THE LOSS OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Narrative of a survivor
List of saved
The clearest account of the Florida wreck is given by the ship’s surgeon, Dr Andrew STEELE, he says:-
“About 10pm on April 18th, I was reading in my cabin, I had been on deck and noticed that it was a clear, starlight night. Suddenly I heard a clang going in the engine-room, signalling the engineer to back the engines at full speed. At the same time there was confused tramping on deck. I hastened on deck when I saw plainly the spars and canvas of a big sailing ship heading directly for us. The port light was distinctly visible. The men about the deck shouted. The collision took place in the next moment. Our ship rolled to starboard on a big wave, and the other vessel crashed into us, striking nearly amidships on the starboard side. The shock completely demoralised everyone. The men cried, “take to the boats” but many were too much frightened to help themselves, even after the boats were in the water. The ship was sinking too rapidly to enable the crew to do much to save lives. The Stewardess was lowered into a boat but, no other woman was on deck. I entered one boat. In a few minutes both vessels sank. The Captain and two seamen of the barque were found clinging to the wreckage of their vessel and taken into one boat. There was 44 of us in the boat. We drifted for two days having neither food nor water. The weather was fair but we suffered severely from the cold. We separated from the other two boats that were launched. On the 20th we attracted the attention of the Norwegian barque THERESA, bound for Quebec, which picked us up, treated us kindly, and two days later transferred 20 of us to the barque, LOUISA, bound for Quebec, as we were making serious inroad on the provisions.”
The third officer of the FLORIDA says that the night was perfectly clear, and that the chief officer was in charge, and that the captain failed to realise the gravity of the situation until it was too late to save lives.
Nobody is able to account for the collision in such weather.
Quebec May 7th [evening]
The steamer STATE OF FLORIDA collided with the barque PONEMA, of Chatham, New Brunswick, on the 18th April. The night was clear, but, there was no moon at the time of the collision. Both vessels sank. The survivors were picked up by the Norwegian barque THERESA, bound for Quebec, on the 20th, and 24 of their number were transferred on the 22nd, to the barque, LOUISA, bound for Quebec, and were taken on board the steamship TITANIA on May 5th.
The following is a list of crew who have arrived in safety ;-
James ALLEN, Andrew STEELE, William ARMSTRONG, Francis GRAHAM, David WALKER, David CLURIE, Alexander MITCHELL, James THOMPSON, William SMITH, George FORRESTER, Neil MC KELLAR, James MC KENZIE, Robert YOUNG, John MC DOWELL, John SONSTROM, John MC GAW, Adam MC FARLANE, and William MILLER.
The following passengers have also arrived:-
James BENNETT, D. FAIRBAIRN, David STOTHERS, James PATIENCE, John HALE, and Elijah CHURCHANS.
The members of the crew on the THERESA, now on their way here, James THOMPSON, Thomas BARR, John SMITH, Peter PATERSON, Andrew ANDERSON, John SILVERBLADE, John MILLER, John BEARD, Jane [?] MC FARLANE, Charles LOVE, William LAWSON, William HYSLOP, Edward BOYLE and John MC DOWELL.
The passengers on the THERESA are Hugh MORGAN, Peter RENNING, Martin PATERSON, Francis WATSON, Capt HEPBURN, and two seamen of the PONEMA are also on the THERESA.
Quebec, May 8th
Mr ALLEN, 3rd, officer of the STATE OF FLORIDA states that the survivors were 35hrs in the boats without food and water. The sea at the time of the collision was smooth. Of 8 boats carried by the STATE OF FLORIDA, 4 were lowered, 2 having been previously smashed by the collision. Soon after the boats were lowered the vessel heeled to port and sank stern foremost. He thought the disaster occurred in 49 N. Lat and 36 W Long. When the vessel went down everyone on deck including the Captain, was washed off. The rescued men present a pitiful spectacle, several only wearing their nightdresses when saved.
The women absolutely refused to leave the ship as many of them could have been saved, Jane MACFARLANE, the stewardess was the only woman saved, Mr James BENNETT the only 1st class passenger saved.
Surgeon STEELE has expressed the opinion that the real cause of the disaster will never be known on the account of the extreme suddenness
May 8th [afternoon]
The collision between the STATE OF FLORIDA and the PONEMA occurred at 11.30pm. It is stated that to other members of the crew, George ARMOUR and John SMITH were also saved.. The survivors state that the CITY OF ROME passed them while they were on board the THERESA, and answered their signals but did not stop. Mr THOMPSON who is on board the THERESA was the chief officer on the STATE OF FLORIDA and was in charge of the deck at the time of the disaster.
