Sunday, April 29, 2012

Schooner Frances E. Waters ~ 23 October 1889

Life-Saving Station: Nags Head; Dist. #6

Date of Disaster - October 24, 1889
Name of Vessel - Francis E. Waters

Rig and Tonnage - Two mast sch. 141.20/100 tons
Hailing Port and Nationality - Baltimore, MD; USA
Age - 7 years
Official Number - 120072
Name of Master - Capt. L.S. Tall
Names of Owners - G.F. Seward & T.J. Seward
Where From - George Town, S.C.
Where bound - Philadelphia, Pa.
Number of crew, including Captain - 6
Nature of cargo - Lumber & shingles
Estimated value of vessel - Eight thousand dollars
Estimated value of cargo - Three thousand dollars
Exact spot where wrecked - 2 miles and 3/4 of a mile North of this station
Direction and distance from station - NNW 2-3/4 miles
Supposed cause of wreck (specifying particularly) - Gale wind anchored back of the reaf & rolled over
Nature of disaster, whether stranded, sunk, collision, etc. - Stranded in gale wind, come to the beach bottom up
Distance of vessel from shore at time of accident - not known
Time of day or night - I suppose between 9 p.m. and midnight October 23
State of wind and weather - Heavy gale wind and rain
State of tide and sea - high tide and rough sea
Time of discovery of wreck - About 6 a.m.
By whom discovered - A.B.L. Tillett from Kill Devil Hill station
Time of arrival of station crew at wreck - About 8:30 a.m.
Time of return of station crew from wreck - 11 a.m.
Was life-boat used? - No
Was surf-boat used? - No
Was life-raft used? - No
Was mortar, Lyle gun or rocket used? - No
Was heaving stick used? - No
Was life car used? - No
Was breeches-bouy used? - No
Was life-saving dress used, and how? - No
Number of lives lost, with names and residences - 6 lives lost, names and residence not known
State fully the circumstances of the loss of each life - Supposed all washed off the wreck and drowned
State damages, if any, to boat or apparatus - none
Was vessel saved or lost? - lost
Estimated value of cargo saved, and its condition - $1000, one thousand, fair condition
Estimated value of cargo lost - $2000
Amount of insurance on vessel - none
Amount of insurance on cargo - not known
Number of persons found after death and cared for - one

     Elisha Twine No. 5 surfman went north on Patrol from midnight to 3 a.m. met his man from Kill Devil Hills Station and returned.  Twine stated that he saw lots of sumthing [sic] drifting in the surf all the way on his beat but the night was so dark he could not tell but very little about what it was. Samuel T. Forbes No. 2 surfman went north on Patrol from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. he returned to the station about 7 a.m.  Forbes said the surf run over the beach so he did not get to the end of his beat and did not meet his man and did not see any wreck but saw lots of lumber and shingles.  As soon as Forbes returned to the station I sent T.T. Toler north on Patrol thinking there must be a wreck north of this station.  A few minutes after Toler left the station the Keeper of Kill Devil Hills Station cauld [sic] this station by telephone and reported a wreck on the north end of our beat bottom up and no one to be seen any where about the wreck.  Keeper and crew all but W.G. Tillett who had gone south on Patrol left the station about 7:30 a.m. with a Government horse and cart also tuck [took] the Medicine chest and bag of blankets and went for the wreck.  We met Toler coming back to report the wreck.  We all went on to the wreck and found her bottom up in the surf at the beach a totle [total] wreck.  All was gone.  We looked along the beach for drowned bodies was all we could do.  We found one man in the rigging that was hanging to one of the mast.  We tuck [sic] him to the station and made a box and Buried him.  Patrol was kept on the beach through the day expecting to find others but did not find any more.

Date of Report: October 30, 1889
/s/ V.B. Etheridge, Keeper

Schooner Florence C. Magee ~ 26 February 1894

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1894:

Stranded and sunk on the evening of the 25th instant. Called Nags Head crew by telephone, and went to her with beach apparatus about 1 a.m. Crew of 10 persons were in the rigging. Tried to use the beach gear, but although three shot lines were placed on board, the swift current prevented the successful working of the apparatus. Finally launched the surfboat, the keeper of the Nags Head Station accompanying the Bodie Island crew. At about the same time a fishing smack ran down the beach outside the breakers and had taken off four of the crew when the surfboat reached the schooner. The life savers took off the remaining 6 persons and received into the surfboat the four men who had got into the smack. Landed them safely, and succored them two days at the station and provided clothing. The captain remained at the station 9 days. (See letter of acknowledgement.)


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: We, the undersigned, master and mariners of the schooner Florence E. Magee, wrecked on this beach on the night of the 25th instant, desire to testify to the great bravery and exertion exhibited by Captain Jesse T. Etheridge and his gallant crew of Life-Saving Station No. 15 (Bodie Island) in rescuing us from our perilous position on the wreck. They worked from the time the wreck was discovered, at 12.40 a.m. the 26th, until 4 p.m., when we were landed. Having used every effort to shoot a line across the wreck, and succeeding in this, found it impossible to land us on account of the long distance the vessel was stranded from the beach; launched the surfboat, and at great peril of his life and crew came to us and rescued us. For this rescue and the efforts put forth to accomplish it we desire to express in this matter our appreciation of his kindness in rescuing us and the very kind treatment which we have received during our stay at the station. Yours, truly, HENRY C. ROGERS, Master ; SAMUEL G. BLACK, Mate ; JOHN RUBY, Second Mate ; FRANK KNIGHT, Cook ; ANDREW STRIGH, Engineer, MICAL ANTON, Seaman ; GUNDER KISTENSEN, Seaman ; JOHN MARTINSEN, Seaman ; HARRY HANSEN, Seaman ; THOS. MESSENA, Seaman

Clipper Flying Cloud

In an article that appeared in the Beaufort News on August 31, 1941, Aycock Brown refers to the, "... FLYING CLOUD wrecking on Ocracoke Beach in 1854":

... Jamie Styron, a commercial fisherman and guide, had the figurehead, inherited from his father, which reputedly came from the old FLYING CLOUD -- and that Jamie's brother Lige will still sing the chantey which was composed by an islander about the ship that begins like this:

Oh! I looked to the east'art,
And I looked to the west'are --
And I saw ole Flying Cloud a-comin'
She was loaded with silks,
And the finest of satins,
But now she's gone across Jordan.

