A Brave Woman on the Ship

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Fearful Sufferings of Sailors In a Storm
Helped Man the Pumps and Steered to Give the Helmsman Relief — She and the Captain Kept Up the Hopes of the Despairing Seamen.

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 14. — A most thrilling tale of sailors’ hardships from shipwreck and starvation is told by Captain Joseph J. James of the Philadelphia schooner Kate E. Rich, whose vessel foundered near Fire Island. After six days’ drifting around at the mercy of wind and sea, shorn of all sails, decks burst open, topmasts gone and lower masts sprung, Captain James and his crew and one passenger, Mrs. Maggie Crossman, were rescued by the New York pilot boat E.F. Williams and landed at Staten island, whence Captain James took passage for this city. Captain James says that words fail him in attempting to describe their experiences. They were all battered and bruised and their limbs were swollen to twice their normal size through exposure to the salt water, which constantly swept over the vessel fore and aft.

Mrs. Crossman, the mate’s wife, worked with the sailors, helping to man the pumps and even steered while the helmsman got relief. Terrific snowstorms, rain and hail added to the horrors and the sailors became so completely exhausted from the battle with the elements that they prayed that death might come as a relief. Their every hope had vanished. All this time but one vessel was seen. She was a large steamship, apparently one of the National line. She came almost within hailing distance, but paid no attention to the distress signals and held her course. With her disappearance faded out the last ray of hope of the unfortunates, but through the courage of Captain James and Mrs. Crossman they were persuaded not to abandon their efforts.

Captain James, when he arrived in this city, was a pitiable sight. He is badly crippled and his face and hands are severely frost bitten. For nearly 20 years he has followed the sea and this is the second experience of shipwreck through which he has gone.

The Indiana Democrat (Indiana, Pennsylvania) Nov 15, 1894

Image from Terry Elkins Posters and Original Artwork



7b the Governor and Legislature of the State of New York:

The Board of Commissioners of Pilots respectfully report that daring the year just ended they have continued to administer the pilotage laws of this port, as also the several laws for the preservation of the harbor of New York.

The pilotage service is in excellent condition, both as to the pilots themselves and the boats needed to prosecute the business.

There are 22 boats (schooners) in service, two new ones, the “Herman Oelrichs,” No. 1 and “Joseph Pulitzer,” No. 20, having been admitted during the year…

…On the 10th of November, pilot boat No. 14 fell in with the schooner “Kate E. Rich” off Fire Island. The crew were worn out with their exertions to keep her afloat, and she was then in a sinking condition.

Although the risk was great, the pilots succeeded in rescuing all hands, and the schooner goon after went down. Suitable recognition of this praiseworthy act was made by the Board.


Title: Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, Volume 12
Author: New York (State). Legislature. Assembly
Published: 1895
Page 5

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