultsby, who had just finished hitching up his horse, took part. He was soon overhauled, and his raft found fastened to the river bank, was levied upon. Seabury was released, and said he would soon return and fix matters straight, but he has not been seen since.

[Fayetteville Observer – Saturday, February 15, 1896]


The Arrested Raft

     Messrs. Daniel Turner and Jno. McArtan, of Harnett, got possession of the arrested raft yesterday, under claim and delivery papers. Their claim, which is for selling and hauling the timber, comes in ahead of the laborer’s lien, by which it was seized by the six negroes last week. The raft will probably realize enough to pay all accounts.

[Fayetteville Observer – Saturday Evening, February 22, 1896]


Drowned on the Cape Fear.

     Tuesday night a colored raft hand named McNeill from Harnett, while drunk, fell or jumped from the Steamer Murchison and was drowned.

     The man with his two brothers had taken a raft to Wilmington and were returning on the Murchison.

     Two of the brothers were watching the other one who was drunk and laying asleep near the boiler when they too, went to sleep, just after passing the Navassa Bridge.  They were awakened by the Steamer’s blowing for Piney Bluff and looking where they had left their brother found him gone.  A search was instituted but the man was not on board.  One of the brothers took a boat and went in search of him but with the same result.

 [Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, April 16, 1896]


      Two colored hands on the steamer Sessoms had a fight yesterday afternoon, and one of them knocked the other senseless with a shovel.  The wounded man lay insensible a long time and it was thought he was dead.  His assailant escaped.

[Wilmington Messenger – July 1, 1896]


River News.
     There was 6.4 feet of water in the Cape Fear river at 8 o’clock this morning.

     The steamer Hurt is expected up from Wilmington this afternoon about 3 or 4 o’clock.

     The Driver arrived this morning and will return this afternoon.  On her last trip up a colored man was drowned from the Driver.  When the steamer was opposite Narrow Gap landing, the engineer heard the splash of a man falling overboard, and stopped the engines, but, like many others who have fallen into the mysterious current of this river, no trace of him could be found.  A thorough examination of the boat disclosed the fact that a colored passenger bound for the next landing was missing.

[Fayetteville Observer – Saturday, December 2, 1899.]


River News.
     There was 7 feet of water in the Cape Fear river at 8 o’clock this morning.

     The Hurt left for Wilmington this morning.  Among her passengers was Capt. T. J. Green, bound for Whitehall.

     The body of the colored man, who fell overboard from the Driver, was found the next day, very near the spot where he disappeared, by a party of his friends.  They stretched a line across the river, attached to which were sinkers and hooks, just like a set line, with a boat at each end, and in this manner they moved down the stream until they finally fished up the body.

[Fayetteville Observer – Monday, December 4, 1899.]


The Sinking of the Steamer Hawes.

     Col. Cook returned Friday night from Wilmington, where he went to investigate the sinking of the steamer Hawes.  He made arrangements to have the boat raised and the boiler recovered from the bottom of the river.

     The Wilmington Messenger of Thursday says:

     The cause of the sinking of the steamer E. A. Hawes, which went down at her wharf at the foot of Chestnut street yesterday morning at 3 o’clock, was not ascertained yesterday, as the vessel is still under water and no examination of her hull could be made.  Negotiations are pending and the vessel will probably be up-righted today and the boiler fished up from the bottom of the river.

     Mr. Frank Creel, the engineer, was the first to discover that the vessel was sinking and gave the alarm to the ten people on board.  All hands were asleep.  Mr. Creel was awakened by a noise as if steam was being gotten up.  He laid still, thinking the fireman had started his fire, but in a few minutes a peculiar noise caused him to get up and go into the boiler room.  He found the vessel filling rapidly with water and he at once alarmed everybody on board.

     All hands hurried off, as the vessel was then going down.  Captain Irvin Robinson, Mr. Creel and the colored cook, a woman, were the only ones who got ashore without getting wet.  The seven other members of the crew, all negroes, had attempted to get off at one end of the steamer, but could not do so and had to walk clear around the guard rail to the other side.  Before they could get off the vessel lurched and carried all of them into the water.  They swam to the wharf and luckily all escaped.

[Fayetteville Observer – January 17, 1901]





A Remarkable Wharf.


     Work on the wharf of the Fayetteville and Wilmington Steamboat Company is about complete, and one can now form some idea of the remarkable features of this splendid piece of engineering.

     From the top of the river bank to the low water mark, an inclined wharf, 140 feet long and 100 feet wide, has been constructed at an angle of 30 degrees.  Down this incline two steel cars, such as are in use on the Alpine railways, will run.  The platform of these cars is 9 by 10 feet, and each has a capacity of five tons and when coupled together ten tons can be hauled up or down at a time.

     These cars are run on steel rails and are attached by steel cables to a Lambert hoisting engine of 45 horse power.  Two floating piers will be placed on the water attached to the wharf in such a manner that they will rise and fall with the river.  Between these piers is an open space of 20 feet to permit the cars to run along side the steamers and freight transferred directly from the boat to the cars.  These cars will also transport passengers to and from the boats.

     This inclined wharf is a remarkable piece of work, and is so strongly constructed that I will stand the assaults of the fiercest freshets without the slightest injury.  At the top of this incline is a platform leading to the main warehouse, the cold storage warehouse and the station house, all of which buildings have been completed and are models of their kind.  The big hoisting engine is also inclosed in a well-constructed building.  The station house has two waiting rooms, one for white and the other for colored passengers, and will be heated by steam pipes.  The company’s flag is size 14 by 18 feet will float from the eminence on a 70 foot pole.  The lowest stage of water at the dock is 7 feet with a splendid basin for maneuvering the boats.

     The work was planned by Mr. E. W. Cooke, General Manager of the Fayetteville and Wilmington Steamboat Company, and was constructed under the supervision of Mr. Ed. Nelson, Mr. Cooke’s assistant engineer, and Messrs John K. Strange and D. S. McRae.

     The company has just had constructed a road to connect with the highway leading to the centre of the town which the city is now having put in good shape.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, September 25, 1902]


A Trip on the Cape Fear.

