This is a list of those killed on
the steamboat Mittie Stephens which burned on Thursday
night, two miles below Swanson's landing reportedby the
Home Advocate, (Jefferson)Saturday. Feb. 13, 1869
Riemer, Geo. - 1st Clerk on boat
Wier, Charles - 1st Engineer on boat
Mulligan, Thos - 2nd Engineer on boat
McGill, M. - Striker on boat
Fisher, Peter - Colored fireman on boat
Gardner, Jas. - Colored fireman on boat
Bateese, John - Colored fireman on boat
Jackson, Mrs. and 3 children - Passenger on boat
Broadwell, W. A. - Of New Orleans, Passenger on boat
Lady, unknown - From Grand Ecore - Passenger on boat
Christian J. C. Mr. - Passenger on boat
Boynkin, Mr. - Passenger on boat
Ash, Philip. - Passenger on boat
Lyon, Amelia and son Frank - Passengers on boat
New, Mrs. - Passenger on boat
Johnson, James - Deck passenger on boat
Bradford, Nancy and child - Deck passenger on boat
Morris, Wm. - Deck passenger on boat
Morris, Amanda - Deck passenger on boat
Williams, Martha - Deck passenger on boat
Ashley, Henry - Deck passenger on boat
Ashley, Sidney - Deck passenger on boat
Phillips, Robert - Deck passenger on boat
Phillips, Jno. A. - Deck passenger on boat
Phillips, James - Deck passenger on boat
Phillips, Martha A. - Deck passenger on boat
Phillips, Alexander - Deck passenger on boat
Murphy, Wm. - Deck man on boat
Ganes, Joseph - Deck man on boat
Gallighan, Andrew - Deck man on boat
Ryan, Thos. - Deck man on boat
Riley, Pat - Deck man on boat
Buchanan, Wm. - Deck man on boat
Buchanan, Nat - Deck man on boat
Hill, Jim - Deck man on boat
Hicks, Henry - Deck man on boat
Eugene, Peter - Deck man on boat
Six no known - Deck men on boat
Baptist, Varissa - Cabin hand, pantry man, on boat
Washington, Napoleon - Texas tender hand on boat
Redford, Chas. - Cabin boy on boat
Smith, John - Cabin boy on boat
Williams, Dennis - Cabin boy on boat
Franklin, Robert - 2nd porter on boat
Hughes, G.W. - 1st cook on boat
Crane, Chas. - Baker on boat
Collins, Ann - Chambermaid on boat
Those of the crew that were saved:
Kellogg, H. - Captain
Hertheron, T. H. - Clerk
Klein, Geo. - Clerk
John, Poland - Mate
Sutherland, Peter - Pilot
Swain, Wm. - Pilot
Lodwick, Joe - Steerman
West, Joe - Steerman
Covert, B. H. - Steward
Guyan, W. R. - Barkeeper
Wilcox, Samuel - Striker
Underwood, Sam - Watchman
Hill, Phil - Carpenter
Wilson, John - Porter
Chaplin, Ed - Barber
Hughes, Geo. Wm.
And thirteen others.
Passengers that were saved.
Bjirke (sic), Ole
Johnson, S. J.
Seuzeman, J. B.
Cobb, W. F.
Peterson, G. W.
Cagle, George L.
Williams, G. A.
poem was published originally in the February 24, 1869
edition of The South-Western (Shreveport)
Julia Pleasants Creswell, so touched by the tragedy of
the Mittie Stephens, wrote the following untitled poem;
gaily glided that fatal craft
As she steamed from our busy wharf,
With her blue smoke wreaths curling fair abaft
Like the flow of a maiden's scarf.
dense crowd packed in the proud salon
Wheeling off from our busy mart--
While her booming engines beat like a turn
And throb of a human heart.
watched her speed up the swelling bend,
Whence the royal Red flows down,
Till the gas lamps flashed and seemed to lend
Partial day to a smiling town.
steamer held on her lonely way
To the heart of a drear lagoon.
