Wednesday, February 13, 2013
The Steamer I. T. Rhea Sunk
All Passengers Saved, But the Freight was Lost.
The Steamer Caught in a Cyclone and Driven Against A Bluff.
The I. T. Rhea, one of handsomest steamers in the upper Cumberland River trade, sunk in thirty feet of water Saturday near Brooks Landing, one and one half miles from Gainesboro. The steamer left here for her regular weekly trip to the head of the river Tuesday. There was on board on excursion party composed of Mrs. Dr. Richard Douglas, Dr. and Mrs. O. H. Wilson, Mrs. Thos. Wilson, Miss Mary Lou Harris, Miss Cornelia Marr, Miss Aphra Eve and Mr. Woodward, all of this city. The steamer reached the head of the river without incident, and had started back, when at 11 o'clock Saturday she was caught in a cyclone or more than ordinary force, just as she was rounding the bend at the head of Brooks's Island. The cyclone came with such force as to render the boat unmanageable and notwithstanding the efforts of the officers and crew she was driven with terrific force against a bluff on the north side of the river. One side of the hull was driven in and broken in two places. The danger of the situation was realized at once, and Capt. E. C. Reed, who was in charge, gave orders to throw a line ashore. This was done and members of the crew jumped into the water clambered up the bluff and made the line fast to a tree.
The Captain then ordered his men to form a line from the boat to the shore, and taking his stand on the bulk head he rushed the passengers to that point and made them jump into the water, and the officers and crew in the line passed them along safely to the shore. They were all saved. Several very narrow escapes were made but the details of these were not obtainable today because of the lack of telegraphic or telephone communication with the section where the accident occurred.
The officers and crew work heroically in saving the passengers. The boat, after striking the bluff, began to sink at once, and soon settled in thirty feet of water, leaving only the pilot-house and smokestacks above water.
After the passengers were taken ashore they were cared for by the people living in the vicinity of Brooks Landing, and yesterday they went to Double Springs, where they will take a train and come to Nashville, over the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway, at 3:30 o'clock this afternoon.
The report of the accident, which reached here last night, created considerable excitement as it was impossible to get any definite news, and in fact no personal news has yet been received from any member of the excursion party. The news so far received comes from Carthage.
The steamer was in charge of Capt. Reed, and at the time of the accident Capt. Grubbs was in charge of the pilot-wheel, and John Stacker, first engineer, was on duty in the engine room. The officers stood at their post of duty, and did all in their power to avert the accident, but after it occurred they worked heroically in saving the lives of the passengers.
All the freight, except two hogs and two hogsheads of tobacco, was lost. There was on board, 700 bags of corn, consigned to B. S. Rhea & Sons: a carload of axe handles, four mules and two horses, owed by Dr. Fowler, who was also a passenger; thirty- five head of hogs; forty or fifty sheep and lambs; thirty coops of chickens, turkeys and ducks, and a lot of miscellaneous freight.
The crew and officers, except the Captain, Clerk and Mate, spent last night in Carthage, and left there this morning for Nashville. The Captain, mate and clerk are still at the scene of the accident, engaged in trying to save some of the freight on the sunken vessel.
Capt. T. G. Ryman, owner of the steamer, left here this morning to go to the scene of the accident and arrange to have the steamer raised if possible.
The Rhea was valued at $6,000. Capt. Ryman only a few days ago paid Capt. W. S. Bowman $3,000 for one-half interest in her, and thereby became sole owner. She was 149 feet in length, with thirty feet beam. She was of 300 tons capacity. The Rhea was about five years old. Her Machinery was formerly on the old steamer Sam Jones. There was not a dollar of insurance on the boat.
The Kitty Justice is the reporting of a sinking vessel was told with more detail than now.
BTW, I found this newspaper article in Uncle Albert's boxes and his brother Dr. O. H. Wilson or as we like to refer to him Uncle Owen must have sent it to him as he was living out of state at the time. Cuden Lou of Waveland was on board along with Mimi's Grand mother. Photo was taken from TN State Library and Archives with a notation the the boat sank in 1895.
Now this is what I call a news story.