|From Steamboat Disasters & Railroad Accidents |
in the United States by S.A. Howland
The financial loss to James Allaire was heavy, as the ship had little, if any insurance. The bad press generated by the circumstances of Home's loss left the most lasting impact. Insurance inquiries centered on rumors that the boat's captain had been drunk while at the helm. Although those charges were ultimately found untrue, the public outcry over such a terrible loss of life led to demands for greater safety regulations for steamboats and other sea-going vessels. Allaire would never fully recover from the damage done to his good name and reputation, which he had worked so long and hard to cultivate.
On May 10, 1837 the bottom fell out of the American Economy and the Panic of 1837, which had been inevitable since President Jackson issued his Specie Circular the previous July, plunged the young nation into its first great depression. For James Allaire the panic was crippling. Demand for his products dried up quickly as the crisis grew.
The long-lasting effects of the disaster were more positive. As soon as the news became widespread, ship owners voluntarily equipped their vessels with adequate numbers of life preservers. The next year, Congress passed The Steamboat Act, which required all passenger ships to carry one life preserver for each person on board.
New York Herald
October 21, 1837
WRECK OF THE NEW YORK STEAM-PACKET HOME -- NINETY-FIVE LIVES LOST.
By the steamboat from Norfolk, arrived this morning, we have the truly heart-rending intelligence that the steam packet Home, Captain WHITE, from New York for Charleston, whence she sailed on Saturday, the 7th instant, sprung a leak on Monday, the 9th, when off Cape Hatteras, and was run ashore six miles north of Ocracoke, in order to save the lives of those on board. The Home had on board ninety passengers, of whom seventy perished, and of her crew of forty-five, twenty-five were lost -- making a total loss of ninety-five lives.
Two of the passengers who escaped have reached this city. We have conversed with MESSRS. ROWLAND and HOLMES, the two passengers on board the Home, who reached this city on their return to New York to replace their lost papers, etc.
They state the Home made rapid progress after she left New York, and had proceeded as far as to the southward of Cape Hatteras, when the wind, which had blown very freshly all Monday morning, 9th inst., increased to a gale about two o'clock P.M., and caused the boat to labour very much. It was soon very generally manifest that her frame was not strong enough to withstand the violence of the sea, and we learn that she raised in the bow and stern at least three feet from her proper line. It is supposed that she leaked freely, for she soon settled so deep in the water as to render her wheels entirely useless, and her sails were then raised to run her on shore.
About seven or eight o'clock, P.M., the water had quenched the fire under the boilers, and she continued nearing the land by means of her sails, until half past ten o'clock at night, when she struck the shore near Ocracoke, and immediately went to pieces. The passengers were now in the greatest confusion and alarm -- some leaped overboard, and were drowned in attempting to swim to land, while others possessed themselves of pieces of timber, and floated ashore nearly exhausted with cold and fatigue.
One of the gentlemen above mentioned informs us that he remained quietly on the forecastle, and floated on shore on it after the boat went to pieces. MRS. SCHROEDER, one of the two ladies who were saved, lashed herself to one of the timbers, and reached the shore in safety. MRS. LACOSTE, although a very feeble old lady, aged about seventy years, was safely dragged out of the surf. She is supposed to have been buoyed up by a settee. One of the passengers had on a life preserver, and got safely to land by its aid.
The boat was entirely broken to fragments, and the few trunks which were washed on the beach next day were more or less injured. MESSRS. ROWLAND and HOLMES remained at Ocracoke two days before they could get a conveyance to Norfolk. They state that about twenty bodies had been washed ashore, and were buried before they left the beach, among them the bodies of two or three of the ladies.
On referring back to the New York papers of the 9th inst., we find a list of the passengers who sailed from New York on the 7th in this ill-fated vessel, which we subjoin. In addition to those here named, there were some six or eight others who went on board just before the Home sailed, and who are not included in the list. The following is a list of passengers, as full as we have been able to obtain, although some of them are probably not correctly spelled:
JAMES B. ALLAIRE
A. C. BANGS
R. F. BOSTWICK
_____ BROQUET and lady, children and servant
C. C. CADY
REV. G. COWLES and lady
H. B. CROOM and lady
MR. DESABYE and lady and servant
CHARLES DRAYTON_____ FINN
MRS. FLYNN and two daughters
CAPT. ALFRED HILL
B. B. HUSSEY and lady
JAMES JOHNSTON, JR.