The barque PONEMA was afterwards seen bottom upwards. She was from Liverpool bound for Miramichi, New Brunswick, Mr ALLEN the 3rd officer rushed on deck when the collision occurred and observing the condition of the vessel informed the captain, who displayed great coolness and ordered the boats to be lowered. The tackle of the second boat was however cut too quickly, and the occupants who were all passengers fell into the sea, a number were saved afterwards. Mr BAIN the chief engineer lost his life in saving the stewardess. He had forced her into the boat against her will, when the STATE OF FLORIDA suddenly careened over with him. Complaints have been made that the boats were badly equipped. Several of the survivors also complain that the CITY OF ROME refused to alter her course to assist the THERESA. Mr STEELE the surgeon referring to the suddenness of the collision, states that the officers and crew seem to have lost their heads. Mr BENNETT a passenger, states that the passengers were paralysed with fear. The STATE OF FLORIDA sank 12mins after the collision, Mr ALLEN first reported that the vessel was sinking. The captain was evidently unaware of the serious state if affairs.
Liverpool correspondent writes :-
From inquiries made at the offices of the Liverpool agent of the PONEMA, yesterday it appears she was a wooden barque of 784tons register, and left the Mersey on the 10th April in ballast for Miramichi. The agents say the number of her crew was 15 all told, the name of her captain is inaccurately given, his name is HEPBURN. The agents consider it would only cause unnecessary anxiety to publish a list of the crew, as it appears that besides the three who have been shown to have been rescued, Capt HEPBURN and two seamen, a boat was picked up with some if not all of the PONEMA crew in it. Capt HEPBURN and the two seamen were last heard on board the Norwegian barque THERESA, bound for Quebec. The agency yesterday cabled out to Canada for information on the disaster, to be sent to them immediately the captain arrives.
The Peoples Journal, May 10th 1884
Terrible disasters at sea
Loss of the State liner FLORIDA
Appalling loss of life
Up until Saturday the officials of the State Line Steamship Company were hopeful that the steamer State of Florida, which was then considerably overdue, would turn up, their impression being that something had gone wrong with her propeller or engines, and that she had been in tow. This expectation was dispelled by receipt of a telegram from Mr WHITE, Great Western Steamship Line, Bristol, reporting the arrival of the steamer Devon from New York, with two lifeboats, picked up on Sunday last, belonging to the State of Florida, without occupants, oars or gear. Information was also received at Glasgow that the City of Rome had passed a sailing vessel going west on the 23rd ult, with a shipwrecked crew on board. It is generally believed that the persons on board the vessel reported belonging to the missing steamer Florida and during the earlier part of the week much anxiety has been manifested.
It was not until Wednesday afternoon that the full extent of the disaster was ascertained.
On that morning the Titania from Glasgow passed Father Point Quebec, with 24 persons on board belonging to the State of Florida which the Titania reported had been sunk by collision with a barque in mid ocean, both vessels sinking in fifteen minutes. The captain of the Titania stating that out of 167 persons on board the State of Florida only 44 were saved, one of the survivors being a woman. Of the Barque’s crew of 15 men only the captain and 2 men were saved, the remaining 12 being lost. The name of the barque is the Ponema of Chatham, New Brunswick. The number of passengers on board was 85 of whom 14 were in the saloon, 21 in the second cabins, and 50 steerage. Her captain was John N. SADLER, and this was the return voyage of his first run in the Florida,
The survivors were picked up by the Norwegian barque Theresa, bound for Quebec, after 40 hours exposure and 24 of their number were transferred on the 22nd to the barque Louisa for Quebec, and afterwards taken on board the steamship Titania on May 5th.
Narrative of survivors
Mr ALLANM 3rd officer of the State of Florida reports that the survivors were 35 hrs in the boats without food and water. The sea at the time of the collision was smooth. Of 8 boats carried by the State of Florida 4 were lowered. Soon after the boats were lowered the State of Florida heeled to port, and sank stern foremost. Mr ALLEN thought the disaster occurred 49 N. Lat and 36 and a half w. Long. Everybody on deck including the Captain, was washed overboard. The rescued men present a pitiful spectacle, several of them wearing only their night-dresses when saved. The women absolutely refused to leave the ship, or many of them could have been saved. Jane MACFARLANE the stewardess was the only woman saved. Surgeon STEELE has expressed the opinion that the real cause of the disaster may never be known, on account of its extreme suddenness.
The clearest account of the Florida wreck is given by the ship’s surgeon, Dr Andrew STEELE.