Where the midnight hung with its purple sway,
But not with a friendly moon.
demon dark burst the doors of hell
Whence the sweeping flames shot forth,
And the lurid glare of horror fell
On the lake and slumbering earth.
young and the gay, and old and grave
Went down to a common death--
Went down in the red lake's chilly wave,
Swept by the flame's fierce breath!
angel face of the fairest flower
That bloomed on our river side,
There is busting grief in the bridal bower
And tears that may not be dried.
from cot and from hall
Along our winding shore
We wait in vain for the glad footfall
For feet that come no more.
to me till my dying day
On my shuddering dreams will break
A blazing craft as she ploughed her way
Like a fiend through a lurid lake.
OF THE STEAMBOAT MITTIE STEPHENS
newspaper excerpts covering the disaster which was the
burning of the steamboat Mittie Stephens, on her way to
Jefferson, Texas, on the night of February 11th, 1869,
just after midnight.
Telegraph to J.W. Burbridge & Co.]
Feb. 12.--Steamer Mittie Stevens burnt in Lake
Caddo last night; 61 lives lost.
Mrs. T.L. Lyons and child lost.
(New Orleans, Louisiana)
13 February 1869
ANOTHER TERRIBLE DISASTER.
Burning of the Steamer Mittie Stephens.
Sixty-three Lives Lost.
The Survivors at Jefferson, Texas
Our telegraphic columns
this morning contain the particulars in brief of another
terrible steamboat disaster-- the burning of the Red
River packet Mittie Stephens, Capt. H. Kellogg,
in Caddo Lake, at midnight, night before last.Sixty-three
lives are reported to have been lost, among them Mr. W.A.
Broadwell and Mrs. S.L. Lyon and son, of New Orleans.The
survivors, forty-three in number, reached Jefferson,
Texas, yesterday, and we may today be enabled to lay
before our readers fuller particulars respecting the
disaster. The Mittie Stephens, though not a very
new boat, was a favorite in the Red River trade. She left
our city for Jefferson and Shreveport on her last trip
the evening of Friday, the 5th
inst. Her agents were Messrs W.M. Surls, No. 2
Tehoupitoulas street and H.R. Eppler, No. 4 Tehoupitoulas
We copy as
follows from the Shreveport Southwestern of the 16th:
indebted to Mr. J. Lodwick, one of the steersmen, for the
following particulars of this unparalleled catastrophe:The
Mittie Stephens, Captain Kellogg, George Remer,
clerk, left this port for Jefferson on Thursday, the 11th,
at 4 o'clock p.m., with over one hundred souls on board.
Nothing worthy of notice happened unitl 12 o'clock at
night, the time for changing watchmen, about two and a
half miles below Swanson's Landing in Caddo Lake, when Mr.
Lodwick remarked to Mr. Swain, the pilot on watch, that
he smelt something burning, and at the same time noticed
smoke rising from the hay forward on the larboard side.
The alarm was at once given, the boat headed for shore,
and all hands put to work to extinguish the flames, but
without effect. In less than five minutes the bow of the
boat was run ashore near Jeter's place, at which time the
forward part of the boat was completely in flames,
cutting off all egress in that direction. The passengers
then rushed in the stern of the boat, driven by the
flames and with the hope of making their escape in that
direction. The stern of the boat was at least 160 feet
from the shore, in ten feet water. The yawl was swamped
at once by being overloaded, and the occupants met a
watery grave. Here the scene beggars description. Nearly
one hundred frantic, terror-stricken people-- men, women
and children-- were collected on the afterguard, with the
flames hissing and crackling behind them and a watery
grave before them. Every movable thing was thrown
overboard, and many men jumped overboard and found watery
graves fighting for something to float on. Here fathers
could be seen hunting for their wives and children, wives
for their husbands, and children for their parents, amid
the shrieks and cries of the excited crowd. As the flames
approached, all of the men jumped overboard, some to find
a watery grave, and others to save themselves by swimming;
but not a lady could be induced to take the cold water,
and they perished in the flames. In less than half an
hour from the discovering of the fire the vessel was a
total wreck and over sixty persons had perished.
