Clerk Hemingray not injured in wreck of Miami steamer


Publication: Semi-Weekly Wisconsin

Milwaukee, WI, United States
vol. 4, no. 11, p. 3, col. 3




MEMPHIS, Jan. 30. The steamer Miami, which left this port on Saturday night, heavily loaded with freight and crowded with passengers, in addition to ninety-one soldiers of Co. B, 3d United States regulars on the hurricane roof, exploded on Sunday-night.

The accident occurred seven miles above Napoleon, on the Arkansas river, at 7 o'clock in the evening, just as the passengers had taken supper. Consequently both passengers and officers had assembled in conversation around the stovesin the hall. The explosion was of such terrible force as to rend the cabin floor asunder, and let every living soul in the front part of the cabin down into the dreadful mass of fire and steam below.

The boat took fire immediately. The passengers were frantic with fear. They snatched doors, life-preservers, and every thing light enough to float, and plunged, with deafening, unearthly and piteous screams of woe, into the river, in their attempt to escape the devouring flames as they rapidly destroyed the boat. Captain Levi immortalized himself by his daring and heroic deeds, coolly walking about trying to keep the people from jumping overboard, as the boat was fast drifting toward the north shore, where it touched a few moments after the disaster.

But now, to those in the back part of the cabin, it was as bad as being in the middle of the river, as the boat was a vast flae in the middle, and all in the back part were compelled to perish in the flames or bury themselves in the raging flood below. Mr. John Lusk second clerk of the boat, along with Charles J. Johnson, his assistant, who were sitting in the hall, were either killed by the explosion, or burned or scalded to death. .

Mr. Lusk's wife and child, his sister-in-law and a German lady just from her native land, were in the ladies' cabin. The former three were lost and the latter saved. Over thirty of the soldiers were lost. Two had been tied up for disorderly conduct, and in the agonizing excitement of the trying ordeal, they were forgotten, and there left to burn to death. Two men were seen to blow out their brains with revolvers.

After Capt. Crawford and his noble crew had rendered all the assistance possible, he continued his journey to St. Louis, arriving at this port this morning at three o'clock. The total loss is calculated at from 125 to 150 souls. She had about 50 cabin passengers besides the soldiers and the boat's crew, summing the whole number up to 250 souls. Gen. Ashley's band, of Little Rock, was on board, three of whom were lost.

I have, as yet, been unable to get the names of the lost. Pilots Leary and Wheery, the head engineer, the first mate and Sol. Franklin are safe. Clerk Hemingray luckily remained behind. The boat was not insured in this city. The cargo was insured as follows: Phoenix and Manhattan, $6,000; New York Home, $3,000; Aetna, $4,000. The boat is valued at $35,000.


Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:October 2, 2011 by: Bob Stahr;