Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Steamer Rebecca Clyde ~ 17 September 1876

On September 15, 1876 the first hurricane of the season passed just off Miami, Florida, doing little damage. It continued on a northerly course until it came on shore at Wilmington the morning of the 17th. As it passed over eastern North Carolina the entire coast felt the effects of the storm, but nowhere as severely as the 443-ton steamer Rebecca Clyde out of Wilmington, en route to Baltimore with a cargo of cotton, lumber and naval stores.The first reports came out of New Bern the morning of the 20th when the Newbernian hit the streets:

"At a late hour last evening the sad news reached this city that the REBECCA CLYDE, Capt. Childs, 2 mates, 2 engineers, 2 stewards, 2 firemen, 2 coal heavers and one passenger were drowned, and that the survivors had been sent to Beaufort. No further particulars were received up to the hour of going to press."

The Wilmington Morning Star reported on the tragedy after receiving an official telegram from Mr. B.L. Perry of Beaufort to Colonel J.W. Atkinson, Agent for the Underwriters:

"Our community was startled yesterday afternoon by the announcement that the steamship REBECCA CLYDE, of the Baltimore and Wilmington Steamship Line, had been wrecked in the terrible gale of Sunday morning last. What added intensity to the interest was the fact that three young gentlemen from this place were on the ill-fated vessel ... a telegram from Mr. B.L. Perry ... announced that the steamer was ashore and had gone to pieces near Ocracoke Inlet ... and that twelve souls in all, had perished by the disaster.
     The young men from this city who were on board were Jos M. Cronly, son of Mr. Michael Cronley, Walter Parsley, son of Mr. O.G. Parsley, Jr., and Frederick Price, son of the late A.L. Price ... all three of the young gentle men alluded to were safe.
     The REBECCA CLYDE cleared from this port for Baltimore on Friday last ... Mr. Price got on the steamer about four miles below this city, where she took in a portion of her cargo, and Messrs. Cronly and Parsley embarked at Smithville."

The following morning, after receiving further information, the Morning Star continued their report:

"Morehead City, N.C., Sept. 20 -- The steamer REBECCA CLYDE ... became disables off Ocracoke Inlet, twenty miles south of Hatteras, Sunday morning, from the rolling of the deck loads breaking the steering gear and the lashing ... getting tangled in her propeller. The wind blowing a perfect hurricane from the southeast. In the effort to heave the deck load overboard, Mr. Whilden, E. Elye, Fred Williams, Steward and two seaman, names unknown, were washed overboard and instantly disappeared ..."

On September 23 the Morning Star reported the following which was quoted from the Baltimore Sun:

"... Captain Childs was a veteran and popular coastwise steamship commander, and commanded in the Baltimore and Wilmington steamers from the inauguration of the line ten years ago. Previous to that time he was in the steamship WORCESTER, between Baltimore and Liverpool. Second officer Hennick was a brother of chief engineer Hennick of the Baltimore Fire Department. First engineer Oliver Jones was a brother of the late Capt. Thomas Jones of the Baltimore schooner SERENE, lost in the hurricane of September 12, 1875, at Navssa. The same paper says the REBECCA CLYDE was built at Chester, Pa., in 1863, her hull was of wood and of 443 tons. She was rebuilt in 1870 and was valued at $25,000; no insurance. The Baltimore and Southern Transportation Company, to which she belonged, was only recently reorganized, and the fatal voyage was her first in the line between Baltimore, Charleston and Wilmington."

In October the Morning Star contained the following items of interest concerning the aftermath of the storm:

"The Beaufort Eagle says two bodies and the leg of another body of the crew who drowned from the ill-fated steamer REBECCA CLYDE have washed ashore at Portsmouth.
     Lieut. Travers, late of the U.S. Coast Survey, passed through Newbern on Thursday, in charge of the body of his deceased father-in-law, Capt. Childs, the unfortunate commander of the wrecked steamer REBECCA SLYDE. The body was taken to Baltimore for internment.

On October 7 the Morning Star ran a final item which was in the way of a plea from the Reverend B.W. Wilden, of Pleasant Hill, AL, father of DeLeon Wilden, asking for information about his son:

"... as to his conduct on the occasion, and any evidence he may have manifested of his readiness to meet the fearful doom which awaited him and preperation for the stern realities of the Great Hereafter."

The final tally was 12 lives lost and the vessel completely destroyed. A small portion of the cargo was saved.

1 comment:

  1. The dates don't jive: "On March 31, 1876 the Wilmington Morning Star received an official telegram..." The following morning, after receiving further information, the Morning Star continued their report: "Morehead City, N.C., Sept. 20 -- The steamer REBECCA CLYDE ... became disables off Ocracoke Inlet, twenty miles south of Hatteras, ??