"We have to go out, that's a fact, but nothin' says you have to come back." ~ Surfman's Motto
On this date the crew of the Cape Hatteras Station, (6th District), North Carolina, under the leadership of keeper Benjamin B. Dailey, assisted by keeper Patrick H. Etheridge, performed one of the most heroic feats in the annals of the Life Saving Service, by the rescue of 9 men composing the crew of the barkentine Ephraim Williams, of Providence, RI. The vessel was bound home from Savannah, GA, with a cargo of pine lumber, and on January 18, when northward of Frying Pan Shoals, they encountered such heavy weather that she became waterlogged and almost a complete wreck. In this condition she drifted helplessly before the southerly gale until near Cape Hatteras, on the 21st, when, as the sea was running mountains high, her anchors were let go in an endeavor to save her from driving onto the outlying shoals several miles from shore. The ill-fated craft dragged some distance further, until just before dark, when she seemed to the observers on the beach to fetch up. The crews of the Durant's, Creed's Hill, and Cape Hatteras Stations had all discovered her, but such a fearful surf was thundering in, and she lay so far away, it was absolutely impossible for them to do anything. Experienced surf men of the locality, not connected with the service, aver that the surf was the heaviest and most dangerous they had seen for years. A vigilant watch was maintained by the station-crews above named and by the Big Kinnakeet crew all night, for any signal betokening the bark's condition. Nothing was seen, however, during the night, but at daylight of the 22d it was found she had beaten over or past the shoals, and then lay six or seven miles northeast of the Cape Hatteras Station and nearly opposite Big Kinnakeet, to the northward.
The Big Kinnakeet crew, who were nearly all at the Hatteras Station when day dawned, at once set out for their own stations to get their boat. Being thoroughly jaded from loss of rest, they took breakfast immediately upon arrival, and by that time keeper Dailey came up with his boat, drawn by horses, the place of an absent member of his crew being filled by keeper Patrick H. Etheridge, or Creed's Hill. It was then about half past 10 in the forenoon. Up to that time not the least sign of life had been seen on the bark, but as they stood watching her a flag was run up to the masthead as a signal of distress. That was enough for the brave Dailey and his crew as well as the others, and preparations were at once made to launch. The Cape Hatteras men were soon ready. They lashed all loose articles in the boat, stripped off clothing that might in any way impede their movements in case of a capsize, and then, donning their cork belts, at the word from the keeper shoved the boat in and gave way. (Note: This storm also referred to as the "Pre-Christmas Gale of 1884".)
Patrick H. Etheridge
Isaac L. Jennett
John H. Midgett
Jabez B. Jennett