     Mr. H. E. C. Bryant, the correspondent of the Charlotte Observer, writes entertainingly of his trip on the river from Fayetteville to Wilmington of which we made mention last week.  The following, condensed from his column and a quarter account, will be of interest:

     The Cape Fear river is one of the most historic streams in the South.  It is navigable from Wilmington to Fayetteville, a distance of about 120 miles.  Before railroads were so numerous in North Carolina the Cape Fear river was a great factor in the commerce of a great section of the State.  People from Morganton, Salisbury, Concord, Statesville, Charlotte, Monroe, Wadesboro, Rockingham, Laurinburg, Maxton, Lumberton and other points hauled their farm and factory products to Fayetteville and exchanged them for supplies brought up ht Cape Fear in boats.  Those were the days of Fayetteville’s greatest glory.

     Through the kindness of Col. W. S. Cook and Capt. W. A. Robeson, of the A. P. Hurt, I was permitted to take a trip from Fayetteville to Wilmington last Friday.  We had quite a pleasant party on board.  Among others were:  Col. J. B. Starr, the interesting old veteran of Fayetteville; Col. Malcolm McIntyre Matthews, of the Hotel LaFayette; Mr. John F. Harrison and Mr. R. G. Freeman.

     Capt. Robeson is a very agreeable man.  He is thoughtful, affable and kind.  He did everything within his power to make us comfortable.  Our journey was made pleasant by his kindness.  Our every desire was gratified.  In the persons of Abram Dunn and Dan Buxton, two polite negroes, the A. P. Hurt has two very attractive characters.  Abe is the steward and Dan the pilot.  Old Dan is nearly 75 years old and has been on the Cape Fear 52 years.  He knows every crook and turn in the river and can tell some delightful stories of long-ago.

     It was after the death of his old master that Dan was hired out to the captain of the “Governor Graham,” the property of the Cape Fear Steamboat Company.  Since that time he has server on the “Chatham,” the “Flora McDonald,” the “Governor Worth,” and the “A. P. Hurt.”

     Abe Dunn does the catering and cooking for the passengers and the crew.  He is capable, industrious and humble.  As a servant he has few superiors.

     The table fare on the A. P. Hurt, is first-class.  It is superior to that of the average city hotel.  Old Abe is a tasteful caterer and a fine cook.  He knows what to buy and how to prepare it.  I do not recall any meals that I have enjoyed more than I did supper and breakfast on Capt. Robeson’s boat.  We had tender ham and beef, good fried hominy, strong coffee and a few dainties.  The linen and tableware were clean and attractive looking.

     The trip from Fayetteville to Wilmington by Capt. Robeson’s boat afforded us much pleasure.  The scenery along the river is beautiful; the fare on the boat is good, and the effect of the ride, under the conditions, invigorating to mind and body.  I enjoyed every moment of the time spent on the A. P. Hurt.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, December 2, 1902]


From Monday’s Daily.




Arrived at Wilmington Yesterday.


     A telegram was received here today from General Manager Cooke, stating that the steamer “City of Fayetteville” would leave Wilmington tonight at 12 o’clock, and would reach Fayetteville tomorrow afternoon.

     The City of Fayetteville reached Wilmington from Jacksonville, Fla., yesterday morning at 10 o’clock.  A dispatch from Wilmington last night says:

     The steamer City of Fayetteville, built by the Merrill-Stevens Engineering Company, of Jacksonville, Fla., for the Wilmington & Fayetteville Steamboat Company, arrived this morning at 10:20 o’clock, in tow of the tug Cecilia, of Charleston.  The new boat is one of the largest and very finest that ever plied the Cape Fear and is admirably adapted to freight and passenger traffic, in which she will be used.  She is fitted with her own electric light plant and a powerful search-light will be of great use and convenience in following the dark channel at night.  Her accommodations for passengers are superb.  In the first and second decks are state room accommodations for 300 first and second-class passengers.  The rooms have all modern toilet attachments and are heated by steam.  The steamer will be elegantly furnished during the next few days at Fayetteville after which she will go into commission on the river.

     Mr. A. A. Lisman, of Mt. Vernon, N. Y., president, and Mr. E. W. Cooke, of Fayetteville, general manager of the company, were here to meet the boat.  The officers in charge are Capt. H. B. Fromberger, master; Capt. Lucins L. Moses, Chief engineer; James B. W. Maudesley, assistant engineer, and E. Nelson, mate.  The captain and crew are all from Jacksonville and came up with the boat.


From Tuesday’s Daily.

City of Fayetteville will be Here Tonight

     We received the following telegram this afternoon:

     Wilmington, N. C. Jan 6 – 2:40 p. m.

The Observer, Fayetteville, N. C :

     The Steamer City of Fayetteville sailed for Fayetteville this morning at 8:30 o’clock.

                   GEO. W. BRUNSON, JR.

     Mr. Brunson is local editor of that excellent paper the Evening Dispatch of Wilmington.

     The steamer is expected to arrive here at 10 o’clock tonight, but as it is her first trip, we hardly think she will reach here before 11 or 12.

     The Wilmington papers have long and glowing accounts of the new boat.  The Star prefaces a long article as follows:

     “Those who have borne with fortitude the disappointment that always followed the almost semi-weekly announcements in the newspapers since last Spring that the steamer City of Fayetteville was all but over the bar at Southport, on her way to Wilmington, will find especial satisfaction in the official announcement now that she is here.

     “The magnificent new steamer, which really has every appointment of the finest Mississippi river boat, arrived Sunday morning at 10:20 o’clock from Georgetown, S. C. in tow of the Charleston tug Cecelia, and tied up at the Clyde steamship wharf.”

     The steamer will remain here ten days for the purpose of being fitted out.


From Wednesday’s Daily.



Arrived Here This Morning



     The City of Fayetteville has arrived.  This much talked of and anxiously expected boat drew up at her splendid new dock this morning at 9 o’clock.

     President Lisman and Mrs. Lisman, General Manager Cooke and Secretary S. H. MacRae made the initial trip up the Cape Fear on the steamer.

     A great number of people have visited the boat today, and everyone was delighted and surprised at her magnificence.

     The hoisting machinery and alpine cars of the dock work splendidly, and there were few too timid to make the delightful descent and ascent on these novel cars.  Comfortable steps also lead from the wharf to the steamer’s side, but only a few preferred them to the cars.

     The City of Fayetteville left Jacksonville, Fla., on Christmas Eve, and reached Wilmington Sunday.