According to the article, Mr. Brown was under the impression that the vessel was the fabled clipper ship FLYING CLOUD. Quoting from the same article:

After Cape Stormy in the Post, Wesley Stout, its editor, was embarrassed because I had tied in a FLYING CLOUD with my Ocracoke story. The Clipper ... did not end her career until in the 1870's.
     ... later from some small port on Long Island came a letter to the Post which was forwarded to me from an old timer saying: It could not have been the famous clipper 'Flying Cloud' but perhaps it was a Barkentine by the name of FLYING CLOUD, built in 1853 and presumably lost on a South Atlantic Beach the following year.

Mr. Brown further states that the figurehead was finally sold to a summer resident at Nags Head.

Schooner F.A. Tupper ~ 27 March 1843

Captain Parkinson and the crew of the bark Mary Ballard, which sailed from Boston March 2, 1843, bound to New Orleans with a cargo of ice, did not reach their destination and almost failed to make it back home again. On March 12 the Ballard was cast away on Berry Island in the Bahamas. Fortunately, the Captain and crew were picked up by the wreckers, who took them to Nassau.
     There they met up with the crew of the ship Algonquin, of Philadelphia, which had also been wrecked on one of the near-by islands, and together the two crews of shipwreck survivors took passage on the schooner F.A. Tupper, bound from Nassau to Baltimore.
     They had an uneventful trip until March 27 when they ran into a severe gale and struck the beach southeast of Chicamacomico. The three crews, numbering 31 men in all, spent the night in the Tupper’s rigging, expecting at any moment to be thrown into the seething surf below. At 4 a.m. the next morning the vessel broke in two, and at 5 a.m. completely disintegrated in the breakers, casting the men into the sea.
     Though the vessel was a total loss, all 31 men managed to make it ashore and from there continued on to Boston.

Steamship Fairbanks ~ 9 December 1870

The 482-ton steamship Fairbanks, enroute to New York City from Washington with a cargo of cotton and turpentine, was forced inside the inlet where, in spite of all efforts to save her, she burned for a loss of $35,000. The crew escaped with a few personal belongings.

Hulk Fred Walton ~ 17 August 1899

Annual Report of the Operations of the Unitd States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1900:

Parted its moorings and driven on Hog Shoal, 2 miles ENE. Of station, by the fierce hurricane which was raging. Owing to thick weather, the surfmen did not discover the casualty until 5.25 p.m. on the 18th, when they made out the hulk, which is used as a lay boat off Ocracoke by the Norfolk and Southern steamers, flying a signal of distress. Surfmen pulled out to it and found it broken in two and full of water. They took the ship keeper and his wife, who were the only ones on board, into the surf boat and landed them at Ocracoke.

Wreck of the Fred Walton & the Lydia A. Willis During the Storm of August 1899

On the morning of August 16, 1899, it became apparent that a large scale storm was in the making. The wind had shifted and was steadily increasing. By noon it had reached 50 miles per hour and by dark it was blowing full hurricane force. Two local families arrived at the station by boat, seeking shelter. They had been driven from their homes by the extremely high tides. It became necessary for the keeper to "scuttle" the station to keep it from floating away. On the following morning the full force of the storm struck with plus 100 mile perhour winds. There was nothing they could do but ride out the storm.

By late afternoon on the 18th the storm had subsided enough for the lookout, Surfman William T. Willis, to see something which looked like a vessel. He called for Keeper Terrell, who "... went in lookout, took glasses and spied, just then it cleared up, we could see that she had distress signals." They left immediately in the surfboat, arriving at the wreck at 6:15 p.m. The vessel proved to be the unrigged Fred Walton, which was used by the Norfolk and Southern Railroad as a lay-boat off Ocracoke. "She had parted her moorings and drifted down on Hog Shoal (two miles ENE of the station), broke into and filled up, we took the ship's keeper and his wife (Captain and Mrs. W.D. Gaskill) ashore to Ocracoke, where they lived." At 8 a.m. on the 19th the Portsmouth station crew left Ocracoke to take the agent of the Walton to the wreck to look for money which was left on board. The keeper reported:

"... on our way we saw colors aboard Sch. LYDIA A. WILLIS. She had parted her chain thursday morning and drifted on Dry Shoal Point (three miles east of the station). We had past her Friday afternoon when we went to Lay boat FRED WALTON but could see nothing that looked like life abord. The Captain said they was all to the lee of house and did not think to set colors until saterday morning. There was four men abord had been six but two had been swept off Thursday in the Hurricane. They wanted to be carried to Ocracoke ware there friends was. One was very bad off. We used bottles of hot water and heated bricks to his limbs and soles of his feet. We stade with them all night and brought them out all right. Put them aboard Steamer OCRACOKE, Sunday morning which they took for thear homes, Washington, N.C."

The rescued men, all of Washington, were Captain Robert Griffin, Benj. Griffin, A.S. Kelley and John Rors. Those swept away by the hurricane, also from Washington, were George L. Buckman and Henry Blango.

The lifesavers had left the station at about 5:30 p.m. on the 18th and didn't return until 1:05 p.m. on the 20th. Both vessels were complete losses.