He says:-“About 10pm on 28th April, I was reading in my cabin. I had been on deck and noticed it was a clear starlight night. I suddenly heard a clang going in the engine-room signalling the engineers to back the engines at full speed. At the same time there was a confusing trampling on deck. I hastened on deck, when I saw plainly the spars and canvas of a big ship heading directly for us. Her port light was distinctly visible. The men about the deck shouted. The collision took place the next moment. Our ship rolled to starboard on a big wave, and the other vessel crashed into us, striking nearly amidships on the starboard side. The shock completely demoralised everyone. The men cried, “Take boats”, but many were too much frightened to help themselves, even when the boats were in the water. The ship was sinking too rapidly to enable the crew to do much to save life. The Stewardess was lowered into a boat, but no other woman was on deck. I entered one boat. In a few minutes both vessels sank. The captain and two seamen of the barque were found clinging to the wreckage of their vessel and taken into our boat. There were 44 of us in the boat. We drifted for 2 days having no food nor water, the weather was fair but we suffered severely from cold. We separated from the other two boats which were launched. On the 20th we attracted the attention of the Norwegian barque Theresa, bound for Quebec, which picked us up and treated us kindly, and two days later transferred 20 of us to the barque Louise, bound for Quebec, as we were making serious inroads on the provisions.”
The 3rd officer of the Florida says that the night was perfectly clear, that the chief officer was in charge, and that the captain failed to realise the gravity of the situation until it was too late to save life.
Nobody is able to account for the collision in such weather.
Names of the saved,
Names of the crew who arrived in safety :-
James ALLEN, 3rd officer, Andrew STEELE, Surgeon, William ARMSTRONG, AB, Francis GRAHAM, A.B, David WALKER, David CLUNIE [? Clinnie Trimmer]
Alexander MITCHELL, trimmer, James THOMPSON [? THOMAS], William SMITH, George FORRESTER [2nd steward], Neil McKELLAR, [?McKILLAN, pantryman], James McKENZIE, 2nd steward, Robert YOUNG, assistant pantryman, John McDOWELL, trimmer, John SONSTRON [?Sandstrom A.B.], John McGAW, cook, belonging to Dundee, Adam McFARLANE, cook’s mate, William MILLER, baker’s mate.
The following passengers have also arrived, James BENNETT, D. FAIRBAIRN, Davis STOTHER, James PATIENCE, John HALE, Elijah [?Eliza] CHURCHANS.
The members of the crew on board the Theresa now on their way here are :-
James THOMSON, Chief officer belonging to Dundee, Thomas BARR, boatswain, married, wife and child in Dundee, John SMITH, A.B., Peter PATERSON, Carpenter, Andrew [?Henry] ANDERSON quartermaster, John SILVERBLADE, quartermaster, John MILLER, Quartermaster, John BEARD, A.B., Jean MACFARLANE, Stewardess, Charles LOVE, A.B., William LAWSON, A.B., William HYSLOP, second engineer, Edward BOYLE, Trimmer, John McDOWELL, Trimmer.
The passengers on board the Theresa are, Hugh MORGAN, Peter RENNING, Martin PATTERSON, Francis WATSON, Captain HEPBURN.
Two seamen of the Ponema are also on the Theresa.
Official list of passengers and crew supplied by the owners :-
Mrs Jane INGRAM and infant, Larne, Mrs MURRAY, Glasgow, T. HALL and Mrs HALL, Liverpool, Henry WOOD, Mrs A. C. WOOD, Lilian R. WOOD and M. E. WOOD, Liverpool, Mrs Mary SHACKLTON, Liverpool, Joseph BENNETT, Glasgow, James G. GRAHAM, Liverpool, James CRUICKSHANKS, Belfast, Walter KING, Liverpool.
Davis STOTHERS, Belfast, Andrew FAIRBAIRN, Andrew TARRIS, Glasgow, Abraham WILLIAMSON, Thomas WILLIAMSON, Stavanger, Thomas TAYLOR, Mrs T. TAYLOR, Thomas TAYLOR, Anna TAYLOR, Ada TAYLOR, Amy TAYLOR, Liverpool, George EDDINGTON, A. BETHUNE, Glasgow, William FENNELL, Queenstown, Elizabeth COLBACH and infant, Liverpool, R. Van der Ley, J. J. BAKKER, Rotterdam, Mrs P. WARD, London, Lizzie CONNOR, Daniel CONNOR, Belfast.
