The Effects of Storms on Ships

Shipwrecks Along the Florida Coast

The steamship Gen. Sherman, Capt. Blanchard, which left New York for this port, on Saturday, the 15th inst., arrived at her wharf yesterday. She passed through one of the heaviest gales of the season, but – staunch and well built and ably officered as she is – she stood the tempest nobly. One of the passengers, an old sea captain, kept a diary during the voyage, from which we are permitted to make the following extracts:

effects of storms. Among those going South we recognize the steamship DeSoto.

NEW YORK, Saturday, Oct. 15, 5 P.M. – The shout of “all on board” is heard, and five minutes later we are steaming down New York harbour. The German dramatic troupe and other passengers are on board. The Gen. Sherman is commanded by the courteous Capt. Blanchard, well known to many of our citizens as the former commander of the popular steamship Star of the Union, and more recently of the United States. Next morning we are in company with a fleet of steamers, several steaming in our direction, while others pass rapidly by and are lost in the distance. Among those going South we recognize the steamship DeSoto. Two days later we sight a steamer to the eastward, and as she draws nearer we again recognize the DeSoto, and again she disappears ahead.

Morning of the 20th. – As we come on deck we find it blowing a fresh gale. Jupiter Inlet Light-House, coast of Florida, is in sight. Ship making good progress along the coast. About 10 A.M. we see a vessel high and dry upon the beach. As we draw nearer we see a flag flying, and we make out her name the Marion; she is a brigantine of 300 or 400 tons burden. From the tents on shore and stripped appearance of the mast, we judge she has been several days upon the beach, and her crew seem anxiously waiting for the arrival of the wreckers to remove them from their isolated position. At 12 A.M. the gale is rapidly increasing, and the order to batten down the hatches and sky-lights is speedily executed, and the ship rapidly prepared, under her efficient officers, Messrs. Richdale and Hand, to meet the dangers of the now increasing gale. At 2 P.M. the ship is hove to, and an hour or two after the violence of the wind has become terrific. The sea is blown over the ship, enveloping her as it were in a sheet of water. Pieces of woodwork are torn off and hurled away with terrible force. Crew clinging here and there, vainly endeavouring to execute orders which the violence of the wind makes impossible to understand and as impossible to execute.

effects of storms. her crew seem anxiously waiting for the arrival of the wreckers to remove them from their isolated position      

The scenes in the cabin at this time will be effaced from the memory of those who witnessed them. Men and women clinging to anything that would hold them. Tables and seats, loose from their fastenings, were hurled first to one side then the other. The briny element forced in around the skylights and the deadlights, forced through every possible crevice, came in showers into the cabin, and rolling around added to the terrors of the scene. Discomforts were all forgotten, and only prayers were heard for the staying of the tempest. From 4 till 8 P.M., the violence of the wind and fury of the waters cannot be described. The ship behaved nobly, but all felt that nothing made by human hands could long withstand the violence of such a wind and sea. Fortunately it was of short duration. A cry the engines were broken gave us such a shock of terror, as we hope never again to experience. We rushed into the engine-room, and found our able chief engineer, Mr. Johnson, holding on at his post, and his ready reply to our question, “what is wrong?” “All is right here as yet,” gave us renewed courage, though our only hope was in an abatement of the tempest. At 8 P.M. the wind suddenly shifted to the N.W., and at once began to decline, and morning broke upon a rapidly abating sea, which, before noon, looked as if it had never been disturbed. We looked over the ship in the morning, and were really astonished to find how little she had suffered. Rails were broken, skylights torn away, and pilot house somewhat damaged. These were the only visible signs of the tempest in the ship.      

But as we approach the coast of Florida we begin to see at once the effect along the shore. There lies a large schooner high on the beach. Her crew seem to have escaped ashore. Her torn sails and rigging are floating about. We did not lose sight of this schooner until we saw another vessel, which proved to be a large, fine looking ship or bark. Main and mizzen masts are gone. She appears to have been driven hard on to the beach, and the sails are hanging in fragments from her only remaining mast.

effects of storms. Main and mizzen masts are gone.       

Florida light-house came now in sight. Another wreck lies directly opposite this one, apparently another large schooner. She is bilged and sunk to her decks; as she struck the reef her main mast fell, and catching against the foremast, still hangs in that position. We fear few of her crew escaped death. Another schooner on shore in sight – this one apparently small – perhaps one of the wreckers’ vessels. And now we have got another in view; as we pass on, she turns out to be a large ship, of 1000 tons or more. Her sails are also hanging in tatters from the yards, and her crew are looking over the side as if wondering how they came there. We see a steamer behind, and we are all wondering if it can be the DeSoto; later in the day we find, sure enough, it is our old companion, and as she runs along by close to us we discover she has more outward signs of damage than ourselves, and from the beds and bedding hung out to dry, we judge the elements have not treated her cabins any better than they have ours.     