Schooner Flora Rogers ~ 23 October 1908

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1909:

Driven ashore by a NE. gale, 1 mile N. of Bodie Island, and 6 miles ESE. of Nags Head station, and discovered at 1:45 a.m. by the Bodie Island lookout. The Nags Head crew was notified, and the surfmen from both stations immediately proceeded to a point on the beach abreast of the wreck—which was 600 yards offshore. The sea was too high to launch a surfboat, so a line was shot across the schooner, and a whip and hawser were sent off, but through some misunderstanding on board, the whip was lost. A second attempt was more successful. The hawser, however, was fastened too low on the shrouds—only 12 feet above deck—and the shipwrecked party, 7 men and a woman, had to be hauled through the surf. They were taken to Bodie Island station, and furnished with dry clothing from the supplies of the Blue Anchor Society. The survivors were afforded meals and shelter at the stations named for 11 days. The vessel was a total wreck.

Schooner Fanny Gray ~ March 1849

The schooner Fanny Gray, out of Plymouth with a cargo of corn, went ashore at Ocracoke and became a total loss.

Schooner Florence Randall ~ 16 August 1899

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Services for the fiscal year ending June 30 1900:

Stranded at 5.30 p.m. 2 miles S. of station during a furious storm. Life savers from Cape Hatteras and Creeds Hill stations came to the assistance of the Big Kinnakeet crew. They assembled on the beach abreast the wreck with the beach apparatus and soon had a shot line on board. After setting up the gear, the whole crew of 9 men, together with the captain’s wife, were safely landed in the breeches buoy. When the surfmen had cut the hawser and secured the apparatus, they took the shipwrecked crew to station, furnished them with dry clothing from the stores of the Women’s National Relief Association, and succored them until the 21st, when they received transportation to Norfolk. The schooner became a total loss. (See letter of acknowledgment.)
Florence Randall


SIR: I hereby certify on honor that my wife and myself and crew of 8 men were rescued from the stranded wreck of the American schooner Florence Randall on 16th day of August, 1899 by the crew of the Big Kinnakeet Life-Saving Station, and that we were cared for at the station to the best of their ability. C.A. CAVILEER, Master of Schooner Florence Randall

Schooner Freddie Hencken ~ 26 February 1892

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1892:

GULL SHOAL LIFE-SAVING STATION, North Carolina, March 23, 1892

DEAR SIR: I wish to tender my thanks to Captain D.M. Pugh and crew of this station, and also to Captain E.O. Hooper and crew of Little Kinnakeet Station, and Captain J.H.W. Wescott and crew of the Chicamicomico Station, for their prompt assistance rendered to me, my wife, and my crew of seven men. After having been tossed about for four days in a terrible storm, with the loss of our steering gear, we finally stranded near this station, where we were safely landed by means of the breeches buoy at a quarter past 8 o’clock on the night of the 26th of February. We certainly feel very grateful for the kindness of these dear people. This Life-Saving Service institution is a grand and noble thing. Respectfully yours, JOHN A. MILLS, Late Master of Schooner Freddie Hencken

Bark Formosa ~ 20 February 1893

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1893:

Struck on Outer Diamond Shoal and sunk; crew of 9 men landed in their own boat. Brought 7 to station and cared for them, the remaining two staying at Cape Hatteras Light-House. On 21st took 6 of them to Durants Station, where they were taken care of until the 23d, when they procured transportation to Philadelphia on schooner Addie Henry. On 22d transported master and two males to Big Kinnakeet Station, from which place they took steamer for Elizabeth City on the 23d. (See letter of acknowledgement.)


I wish to acknowledge my thanks to the life-saving keeper and crew for services and kindness rendered to myself and crew after landing on the beach at the hour of 7 p.m., February 19, 1893. The barkentine Formosa struck on the outward Diamond Shoal, and immediately bilged and fell over on her beam ends, sea at the time breaking over the ship. No time was offered to signal the life-saving station. One boat was immediately launched, wind blowing a fresh gale from west-southwest. At 2 a.m. on the following morning landed three miles north of Cape Hatteras Light House, and was immediately discovered by life-saving crew, taken to station, and kindly cared for. J. SHEPPARD, Master ; H. PURDY, Mate ; G. Neuhaus, Second Mate

Schooner Florence ~ 5 January 1884

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1884:

During the severe northeasterly gale and snow storm of January 5, the patrol of the Chicamicomico Station (6th District), North Carolina, discovered at half past 3 in the afternoon the schooner Florence, of Baltimore, MD, from Beaufort, NC, bound to Norfolk, VA, with a cargo of guano, stranded near the beach. He immediately notified the station crew, and the beach apparatus was run down opposite the vessel. The hawser was sent on board and the gear rigged. One of the surf men was sent on board to direct the operations, and the four persons comprising the vessel’s crew were soon handed and conducted to the station. Part of the crews of the New Inlet and Gull Shoal Stations (all the same district) assisted the Chicamicomico crew in working the gear. The vessel became a complete wreck. The following testimonial was received by the keeper of the station:

I was 8 miles north of Whale’s Head on January 5th, when at 8 a.m. the gale came, with a heavy snow; the wind being north by east, I had to send down the shore, and stranded at Chicamicomico. We had all the assistance any station could give, and were taken to the station, where we were treated with all the respect due any one and well cared for by all. John E. Ireland, Master of Schooner Florence

Bark F.L. Carney ~ 22 January 1882

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1882:

The body of one of the sailors of the bark F.L. Carney, the loss of which occurred on January 22 at a place outside of the scope of operations of the service, identified as that of Thomas Manning, of New York, was found on the south side of Hatteras Inlet, by the crew of Station No. 23 (6th District), North Carolina who brought it across the inlet, made a box, and had the corpse buried. (NOTE: 19 killed in this wreck.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Schooner George M. Adams ~ 1 May 1897