William GILCHRIST, Glasgow, James PATIENCE, Glasgow, Martin JONES, Glasgow, Robert STEWART, Liverpool, Ellen STEWART, Liverpool, Robert STEWART, Liverpool, William STEWART, Liverpool, Ellen STEWART, Liverpool, Edward STEWART, Liverpool, John STEWART, Liverpool, Bernard HENDRICKSON, Christiana, E. J. SEGLEM, Stavanger, John HUTCHINSON, Glasgow, H. JOHNSON, Malmo, Charles PATERSON, Malmo, , Fanny McALPINE, Glasgow, Joseph FORNIAN, Belfast, Mr A. DICK, Glasgow, Master William DICK, Glasgow, Ole G. ASKIE, Christiana, Peter ROWNING, Christiana, Martin PETERSON, Christiana, Alice BOWIE, Glasgow, Mrs Jane SCOTT, Glasgow, Mary BURNS, Glasgow, Lizzie LEONARD, Glasgow, Susan McDERMOTT, Glasgow, Hugh DONNELLY, Belfast, James GRANT, Glasgow, John MOORE, Glasgow, Mary SHANNON and Martha SHANNON, Glasgow, Elizabeth TUMILTY and Kate TUMILTY, Glasgow, Francis CANING, Glasgow, John HALL and W. HALL, Liverpool, Benjamin WEDLAKE, Liverpool, Hugh MORGAN, Glasgow, Jonathan and Edward BENSTON, Belfast, T. WATSON, Liverpool, Ellen ROGERS, Larne, Edmund O’DONNELL, Belfast, L. CHURCHAUS, Liverpool, Wm D. BROWN, Mrs BROWN and infant, London, Samuel LAVERTY, Londonderry, John HUGHES, Queenstown.
Crew of the Florida shipped at Glasgow
John W. SADLER, Captain James THOMSON, 1st officer, Thomas YOUNG, 2nd officer, James ALLEN, 3rd officer, Andrew H. STEELE, Surgeon, Jens M. P. KAURIN, purser and A.B, Peter PATERSON, Carpenter, Thomas BARR, Boatswain, John SMITH, Boatswain’s mate, Jas JACKSON, Jas MUNROE, John MILLER, John SILVERBLADE, Quartermasters.
AB,s, H.ANDERSON, John BAIRD, R. McIVOR, G. ARNOTT, S. SIGLEJDRSEN, B. STUVE, A. HORN, W. ARMSTRONG, John LAIRD, F. GRAHAM,, H. A. FYFE, Charles McFEELEY, John SMITH, Wm LAWSON, Charles LOVE, Peter WILKIE, Magnes BOYLE, [and steward] Jas SANDSTROM, John McDONALD, James McLEA
John BAIN, Chief engineer, William HISLOP, 2nd, William HILL, 3rd, James OGILVIE, 4th.
Trimmers, David GLINIE, Alex MITCHELL, Francis BAILLIE, Alexander McNEIL, John McMAHON, Pat McLOUGH, James CASSIDY, Francis GRAHAM, John McDOWELL, David GARDEN, Walter GILLESPIE, John McGARNSEY, Edward BOYLE, Francis BOYLE, George RENTON, Joseph PATERSON, Dennis CULLEN.
David KYDD, Chief steward, George FORRESTER, 2nd, J CURRIE, Saloon, A PATTERSON Assistant saloon, Neil McKELLAR, pantry, Robert YOUNG, assistant pantry, James McKENZIE 2nd cabin, C. CHRISTIANSEN, steerage, James McPHAIL, steerage, W. THOMSON, steerage, James McKIE, assistant steerage, Fr KLINGENBERG, assistant steerage, William McGILL, assistant steerage, John McKAY, Chief cook, Thomas ANDERSON, 2nd cook, John McGAW, Ship’s cook, Adam McFARLANE, cook’s mate, John BARRIE, Baker, Jean McFARLANE, Stewardess, Margaret DUNLOP, Matron, William MILLER, baker’s mate.
The Barque Ponema
Alleged rescue of all her crew
A Liverpool correspondent telegraphs :-
From inquires made at the Liverpool office of the agent of the Ponema on Thursday it appears she was a wooden barque of 784 tons register and left the Mersey on the 10th April in ballast for Miramichi. The number of her crew 15 all told is correct, the name of the captain is inaccurately given. The masters name is HEYBURN, the agents consider it would cause unnecessary anxiety to publish a list of the crew, as it is believed that besides the three members of the crew who are known to be rescued, Captain HEYBURN and two seamen, another boat was picked up with some if not all the crew of the Ponema. Captain HEYBURN and the two semen above mentioned, when last heard of on board the Norwegian barque Theresa bound for Quebec.
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