Thursday, April 19, 2012

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.

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