17 Feb

     A new steam boat, called the John Walker, was launched at Wilmington, (N. C.) on the 10th inst.  She is a large boat, and is intended to ply between that place and Fayetteville, and occasionally tow vessels to sea.

Charles. Gaz

[Carolina Observer – Fayetteville, NC – Wednesday Morning, November 23, 1831]

The new Steam Boat John Walker, Capt. Patrick, from Wilmington, made her first appearance here, on Saturday last.  We had  ### to pay her a visit, but it is agreed on ###nds that she is calculated to make a valuable addition to the means of communication ### our sister town.  She departed on Monday for Wilmington.

The Henrietta, Capt. Taws, which arrived Monday forenoon, brought goods which had been shipped from New York only five days before.  She unloaded nearly a full cargo, and ### again on her way to Wilmington the same ###ng, having been stopped here only about ###n hours.  We hope Judge Seawell will #### himself of these facts, when he makes his next speech on the subject.

[Carolina Observer – Fayetteville, NC – Wednesday Morning, December 21, 1831]


THE Boat ELIZA NEAL and FURNITURE, attached to the Steam Boat John Walker, and used as a tender for the conveyance of freight, having been seized by the Cape Fear Navigation Company, agreeably to the provisions of its charter, for a forfeiture incurred by a refusal to pay the Tolls due theron, the said Boat will be exposed to sale at the Campbellton Landing, on Saturday, the 21st inst., at 12 o’clock, to satisfy the debt due to the Company.

     Terms of Sale cash.


Agent of the Cape Fear Nav. Company.

January 11, 1832.                                              63.

[Carolina Observer – Fayetteville, NC – Wednesday Morning, January 18, 1832]

Important Decision. – At our Sup’r Court now in session, Judge Norwood presiding, came on the trial of an Indictment, State vs. the Captain and Agent of the John Walker Steam Boat, for an Assault and Battery, alleged to have been committed by them on a person employed by the Agent of the Cape Fear Navigation Company, in assisting him to enforce the collection of Tolls, by a seizure of the Boat. A verdict was rendered for the State subject to the opinion of the Court, on a case agreed. The facts, so far as we could gather them, were these:

The Collector of the tolls, who is also the general Agent of the Company, had demanded the tolls due by the Boat, on merchandize brought up the river from Wilmington to Fayetteville, at a point below Campbellton Landing, which had been designated by the Company as the place where tolls should be collected, and which was well known to the Captain of the boat. The boat refused when hailed to come to, but proceeded on her voyage, until she arrived at the wharf, her usual place of discharging her cargo. The collector went on board the boat immediately, the next morning, accompanied by force, he again went on board to enforce the collection, by a seizure with intent to sell the boat for the dues then unpaid. He was resisted by the Defendants, and the assault and battery was committed which was the subject of the Indictment.

The case turned principally upon the Constitutionality of that part of the charter, which gives to the Company the right of enforcing the collection of the Tolls by a seizure and sale of the Boat. A variety of questions arose in the progress of the cause, involving the true construction of the act of 1815 (the act incorporating the Company;) and whether if the Legislature had a right Constitutionally to grant such a power, the authority had been regularly exercised. For it was admitted that if the Legislature had power to pass the Act, and the provisions contained in it, had been strictly pursued, the Collector was justified in his entry upon the Boat, and the Defendants would be Guilty.

It was contended on behalf of the Defendants, among other things, — that the Boat could not be seized for the tolls due on the merchandize conveyed in her: — that the right to exact tolls accrued to the Company, only from the use of the Canals, Locks, and Sluices, and as there were no artificial constructions of this description on the Cape Fear, between Fayetteville and Wilmington, tolls could not be demanded for using the ordinary navigation of the river: — that if the seizure was not made before the boat passed the point designated for the collection of tolls, she could not be seized after she had been suffered to pass, and had arrived at her place of destination: — and that as the Act incorporating the Cape Fear Navigation Company, had copied certain sections, and re-enacted them, of the Roanoke Charter, and in the clause of that Act authorizing the collection tolls had designated “a point at or near the Falls on Roanoke” and no other, the Cape Fear Company was confined to that place, and would be held to a strict construction of her powers, as to the time, place, and manner, in which the franchise granted to her, should be exercised.