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1897:

Stranded about 4 a.m. 1 mile SSE. Of the station and 75 yards offshore, the casualty being discovered a few moments later by the patrolman as he returned along his beat, whereupon he discharged his night signal and hastened forward to give the alarm. The keeper, having first telephoned the Bodie Island crew for assistance, to which call they promptly responded, set out with his men and the beach apparatus, drawn by the Government team, for the scene, where they arrived at 5.45 a.m., and at the first shot laid a line across the vessel and landed the master in the breeches buoy. The latter did not desire to have his crew taken off at that time, but while discussing the situation the vessel came in close to the beach, broadside on, forming a lee, and her hands, 8 in number, launched their yawl, and, making fast to the whip line of the buoy, were hauled ashore in safety, with their effects, by the two life saving crews, three trips being thus made. All the shipwrecked sailors were now taken to the Nags Head Station, whence 6 of them left on the 3d inst. By steamer for Norfolk; but the captain and two men remained until the 14th instant, saving what they could from the schooner, with the assistance of the surfmen, and finally disposing of her at public auction.

Steamer Glanayron ~ 22 May 1896

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1896:

Stranded at 7.45 p.m. in heavy weather on the outer Diamond Shoals, about 9 miles SSE. Of this station (Cape Hatteras), her master attributing the casualty to the fact that the light on the cape seemed to show indistinctly. A rocket sent up from the vessel was answered by the patrolman with his Coston light, and when the keeper was notified, a few moments later, he in turn displayed a signal which, being responded to, confirmed his fears that a wreck had occurred. Cooperation was requested by telephone from the Big Kinnakeet and Creeds Hill Life Sating stations, the station team being sent to the latter point to haul their boat to the north shore of the cape, the southwest wind making it too rough to launch from the southern beach. On the arrival of these crews, at 10.55 and 11.30 p.m., respectively, a consultation was held by the three keepers and it was decided, as the night was very dark and the breakers heavy, to wait until early morning before going off to the vessel. A little before daylight two of the surfboats were manned and set out for the scene, arriving alongside the ship at 6 a.m., the third crew being left on shore as a reserve in case of accident. The steamer’s two lifeboats were lowered, laden with her crew’s personal effects, and taken in tow, the men themselves, 23 all told, being distributed among the several boats, and the return trip safely accomplished by 11.45 a.m. On May 24 Cape Hatteras surfmen again boarded the vessel and towed her small boat ashore, also bringing several articles for her master. The shipwrecked crew were maintained at the station until the 26th instant, when they left for Norfolk, VA. The vessel proved a total loss. (See letter of acknowledgement.)


DEAR SIR: We, the undersigned, are under deep obligations to yourself and to keeper P.H. Etheridge and his crew, as also to the keepers and crews of Big Kinnakeet and Creeds Hill life-saving stations for magnificent services rendered us when our steamship Glayron, of Aberystwith, stranded on Diamond Shoals, off Cape Hatteras, on Friday, the 22d of May, at 7.55 p.m. On sending up rockets they were immediately answered by the patrol from the beach, a red Coston signal being burned, and ten minutes later a red rocket was sent up from the life-saving station. At daybreak the noble keepers and their crews came off to our assistance, which was a very difficult task, owing to the state of the sea and the breakers which prevailed at the time. However, they were successful in their work, rescuing all hands on board with their personal effects, and we wish to express to yourself and the keepers and crews of the above life-saving stations our appreciation of these services and our sincere thanks. EVAN FLLOYD, Master ; E.M. LEWIS, First Mate ; E. MURPHY, First Engineer ; WILLIAM F. HAWKES, Third Engineer ; DAVID HUGHES, Second Mate ; EVAN DAVIES, Steward

Schooner George L. Fessenden ~ 27 April 1898

Annual Report of he Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1898:

Wrecked about a mile NE. of the station, and four men were lost; three men rescued by the life saving crews. (For detailed account see caption “Loss of Life.”)