     She left Wilmington yesterday morning, and steamed leisurely up the Cape Fear, attracting much attention at each landing place, where crowds had assembled to greet the new boat.  The boat’s journey from Florida was a most interesting one, but not without its drawbacks:

     The tug towing her broke down and was obliged to give up the trip at Charleston.  The tug Cecilia was chartered at Charleston and she sailed with her on December 30th.  That night the weather forced them into Georgetown harbor and there they waited for favorable weather.  She crossed the Georgetown bar at noon Saturday.  When about 20 miles out a thick fog settled over the ocean and the wind shifted around to the southeast and began blowing a small gale.  The sea soon became very rough.  The conditions were most unfavorable for a boat of the City of Fayetteville’s class and considerable uneasiness was felt.  It was decided that the best thing to do was to keep on the trip.  The Fayetteville got up steam and worked her wheel at full speed, which steadied her.  After a very stormy run they crossed the Cape Fear bar at 10 o’clock Saturday night without a mishap.

     The City of Fayetteville was built by the Merrill-Stevens Engineering Company, at Jacksonville, Fla., for the Fayetteville & Wilmington steamboat Company, and was launched last spring.  She is undoubtedly one of the handsomest river boats in southern waters, and is probably better equipped and will be more luxuriously furnished than any river boat south of the Potomac.

     The officers of the Fayetteville & Wilmington Steamboat Company are:

     President, A. A. Lisman, of New York.

     Vice-President and General Manger, E. W. Cooke, of Fayetteville.

     Secretary, S. H. MacRae, of Fayetteville.

     Treasurer, John K. Strange, of Fayetteville.

     The steamer’s officers are:

     Captain, H. B. Fromberger.

     Mate, E. Nelson.

     First Engineer, L. L. Moses.

     Second Engineer, J. H. Mawdesley.

     The purser and stewardess are yet to be selected.  Besides the officers, the boat’s crew will consist of 2 pilots, 2 firemen, 2 cooks, 4 waiters, 4 deck hands and a stewardess.

     The new boat is 140 feet long, 30 feet wide and draws only 16 inches of water light.

     The saloon deck has 14 first-class state rooms, with sleeping accommodations for 30 upper and 20 lower cabin passengers.  All the state rooms open on promenade decks 6 feet wide and extending two-thirds around the boat.  On this deck are the dining room; smoking room; ladies cabin; ladies’ and gentlemen’s toilets; purser’s room and stewardess’ room.

     On the lower or main deck are two after rooms for colored passengers; two rooms for deck passengers, one for men and the other for women, with folding beds; crew’s quarters in the forecastle for 12 men; engine and boiler rooms forward and the engines cased in the after part; a freight room 30×50 feet, with a large space on the bow.

     She has an electric light plant, supplying 120 incandescent lights distributed all over the boat, and a 13-inch electric searchlight.  Her wheel is 12 feet in diameter, with 45 revolutions per minute, giving a speed of over 12 miles an hour on 150 pounds of steam.

     General Manager Cooke says the boat’s schedule will be as follows:

     Leave Wilmington Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, arriving Fayetteville the morning following, and leave Fayetteville Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, arriving Wilmington the next morning.  She will lay over in Wilmington Saturdays and Sundays to run excursions on the river.  She will stop for passengers at the principal points along the river.  She will carry through freight to a large extent, and will be run in connection with the Clyde Line and Merchants & Farmers Steamboat Company, of which the Highlander is the principal boat.  Mr. T. D. Love will be her agent in Wilmington.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, January 8, 1903]


The Body Found.

    Just before Xmas the OBSERVER contained an account of the drowning from the steamer Highlander of an unknown man between here and Wilmington.  Friday the body was found floating near the “Dram Tree” two miles below Wilmington.  The body was identified as that of Isaac Kelland, a negro who either jumped or fell overboard from the steamer Highlander, about 40 miles up the Cape Fear river, Monday before last Christmas.  On the negroe’s body were found bills for goods purchased in Wilmington and a pint bottle of whisky, pretty well emptied.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday February 19, 1903]


Deaths of Two Fayetteville Negroes—Both

Died in Marine Accidents.

     Frank Jackson, the fireman of the Government tug Cynthia, who was killed in the blowing up of that boat near Wilmington last week, was the son of the late Dave Jackson, one of the old Cape Fear river pilots, residing in Fayetteville.  Alex. Jackson, uncle of this young man, lost his life in a similar accident, by the blowing up of the steamer R. E. Lee, of which he was pilot.

     Primus Gilmore, a well known colored citizen, has received official notice that his son Alfred was lost on the ill-fated Clyde liner Saginaw, which was cut in two at sea by the Old Dominion liner Hamilton last week.  Young Gilmore was a passenger on his way to New York.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, May 14, 1903]


Boat Hand Missing.

     Sunday morning about 2 o’clock, during the run of the steamer City of Fayetteville from Wilmington to this place, Rob Webb, a colored hand, was missed, and is supposed to have fallen overboard and been drowned.

     Webb was the son of Dolly Webb, and his father was once a pilot on the Cape Fear.  He has been working in Georgia, and came here only about a month ago.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, August 20, 1903]


The Finding of Webb’s Body.

     The Wilmington Star of Sunday contains the following account of the finding of the body of Webb, the young Fayetteville negro:

     “Captain Bradshaw, of the steamer ‘City of Fayetteville,’ which arrived yesterday morning, reports the finding of the body of Robert Webb, a colored deck hand who was drowned from the steamer as she was proceeding to Fayetteville last night a week ago.  The negro was asleep on a barrel on the lower deck and presumably tumbled into the river in attempting to turnover in his semi-conscious state.  The drowning was reported in these columns at the time.

     “The body had caught in some bushes overhanging the river near Kelly’s Cove when discovered Friday night as the steamer was coming down to Wilmington.  It was in a badly decomposed state and was discovered by the odor arising from it.  Capt. Bradshaw reported the finding of the body to the coroner of Bladen county at Elizabethtown and that official gave order for the burial.”

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, August 27, 1903]




Alleged Assailant of Stevedore Bill

Brown Bound Over.


     In Justice Fowler’s court yesterday Preston Curtis, a negro fireman on the steamer City of Fayetteville, was tried for assaulting the well known stevedore, William H. Howe, with a knife.  The alleged assault occurred last Saturday at the wharf of the steamer in this city.

     The defendant was adjudged guilty and placed under a $25 bond for his appearance for trial at the next term of the superior court.  He gave the bond.

[Wilmington Messenger – September 17, 1903]





Had a Successful, but Somewhat

Hazardous Trip.