Another large vessel in sight – mizzen mast only standing. There are several wrecker’s vessels just in shore of her, ready, we presume, to commence their operations in the morning. Darkness now comes on, covering the reef from our view. Carysfort Light is near us, and from this point, we see no more of the reef, but we feel convinced there are many more unfortunates. Next morning we pass pieces of freshly torn and painted wood.       

With strong winds from southeast across the Gulf of Mexico, we arrived safely at Southwest Pass.    

We publish elsewhere a card of thanks to the officers of the Gen. Sherman from the passengers.


marsanneMarsanne Petty conducts historical research about 19th century southern United States and environmental history. To get more great updates and original history, sign up at The Southern Sage. To get her to help you with your own research project, email mapetty[at]

Early Expedition into the Everglades

A Wilderness in Florida Where Freedom’s Edict Has Never Penetrated.


A Wilderness in Florida Where Freedom’s Edict Has Never Penetrated.


The New Orleans “Times-Democrat” About to Explore the Everglades of Florida.


Since the New York Herald sent the steamer Jeannette to discover the North Pole, journalistic enterprise in the direction of geographical discovery has had no such illustration as that which the New Orleans Times-Democrat is preparing to furnish. The enterprise now almost ready to be carried into operation is an expedition of discovery in the wonderful everglades of Florida. The nature of such a voyage may be judged from the following editorial article in a recent issue of the Times-Democrat announcing the progress of preparations for the journey:

early expedition. an expedition of discovery in the wonderful everglades of Florida


Florida may almost be said to have been discovered during the last 15 years, for it is within that time that the State has come to be the resort and abode of thousands of northern people, and the orange culture has grown into a great industry. During this period the State has steadily grown in resources, and the growth bids fair to be continuous. Nevertheless, a barge part of the Southern portion of Florida remains an “undiscovered country.” In December last the Times-Democrat sent out an expedition, which succeeded in passing down the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee and thence through the Caloosahatchie River into the Gulf of Mexico. This expedition made valuable discoveries. It is now our purpose to send out another expedition to explore the famous Everglades, which are now quite as unknown to the civilized world as were the wilds of Africa previous to the expedition of Stanley in quest of Livingstone. Several attempts to explore this country have been made by the United States government, and, during the Seminole war the troops frequently attempted to follow the Indians into the Everglades, but they never succeeded in penetrating beyond the borders of the Everglades proper. When the general government sought to remove the Indians to their reservations, many of the different tribes fled into the Everglades, and it is estimated that 700 or 800 are now living there. Only 80 appear upon the rolls of the census, because no census officer has been able to penetrate the wilderness. Indian-hunters come out with bear, deer, and panther skins, showing that the Everglades must contain good hunting-grounds. A number of negroes, say 30 or 40, are known to be held by the Indians. They speak the Indian tongue, wear the dress of Indian women and are made to do the women’s work. These negroes are evidently the progeny of runaway slaves, who escaped before or during the civil war, and are still held in slavery.


Only one missionary ever attempted to carry the news of Lincoln’s proclamation into the Everglades; he left the borders of the Indian country with great speed. A few months ago Chief Tiger Tail became displeased with one of his colored servants, and brought him into Fort Myers to offer him for sale. When informed that the negroes were all free he ejaculated: “White man’s nigger mebbe free, but Indian’s nigger, no.” Whereupon Tiger Tail grasped his darky by the nape of the neck, pushed him into the canoe and paddled back to the Everglades. The Seminoles are quite jealous of any interference with their domain, and will not serve as guides through their country. So strictly Is this rule maintained that an Indian boy who has been raised by Col. Hendry, under an agreement with the Indians that he may stay six months of each year with Col. Hendry and six months with his people, could not be prevailed upon, for any consideration, to guide white men into the country.

early expedition. Indian-hunters come out with bear, deer, and panther skins, showing that the Everglades must contain good hunting-grounds.