Wreck of the Schooner George L. Fessenden

The three-masted schooner George L.Fessenden was wrecked in the forenoon of April 27, 1898, about 1 mile northeast of the Chicamacomico Station, coast of North Carolina, and four of her crew, whose names, except one, could not be ascertained, were lost.
     The vessel was 24 years old, of 414 tons measurement, hailing from Bridgeton, NJ, and manned by 7 men, including the master, C.B. Norton, who was one of the drowned. She was loaded to her full capacity with crushed stone in Philadelphia, PA, whence she sailed for Southport, at the mouth of Cape Fear River, NC, on March 30. For some reason which does not appear, but was probably stress of weather, she put into Hampton Roads, VA, where it is likely she remained for some time, not having been again heard from until the morning of Tuesday, April 26, when she was discovered by Surfman E.S. Midgett, of the Chicamacomico Life Saving Station, which is some 20 miles north of Cape Hatteras, heading toward New Inlet in a partially disabled condition. Her foremast was broken off about one-third of its length below the crosstrees, and her main topmast was also gone, while it was clear that she had lost most of her sails from the fact that the only canvas spread was a double-reefed spanker, a topsail set as a mainsail, a storm trysail as a foresail, and a flying jib. These damages, as was subsequently ascertained, had occurred some days previous to the wreck in a furious southeast gale which struck the Fessenden in the vicinity of Cape Lookout, not far from her destination, and compelled her to put about and run northward of Cape Hatteras to the vicinity where she appeared on the morning above mentioned.
     When first observed she was about 8 miles east-northeast of the Chicamacomico Station, and after standing toward the shore for a while she tacked off, and finally came to anchor about 4 miles distant, to the northeast. The wind was moderate and the weather clear and fine, but the condition of the vessel and the danger of her position, should a storm arise, caused her to be scrutinized with much care for signs of a signal for assistance; and as the day advanced and none was made, keeper L.B. Midgett, from the lookout of his station, set his code flags to inquire whether she wanted aid. No notice whatever was taken of them, and when the sun went down the schooner still lay comfortably at her anchor.
     During the evening the wind began to freshen, and continued to increase to such an extent that strong fears for her safety were entertained, and all preparations were therefore made at the station for instant action. No alarm occurred, however, during the night, and at daylight Wednesday, the 27th, the vessel was still holding her own, but the sea was very rough, with the wind blowing a stiff northeast gale, and she was riding so heavily that it seemed as though her cables might at any moment give way. She still showed no signal of distress, but incessant watch was kept upon her, and between 8 and 9 o’clock it became evident that the cables had parted and she was drifting toward the beach. At 8.50 she struck on the outer bar about a mile north of the station, and finally fetched up, a few minutes later, some 250 yards from the beach, head on.
     The Chicamacomico crew started out with their apparatus as soon as they saw that the vessel was going ashore, and reached the place of stranding within 20 minutes after she struck. The crews of the New Inlet and Gull Shoal stations had been requested by telephone to cooperate, and both promptly responded, the former reaching the scene almost simultaneously with the Chicamacomico crew, and that from Gull Shoal arriving a few moments later.
Lyle Gun
     When the schooner stranded her crew were gathered on the forecastle deck, but the heavy waves at once began to sweep the whole hull, and the men were therefore compelled to seek refuge on the jib-boom. Even there they were constantly beaten by the crests of the great waves and their position was extremely precarious. The Lyle gun was instantly placed in position and a moment later sent out its first friendly shot, which was so well aimed that it laid its line fairly across the jib-boom, almost at the very hands of the shipwrecked men, who seized it at once and began, as well as they could, to haul it out in order to get the whip line and block aboard. Situated where they were, this task would have been hard under almost any conditions, but was now extremely so because of the swift longshore current which caught the line and swept he bight of it far to the southward. At times the men would almost fall from the boom, but nevertheless they were doing fairly well and would probably have succeeded had the hull of the vessel been sufficiently sound to stand the shocks of the sea for even a good half hour. One of the witnesses describes her as “rotten as a pear.” Her dead weight cargo of 521 tons of stone fixed her as firmly in the sand as a breakwater, and under such circumstances her weakness made it impossible for her to hold together. While the poor sailors were desperately struggling to get the life saving lines on board, and within not more than 20 minutes after stranding, she broke into a thousand pieces and the entire crew, still clinging to the jib-boom, were precipitated into the surf. Two of them, it was stated by some of those present, were struck by pieces of wreckage and killed outright. The captain was said to have been washed overboard and drowned when the schooner struck and while all hands were still on deck. At all events, fur of the seven were alive just after the hull broke up and these manfully breasted the waves in a desperate and almost forlorn attempt to save their lives.
Lyle Gun Projectile
      The life saving men were properly equipped with heaving lines, and the moment the crash came they scattered along the shore to the southward, in which direction the current carried the swimmers, and pushed out into the surf as far as they could go without losing foothold and being themselves swept seaward, so that whenever a man came within possible reach they either caught him in their arms or threw him a line, by which they drew him within grasping distance. In this way three were rescued, but the fourth, who was also the fourth member of the ship’s company to perish, drifted beyond reach and drowned. The last man saved was taken from the water fully a mile south of the wreck, and all three were nearly exhausted—one to every outward appearance being beyond possibility of resuscitation. The most vigorous efforts, however, were made to restore him to consciousness, and by the intelligent and persistent application of the Directions for Restoring the Apparently drowned, in which all the crews are thoroughly drilled, his life was saved.
Faking Box
     The work of rescue involved peril to the life of every man engaged in it, and it is, therefore, only a matter of justice to state that the life savers were bravely assisted by two volunteers of the neighborhood, C.P. and A.F. Midgett, who were under no obligations to participate save that imposed upon noble minds by the highest sense of humanity, and who well performed their voluntary part.
     Strange as it may appear, none of the rescued men knew the names of their lost shipmates, although they had been in daily association with them for at least a month within the narrow limits of a vessel’s forecastle.
     The survivors, who remained at the station for several days, were provided with proper clothing from the stores of the Women’s National Relief Association, and when they were ready to depart were supplied with the month necessary to secure transportation by contributions from the crews of the Chicamacomico, New Inlet, Gull Shoal, Little Kinnakeet and Cape Hatteras stations.
     The incidents of this wreck were much like those of the Edward W. Schmidt, recorded in previous pages, and there is room for scarcely a doubt that I both instances the lives of all on board would have been saved had the masters signaled for, or even in case of the Fessenden, shown a willingness to accept aid or advice from the keepers of the life saving stations before it was too late.
     The following letter from the shipwrecked men was sent to the General Superintendent:


SIR: We, the three survivors of the schooner George L. Fessenden, wrecked near this station April 27, 1898, wish to state that everything was done by the crews of the three stations, Chicamacomico, New Inlet, and Gull Shoal, to save us, and that the loss of the four other men was in no way the fault of the surfmen, as the vessel went to pieces in twenty minutes after we got the shot line. We all had to take to the jib boom, and it was impossible for us to haul off the whip line from there; the vessel was as rotten as a pear, and was a wreck before we ran ashore. We also wish to heartily commend the work of the Life-Saving Service along this dreadful coast; the men are experts in the heroic performance of saving life and property. In conclusion we wish to express our thanks for the kind treatment given us by your men while we were with them. Respectfully yours, JOHN F. JONES, Steward ; GEORGE RAASCH, Seaman, LOUIS BURNS, Seaman, of the wrecked schooner George L. Fessenden