Whistle of Columbia’s First Steamer

Of Commerce Was Sounded at

“Old Granby” Last Night.


     The Highlander is here.  It was a hard trip, but was made without accident.  After leaving Georgetown the boat was in motion but 35 hours, covering a distance of 212 miles, at the rate of six miles an hour up stream.  Considering the many disadvantages, the trip was made in short time.  The Highlander carried but a small cargo as the manager of the boat line, Mr. T. D. Love, declined to handle much freight on the initial trip.  His boat draws 23 inches without any cargo, and he did not want to take any risks the first time up the river.

     It was Thursday night when the boat left Georgetown with the ears of the crew ringing with the cheerful prediction of the people of the lumber city that the boat would never reach Columbia.  And it was a hazardous trip – but the boat is here, having not once encountered unsuccessfully those hidden dangers of which warning had been given.  The delays commenced as soon as Georgetown was left.  Crossing the Winyah bay, eight miles from Georgetown, the Highlander entered the government canal which leads from the bay to the Santee river – for the city of Georgetown is 13 miles from the Santee and it is only by the use of this canal that boats can go from Columbia to the coast city.

     It was in this canal that the dredge was found grounded, and the Highlander’s course was impeded until the tide came in and the dredge got off.  The canal has sufficient water to float boats of considerable draught, but the dredge was grounded unaccountably.  Friday morning the Highlander got under way again and made good time up the Santee, although the trip was made more trying because the Wateree river is on a boom and a rise of 15 feet was encountered in the Santee some miles below the mouth of the Wateree.

     The trip was made slowly, as much with the view to locating landings and places at which to buy wood as to avoid possible obstructions.  Down near the Northeastern bridge the smokestacks of the Louise were found sticking out of the water.  Mr. Love had been offered an option on the sunken river steamer which had been plying the Santee for a distance of 100 miles up the stream, but he knows nothing of her machinery and her hull is 20 years old, so he did not purchase the stranded Louise.

The Hidden Dangers.

     The voyage was without incident except for the fact that hundreds of “sinkers” were encountered, and the boat had to be guided around them.  It is this which makes the channel hazardous.  The snag boat Pee Dee had removed many such obstructions, and the only suggestion which is offered by the crew of the Highlander is that the coves along the shore should be kept clear of debris, for in making a bend in the river the prow of the boat is sometimes thrust into these coves, and the obstructions should be removed.

     The “sinkers” are logs from trees which had been tapped for turpentine.  One end of such a log is heavier than the other and sinks into the water.  The lighter end frequently is carried below the surface of the water and remains a menace to boats coming up stream.  For should they run across  this impediment with one end wedged into the mud in the bottom of the river, the boat’s bottom might be ruined.  It was in avoiding hidden dangers such as these that the skipper of the Highlander ran his boat very slowly.

     Last night at 6 o’clock Mr. E. J. Watson received a telegram from Fort Motte announcing that the Highlander had passed through the draw bridge near there at noon yesterday.  Accompanied by a party of Columbians Mr. Watson drove to the landing back of the Granby mill which is used by the government people who are building the dam across the river.  No boat was there.  The party walked out on the coffer dam which extends half way across the river and inspected the work which has been done by the government.

The Government Works.

     The locks on the Lexington side of the river have been completed at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars, and half of the permanent dam has been completed – starting from the Lexington side.  The coffer dam for the construction of the remaining half of the permanent dam has been finished, or will be this week, and the entire dam will be intact by the 1st of July.  The coffer dam is an immense circular basin surrounding the place upon which the permanent dam will be erected, and keeps the river out while the masons are at work.

     As soon as the dam is finished the Highlander will be able to come into the locks and to float up the river to the foot of Senate street, where the wharf will be located.  For the present the landing at old Granby will used and the cargo will be brought into the city on drays.  The agency of the dam will be to deepen the water between that point and Gervais street in order that boats may pass over the boulders in the bed of the stream.  However, the dam will be constructed with due regard to the canal, and the water power of that agency of manufactures will not be affected.

     While examining the work on the dams the party from Columbia observed a light far off down the river.  The watchman declared this to be fishermen out on the stream, but presently there was a noise unmistakably that of a steamer, and for an hour the lights were watched eagerly as they swung closer to the city.  First there was one tiny speck, then two, and finally the signal light was seen clearly, and then the outline of the boat from bow to stern.  The Highlander stopped several hundred yards down the river from the dam and tied up at the landing at old Granby – one of the forgotten towns of South Carolina, a place once populous, now as deserted as is Hamburg, once Augusta’s competitor.

     As there is a broad creek between the government works and the old Granby landing the visitors from the city engaged the services of a boatman and went down the river in a skiff to be the first to board the boat of which so much is expected in behalf of Columbia’s upbuilding.

The Highlander a New Boat.

     The Highlander is a new boat, built in November, 1901, and every day that she has been in service she has been handled by the veteran river master, Capt. Jas. C. Smith, who has seen 32 years’ service on inland waterways, and yet is willing to admit that he does not know all about river channels.  However, his successful trip with the Highlander adds to his fame as a river captain, and he has brought the boat through in great shape.  It is over a month since the steamer left Wilmington, having been tied up at Southport for nearly three weeks waiting for the Atlantic ocean to offer a favorable opportunity for the run down the coast to Georgetown.  With Capt. Smith are the following officers of the crew:  LeRoy Smith, mate; James Peeples, chief mate and F. T. Gaskill, ship carpenter.  Mr. Gaskill is the builder of the boat, and Capt. Smith declares it to be the sturdiest river craft he has ever managed in his 32 years of navigation.  The hull is four inches in thickness and will stand a lot of hard knocks.

     Henry Izard, a colored pilot, came with the boat and showed the way to Columbia, for he has made the trip before with government tugs.  Mr. Leroy Smith stayed by the wheel all the time and made a careful chart of the stream, giving in detail the location of every apparent and every suspected obstruction.  On the return trip he will use these memoranda as a guide and will note the appearance of other obstructions.  In this way it may be possible to shorten the time in which the trip can be made.

     It is 49 miles from Columbia to the Santee, and this part of the trip was made easily, for having bucked the 15 {?} foot rise in the Santee the skipper found that the current of the Congaree had been checked by the high water in the larger stream.

An Exploring Expedition.