The Times-Democrat expedition will assemble at Jacksonville on October 15, and proceed by rail to Cedar Keys, thence by steamer to Fort Meyers [sic], and up the Caloosahatchee River, through canals to Lake Okeechobee. A camp will be established for one week on “Observation Island,” until preliminary surveys shall have been made and everything is in readiness for the trip. A direct course will be taken for Whitewater Bay, on the Gulf coast. When the center of the Everglades shall have been reached a camp will be established for two weeks, and surveying parties will be sent out in easterly and westerly directions. The Everglades in their entire extent will be penetrated.


The personnel of the Times-Democrat expedition will be as follows:

Major A. P. Williams, the Times-Democrat ‘s representative in Florida. Major Williams was born in 1844, in Rapides parish, was a pupil of “Stonewall” Jackson at the Virginia Military Institute, and of Gen. W. T. Sherman at Alexandria in this State. During the civil war Major Williams was Inspector-General to Major-General A. P. Bagby.

Col. C. F. Hopkins, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a naval officer. Col. Hopkins was the Colonel of a Florida regiment in the Confederate army, and is now the leading Civil Engineer of Florida.

Dr. James Kellum, a native of Virginia, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and surgeon in the United States Navy. Dr. Kellum was Medical Director to Gen. Walker in the Nicaraguan expedition and Medical Purveyor to Lieut.-Gen. Longstreet.

Col. F. A. Hendry, “The Cattle King of Florida,” who has lived for many years on the borders of the Everglades, and who is better acquainted with that section them any other man in the State.


The expedition will take with them the canoes Susie B., Daisy W., E. A. Burke, P. M. Baker, W.H.H. Judson and A. W. Cockerton. These canoes were built by the Racine Canoe Works, and ordered through Katie & Co. of Chicago. Susie B. and Daisy W. are 18 feet in length, 41 inches beam, with air-tight compartments, with sails and center-boards, and rigged for oars and paddles. The remaining four canoes are 14 feet in length, 36 inches beam and rigged similarly to the others. The six canoes will be manned by eight colored men, uniformed by the Times-Democrat, each of whom is over six feet in height, selected from 60 applicants.

marsanneMarsanne Petty conducts historical research about 19th century southern United States and environmental history. To get more great updates and original history, sign up at The Southern Sage. To get her to help you with your own research project, email mapetty[at]

Pensacola’s Grand Welcome

A hearty welcome

The people of Pensacola, with one voice, extend a hearty welcome to their honored guests from all sections of the state, who have come to witness the evidences of the progress that has been made in recent years in the development of one of the finest regions of Florida from a howling wilderness into a land flowing with the milk and honey of a productive prosperity.

pensacolas grand welcome. The pleasing picture of happy homes

To those whose good fortune it is to reside in this favored region, the story of the opening up to civilization and prosperity of the counties composing West Florida is entirely familiar. The pleasing picture of happy homes, and smiling, fruitful fields and busy, prosperous towns and villages that now greets the eye of the traveler from the Apalachicola to the Perdido, and from the Gulf coast to the state line, is one that testifies truly of the magic influence of modern civilization.

Gathered in the appointed place our visitors find an immense and varied collection of the chief products of this wonderful region. These are to go to the great exposition at Atlanta, there to be viewed by the assembled throngs of visitors from all parts of the world. The story they will tell of West Florida’s greatness, its fertility, its attractions and resources, and of the industry and intelligence of its people, will be repeated again and again and spread, broadcast throughout the habitable globe.

pensacolas grand welcome. The people of West Florida will have no occasion to be ashamed of their representation at Atlanta         

The people of West Florida will have no occasion to be ashamed of their representation at Atlanta, and they may confidently count upon the unnumbered benefits that will be certain to accrue from this exhibit of what West Florida is and what her people can do.    

THE NEWS cordially joins the people of the city in tendering a hearty welcome to the city’s guests, and wishes them a pleasant and profitable visit, and a safe return to their respective homes.


marsanneMarsanne Petty conducts historical research about 19th century southern United States and environmental history. To get more great updates and original history, sign up at The Southern Sage. To get her to help you with your own research project, email mapetty[at]

Changes Wrought by the Railroad

Found South Florida

A Wire Grass Wilderness Almost Uninhabited.


Tampa Bay Harbor the Most Magnificent on Earth—Through Its Channel’s Will Glide the Commerce of Many Nations.

