Did he really fall? – After the scout
Did he really fall?
Published at 12:30pm Sunday 17 September 2023
Dear Lord, have mercy on me, the ocean is very large and so is my ship small. – Quote from Sailor’s Prayer.
It seems that men who do high-risk work tend to be superstitious. Race car drivers have lucky charms, baseball players have lucky socks, and men who walk the beams of tall buildings have their share of rabbit feet. Steamboat men of days gone by also had their share of superstitions because it seemed that death was always stalking steamboats.
The story of the steamship Three States, which was built from the remains of another steamship, the Janey Ray, seems to have inherited the tendency to be a ship of bad luck or as if it were a ship of bad luck. The crew called it a “rotten ship” from her. So, today, we’re going to delve into the supernatural and see if you think these steamboats were haunted. We might need an adult beverage for this scary story.
Many sailors were very superstitious. It just goes with the job. Going into the sea was, and still is, one of the most dangerous actions a person can do. There are many circumstances in which a person can lose his life. I imagine the sailors wanted to get some sort of advantage in what would have been bad luck. However, not only can the sailor see the time of bad luck, but so can the ship. Then it is mostly believed that she is haunted by demons. Such were the rumors regarding the steamships: “Janey Ray” and “Three States.”
First, let’s examine the fate of Janie Ray. Her problems began when she replaced two ships that went down within two days of each other, one of them with casualties. This streak of bad luck began in 1897, which proved to be a costly year for the Independent Ship Line. The ships “City of Columbus” and “JFC Griggs” saw their demise when they sank when they struck an obstacle.
The City of Columbus was lost around midnight on March 30y. It was headed from Apalachicola, Florida, on the Chattahoochee River, to deliver mail. The ship was about two miles above Gordon, Alabama, when it encountered a malfunction and fell rapidly. Fortunately, no lives were lost in this sinking.
Two days later, JFC Grigg’s sank at Barnetts Landing at 9:30 p.m. In addition to the loss of the ship in the accident, three crew members died. Eugene Westbury, chief engineer, and two deckhands, were killed when this vessel struck a log that was embedded in the river bed. With the ship moving at full speed when it hit this obstacle, the impact caused the log to be propelled straight through the hull and it ended up stuck on the upper deck.
Engineer Westbury was last seen in water up to his waist, furiously saving the sinking ship. His wife was one of the passengers on the plane and was rescued along with a large number of other passengers. Two deckhands were helping others off the boat when they, too, disappeared into the muddy water.
After JFC Grigg’s shipwreck, Captains William Gaines and Walter Pryor worked at the scene to remove machinery. Later, they returned at low water and attempted to reclaim the structure.
To fill this major gap in the independent line’s service, a replacement ship, the “Janey Ray”, was purchased. Built in Jefferson, Indiana. This ship was a sternwheeler weighing 118 tons. It measured 110 feet long and 25.9 feet wide and needed a water depth of 3 feet to float. It also contains 12 passenger cabins.
As part of her duties, the Janie Ray would carry mail, like the two ships she was replacing. She was also no stranger to Bainbridge, where we were one of her regular stops.
The Janie Ray started out like an ordinary steamboat but somehow her aura changed and she had a rather short but violent career, which included the possibility of carrying a murderer on board.
This event began when Thomas Broadway, a recorder in Calhoun County, Florida, took a voyage on the “Janey Ray.” He was a deckhand, traveling up the Apalachicola River in search of work. His first scheduled stop was Blountstown, Florida. As the steamboat approached this landing, the hand of the deck roused Broadway. The man said he saw Broadway get up and start walking across the deck. And then, when he looked away and looked back, it seemed like Broadway had just disappeared. No one knew what happened. It was generally believed that Broadway either walked, fell, or was pushed into the sea.
When the captain was informed of this disappearance, the steamer stopped at the bank and halted. The crewmen then searched the river for the lumberjack. Every effort was made to find him, but to no avail.
Then two days later, on May 26thyThe ship “Janie Ray” sank at her dock at Blountstown Bend. Apparently, I hit an obstacle but no one noticed. Now, everyone believed that the obstacle was the body of the recorder, who had lost his life only about 48 hours earlier.
With their best boat gone; The Independent Line hired a crew from Apalachicola to recover what they could from the “Janey Ray.” The water level had dropped and she was now resting in 5 feet of chocolate colored liquid. However, to access the valuable machinery, they had to burn its cabins and upper decks. The men on the boat felt that this was a good thing because the fire would cleanse the boat of the demon that was chasing it.
A few days later, the steamship Naiad was making her way down the Apalachicola River when the crew found Broadway’s body floating in front of her. Then they worked to recover his body. Thomas Broadway was then buried along the banks of the river, as was the usual method of internment at the time. Many other people who lost their lives were similarly buried. It makes you wonder how many people have made their final resting places on the banks of our rivers.
