Powhattan (1837)

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Career (United States)
Launched: 1837
In service: February 2, 1837
Fate: Wrecked April 16, 1854
General characteristics
Type: Three Masted
Tons burthen: 598 7/95
Length: 132' 10"
Beam: 31' 7"
Propulsion: Sail
Sail plan: Square Rigged

The Powhattan or Powhatan was a United States ship that is best remembered as one of the worst New Jersey shipwrecks in terms of loss of life. The number of victims varies according to sources between 200 and 365.[1]

The Powhattan was an emigrant ship transport of 598 tons gross. It was registered as a new vessel on February 2, 1837 with W. Graham as owner and D. Griffith as master (captain). The ship was built in Baltimore, Maryland in 1836–1837 and made several trips across the Atlantic from England, France and the Netherlands to the ports of Baltimore and New York .

About the first of March 1854, the Powhattan sailed from the port of Le Havre, France destined for New York City.[2] It was carrying more than 200 German emigrants.[3] After encountering a storm off the New Jersey coast it went aground about 5:00 p.m. on April 15, 1854 on the shoals near Beach Haven,[4] New Jersey, (Latitude 39 33 00 North −74 13 00 West [5] ), about six miles south of the Harvey Cedars Lifesaving Station [8]. The ship remained afloat until the following day, April 16, 1854 whereupon it broke apart resulting in the deaths of the entire crew and passengers. At the time of the accident, the ship was commanded by Captain James Meyers (or Myers) of Baltimore. [9]. The victims washed onto the beach as far south as Atlantic City, where they were buried in three cemeteries. Fifty-four were interred in a mass grave at Smithville Methodist Church and 45 were buried in Absecon. The majority of the bodies, about 140, washed ashore at Peahala on Long Beach Island. These victims were buried in pauper's graves in the Baptist cemetery in nearby Manahawkin.The cemetery now includes "The Unknown from the Sea" monument erected by the State of New Jersey in 1904 honoring all the victims of the Powhattan shipwreck [10] [11].) The Powhattan disaster served as an impetus for the purchase of the site for the Absecon Light house later in 1854. [12] [13]

Voyages from 1837–1854[edit]

Departure Date Port of Departure Arrival Date Port of Arrival Master Purpose
July 25, 1837 Le Havre, France Sept 4th 1837 Baltimore? Griffith Transport British/Irish Immigrants
Unknown Mobile, Alabama Oct 13, 1837 Baltimore? Griffith Unknown
Unknown Liverpool, England May 2, 1838 Baltimore Griffith Unknown
Unknown Liverpool, England June 21, 1846 Baltimore Haydon Irish/British Immigrants [6]
Unknown Le Havre, France January 1, 1847 New Orleans Stone 207 Passengers [7]
Unknown Le Havre, France July 31, 1847 Unknown Unknown Unknown

[8]

Unknown Liverpool, England Dec 2nd, 1847 Baltimore  ??? Irish Immigrants [9]
Unknown Le Havre, France May, 5th, 1848 New York Unknown German Immigrants [10]

[11]

Unknown Le Havre, France April 2, 1852 New York Unknown French, Swiss [12]

[13]

Unknown Rotterdam, Netherlands Nov. 29th, 1853 New York Myers Dutch/German Immigrants [14][15]

[16]

Sources[edit]

  • Great Storms of the Jersey Shore, by Larry Savadove and Margaret Thomas Buchholz, published by Down the Shore, 1993
  • The New York Times April 21, 1854
  • The Baltimore Sun, April 21, 1854, Friday morning edition
  • The Daily Alta California May 19, 1854 [14]
  • A Heavy Sea Running: The Formation of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, 1846–1878 By Dennis R. Means, Winter 1987, Vol. 19, No. 4 [15]
  • Brigantine Beach, New Jersey website [16]
  • New Jersey Museum of Boating, Inc. Bay Head, New Jersey
  • Maritime Heritage Project www.MaritimeHeritage.org, Post Office Box 2878,Sausalito, California,94966 [17]
  • Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
  • Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, 1884, published Jan 17th 1884, page 82–83 [18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Lure of Long Beach, by George B. Somerville, Page 73, published 1914, The Long Beach Board of Trade [1]
  2. ^ The New Times , April 20th, 1854
  3. ^ The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Letters and Science, Max Kade Institute, New Acquisitions, Fall-Winter 2003, Subject Collection, Karl Althoff, "The Shipwreck of the Powhattan: Tragedy for Emigrants from Budenthal in 1854." The Palatine Immigrant, vol. 28, no. 3, June 2003, pp. 26–29. [2]
  4. ^ NJscuba. net
  5. ^ Shipwrecks off the New Jersey Coast by Walter and Richard Krotee, Middle Atlantic Underwater Council, Underwater Society of America, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1966 edition
  6. ^ Immigrants Ships Transcribers Guild
  7. ^ [3]
  8. ^ The National Archives , Manifest Header Data File, 1834 – ca. 1900, Manifest ID # 46237 [4]
  9. ^ ibid
  10. ^ ibid, Manifest ID # 46820
  11. ^ [5]
  12. ^ ibid, Manifest ID # 6848
  13. ^ [6]
  14. ^ Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
  15. ^ The National Archives, Manifest Header Data File, 1834 – ca. 1900 Manifest ID # 7693 [7]
  16. ^ See biography of passenger on the November 29th, 1853 voyage