On all these points, his Honor Judge Norwood was against the Defendant. But on the main question, whether the act of incorporation, as to this remedy given for collection, did not contravene the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, he agreed with the Defendants, and gave judgment in their favor. His Honor remarked, that in his opinion the Legislature had transcended their authority, in conferring on the Company a power to collect their tolls by a seizure and sale, as it had the effect of constituting them Judges in their own cause, and enabled them to ascertain for themselves the amount of their demand, and issue execution for their debt, without affording to the other party an opportunity of controverting their claim, or contesting its lawfulness, either as to the sum demanded, or the manner of enforcing it. — That he had no doubt that it was competent for the Legislature to have directed a seizure of the Boat, on a failure to pay the tolls, if it had taken care to have secured to the Boat owner some mode by which he might have had his defence heard and passed upon. If for instance, it had allowed the party whose property was seized to replevy , and upon giving security at appear to the County Court, where he might have an issue made up, and tried by a Jury, before he was divested of the possession of his property, it would have clearly been within the constitutional scope of the Legislature. But as by this summary made of proceeding, the right of Trial by Jury had been in fact, and virtually denied to the defendants, the Law, so far as this particular remedy was concerned, was unconstitutional, and therefore void. The Judge also noticed argument which had been urged for the prosecution, that the State , being largely interested as a joint corporator, and having assumed to herself by the act of 1823, the entire control and management of the improvements on the river, and deriving from it a considerable revenue for the support of Government, might direct the mode in which that revenue should be collected, in the same manner, as she enforces any other branch of taxation. But in reply, he denied that the State had any right to delegate her sovereignty in this particular to any individuals, — that she could not authorize any corporation, whether public or private, to collect money to be expended upon other than public purposes; — and that her interest in the Company constituted her no more than an individual private corporator.

We do not pretend to give any thing more than a mere outline of his Honor’s argument. The case, we understand, will go up to the Supreme Court, and its final decision will settle the law upon a point, which it is important to the rights of the Company which it is important to the rights of the Company and the Boat owner, should be clearly understood.

[Carolina Observer – Tuesday Evening, May 15, 1832]

Wilmington, Aug. 11, 1832.

[steamboat image]  THE Subscriber returns his thanks to all those that have given him freight between Wilmington and Fayetteville of their own free will and accord.  The Fall Goods are now coming on-the Steamer John Walker has started this day and will continue to run while the water holds up.

Every exertion will be used to take the freight up, as it is a known fact the injury to goods lying in boats on the river, is not only a great risk to the owner of the Goods but a serious loss on account of the delay, and my opinion is, that the goods are more safe lying in the ware house than tied up in a boat lying on the river that cannot stem a freshet.

I offer you a new Boat, with a skilful Captain, that does not draw but 36 inches with a common load in, and with her hold full and a deck load on, does not exceed four feet.  I hold myself responsible for the good condition of my boats as well as the good conduct of her officers, every thing connected shall be properly attended to, dangers of the river excepted.

No distinction will be made about freight, light or heavy-it will be taken as it comes, without any Jockeying; for hereafter to obtain freight.

I hereby feel it a duty to state to shippers of Cotton, I care not who it comes to, who it came from, or in whose boat it came down, it is notorious that it lays on the wharves in Wilmington taking in the rain to the injury of the grower, the owner and the market that the article goes from.

I am preparing to put up suitable sheds for the protection of this valuable article from the weather: the advantage to be derived from this plan the Country Merchant is as well aware of as I can inform him.  The Agent for the Steam Boat Mr. D. G. MacRae will receive and ship at the same rates as other consignees are in the habit of doing, it matters not whether it comes in my boats or others, the business will be promptly and effectually attended to.  Opposition is the life of trade and I like a fair one, I cannot afford to work for nothing, neither can my agents.  Another important question-but I am the principal in this; about the payment of freight-some of my acquaintances have been very slack in stays-they will take due notice, I am to be paid for freight on its being called for, as soon as the bills can be made out after delivery.  Rates of freight the same as published in April last.  For the faithful performance of what I promise I refer all that want information to


J. K. McILHENNY,           A. & J. MACRAE.


[Carolina Observer – Fayetteville, NC – Tuesday Evening, October 9, 1832]

Steam Boat Disaster and Destruction of human life? –

We learn with extreme regret by the Wilmington Advertiser, that the Steam Boat John Walker, owned by Doyle O’Hanlon, Esq., of this place, was almost totally destroyed by the burstin of her boilers. Our correspondent of the Advertiser states, that the bow and stern of the boat were both blown out, and what is still more distressin is three persons were killed, and another mortally wounded; among the former were Capt. Dickson, of the boat, and the pilot Purdy Jacobs, a free man of color, of this Town; the other was a slave the property of Mrs. S. Smith of this vicinity.

[ The North Carolina Journal – Vol. VI No. 16 – Fayetteville, NC, Thursday, June 16, 1836. ]

Awful Disaster. –

For the first time on our waters, we have the melancholy task of recording a steam boat explosion, attended by the loss of three lives. The following are the particulars, as hastily stated by the Advertiser extra, of Friday last:

STEAM BOAT EXPLOSION! —  After our paper went to press, an accident of a most melancholy character occurred. The Steam Boat John Walker, owned by Doyle O’Hanlon, Esq. was, this morning, about daylight, blown up, and made a complete wreck.