     “From the way they tried to discourage us in Georgetown, said Capt. Smith, “one would have thought that there was a stick of dynamite at every turn of the river, but we got through all right.  We are on what is virtually an exploring expedition, and had to keep a sharp lookout for snags.  I don’t know yet where the best water is and can shorten the trip when I learn the river a little better.”  He has been a boat captain on the St. John’s and St. Mary’s rivers in Florida and the Cape Fear and Northeast rivers in North Carolina, and has the air of a man of rare intelligence upon matters of river navigation.

     There was but a small cargo aboard, the first people to receive consignments of groceries being Messrs. J. B. Friday and J. B. Gallant, who have aboard a shipment of molasses, and Mr. L. B. Dozier gets a consignment of fixtures for gas pipes.  The Highlander will not return until a good consignment is aboard as the initial trip has been very expensive.  The river was low yesterday, one foot and nine inches above the very lowest, and Mr. Love is gratified that the boat has made the trip with no mishap in such conditions.

     The Highlander will be tied up at old Granby today, and Mr. Love will have the boat in readiness for inspection by visitors.  It is not an ocean steamer, not a pretentious vessel, but it will answer every purpose required of it, and is quite a “find.”  Columbia was able to get the use of this boat without making a purchase, for there are too many boats operating on the Cape Fear between Wilmington and Fayetteville.  If this venture pays, a second boat will be arranged for.  Mr. Love stated last night that all he asks is a reasonable amount of freight at a fair rate of toll.

The Boat’s Dimensions.

     While essentially a freight boat, the Highlander will carry passengers and has berths for 37.  There are two nice staterooms for passengers in addition to the officers’ quarters and there is also the ladies’ cabin with berths and the gentlemen’s cabin with a number of cozy bunks.  The Highlander is 135 feet long over all, 100 feet at the water line, and 23 feet wide on the beam.  The wheel and the machinery are in the stern.  Capt. Smith makes the assertion that a side wheeler like the Clark would be almost useless on the river.  The Highlander draws 23 inches and loaded to its full capacity of 123 tons will draw but 3 1-2 feet.  The tonnage is equivalent to the capacity of six box cars, and with two trips a week, as it is expected the regular schedule will afford, the Highlander should do a lot of hauling between Columbia and the coast, the consignments being transferred to ocean going vessels at Georgetown.

     When the Columbia party got aboard the mate by request gave three long pulls at the whistle, and the deep, musical notes reverberated over the forest telling the city of Columbia that at 8.30 p. m., on the night of the 20th of March, 1904, she had become an “inland port.”

[The State – Columbia, SC – March 21, 1904]




Steamer Highlander Destroyed by

Fire Last Thursday Morning.

No Lives Lost.


     Last Thersday {misspelled} morning about 9 0’clock, the Steamer Highlander which runs from this port to Columbia, was totally destroyed by fire on the Santee River, near Fawn Hill landing.  The boat was a total wreck in thirty minutes after the fire started.  Fawn Hill is about 25 miles from this city.

     An OUTLOOK man interviewed Capt. J. R. S. Sian, who was making a trip with the boat, in regard to the accident.  He said no one knew how the fire originated.  One of the deck hands first saw the fire and gave the alarm.

     “Both Capt. Smith and myself,” said Capt. Sian, “were sick and lying down when the alarm was given.  Buckets of water were thrown on the blaze and in a few minutes the pumps were started, but the boat burned like tinder, having a strong head wind, and in thirty minutes she was completely destroyed.  The fire was first seen over the boiler.”

     In getting out Capt. Sian lost a gold watch and a rifle.  Capt. Smith lost about $300 in personal effects.  Capt. J. C. Smith, Capt. J. R. S. Sian, Mate Leroy Smith, Pilot Henry Izard and eight deck hands were on board.  All escaped without injury.

     As soon as it was found that the boat could not be saved, she was ran ashore and the crew jumped off.  Capt. Sian said that the negroes were completely panic stricken and could not get them to do anything at all.  The Highlander only had a very light load of freight.  She was valued at $12,000 and had $3,000 insurance.  Capt. Smith hired a cart and brought the crew to the city.  They got in about 9 o’clock Thursday night.

     Mr. E. C. Haselden had about $100 worth of goods lost on the boat.  Information from Columbia advised us that another boat will be secured and put on from Columbia to Georgetown.

[The Sunday Outlook – Georgetown, SC – June 18, 1904]




River Steamers Tar Heel and Lyon Together With Crash Early Yesterday Morning




Accident Eighteen Miles Up Cape Fear.  Colored fireman Severely Injured and Brought to Hospital In This City.


     As the result of a misunderstanding of signals by the pilots of the respective boats, the river steamers Tar Heel and C. W. Lyon, both belonging to the Tar Heel Steamboat Company, of which Mr. S. M. King is agent in this city, were in collision eighteen miles above Wilmington on the Cape Fear river yesterday morning about 4 o’clock.  The Tar Heel was slightly broken up and came into port slightly leaking.  The Lyon, being of iron hull, was not damaged and proceeded to Fayetteville.  Frank Cain, colored fireman on the Tar Heel, was jammed between a pile of wood on the deck of his boat and the colliding steamer, the result being that all the flesh was torn from the calf of his right leg to the bone, a very severe injury.

     The Tar Heel was bound to Wilmington with light cargo of naval stores and about 20 steerage and cabin passengers.  The Lyon was bound to Fayetteville with general cargo.  It was yet dark when they met at Raccoon Bluff, the channel being very crooked at that point.  Each steamer blew one blast of its whistle, meaning to pass to starboard.  As they met and were in an oblique position, the Tar Heel blew four whistles, which means reduce speed and come along side.  The man in charge was slow to read the signal or it was given too slowly and the Lyon took it that they were to pass otherwise than first signaled.  The Lyon changed her course and the Tar Heel was struck on the port side by the other boat, both at reduced speed, however.  Fireman Cain started to run aft to escape but was caught on the pile of wood and severely jammed.  No bones were broken but the tearing of the flesh from the calf of his leg was a frightful injury and he will be laid up several weeks in the hospital in consequence thereof.  He has been on the river a number of years and has a family at Fayetteville.  The stair case of the Tar Heel was torn down on the port side and the hog chain parted.  The guards were carried away and the hull was cut into, causing the steamer to leak somewhat.  However, the pumps were put to work by Capt. J. A. Peoples, the engineer, and she came into port in good shape about 8:15 o’clock in the morning.  Temporary repairs were made and the steamer expected to resume her schedule last night.