Newspaper Article:
New York Times, May 1, 1898

Schooner G.A. Kohler ~ 23 August 1933

Schooner G.A. Kohler
The American-owned G.A. Kohler was built in 1919 and was one of the last of the large sailing vessels. She sailed from the pier of the Redman-Vane company of Baltimore, MD on August 20, 1933. 
     A huge four-masted schooner, she was reported as “wallowing helplessly in the breakers a mile south of Gull Shoal Station,” when the full fury of a storm struck the Carolina banks the morning of August 23, 1933. Throughout the day and night, she remained there, showing distress signals, while the coastguardsmen stood helplessly by waiting for a break in the storm. The following morning, after hurricane winds started to subside, crews from Gull Shoal and Chicamacomico, led by Coast Guard Capt. John Allen Midgett, rescued the crew, which consisted of Captain George H. Hopkins, his wife, 8 crewmen and a dog. All were brought to shore safely using the Lyle gun and the Breeches buoy.
     After the hurricane tide subsided, the ship was left high and dry on the beach, far beyond the reach of all but the highest tides. The Kohler remained there for 10 years, until burned during WWII for her iron fittings. The captain had earlier sold the wreck to a local Avon resident for $150.
     Over time the remains of the wreck have been covered and uncovered by shifting sands. Her charred remnants remain—often obscured by shifting sand.

Photo made sometime between her wreckage and 1945.

Schooner George W. Truitt Jr. ~ 20 February 1928

On February 23 The Beaufort News reported a vessel lost near Ocracoke. It proved to be the 700-ton four-masted schooner George W. Truitt, Jr. Under the command of Captain E.G. Bennett, she was enroute to New York City from New River, SC with 645,000 feet of lumber.

The Beaufort reporter could not get in touch with the Ocracoke Station and was furnished a wreck report by Captain H.D. Goodwin of the Fort Macon Station, "... vessel went ashore Monday in a 40 mile an hour gale from the southwest." The Ocracoke Station was the first to observe the vessel in distress. According to Captain Goodwin, "They were saved by the heroic efforts of the coast guardsmen from the Ocracoke, Hatteras Inlet and Creed's Hill stations of the U.S. Coast Guard. The crewmen who were brought ashore in the breeches buoy were: Captain Bennet; W.D. Bennett, mate; George W. Brown, cook; George Liryel, E. Baustod, E.D. Olsen and T. Neilson, seamen.

Schooner George Weems ~ 20 May 1908

At about 12.05 p.m., as she was steaming from Charleston and Georgetown for Baltimore, fire was reported in the after part of the engine room on bulkhead of steamer George Weems, Captain L.G. Hudgins. Fire apparatus was immediately manned, and three streams of water obtained in 10 to 15 seconds. Excellent discipline was maintained. Both officers and crew working valorously to extinguish the fire until about 1.30 p.m., when, on account of the great rapidity with which the fire was gaining, and the captain seeing that by remaining longer he was jeopardizing the lives of the officers and crew, he gave the order to abandon ship, which was done in a seamanlike manner. After seeing all hands safely in the lifeboat, the captain left the ship and laid his course for Frying Pan light-vessel, from the desk of which he saw the steamer George Weems disappear about 8 p.m. Steamer valued at $25,000.

?Schooner Genevieve? ~ 29 November 1893

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1894:

Three-masted schooner, supposed to be the Genevieve, sunk 12 miles from Cape Fear station. Saved two gaff topsails and some blocks. Searched in the vicinity for the crew, but found no one.

Schooner George W. Wells ~ 3 September 1913

The George W. Wells was the first six-masted schooner ever built and
the largest sailing ship to wreck on the Outer Banks. The interior of her cargo
holds was compared to the interior of a cathredral.

Special to The Washington Post

Norfolk, Va., Sept. 4 -- Life-savers of Hatteras, Ocracoke, and Durants Neck stations established a new record for bravery when they rescued 20 men, 2 women, and 2 children from the six-masted schooner George W. Wells, which went ashore yesterday 3 miles north of Hatteras inlet, during the terrific storm which swept the Virginia and North Carolina coast. The schooner, which was one of the largest afloat, is a total wreck.
     The vessel was bound from New York to Fernandina light. When discovered by life-savers the men and women were clinging to the vessel's riggings.
     The wind was blowing 70 miles an hour, and the rain fell in torrents. After several unsuccessful attempts the life-savers finally succeeded in reaching the schooner and all were taken off.
     An unknown schooner, with only one mast standing and no signs of life on board, is ashore 3 miles north of Ocracoke. The revenue cutter Seminole has gone to her assistance. Two miles farther south an oil steamer flying the British flag is also ashore. Life-savers have been unable to learn her name, but are making strenuous efforts to reach her.

The Lowell Sun, Massachusetts

NORFOLK, Va., Sept. 5 -- With the telegraph wires still down it was impossible today to get detailed information of the havoc wrought by Wednesday's storm on the North Carolina coast between Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke on the lower coast. The six-masted schooner George W. Wells, which went ashore short of Hatteras, has gone to pieces.

The twenty men, two women and two infants rescued from the schooner are being temporarily cared for in the vicinity of the Ocracoke Inlet and Durant lifesaving stations.
The schooner reported ashore three miles north of Ocracoke turns out to be a four-master sighted in distress 12 miles off shore with her main top-mast and bowsprit gone. This vessel is believed to have been the schooner Annie R. Heidritter, heretofore reported drifting helplessly eight miles southwest of Diamond Shoals.

Unless the Ocracoke disaster is confirmed, the loss of life appears to have been very small.

