New Madrid, MO Steamer COL. CRESSMAN Burns, Feb 1858


The St. Louis Republican, of Monday, has the particulars of the loss of the COL. CRESSMAN, the prominent points of which we have had by telegraph. We condense the Republican's account. At the time of the disaster, the COL. C. was making her first trip from New Orleans to St. Louis, having, during her previous services, been in the Missouri River trade. She left New Orleans on the 26th January, and on the evening of the 4th February, passed New Madrid. At 7 1/2 o'clock, a mile and a half above that place, she burst her small or "nigger" boiler. The Republican says:
The violence of the explosion was such as to carry away the forepart of the cabin, instantly killing ALEXANDER MARTIN, of this city, who was officiating as bar-keeper, severely wounding EPHRAIM L. CHEEVER, of the firm of WARNE, CHEEVER & Co., Captain CONVERSE, of this city, KIRK MENSE, of Louisiana, and injuring some others.
The boat at once caught fire. The Captain ordered out the yawl, but the deck hands and firemen took possession of and filled it, and would not get out. The other boat was ordered out, and into this the officers crowded as many passengers as possible, and they made their way safely to New Madrid. The officers of the steamer, and such of the passengers as had not got into the boat, jumped into the river. Some made their way to the shore without aid, and others were saved by a skiff put out by other persons who saw the disaster. The boat floated, burning, three miles and a half, when she lodged on a bar and burnt down to the water.
The Republican says:
"Capt. CHEEVER, was at his post until all had left the boat. Then, and then only, did he cast himself into the river, and seek safety by buffeting with the current. He was picked up by another skiff, so far exhausted ihat in a few minutes life would have become extinct. Carried to New Madrid, efforts were successfully made for his resuscitation."
Some of the unfortunate passengers were in the water, the temperature being fifteen degrees below freezing point, for fully half an hour. They last all they had on board, not having time to save the smallest remnant of their possessions.
The explosion took place while the boat was under way -- the nigger boiler having been called into requisition to generate steam to aid in propelling the boat, as we understand -- there being an attachment between the nigger and the other boilers. It seems that the shock of the explosion was not very great, but caused some inquiry in the ladies' cabin, as to what had happened.
Our informant states that, as nearly as he could tell, there were about forty cabin passengers, and about twenty five on deck. The books and papers of the boat were all lost. The clerk was among the killed, and the exact number of passengers could not be ascertained.
The lost, so far as known, are as follows:
EPHRAIM L. CHEEVER, of St. Louis; Capt. CONVERSE, of St. Louis; MRS. DANIEL G. TAYLOR, of St. Louis; SALLIE TAYLOR, (youngest child of MRS. TAYLOR,) of St. Louis; JENNIE WALL, (daughter of N. WALL, of WALL & WIDEN,) of St. Louis; MR. DURKIN, of Chicago; MR. LOWE, first mate, of St. Louis; WILSON FARRIS, pilot, of St. Louis; MR. SCOTT, steward, of St. Louis; RICHARD JOHNSON, first clerk, of St. Louis; J. B. KENNEDY, of Pittsburg; MRS. GREEN, residence unknown; with seven or eight deck passengers; also one or two of the cabin crew, names unknown, and one fireman.
The saved, so far as known, are:
Capt. CHEEVER, of St. Louis; H. T. BIXBY, pilot, of St. Louis; ROBERT DUFFY, engineer, St. Louis; THOMAS DUFFY, engineer, St. Louis; two assistant engineers, names not ascertained; MR. POLLOCK, second clerk; C. M. UNDERWOOD, carpenter; MRS. H. CHEEVER, St. Louis; MISS DORA CHEEVER, St. Louis; MRS. N. WALL, St. Louis; MRS. JACKSON, St. Louis; MR. NOEL, lady and son, Memphis; MR. DANIEL G. TAYLOR, daughter and servant, St. Louis; MR. O. FORRELL and lady, Dubuque; DR. TAYLOR, St. Louis; MRS. HILLER, St. Louis; MR. WOODS, St. Louis; MR. JOHN HART, New Orleans; MR. JONES, New Orleans; GEO. W. MILLER, St. Louis; KIRK MENSE, Louisiana, injured; J. B. JONES, St. Louis; J. E. WOODS, St. Louis; DECATUR TAYLOR, St. Louis; MR. GEORGE, St. Louis; GEORGE WOOD, St. Louis; THOMAS MITCH, St. Louis; J. McKEE, Peru, Illinois; Captain HILL, St. Louis.
The safe having been lost, in which the books of the boat were deposited, no full list of the passengers could be obtained. The above are taken from the recollection of the survivors, and is thought to be pretty near correct.
The captain, crew and cooks were saved, with one or two exceptions, as was also the case with the deck hands and firemen.
A rumor was afloat, at the time that our informant left, that MRS. DANIEL G. TAYLOR, had been picked up at Point Pleasant, ten miles below New Madrid. This was a doubtful rumor, as it came, and the hope of her safety was dissipated by a passing steamer, the officers of which denied its truth.
The COLONEL CRESSMAN was built by Capt. CHEEVER, and came out about eight months ago. She had been very successful and popular in the Missouri, for which river she was expressly intended. She cost $45,000, and was owned by Captains CHEEVER, J. B. WEAVER and PAT YORK.

The New York Times New York 1858-02-11