     The injured fireman was brought to Wilmington on the steamer and taken out to the James Walker Memorial Hospital in the ambulance.  Capt. Jeff Bradshaw is master of the steamer Lyon and Capt. Henry Edge is master of the Tar Heel.  They desired to come alongside and exchange a pilot when the accident occurred.

[Wilmington Star – April 18, 1906]




The Tar Heel and the Lyon Come
Together on the Cape Fear.


     Yesterday morning, before daylight, the Steamers Tar Heel and C. W. Lyon, meeting on the Cape Fear, and desiring to exchange a pilot, by some misunderstanding came into collision, being about 18 miles above Wilmington.  The Tar Heel was somewhat broken up, and went into its wharf at Wilmington leaking; the Lyon was not damaged, and proceeded on its way to Fayetteville.  Frank Cain, colored fireman on the Tar Heel, was jammed against a pile of wood, receiving a severe injury to his leg, and was carried to the Memorial Walker Hospital in Wilmington.

[Fayetteville Observer – April 19, 1906]


A River Steamer Tragedy.

     John McDowell, a young negro deck hand on the steamer C. W. Lyon, was shot twice in the shoulder by Engineer J. A. Peoples, of Fayetteville, on the deck of the boat, which was lying at the wharf in Wilmington, Friday p.m. between 6 and 7 o’clock, and may die as the result of the wound.  He is in the Hospital and Dr. Gray, of the hospital staff, who made an examination of the wound, found that one of the main arteries had been severed and that the patient was having internal hemorrhages.  Engineer Peoples claims that the shooting was in self-defense and gave himself up at the police station at once.  Pending the result of McDowell’s injuries he is being held without bond.

     Mr. Peoples’ version of the affair is to the effect that he was employed to go on the steamer Lyon to Fayetteville to bring the boat back, while the regular engineer went up on vacation.  Mr. People’s is regularly employed as engineer of the steamer Tar Heel of the same company which is now laid up for repairs.  He said that he went aboard the Lyon yesterday evening.  The negro was crowding the passage-way and he told him to get out of the way.  McDowell went off cursing him.  The engineer said he went on board the Tar Heel, which lay alongside, to get his belongings to transfer to the Lyon; that as he was crossing over to the Lyon in the dark some one shouted to him to lookout and as he turned his head the negro had an iron spade drawn to strike him.  In self-defense he drew the pistol and fired twice.  The negro dropped and later the ambulance was summoned and he was taken to the hospital.

[Fayetteville Observer – Thursday, November 15, 1906]



     Zach. Roberts, a colored pilot on the Cape Fear river for years, died at his home in Campbellton, this city, Saturday morning at 5 o’clock.

     Roberts had worked on the boats plying between this city and Wilmington practically all of his life.  He was with Capt. Albert Worth, Capt. Sandy Robeson and Captains Green, Smith, Cole and others as pilot.  He was on the boat with Capt. Skinner when the Robert E. Lee blew up, killing Alex. Jackson, Sam MacKay and Bill Gilmore, (all colored), and was badly scalded in the explosion.

     Roberts was one of the few pilots who never had a serious accident on his boat.  He was respected by both white and colored for his faithful services.  He was buried from the First Congregational Church Sunday at 3 p. m.

[The Fayetteville Observer – February 19, 1913.]



Capt. Henry W. Edge, the Mate,
Drowned in Effort to Swim
to Shore – Others,
Have Narrow Escape.

          The steamer C. W. Lyon, plying between Fayetteville and Wilmington, was burned at Hood’s Creek, 20 miles above Wilmington, yesterday morning at 11 o’clock.  The property loss, including the cargo, is estimated at $30,000, but that is nothing compared with the death by drowning of Capt. Henry W. Edge.  The Wilmington Star of Saturday has the following interesting account of the awful tragedy”

          The Lyon was proceeding from Fayetteville to Wilmington at about 12 miles an hour when one of the passengers discovered a blaze among the cotton amidships.  Fire drills have been held on the steamer regularly and when the fire bell and whistle sounded members of the crew almost instantly were at their places and had streams of water on the blaze.  Fire pump and hose were brought into play.  The seven passengers also responded to the alarm.

          The pilot, Barney Baldwin, colored, who has been on the river about 40 years, backed the boat into the east side of the river as quickly as possible.

          Some of the crew and seven male passengers were in the bow of the boat on the first deck.  The fire burned so rapidly that it was impossible for them to get to the rear, and they had to jump into the middle of the river, when the vessel swung around to back ashore, in order to make their escape.

          Capt. Edge was one of the last to leave the vessel.  He had done yeoman service in fighting the flames, but when it came to jumping overboard, realizing his inability to swim, he was noticed to hesitate.  He then jerked off his coat and hat and plunged into the water.  It is said that several of those that had already made ashore called to him to get a life preserver or one of several planks on deck, but he did not hear them or if he did he did not heed.  They also threw clumps into the river for him, but he did not notice any of them.  In some unaccountable manner he managed to get half way to shore before he went down.  He never rose again.  The body has not been recovered, though the river was dragged for it late in the afternoon.

          Capt. W. F. Register, who was in command of the vessel, was in the cabin when the fire broke out, counting the money which he had on hand and balancing his books.  When the alarm was sounded he rushed out and was able with the assistance of Capt. W. H. Ward, assistant engineer, to rescue Miss Brisson, the only lady passenger, who occupied a cabin in the stern of the boat.  Capt. Register passed over the top of the boat to the lady before the heat became so intense.  She was passed over the stern wheel to the shore.  He could not return to the bow of the boat on account of the flames and then he went ashore and directed the work of rescuing the passengers who were in the front of the boat.

          A number of colored men, members of the crew, who were in the stern of the vessel went ashore.  They tossed several barrels of turpentine overboard and got logs, clumps and anything that they could lay their hands on to throw out to the others who were in the river.

          There were life preservers and a [fire post] on the vessel, but these were quickly burned by the flames, it is said, and could not be reached by the crew.  Many of the passengers and several members of the crew had narrow escapes.