Information found at Photos courtesy of Capt. York's great great grandson, Jean-Pierre Fortin

As the George W. Wells approached the shore, Capt. Joseph H. York ordered her anchors lowered, but the chains parted, and the Wells was driven onto the beach near the present day pony pen.
     Surfman Roscoe Burrus at the Hatteras Inlet station had spied the Wells. Well aware of the difficulty of attempting a rescue in hurricane force winds, Keeper Barnett requested assistance from Durant’s Station on Hatteras Island. Crews from all three stations arrived at the wreck between 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Reports indicate that they participated in one of the most daring and courageous rescue operations ever recorded.
     Surfmen from the Hatteras Inlet station had harnessed ponies to their beach apparatus cart which was heavily loaded with breeches buoy, pulleys, sand anchor, various sizes of hemp line, brass Lyle gun and other equipment. The sea tide was rushing over the beach, inundating the cart as every wave passed by. After two miles the ponies balked and refused to continue. Without hesitation the surfmen hitched themselves to the cart and pulled their equipment the remaining six miles, often in water up their waists and through quicksand, to the site of the wreck.  
     Keeper Barnett’s first two shots from the Lyle gun fell short of the Wells. He fired five more shots, but none succeeded in getting the breeches buoy to the schooner. The last line parted as it was being hauled to the vessel.  
     Finally Capt. York tied a line to an empty oil barrel and sent it adrift. After an hour the life savers were able to reach the barrel by wading into the sea up to their necks. Soon afterwards they were successful in sending the breeches buoy out to the stranded schooner. Captain York secured the hawser high up on one of the masts, and signaled that he and his crew and passengers were ready to abandon ship.
     By 11 o’clock that night all 26 people (20 crew members, three women, and three children) and a large Saint Bernard dog were brought safely to shore. One of the passengers was barely able to keep his two year old child’s head above water as they were pulled to safety. Capt. York was the last to leave his crippled ship. He carried the Saint Bernard and a red lantern, the latter of which he dropped into the ocean just before landing on shore.

Steamer Governor Safford ~ 24 July 1908

Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory
S.J. Doughan, Photographer

This ship was a 307 gross, 261 net ton wooden-hulled sidewheel steamer built in 1884 at Camden, NJ. She was 129.6 feet in length, 26 feet in beam and 7.5 feet in depth of hold, and had a single cylinder steam engine with a 28 inch bore and a 72 inch stroke. 
     In 1900, the Safford was in passenger service in Florida, operated by the Gulf S.B. Co. Her home port at that time was Cedar Keys. In 1908, her home port changed to New York. She had a crew of 10 when she foundered at Bogue Inlet. No lives were lost. 

Brig Georgia ~ 5 July 1818

The English brig Georgia, under the command of Captain Colesworth, was wrecked at Currituck Inlet. She was coming from New York. She was coming from New York. The crew and most of her wood cargo was saved.

Schooner General S.E. Merwin ~ 4 March 1901

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1901:

Stranded ½ mile SSE. of station at 3:15 a.m. Station crew hauled the surfboat to the beach abreast the wreck, launched it, and boarded the wreck at 4:30 a.m., the crews from the Little Kinnakeet and Chicamacomico stations assisting. The schooner’s crew of 7 men were safely landed in the surfboat, and afterwards their personal property and the schooner’s boat were taken ashore. The master was succored at the station for 5 days, in order that he might look after the wreck which became a total loss. (See letter of acknowledgement.)


DEAR SIR: I wish, through you, to extend the thanks of my crew and myself to the brave keeper and crew of this station for their prompt and valuable services in rescuing us through the heavy surf with surfboat, as the schooner lay too far from shore to use the beach apparatus, and she was fast filling up. Keeper D.M. Pugh would have come to our assistance sooner if he had not had to wait for two men from the crew of one of the adjacent stations to help man his boat. We also wish to thank them, one and all, for their generous treatment while we stayed at their station; and I personally wish to thank Captain Pugh for the personal aid which he rendered me while I remained there. I remain yours, very respectfully, J.F. RUTLEDGE, Master of the Schooner Gen’l S.E. Merwin

Schooner George R. Congdon ~ 31 January 1901

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1901:

About 3 a.m. this schooner stranded at the point on the beach about 3 miles NNE. from Cape Hatteras Life Saving Station, the master having mistaken Cape Hatteras light for the lightship. It was a dark and foggy night with a strong N. by W. wind and a rough surf. The station patrolman discovered the wreck at 4 a.m. and quickly returned to the station and gave the alarm. Keeper notified the keepers of the adjacent life saving stations of the casualty, and then hastened to the scene with the beach apparatus, arriving there at 5 a.m. The Big Kinnakeet and Creeds Hill crews arrived soon afterward, the former bringing their surfboat on a boat wagon drawn by horses. The first shot of the Lyle gun placed a line across the wreck. The beach apparatus was set up and before sunrise the crew of 7 men and their personal effects were safely landed in the breeches buoy. They were taken to the Cape Hatteras Station, where it was necessary to succor them for 15 days, owing to stress of weather. The schooner became a total loss. (See letter of acknowledgement.)