It appears that she had raised a head of steam and run down along side the Brig Roque, lying at anchor in the stream, for the purpose of towing her down over the shoals. Soon after making her fast to the brig and while in the act of heaving up the anchor, the boilers burst, — simultaneously blowing out the bow and stern of the boat, which, in a few minutes, sunk; and is now almost entirely under water. Capt. A. G. Dickson, who was standing on the engine house, by the side of the engineer, was blown over the stern of the brig, and has not been recovered. Damon, a black fireman, who was in the hold; and Purdie Jacobs, the pilot, were also killed. Isaac, the Engineer, a black man, was blown on board the brig, and is dangerously wounded. Prince, a black man, was also slightly wounded. The boat had on board some goods for the interior; but we are not informed who are the owners. The Steamboats Clarendon and Henrietta, are about towing the wreck into the dock, where she may be got on shore if possible.

[ Fayetteville Observer – Fayetteville, NC – Thursday, June 16, 1836 ]


Further particulars of the Loss of the JOHN WALKER.

Since the publication of our extra of last week, the following facts connected with the loss and destruction of the Steamer John Walker by the bursting of her boilers, have come to our knowledge. — It appears from all the circumstances, that this unfortunate accident was the result of carelessness & neglect in not having sufficient water in the boilers. The Boat left the wharf, at 3 o’clock in the morning, for the purpose of towing the brig Roque, then laying at anchor (ancbor sp?) below the town; this had been the practice with all our steam boats after taking in freight, either before or after their departure for Fayetteville. Capt. Dickson of the Walker run down alongside the brig; after laying there five minutes, he ascertained his impending danger from the roaring of the steam through the safety valve, the water then being below the lower gauge cock; he called to the captain to make haste and weigh his anchor, that his boilers were in danger, and he could stand it no longer; scarcely had the words escaped his lips, when at the first move of the starting bar to put the engine in operation, the explosien (sp?) took place, the body of Capt. Dickson was seen going over the top-sail-yard of the brig, and fell in the river, & was not found until Wednesday night, 16 miles below town, and was interred yesterday with military honors; he was a young man of promise and worth; his untimely and melancholy fate is mourned and lamented by a numerous circle of friends and acquaintances. The Engineer Isaac Smith was thrown against the main top-sail-yard, fell on the quarter deck, covered with the fragments of the boat, and though much mutilated, it is supposed will recover. The pilot Purdie Jacobs and fireman Damon were in the hole, and both killed, their bodies have been recovered. Prince Nichols the second pilot, standing at the helm was knocked down by a piece of one of the beams, severely wounded, but is recovering. The boat is the most perfect wreck we have ever witnessed, one of the boiler heads went through the starboard bow cutting its way through a part of each beam in its course; the starboard side, a breast the boilers, for three feet down is blown completely off, carrying all the beams and deck with it; the starboard quarter is carried away; the quarter deck lifted up and landed on the timber heads; the most unaccountable damage, is a hole blown through the bottom between the fore-hatch and forecastle, the boat and engine are entirely ruined and abandoned as a total loss. Some of the goods have been taken out, very much damaged, many of the packages have not been recovered, we understand there is some insurance on the goods which will of course be paid; no insurance on the boat. Loss including the uninsured goods, estimated from $15 to $18,000, which we regret to say, will fall upon our enterprising fellow citizen Doyle O’Hanlon.

Wilmington Advertiser.

[ The North Carolina Journal – Vol. VI No 17 – Fayetteville , NC Thursday, June 23, 1836 ]


THE subscriber gives notice to all whom it may concern, in shipping, receiving, and paying freights on the Cape Fear between Wilmington and Fayetteville, that he is compelled to raise the price or lay up his Boats.  By a careful examination of the business of the steam boats on our river, the Proprietors all agree, that there is nothing made at the prices of carrying.  The expenses of the Boats are paid monthly; the Tolls increase to an enormous amount and must be paid.  After working twelve months, by the most rigid economy the Boat Owners are satisfied by fair experiment, they cannot make a surplus sufficient to repair the boats.  This is the season that the merchant is preparing to go North to purchase his Goods, and I consider it the proper time to advise him, at what rate I will agree to bring his freights up.  I am well prepared to do a part of the carrying trade of the river, having a good Steam Boat, sufficient Tow Boats, convenient Warehouses on the bank of the river, and will receive and forward up and down, freights at the following rates:  25 per cent. on the amount of the freight bill, the bills to be paid when the Goods are delivered—all payments in North Carolina notes.

     A well qualified Agent will attend in Fayetteville, to all business of the concern.  I wish those persons who suffered by the loss of the John Walker, to observe this notice particularly, as it would be a matter impossible to pay them that loss, without an increase on the rates; also, those persons that have given me the Agency of their Goods, as pay day, twenty-five per cent., exclusive of the tolls, and cash payment, may change the character of our understanding.  All now have due notice; ship where you please.  I offer no reference, as I have always done a straight business and intend to pursue my old track.  Goods will always be forwarded by the first boat.

                                      DOYLE O’HANLON.

July 5, 1837.                                                     48tf.

[Fayetteville Observer – Wednesday Evening, July 19, 1837]


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