          Mr. H. J. Lyon, of Elizabethtown, a passenger, probably had the narrowest escape.  He cannot swim.  Luckily he caught a log which was drifting down the stream and was able to stay above water until rescued by some colored fishermen in a boat half a mile down the river.  Once he faltered and those who had followed him down stream shouting words of encouragement from the shore noticed that he was almost ready to give up the fight.  This was before he caught the log and when he had only a small timber to rely upon.  After he got hold of the larger timber he drifted along with the current with comparative ease until he was rescued.

          Abe Dunn, a member of the crew, had a narrow escape also.  He could not swim, but one of those who could jumped in after him.

          As soon as the passengers were gotten ashore Captain Register sent a messenger to a phone nearby and notified Mr. S. M. King, local agent for the company here.  He and Mr. T. D. Love, secretary of the Company left Wilmington about 1 o’clock in the launch George Lyon to bring the passengers and crew to Wilmington.  They reached the scene of the disaster about 4:40 o’clock, and after making a futile effort to find the body of Captain Edge returned to this city, reaching here about 8 o’clock last night.

          They left two men to continue the search.  The news of the tragic event rapidly spread through the surrounding country, and a large number of people came to render what assistance they could to the distressed passengers and crew.

          Captain Edge was 42 years of age, and had been on the river since he was 18 years of age.  He lived in Fayetteville, where he has a wife and two children.  He was a man greatly liked by all who knew him and the members of the crew were profoundly saddened by his death.  He was captain of the City of Fayetteville before she was sunk.

          The steamer C. W. Lyon was a stern-wheeler, and was built in 1904 in Wilmington.  Her cost was $21,000.  She was a combined freight and passenger steamer and has been making several trips a week between Wilmington and Fayetteville.   Several weeks ago the City of Fayetteville, another steamer owned by the Merchants and Farmers’ Steamboat Company, was sunk at the wharves of the Champion Compress here, and the loss of the second boat comes as a heavy loss to the company.  The company carried fire insurance to the amount of $8,000 on her.

          Her cargo yesterday consisted of 97 bales of cotton, consigned to Alexander Sprunt & Son; 100 barrels of turpentine, several bales of dog tongue, several thousand pounds of pork and a variety of other freight, valued at about $10,000.

          There were seven passengers on the boat, most of these coming to Wilmington last night on the George Lyon.  Included in the passenger list were Messrs. N. L. and D. M. Tatum, H. J. Lyon, Dixon Smith, D. R. Blizzard, Miss Brison, Ed Jessup.

          Capt. W. M. Ward and three of the negro members of the crew walked from the point where the vessel was burned, reaching Wilmington about 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon.  Captain Ward went to Phoenix expecting to catch the train there, but arrived too late.  He then set out on foot and when he got to Nevassa was picked up by a shifting engine and brought to the city.  With the exciting experience of the day and the long walk of 13 miles he was almost completely exhausted.

          Captain Ward was assistant engineer and Captain Edge was the mate.  They worked on the same watch, and had gotten off duty at 8 o’clock yesterday morning.  As the vessel was expected to reach Wilmington at noon they did not go to sleep but decided to wait until they arrived here.  During the morning they were on deck and joking with each other, little dreaming the sad event that was to take Captain Edge off so suddenly.  Captain Ward was almost overcome with grief because of the loss of his friend and comrade.

          Captain Register stated last night that he would never forget the look on Captain Edge’s face as he struggled in the water to keep afloat.  He threw pieces of wood to him, but he was so overcome with fright that he failed to grasp any of them.  In spite of the fact that he could not swim he managed to keep his head above the water for several minutes before he sank, and, it is said, covered half the distance to shore.

          Captain Register stated that the cotton was still burning on the boat when he left late yesterday afternoon.  All of the wooden work was burned down to iron hull.  She was still afloat and was left anchored at the point where she was run aground.

          Barney Baldwin, colored, was at the wheel when the fire broke out and did heroic work in backing the vessel to shore.  He did not leave his post of duty until he had done all in his power to save the boat and those on board.

          Captain Bryant Jones, engineer, was in charge of the engine at the time of the fire, and after the vessel had been run ashore he left the engine and aided in the work of rescue.  With the exception of Captain Register, in command of the boat, Captain Edge, mate; Captain Jones, engineer, and Captain Ward, assistant engineer, all of the other members of the crew were negroes.  They worked heroically with the hose and pump, but the cotton burned so rapidly that they were unable to stop the progress of the flames and soon had to give up the effort.

          The Lyon had an iron hull, but Mr. King was of the opinion that it would never be of any further service.

          Miss Brisson, who was the only lady passenger on the boat, is a daughter of Mr. N. G. Brisson, a large planter of Brisson’s Landing.  She appeared to be very much composed and at no time did she appear frightened, it is said.

[Fayetteville Observer – November 19, 1913]




Member of Crew of Steamer

Thelma Fell From Boat


     It was learned here today that a colored man, member of the crew of the steamer Thelma, fell from the boat on her trip up to Elizabethtown Monday night and was drowned.  The steamer was near King’s Bluff at the time of the accident.  At the offices of the company here today it was stated that the name of the negro who was drowned had not been learned here.  The steamer arrives on the return trip tonight.

[Wilmington Dispatch – August 11, 1915]




Steamboat Travel on the

Old Cape Fear–Scenes

and Incidents of a Round

Trip from Fayetteville.


(By J. T. Slatter, General Secretary-Traffic Manager).

     A Boat trip down the Cape Fear River from Fayetteville to Wilmington at this season of the year when the wonderful life-giving North Carolina

atmosphere is electrified with ozone, and the pungent tang of Fall, beneath an opalescent sky unflecked of cloud; between long vistas of forest bordered banks, lined with a wilderness of elm and gum and towering oak trees arrayed in the gorgeous robings of autum, {misspelled} nodding a silent welcome out of the warm glow of an October sun that tempers the crisp air to the languid softness of a June day, is a pleasure which must be actually experienced–a condition that may be realized, and afterward mulled over and dreamed of, but never, by any flights of fanciful imagination described in mere words; for words at most, are but the vehicles of our thoughts and impressions, and not our feelings and sensations.  Therefore if you would know the joy and pleasure of such a trip, take it yourself when you will agree that the half has never been told.