The steamer Dixie, Capt. Thornton Jacobs, came
alongside and rendered valuable assistance with her skiff
in picking up persons floating in the water. Messrs.
Swain and Lodwich staid at the wheel until driven away by
the flames, and were the last persons to leave the
hurricane roof, at which time the cabin was entirely
deserted. They both jumped overboard from the stern and
swam ashore. In fact all who were saved did the same
thing. As soon as the fire was discovered a large amount
of powder was thrown overboard, as well as what else
could be got at, but the fire made such headway that
every effort proved fruitless. Cap. Kellogg and his
officers behaved with great coolness, and made every
effort in their power to save the passengers.
The last seen of Mr. George Remer, the first clerk, was
as he jumped overboard. He was one of the oldest clerks
on the river, but not the regular clerk of the boat. Mr.
C.F. Hayes, who occupied that position, was taken sick
just before the boat left New Orleans, and stopped off.
Mr. J.C. Christian was one of the oldest and most
respected citizens of this parish. He got on board the Stephens
at Mooringsport, where he had been waiting two days, and
in less than an hour met a watery grave in sight of the
port from which he embarked. Of the other persons lost we
had no personal acquaintance, but how the eye dims and
the cheek blanches as we glance over the long list. Here
we find father, mother and three children in one place,
four of the same name in another, two in another, etc.,
all of whom found their last resting place at the mid
hour of night, by the light of the burning wreck. Great
God, how inscrutable are thy ways! From what we can learn
the safe contained at least $100,000 in gold, which, we
presume, can be recovered.
The last seen of Col. Broadwell was as he jumped
overboard at the stern of the boat. He was, no doubt,
drowned. The circumstances attending the loss of Mrs.
Lyon and her son Frank are truly heartrending. They were
the last in the cabin to awake, and then, not until the
flames had reached them. They rushed to the aft end of
the cabin, where Mr. Lyon used every effort to get his
wife and child to step over the railing and jump into the
river, a distance of eighteen or twenty feet. The sight
was too much for her, and blinded and suffocated by the
smoke, she swooned away with her child clinging to her.
Mr Lyon staid with them until the flames scorched him and
compelled him to leap overboard, after all chance of
saving his wife and child had gone. He was picked up by
the Dixie's skiff in an insensible state.
The steamer Dixie, Capt. Thornton Jacobs which
arrived here yesterday, brought the charred remains of
Mrs. Lyon and son. They were found on the lower deck of
the wreck, immediately below the place where they were
last seen. The Dixie, on her down trip, lay by
the wreck all day Sunday, and her officers succeeded in
recovering the remains of fourteen persons. Too much
praise cannot be awarded Capt. Jacobs for his invaluable
services in rescuing the passengers. At the time he first
discovered the flames he was six miles off, with fires
out and laid up for the night. He at once dispatched his
skiff to the scene, and followed with the Dixie
as soon as he could raise steam.
A large force is still at the wreck, looking after the
bodies of the lost, but up to last accounts nothing had
been seen of the body of Col. Broadwell. Not a single
lady passnger in the cabin was saved, they one and all
refusing to take to the water, the only avenue of escape
Southwestern of the 19th says:
The iron safe belonging to the Mittie Stephens has been
recovered, brought to this city and turned over to the
agents of the insurance companies. It is supposed to
contain a large amount of money. Up to yesterday morning
thirty-eight bodies had been recovered and buried.
Nothing as yet has been seen of the remains of Col.
Orleans Crescent (New Orleans, Louisiana)
23 February 1869
The Burning of the Mittie Stephens.
FURTHER ACCOUNT OF THE DISASTER.
