Monday, May 11, 2015

Pilot Boat Tunnell


Lewes, Delaware September 14, 1889

During the past few days since the Great September East Coast Storm, excitement in Lewes has it's citizens busy doing what needs to be done to assist those that are in need of assistance and many gathering around the Virden House in downtown listening to stories and the news going the rounds.

One of those stories is of the Pilot Boat Tunnel, under the charge of Pilot John M. Barnes, which has been listed as missing. All of the prayers and hopes of the pilots dear ones involved were answered this morning as the sun, which has been shut out so long by the storm clouds rose in all it's glory over the sand dune which is occupied by the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse, here comes the missing Tunnell, full speed under full sail, into the harbor.

The account of the perilous cruise was offered by Pilot Barnes. “ We took the gale in it's full force at 8 in the morning, Tuesday, ten miles off the Capes, and made doubled reefed sails all around. Then the gale winds increased to a hurricane. The main sail was blown from it's ropes as we headed out to sea some twenty miles before the winds. Eventually they got the storm-try sail on her with great difficulty , and hove to, laying easy but working off shore. The gale winds increased until Wednesday about ten in night.

During the height of the gale, the oil bags were brought out on deck and gave some relief to the cross wind and heavy seas. Wednesday night, after the wind veered to north and lulled a little, the double reefed foresail was lofted and we headed for shore. From two hundred and fifty miles off land we made slow headway toward the capes until Thursday morning when more sail was made and we made one hundred and two miles. Thursday evening was when we sighted hog Island and the Tunnell arrived at the Breakwater this morning at three o'clock.

Tuesday during the winds she skipped a heavy sea, upsetting the cook stove and utensils , etc. Pilot Barnes, one of the Tunnell owners, gave credit to the sea going qualities of the boat, and said if it were not for these they would have been lost. As he was also out during the 1888 March blizzard he felt the late storm was more severe.

A young friend of Barnes, Harry Hickman, who was on board, has abandoned his desire to make a voyage across the Atlantic when his school days are over, feeling sure that Lewes Creek will be as far as he cares to navigate.

Source: The Monday, September 16th 1889 issue of Wilkes Barre Record newspaper of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

Saturday, May 9, 2015



Abstract from the Friday, October 16, 1891 Salina Daily Republican, Salina, Kansas.

The name “Murderkill” applied to an important stream in Delaware is explained in proper tradition by a curious story that is told of early settlers. According to the legend the stream took the name from the fact that an early European Explorer, having landed on the bank of the creek, persuaded a dozen natives to drag his ship cannon by a rope tied to the muzzle and then when they were all in line touched off the gun with murderous results. The name. Of course, is merely a corruption of the Dutch Motherkill, meaning another stream, because it is a large creek with many tributaries.

There is elsewhere in Delaware a Broadkill, which has become to be spelled with a final 'n', applied because the English settlers took its last syllable to be the same with the last syllable of limekiln.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Lewes And Rehoboth Life Saving Service Crews Save 194 Lives During The 1889 Great Storm

On October 13, 1889, from Washington, D.C. the General Superintendent of the Life Saving Service, S. J. Kimball, wrote letters to John A. Clampitt, Keeper of Lewes Station, Theodore Salmons, Keeper of Cape Henlopen Station, and Thomas J. Traxton, Keeper of Rehoboth Beach Station,  in which he said:
  The splendid conduct shown by yourselves and the crews under your command during the great storm of September10th to the 27th last,  has been noted by this office.  Upon that occasion , notwithstanding an unusually high tide that flooded the beach so as to embarrass your crews you gave efficient aid o no less that 22 vessels, taking off by boat 39 persons,  and by line apparatus  155, at total of 194 persons, not a life being lost from any vessel that came within the scope of your actions. In this successful work you showed a zeal and discretion and an ingenuity in availing yourselves of the resources at your command worthy of the highest praise.  Undaunated by the perils you encountered you and your crews manfully worked throughout each day and night without food  enduring extreme fatigue. Such service as this does honor to the Life Saving Service and the country.
  It is the desire of the Secretary of the Treasury to recognize as far as is in his power the worth of your achievements and he has accordingly directed that the pay of each of you be increased to the maximum amount allowed by existing law  to officers of your grade, namely $800 per year.
It is a matter of deepest regret that no means existfor recompensing in a similar manner the brave surfmen of your crews on that occasion since, by law, they receive already the maximum salary.
                                                                                    Respectfully yours,
                                                                                   S. J. Kimball, General Superintendent