ANDREW A. LOVEGREEN
PROF. NOTT and lady
G. H. PALMER
O. H. PRINCE
WILLIAM S. READ
J. M. ROLL
J. D. ROWLAND (or ROLAND)
CAPT. JAMES SALTER
THOMAS J. SMITH
MRS. STOWE (or SLOW)
W. H. TILESTON
MRS. YAUGH (or FAUGH)
Since the above was in type, we have conversed with one of those passengers saved. He says that, at the time the leak was discovered, they were about twenty-five miles from shore, and the vessel had nearly four feet of water in the hold; and with all the pumps going, and all hands, passengers and all bailing, it gained ground upon them so fast that they were obliged to desist and seek their own personal safety. The boat grounded about a quarter of a mile from the shore, and went to pieces in the space of twenty minutes. Those saved got on shore by swimming and on pieces of the wreck. Our informant, with another person only, had the "India rubber Life Preservers," and he states that, if there had been 150 of them on board the boat, he thinnks but a very few would have perished. The following is the letter from Captain WHITE:
Ocracoke, N.C. OCT. 10, 1837
Mr. James P. Allaire, New York
Dear Sir, I have now the painful duty of informing you of the total loss of the steam packet Home, and the lives of most of the passengers and crew. The following passengers are saved:
H. VANDERZEE, New York
JOHN SALTER, Portsmouth, N.H.
ALFRED HILL, do., do.
J. S. COHEN, Columbia, S.C.
ANDREW A. LOVEGREEN, Charleston
CHARLES DRAYTON, do.
B. B. HUSSEY, do.
THOMAS I. SMITH, do.
MRS. LA COSTA, do.
MRS. SHRODER, do.
C. C. CADY, Montgomery, Ala.
J. D. ROWLAND, New York
JAMES JOHNSON, JR., Boston
JOHN BISHOP, New York
DARIUS CLOCK, Athens, Geo.
WILLIAM S. READ, New Haven, Conn.
JABEZ HOLMES, New York
JOHN MATHER, do.
CONRAD QUINN, Jersey City
HIRAM ANDERSON, New York
Twenty passengers saved, is all we can find. The following persons of the crew:
Firemen.LEVI MILLER, Stamford, Conn.DAVID MILNE, Steward
WILLIAM BLOOM, New York
THOMAS SMITH, do.
TIMOTHY STONE, do.
Deck Hands.MICHAEL BURNES, JAMES DUFFEY, JOHN TRUST, JAMES JACKSON, SAMUEL _____
CALVIN MARVIN (boy), New York,
And six waiters, names not known, making 19 belonging to the boat. 20 passengers, 19 hands, 1 captain, total 40 souls saved.
There can be very little saved from the wreck. We had a heavy gale of wind after leaving New York, from N.E. The boat sprung a leak a little to the northward of Hatteras. At first we were able to pump the water out as fast as it came in; but the leak soon increased, so that it gained very fast on us. We scuttled the cabin floor, and all hands, passengers, gentlemen and ladies, commenced bailing with buckets, kettles, etc; but the water soon came up to the furnaces, and put the fires out, and we were obliged to run under sails only. By the time we came to the shore the water was over the cabin floors. We rushed her head on, but owing to her having so much water in, she stopped in the outer breakers. The first sea that came after she struck stove the weather quarter boat and all the houses on deck were stove in; and in twenty-five minutes after she struck she was all in pieces; and I suppose about eighty souls were drowned. Both of the mates, all three of the engineers, and JAMES B. ALLAIRE are lost. Most of the passengers saved have lost nearly all their baggage. I have lost everything have nothing but one pair of pantaloons and a shirt that I had on when I washed ashore."
In haste, yours respectfully.
(Signed) CARLETON WHITE.
There was one gentleman on board named COURSE a Frenchman, who has fought in all Napoleon's battles. He has for some time been a resident of the South. Alas ! that one who has faced death in battles so often, and under such a general should have perished at last so ingloriously.
A. W. ROAT of the firm of Roat and Taylor, of Charleston, had taken a passage in the Home. He gave it up to MR. WOODBURN