By mid-June, the independent line had replaced the “Janey Ray” with a new lightweight steamboat called the “Three States.” This new boat received the transplanted organs: boiler, boiler tubes and engine from the “Janey Ray”.
The “Tri-State” was built in Apalachicola in 1899. It was so named because it would serve Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, and it is from these states that most of its cargo and passengers would come. It was a moderate draft boat of 124 pounds, 140 feet long and 26 feet wide, which was quite wide for the Flint River. However, she had a barge-shaped bottom that took only 15 inches of water. This was the only boat of the time built with such a shallow draft. It also features ample cargo space and plenty of comfortable room for passengers. However, she also had used machines from Janie Ray. Was this why she was the scene of murders, drowned several times and burned, which she did at her dock in Columbus?
On the first “tri-state” trip, after only five days, the problems began. Captain Long found many gambling hands on the deck. When he ordered them to stop, they refused. He then threatened to postpone them as a lesson to others who thought they did not have to listen to the captain’s orders.
The discipline in front of other crew members angered the gamblers. That’s when Captain Long ordered the boat to move and return to Columbus. While the Three States were spinning, two of the five gamblers jumped. Officers chased them and arrested the two. These guys, with the other three. They were then chained in the ship’s hold.
When the Tri-States docked again at Columbus, orders were issued to gamble and rebel against the five men. They were sentenced to one year in prison by a chain gang. At this point in time, most men could not survive a year under chain gang conditions.
Just six weeks later, the Three States ran aground on a sandbar. This damaged her steering wheel. Captain Long felt that the steamboat was unable to continue, so he left the boat and took the train back to Columbus, 52 miles away. It’s a big “no, no” for a captain to leave his ship.
While he was gone, the crew made temporary repairs and continued down the river without him. Better repairs were made as the ship proceeded and the “Tri-States” reached Apalachicola without any further problems.
Unfortunately, the streak of bad luck that began the Tri-State’s journey is far from over. In early 1900, she broke her shaft when trying to steam too quickly up the Chattahoochee River and was dry docked in Columbus for repairs. With its usual unpredictability, the Chattahoochee River rose several feet, causing the Three States to float high above its dock. When the river receded, it left behind two feet of mud on the dock and into the Tri-States. After all this was completed, the Three States returned to work on the rivers.
One would think that the Three States had run out of bad luck by now and would catch a break. However, the matter appears to have only intensified in 1901. On a voyage upriver from Apalachicola, again a deckhand, Crum Grant, fell, jumped, or was thrown overboard in the same unknown manner as had happened on board “Janie Ray.” “, and in the same place.
Remember, the Three States were backed by instruments from Janie Ray. Could there be some mysterious revenge at work here? The circumstances surrounding these events were very similar. It was as if Grant might have been pushed into the sea to his death. If so, was it pushed by Broadway?
Grant’s body was not found until the “Tri-States” was on its return trip down the Apalachicola River. Once again the body was buried on the banks of the river.
Later that year, 2Second abbreviation Engineer J. Wells died while in the “Tri-States” during a trip down the Chattahoochee River. He had contracted dysentery, and when the doctor arrived, it was too late and nothing could be done to help him.
As if all these events were not enough, in December of 1901, the Three States was partially destroyed by a mysterious early morning fire. The alarm went off and the fire department came. They focused their efforts on saving her body. They did this by cutting a hole in its hull so that it could sink to the bottom of the river. This strategy worked.
Most people believed that the Three States were damaged beyond repair. Now the machines have burned down twice. However, the structure was salvageable and was sold to the highest bidder. Once again, the “Three States” was revived and went to work, this time on the Suwannee River. However, after only a few months, she returned to Columbus, and was in need of repair again. Seemingly to prove the point, she slowly sank to her berth and was revived again.
Apparently not so superstitious, in 1902, the newly formed Bainbridge Shipping Company bought her and added her to their fleet, the first boat they purchased. Another company wanted the machinery from the steamer but they would not come to claim it, so everything was sold to Bainbridge. Her hull has been repaired and elegantly outfitted. It now seats 75 passengers in comfort. Its cabins are equipped with luxurious furniture as well as carpets. Even hot and cold baths can be arranged.
The “Three States” were now assigned to Captain T. B. Whiteside, one of the best commanders of the time. Captain Whiteside’s wife even served as lookout on board. This was only one of the very few women who worked in this all-male world of the steamboat. However, Captain Whiteside was unable to sail the “Tri-States” for long. Tragically, he died of pneumonia. And again death. The steamboat has now been sold, this time to the Georgia-Florida Navigation Company.
Here the history of the “Three States” drifts into the past. She continued to serve on rivers because there is a record of her sinking on a sandbar when she put a hole in her hull. It was repaired and became a replacement steamer when one boat was being repaired on the Georgia-Florida Navigation Company line. It continued service until 1920, when it was abandoned somewhere on the Apalachicola River. This may have been the place where the two men who “fell into the sea” and drowned were buried.