Editor Tampa Tribune: — Remembering with profound gratitude your many kindnesses and being possessed of feelings befitting a generous nature, I am persuaded that it will not be amiss for me to give expression through the medium of your widely circulated journal of what South Florida is to become in the near future. With the close of 1896 South Florida ends fifteen years of unparalleled prosperity in the annals of states. Arid if the future copies fair as the past she has entered upon another decade of prosperity that will by far surpass the past. Fifteen years ago South Florida, proper, lay almost a terra incognito to the outside world of tourists and homeseekers, not because it was so far away, but it was so inaccessible. Twenty years ago Jacksonville was considered Florida, and was the ultima thule of travel. A trip by boat up the St. Johns river was an undertaking to be duly considered. But, how changed now? About that time a man of great sagacity and capital, with a prophetic eye, came on the scene, he saw at a glance what so fair a land might be if the proper appliances were furnished so as to draw public attention to it. He knew that it only remained to make the remotest corner accessible, and the then wilderness, would he changed to the most inviting country on the North American continent. Presto! Railroads began to gridiron all of that part of the state. The tale and no telling for it is now a living fact. Its history is written on bars of steel; and of all countries in the world that have been blessed by railroads that section pre-eminently, stands foremost, for they found it a waste, a howling wilderness, and caused it to “blossom as the rose.’’ They found it accounted as the rubbish of the continent, and gave it a setting as one of the precious jewels of the union. They found it in squalor and almost uninhabited, but by their benign influence, luxury, intelligence, happiness and contentment have clothed its people in garments of prosperity that stands without a precedent in any new country except California, and owing to its contiguity to the thickly settled portions of the union, with its susceptibilities in many respects far greater in producing remunerative products, and its vast phosphate deposits of wealth makes it far a more desirable country for homeseekers than California, and especially so, when it is taken into account that in point of health it stands unequalled in all the world.

changes wrought. in point of health it stands unequalled in all the world

Yes, railroads found South Florida an unknown quantity, save in name, but how changed? Today, it is the great winter residence of the wealthy, and the national sanitarium for those who have lost their health in the rigorous regions. Its palaces are the envy of the civilized world. Its shining parallel bars of steel has made and opened an era of unheard of prosperity. Tourists, homeseekers, sportsmen and investors are pouring in. Jacksonville has become only the gateway, where but a comparative few of leisurely disposed tarry. Where stood log huts in the country now stands stately homes of permanent settlers. Where once the owl hooted in lonely solitude now screams the whistle of the locomotive. Where once the coot and heron inhabited the silver waters of the placid lakes now steams the dainty naphtha launch or stately rides the floating palace, gathering the products from the various wharfs to be delivered at the nearest railroad depot. We are bidden to render unto “Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.” So it is but just and true to say that all that South Florida is in the way of advancement and progress at the close of 1896, she owes more to the sagacity and capital of Mr. H. B. Plant than to any and all other persons put together. He it was who first recognized her capabilities and set about developing them. It was he who opened up new channels for the inpouring of wealth into the peninsula part of the state, and made new industries possible for those who followed in his wake. Others following, have come, have seen, have been tempted to keep on the rush of progress; but to Mr. Plant alone, is due the honor of building [up] South Florida to its abundant prosperity. The past is but half an earnest of what the future is to be. Fifteen years ago no man could have foretold with any degree accuracy of the vast improvements and numberless new industries that are to fall to the lot of your city — Tampa — by this time. Then there were in round numbers 800 people, and now I see it stated that Tampa has a population of 26,000. This is a phenomenal, but as nothing, to what the next fifteen years will demonstrate if our national legislation should be governed by wisdom and prudent forethought in securing or even encouraging in a judicious way an increase of trade from the Central and South American countries, to this country, for it is a conceded fact that Tampa harbor is the nearest deep water approach on this continent to those countries, as well as the shortest, safest and most economical route to the Cuban-American countries. It has plenty of deep water on its bar, and its channel is perfectly straight, through which any mariner can pass without the aid of a pilot. South America is undoubtedly the field for our trade. Why should the trade supplies from these countries intended for the Northwest go to New York for distribution, when Tampa can offer facilities of immediate and direct shipment to those points with the distance and time greatly lessened both by land and water? This great change or transformation of trade channels is now only one question of a short time. Indeed, it is right at your doors. Granting it to be so, then what must Tampa’s future be? No man can well imagine. It will be like a snowball rolling down a steep hillside, with every revolution it gathers fresh impetus and its size increases. So it will be with Tampa, except she will gather as she rolls uphill. Let it grow, and may Mr. Plant live to see his fondest anticipations fully realized and consummated in all the wonders his work will unfold to growing Tampa and Peninsula Florida.

Yours truly,



marsanneMarsanne Petty conducts historical research about 19th century southern United States and environmental history. To get more great updates and original history, sign up at The Southern Sage. To get her to help you with your own research project, email mapetty[at]

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