     We have contemplated taking this trip for some time, but not until last week did a favorable opportunity present itself for the execution of our plans.  the good boat A. P. Hurt, Captain S. B. King, Jr., afforded our means of transit; it is owned by the Planters Steamboat Co., and is in the Fayetteville-Wilmington service as a pioneer of what should eventually prove to be a restoration of river traffic that once made Fayetteville the most important shipping point in all this country.  The boat was due to leave at nine o’clock in the morning, and we were on time; but, on account of a heavy upstream load the day before, which had not been unloaded, part of the

deck hand crew deserted, which delayed our leaving until the middle of the afternoon.  It was a perfect day with light breezes sweeping over the water and the warm sunshine chasing the shadows on the sombre surface of the stream, as the overhanging branches swayed and swung in rythmic motion with the current.

     As we stood on the upper deck viewing the scene and enjoying the surroundings, the bell sounded from somewhere near the pilot house above, the gang plank was withdrawn, there was a sudden blowing off of steam, a wheezing, hissing sound of escaping vapor, and the revolutions of the stern wheel began slowly to thrash the still waters into a whirling, dancing vortex of tumbling waves and white foam; like a thing of life the vessel yanked her nose out of the mud bank, by courtesy called a wharf, and, in a circling glide to midstream started on her journey to the port of Wilmington.  “Uncle Abe” the old grizzled haired steward who has spent a lifetime on the river, showed us to our stateroom, and as he deposited our baggage on a table we were delightfully impressed with the comforts and conveniences of such quarters.  The boat has first class accommodations for about thirty passengers; each state room is furnished with two berths, upper and lower that are clean and comfortable; a lavatory with hot and cold water, towels and other necessary adjuncts to the toilet; it is well ventilated by a window draped with a neat curtain, and altogether one can be as comfortable as desired in it.  The entire boat is illuminated by electricity, and according to government regulations, there are plenty of Life-Preservers in every room.  The dining room forward is bright with snowy napery and shiny table ware, the prideful care of “Uncle Abe” who serves one at table with that old time ease and attentiveness that makes one forget Hooverism and food conservation.  The forward deck is plentifully supplied with easy chairs where one may sit and view the ever changing and interesting scene  stretching out before the eyes like a broad silver band between emerald-hued borders of soft velvet; the boat is a credit to the enterprise and faith of the owners in future river traffic on the Cape Fear; the service is far better than the meagre patronage warrants; however, the owners base their hopes on future developments, when the shippers will come to realize that water transportation must be utilized to supplement the rail lines in carrying on the commerce of the country.  Because of its economy of operation, steamboat transportation is cheaper than rail; and a, as we develop and extend our trade, commerce must, more and more, turn to the use of boats as a means of greatest transportation economy.  The owners of this line state it to be their purpose to establish an auto-truck transfer service at Fayetteville, so soon as an adequate warf {misspelled} if constructed, and a passable roadway built to it.  The purpose of this service will be to make prompt and regular deliveries to shippers at their store doors without additional charge, for drayage.  The boat rate being, of itself lower than the railroads charge, one can readily understand the saving to shippers by such an arrangement.  Our shippers should patronize this boat not only as a good business proposition, but because it is important to keep it going as a means of providing against a complete breakdown of the railroads  which are, even now, so hard pressed for cars and engines that a coal famine is threatened.

     Fayetteville as a river port is most advantageously situated; it projects further into the interior than any other like stream on the coast; and because of this it is rightfully and logically the natural distributing point for all the country west of here.  When the Inland-water-way Canal is completed, and it is very near that now, it will be perfectly practicable to load a boat at our warf {misspelled} and unload it at any of the north Atlantic port cities, such as Norfolk, Baltimore, New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

 The depth of the canal at Fayetteville contemplated by the government project is 8 feet as a minimum; the appropriation provided by the original bill, calls for that, and when the dredging is completed this depth must be available or there will be some unpleasant investigations made.  The two locks are completed and work with the smoothness of well oiled machinery; there are no serious obstructions to navigation at present, but a snag boat is badly needed at this end; while in Wilmington we called attention of the government engineer to this fact and received prompt assurance that a snag boat would be put to work on it without delay.  The ability of a light draft coastwise vessel coming up to the warf {misspelled} of Fayetteville, discharging its New York freight, and loading for return trip, freight to that and other eastern port cities, should fill our shippers with all sorts of encouragement for it means the dawn of commercial greatness, the restoration of a condition that once made this a might mart of trade for the entire country west of here.  Aside from the business end of the trip we found many things of interest and amusement out of the ordinary run of travel.  We stopped to take on wood at what is called court house landing.  A white headed weazen-faced old negro came aboard remarking as he shambled across the gang plan, {I’m g’wine down ter Wilmin’tn ter see m’ gran’childern.”  We asked him how long he had lived near this landing, and he replied, “Bout er hunderd ‘en fo year ter th’ best uv my ricurlection.”  Do you happen to know, we asked why the name Court House Landing was given to this place, there is no evidence of such a building on the hill?  “Yas sir,” he replied, “Ah knows all bout dat, ‘an I niver is bin recomciled ter dat name es a fit’n wun for d’ place, ‘caus dat want whut hit wus, no-how; hit doant fit, needer; but I rec’n dem es nam’d it didn’t hav no better sence, an dun de bestest da cud” “My ric’lection is, dat way bac befo de war cums on, rite up yander jist da call, in dem dase er Mishum Station, whar er preacher lived at; in de bac eend uv it wus er room dat er Justice uv de peace occipied; so dar wus de law an de gospel bef tergether same es de Good Book tells bout.  Wa’al fokes fum fur en ne’er cum dar fur ter git mar’ied; sum da come in boats, sum da cum in wagins, sum on hoss bac, and den ergin sum dun took da foot in han’ en cum by de hoof; but na matter how da git dar, da always cum ter git mar’ied; en I rec’n da’s doin dat wa yit in al yuther pa’rts uv de country, ‘caus jess es long es children grose up da’s gwine ter marry.  Dis Jestice of de Peace, he calls hiself er jege; but the onliest jegement he ever is made is how much yer hafter pay fer er mar’iage lis’ums whut de preacher tole em da bleege ter hav’ fo he wud low em ter jine hans en kiss wun-neer:  When de Jestice dun gone erway sumers, an aint dar, da jes hafter set round and cote, and cote, caus da aint nut’n else fur em ter do.  Sum uv um git so tirde er wait’n da said, wun da, “dish ain’t no Mishum Station, hit is jes a Cote House,” an ever since den da all calls hit dat; but hit aint no fitten name fur de place caus’ hit want nut’n but er Union Station, nohow yer fix hit.”

[Fayetteville Observer – Wednesday, November 7, 1917]

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