SIR: I wish to thank the Cape Hatteras, Creeds Hill, and Big Kinnakeet life-saving crews for rescuing the captain and crew of the schooner George R. Congdon, which stranded about 3 a.m. on January 31, 1901. Before sunrise the entire crew was landed on the beach in the breeches buoy. A heavy sea was running at the time of the rescue, and the vessel was about 250 yards from the beach. I also wish to express my thanks for the kindness showed me by the keeper of the Cape Hatteras Life-Saving station. E.E. BAYLES, Master of the schooner George R. Congdon

Newspaper Article:
New York Times, February 1, 1901

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Schooner Harry Prescott ~ 18 January 1912

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscall year ending June 30, 1912:

On the night of this date occurred one of the most serious and important wrecks of the year when the 433-ton schooner Harry Prescott, from New York for Wilmington, NC, with a cargo of salt, mistook Hatteras Light for the Diamond Shoals Lightship, got off her course, and stranded in the vicinity of the Inner Diamond Shoals.
     The vessel struck 2 miles south of the Cape Hatteras Life Saving Station and a mile from the shore. Her lights were discovered about 9.30 p.m. by the beach patrol from the station named. As there was a strong southwest wind blowing and a high sea, the crews of three stations—Cape Hatteras, Big Kinnakeet, and Creeds Hill—assembled on the north side of the cape in the hope that a boat might be launched under the protection of the land. After a conference of the station keepers on the beach it was decided that there should be small chance of going alongside the vessel in the darkness, even if a rescuing boat’s crew should succeed in making the trip to her. They therefore concluded to wait for daylight.
     At 5.30 a.m. of the 19th, although dawn brought no improvement in wind and sea, the power surfboat from the Cape Hatteras station, which had been hauled to the beach during the night, put off from the shore.
     The life saving crew found the schooner hard and fast on the windward side of the shoals, her hull practically under water, and the seas breaking high over such portions as were still exposed. Three of her crew of 7 men were in the mizzen rigging and four were astride the flying jib boom. Finding, after several attempts, that it would be impossible to get nearer to the vessel than 50 yards, the boat’s crew dropped anchor to windward and drifted down toward her, using engine and oars to keep in proper position and avoid being swamped. When they had come as close to her as they dared venture a heaving stick, thrown by a surfman, carried a line within reach of the sailors aloft. Each of the three, in turn, as the line was thrown, tied it about his body, cast himself into the sea, and was hauled into the surfboat.
     The life savers next turned their attention to the men on the jib boom, and for fully 6 hours maneuvered to get near enough to repeat the line-throwing performance. Finally, becoming convinced that the rescue could not be concluded until wind and sea should moderate, and their boat, moreover, having been seriously damaged by contact with floating wreckage, the rescuers put back to the shore.
     In the evening the wind shifted to the northeast, cutting down the sea appreciably and checking the current. To have ventured in the darkness near a submerged wreck lying in the broken waters of the shoals would have been little short of madness, however. The life saving crews therefore passed the night on the beach. At dawn of the 20th the Cape Hatteras crew again launched their boat. Arriving at the vessel, they found the crew of the Creeds Hill station standing by watching for a favorable opportunity to take the sailors off, all four of whom were still on the jib-boom. The chance soon came, and the boat from Cape Hatteras, being under power, ran in near the wreck and completed the work undertaken the day before, using heaving stick and line as in the first instance.
     In his official report of this rescue the commanding officer of the revenue cutter Itasca, Capt. John G. Berry, who arrived on the scene on the night of the 19th, says:
     "The rescue was accomplished with thoroughness and as rapidly as the terribly adverse conditions would permit. It is almost incredible that those four men could have remained for 24 hours on that wreck, washed in the breakers and clinging to a spar, but they did it and do not appear to have suffered any material injury."

Newspaper Article:
New York Times, January 21, 1912

Barkentine Henry Norwell ~ 7 July 1896

Annual Report of the Operations of the United States Life-Saving Service for the fiscal year ending June 30 1897:

Stranded at 2 a.m. 2-1/2 miles NNE. Of the station, having failed to wear ship in a heavy squall. Information of the disaster was brought to the keeper two hours later by a local resident. A crew of 8 men was employed (inactive seamen), and with the assistance of the keeper of the Chicamacomico Station the life savers proceeded to her aid in the surfboat. Finding that the vessel had worked over the outer bar, close inshore, it was decided not to use the boat. A line was sent from the wreck and a hawser set up by the life savers; a boat-swain’s chair was then rigged on a traveler, and all hands (10 in number, including the master’s wife) were safely landed, together with their effects and a portion of the ship’s stores, which were hauled to the station by the service team from Chicamacomico. By ordered of the owners the vessel was turned over to the wreck commissioner on July 10, and the material saved was sold on the 14th, the barkentine proving a total loss. The shipwrecked people were sheltered at the station, the crew leaving for Elizabeth City on the fourth day, but the master remaining until the final disposition was made of the wreck.

Schooner Henry W. Cramp ~ 15 November 1914

On November 15, 1914 the schooner Henry W. Cramp sprung a leak during a heavy southeast gale and sank about four miles northeast of the Cape Lookout lightship. The keepers report follows:

"At 12:45 p.m., the daywatch (Daniel W. Yeomans) reported a vessel some distance off shore with the American Ensign Union down. We hoisted the answering Penant to let them know we had seen there signal. We launched Power Surfboat as soon as possible. Owing to high surf it took us some time to get from the beach. We boarded the Vessel. It proved to be the Schr Anna M. Hudson with the shipwrecked crew of the Schr Henry W. Cramp which she had picked up a drift in small boat. The Captain and crew of the shipwrecked Schr requested me to land them at this Station, which we did. Owing to the high surf and loaded condition of our Power Surfboat, she was completly submerged at times, while comeing to the beach through the breakers, but we come through all safe with no mis hap. The next day the 17th, I took the Captain to Beaufort, N.C. so they could get to there homes. I also notified the Revenue Cutter Service."

The Cramp was oaned by Coast Wise Transportation Company of Boston, MA and commanded by Captain E.H. Mercer of Ellsworth, ME. His crewmen were J.R. McDonald, Mate, Baltimore, MD; William Morris, 2nd Mate, Boston, MA; William Hanson, Engineer, Boston, MA; Fred Morris, Cook Baltimore, MD. The seamen, all of Boston, MA were: Pat Henderson, John Hanson, Charles Anderson, Olof Algren, Ed Nicholson and Frank Laverta. The vessel and its cargo of crossties were all lost at sea.