Sunday, May 15, 2011


The February 24, 1911 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer in the Sussex County Snapshots section states “ after an unsuccessful attempt to raise the sunken wreck of the steamer Marie Thomas, at Milton, the wreckers have postponed and other attempts until better weather. The machinery has all been removed by divers and nothing but the hull remains”.

The 1911 Annual Report of U. S. Army Chief of Engineers, under the date of November 9, 1911, mentioned that “ the wreck of the steamer Marie Thomas, lying sunk in Broadkill River, Delaware, was found to be a wooden vessel, 96 feet long, 24 foot beam, 6-1/2 feet depth of hold and of 187 gross tonnage , lying opposite side of channel from wharves of Milton. Additional to the $25 allotted for 'examination' , $500 had been allotted for removal , was advertised and a contract made with Richards Dredging Company of Philadelphia”. Their winning bid was $295.00. The 1912 Annual Report of U.S. Army Chief of Engineers list “work began February 19 and completed February 29, 1912, that the wreck was broken up and parts placed ashore above high water line”. The total cost was $496.12 which included supervision, tariff, etc.

1906 was the official building date of the Marie Thomas, being built at Milton by Master Carpenter James P. Davidson on an order of Captain George Edward MeGee who was a retired Coastal Trade Schooner Master. MeGee had her built to ship products of his timber business from Milton to Philadelphia. The Marie Thomas was the first documented ship built at Milton to have auxiliary mechanical power, in the form of a 60 HP 'diesel' engine.

Captain MeGee was registered as sole owner and master was Andrew J. Davidson, with home port being Milton. Captain MeGee later sold shares and one of the owners, W. H. Thomas , whose wife the ship was named after. 1908 the Thomas was converted to a 'steamer' , and had two of her three mast removed and a 'freight house' was built on deck to carry packaged cargo.

Some time before the night of December 3, 1910 the Thomas arrived at her Milton wharf and during that night the town fire bell was sounded, the Marie Thomas was on fire. In spite of the efforts of fire fighters, she burned to the water edge and drifted to the channel and settled.

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