(From the Jefferson (Texas) Jimplecute
Our citizens have not yet recovered from the shock of one
of the most appalling occurences that has ever happened
to steamboating west of the Mississippi. The fine
sidewheel passenger steamer Mittie Stephens,
Homer Kellogg, master, left New Orleans for this port on
the evening of the -- instant. She proceeded on her way,
with every prospect of a speedy and safe voyage,until the
hand of fate fell upon her and the unfortunate crew and
passengers. We hereto append the statements, in substance,
of a passenger and the watchman of the boat as sworn to
before a notary. It is proper to state that all the
affidavits made by passengers and officers coincide, and
do not materially differ:
Statement of A. Pace, Passenger.--Mr. Pace
states that he was a passneger on the Mittie Stephens,
from New Orleans to Jefferson, Texas. That during the
whole voyage to the time and place of the burning of the
boat, he was careful to observe the constant diligence,
watchfulness and attention of all the officers and crew.
At 12 o'clock on the night of the 11th inst. he was
aroused from sleep by the smell of fire, and the ringing
of the alarm bell. He immediately proceeded to the stern
of the boat, at which tme the passengers were given the
alarm by the crew. That the pilots remained at the wheel
until the fire drove them away. The officers and crew did
all that could be done to save the lives of the
passengers. The fire broke out in the hay on board, and
the bow of the vessel was in flames in from one to three
minutes after the fire was discovered. The hay was kept
covered by a tarpaulin during the trip, and the officers
and crew used every precaution to prevent the hay from
being exposed to the fire. He was sick during the voyage,
and was frequently up in the night and found the captain
up at all times. Messrs. Seuzaman, Bjirke and S.J.
Johnson, the latter of whom had from seven to eight
thousand dollars worth of goods aboard, concur in Mr.
Pace's testimony as regards the unremiting vigilance and
caution on the part of Captain Kellogg and his men.
Statement of Samuel Underwood, Watchman.-- Mr.
Underwood was watchman of the steamer Mittie Stephens,
and on watch at the time of the disaster. At about 12 o'clock
on the night of the 11th inst., was on the staging on the
bow of the boat, and discovered a bale of hay on fire,
about thirty feet from the torchlight and some distance
from the furnace. All the hay on board was covered by
tarpaulins. He instantly gaze the alarm of fire. The
deckhands present threw buckets of water on the fire, but
failed to quench it. The mate then ordered the hay to be
thrown overboard, when the flames covered the balance of
the hay, and prevented the orders of the mate from being
carried out. The engineer turned the hose upon the fire,
which failed to extinguish it. The crew, with the mate
and witness, worked at the hose until the flames drove
them off. They then went to the assistance of the
passengers, and helped them to escape. As soon as it was
known that the boat would be consumed, the mate ordered
the crew to throw overboard the powder that was in the
hold of the vessel. Witness and the mate assisted the
passengers until they were driven off by the flames. It
was not exceeding ten minutes from the discovery of the
fire until the boat was enveloped in flames. The officers
and crew did all that could be done to save the
passengers and boat. All the officers, so far as witness
could or did know, were at their post and on duty.
We do not deem it necessary to rehearse any more of the
statements, as they eliminate no new facts pertinent to
the issue, which is that the burning was purely
accidental, and that human prudence or foresight could
not have averted the calamity.
In our issue of Friday we gave a summary of the affair,
and a list of those known to be lost and saved.
The accounts of the eye witnesses represent the spectacle
as most appalling. The ill-fated steamer was quietly
gliding through the turbid waters of the lake, which at
that point was about five miles wide and nearly fifty
miles from Jefferson. It was a calm, beautiful, starry
night, and naught disturbed its serene stillness save the
musical surging of the waves at the prow and the
monotonous and labored vibration of the machinery. All on
board, except the watches were wrapped in profound
slumber. The hour of midnight had just chimed by the
clock, when the pilot discovered signs of fire on the
larboard side of the forecastle, where it seems two
hundred and seventy-four bales of hay had been stowed.
Four quick, successive taps of the bell gave the alarm to
the crew. That alarm was the knell that summoned sixty-one
souls to meet their Maker. Exertions almost superhuman
were made by the men, but all to no purpose. The fire-king
had begun his reign. Already he was "painting hell
on the sky." The maddened flames were holding their
high carnival on the doomed decks of the gallant boat,
and no earthly power could avert the impending woes that
must soon overwhelm her human freight.
