Monohansett (steamboat)

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Steamer Monohansett possibly at West Chop Wharf in Tisbury, MA.
Steamer Monohansett in Edgartown Harbor, 1896.
August 1883 advertisement in the Vineyard Gazette for excursions of the steamer Monohansett to tour the ruins of Vineyard Haven after the Great Fire of 1883 destroyed virtually the entire village.

The Monohansett was a sidewheel steamer operating as a ferry serving the island of Martha's Vineyard during the end of the nineteenth century. It was named after Monohansett Island, a tiny twelve-acre island off Naushon.[1]

Construction[edit]

Monohansett was built in 1862 by the New Bedford, Martha's Vineyard, & Nantucket Steamboat Co. as a replacement for the steamer Eagle's Wing which had caught fire during a race on the Providence River off Pawtuxet the year previous, and was completely destroyed. The engine from Eagle's Wing was fitted into the new vessel.[2] Monohansett was built in five months in the shipyard of Thomas Collier of New York under the supervision of Monohansett's designer Capt. Benjamin C. Cromwell of Vineyard Haven, MA. It was 182 feet (55 m) long, with a beam of 28 feet (8.5 m), 9'6" depth, and 489 registered tonnage.[1] Its keel was made of white oak, its deck timbers were of oak and white chestnut, its tops of hackmatack and white chestnut.[3] The Monohansett made its first trip to Martha's Vineyard, to the Edgartown wharf, on June 1, 1862.[1]

Civil War service[edit]

Barely two months later, on August 13, 1862, Monohansett was chartered by the U.S. Government.[1] During the Civil War Monohansett carried dispatches to the fleet operating off Cape Hatteras and Wilmington, North Carolina, as well as in Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. The small propeller steamer Helen Augusta was used as the substitute ferry to Martha's Vineyard during the war.[2] By the end of the war, Monohansett was the headquarters boat at City Point and was used by General Ulysses S. Grant as a dispatch boat.[1] General Grant was reportedly very fond of this boat, and President Abraham Lincoln and his wife also spent time of this vessel.[3]

Vineyard ferry service[edit]

Monohansett returned to service as a Martha's Vineyard ferry in June 1865.[4]

In the summer of 1874, President Grant used the Monohansett to visit Martha's Vineyard, arriving in Cottage City.[1]

Monohansett was first commanded by Capt. Benjamin C. Cromwell, its designer, and during the Civil War by Hiram Crowell.[3] Capt. Charles C. Smith (1826-____), who served as first mate with Capt. Crowell during war duty, became captain of the Monohansett in 1867, and was still master in 1885.[4] It was also said to have been commanded at some point by Capt. Marshall (evidently Francis J. Marshall (1857-1933) of Edgartown,[5] who had also commanded the Martha's Vineyard, and would later command the Uncatena.[2]

Although Monohansett was primarily a Vineyard boat, it would occasionally make trips to Nantucket, especially during wintertime "freeze-ups" when the Monohansett would force its way through the ice to relieve the isolated Nantucket residents.[2]

Final years[edit]

Monohansett was sold in 1901[1] or 1903[3] (sources vary), and was used around Boston and the North Shore. In June 1904 it wrecked in a dense fog on Little Misery Island, Salem Harbor, while headed to Boston from Gloucester.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Banks, Charles E., The History of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., Volume I. (Dukes County Historical Society, 1911)
  2. ^ a b c d e Turner, Harry B. The Story of the Island Steamers (The Inquirer and Mirror Press, 1910) Books.google.com
  3. ^ a b c d Vineyard Gazette Online
  4. ^ a b The Dukes County Intelligencer, Vol. 8, No. 4, May 1967.
  5. ^ Notes on the Marshall Families of Martha's Vineyard, Mass

References[edit]

  • Banks, Charles E., The History of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., Volume I. (Dukes County Historical Society, 1911)
  • Turner, Harry B. The Story of the Island Steamers (The Inquirer and Mirror Press, 1910)
  • [1] - reprint of a 1927 article in the Vineyard Gazette
  • The Dukes County Intelligencer, Vol. 8, No. 4, May 1967.

Coordinates: 42°32′45.65″N 70°47′48.12″W / 42.5460139°N 70.7967000°W / 42.5460139; -70.7967000