Then ensued a scene of dismay, of terror and of death,
which the pen of man cannot adequately depict, nor the
mind of man fully conceive. The brave captain,
comprehending his duty at this crisis, as by intuition,
cried to the pilot, "head her from the wind! Open up!"
To the clerk, the unfortunate Riemer, he gave orders to
rouse and save the passengers. Riemer went below to die
at his post. It now was certain destruction to remain any
longer on the roof, and the captain bid the pilots save
themselves which they did by escaping from the stern of
the vessel. Capt. Kellogg made a leap for life through
the flames, being slightly burned as he went, and fell
into the lake a distance of thirty feet. He had however,
inhaled so much hot air that he became insensible;
luckily the water was shallow, and he was ovserved by a
passenger and the barkeeper, who soon recuscitated him.
All united in their praise of the captain's presence of
mind, purdence and gallant efforts to save the boat and
passengers. It would seem invidious to particularize
where all did so well; but the thanks of the passengers
are directly due to the meritorious services rendered by
Mr. Hetherton, the bill clerk, in providing life
preservers for them. He was the last to leave the wreck.
Binding on a preserver, he dropped into the cold waters
of the lake. He floated about awhile, and becoming
insensible was picked up or rather towed ashore by the Dixie's
The Dixie lay in Jim's bayou, about five miles
distant, tied to a tree, with steam down. Capt. Jacobs,
the master, was informed by the watchman that he believed
there was a boat on fire. He thereupon dispatched his
mate and a deck hand to the place of the disaster. Capt.
Swayne, the pilot of the Mittie Stephens, was
the first one of the survivors whom they saw; he was
enconsced in a tree to which he had swam. He directed him
to the body of Mr. Hetherton, and afterward to that of T.L.
Lyons, of the house of J.W. Burbridge, N.O. They then
relieved some persons clinging to the rudder of the wreck.
Capt. Swayne in the meantime refusing to be relieved
until the yawl had done all the service possible. They
picked up the corpse of an unknown woman, who came aboard
the Stephens at Grand Ecore.
The vessel was but a few minutes consuming, owing to the
combustible material of the freight. That short time
seemed like an eternity to some. The distressing screams
and groans of the sufferers ascended to heaven mingling
with the din of disaster, and the prayers of the dying
husband and wife, child and mother, friend and foe were
cradled in the billows of the lake, which soon rocked
them to sleep. Like the boat on which they but a few
minutes before so peacefully slumbered; they passed away
as it were "a tale that is told."
Mr. Bjirke, a surviving passenger, having been informed
by the officers of the steamer that two thieves had come
on board at Shreveport, was keeping watch for them in the
cabin when the fire broke out. The thieves were both lost.
One of the most signal acts heroism that has ever come to
our lot to record, was performed by Phil. Hill the
carpenter, and a deck hand, by the name Jacob Stein.
Twenty kegs of powder had been deposited in the magazine
in the hold. With the presence of mind and a daring that
have few parallels in the annals of steamboating, they,
in the face of a horrible death, carried the powder up,
and threw it overboard. A moment lost, and there would
have been no one to tell the awful story. Gallant fellows!
Peace hath her heroes, no less renowned than war.
In conclusion we have this to say. With a charasteristic
generosity our citizens did everything that could be done
to alleviate the sufferings and amellorate the conditions
of the survivors; but, as public jounalists, it becomes
our painful though imperative duty to animadvert upon the
conduct of the captain of the Caroline. When the
crew of the Stephens presented themselves to him,
and asked for a passage to New Orleans, he gruffly
replied that he worked for money and could not take them.
He afterwards, however, sent them an invitation.
Destitute as the poor men were, they were still smarting
under the insult, and wouuld not accept the same. Captain
Jacobs, of the Dixie, kindly tendered them the
use of his boat, and they are now on their way to the