Cairo, IL Area Steamer EMMA NO. 3 Burns On Snag, Feb 1870



From the Cincinnati Gazette, Feb. 22.
The Steamer EMMA NO. 3, Captain JAMES H. MARATTA, left here for New Orleans on the night of the 2d of February, with all the freight she could carry. Indeed, so much did she have aboard, the the horses and mules she carried were standing in the water on deck. She got to New Orleans safely, discharged her cargo, took on several hundred tons of Scotch, pig iron, imported wines, &c., and departed again for Cincinnati. Memphis was reached with safety. When she left there she had about fifty passengers and had added 400 bales of cotton to her cargo. This was probably Saturday evening. When she reached the foot of Island No. 35, nearly fifty miles above Memphis, she struck a snag, tearing a large hole in her bow, which caused her to sink gradually. In sinking, some of her stoves were upset, and thus the boat caught fire. From the time of the first alarm, the wildest excitement prevailed. Many of the panic-stricken passengers were ladies. Captain MARATTA promptly manned a lifeboat for the purpose of rescuing the ladies on board, but the crowd that got aboard of it almost immediately swamped it. Captain MARATTA then secured the assistance of the officers of the boat to make floats of cotton bales, planks, &c., and on these many passengers paddled to shore in safety. Several, however, of passengers and crew died from cold and exhaustion after reaching the shore. The survivors were brought to Cairo by the steamer Columbian. Among the saved, so far as learned by dispatches up to yesterday noon, were the following: JOHN FAWCETT, Cincinnati; WILLIAM BOOGH, Cincinnati; PETER MILLER, Lawrenceburg; WILLIAM RODERBAGH, Wheeling; ABE HOWARD, Dayton, Ky.; JAS. BLENDINGER, Cincinnati; ADAM P. FISLER, Owensboro; JACOB SIOSS, Cincinnati; J. C. CAMERON and JAMES STAFFORD, Mount Vernon, Ind.; THOMAS ENGLISH, Cincinnati; JOHN DERRICKS, Cincinnati; JAMES MARATTA, Captain; CALEB MARATTA, mate; DAVID PORTER, second clerk; CHARLEY, second mate; EDWARD, watchman; PARKER, the cook; CHARLES BROWN, the porter; WM. ATTENBOROUGH, pilot; and the head chambermaid.

The names of the lost, reported up to the same time by the clerk of the Columbian, at Cairo, were as follows: OTTO JOHNSON, of New Orleans; JAMES SHULER, of Lexington, Ky.; JOHN COYLE, barkeeper, of Cincinnati; three Frenchmen, of New Orleans, names unknown, in charge of a lot of wines; LINEBERGER, first engineer; MRS. LEWIS and daughter, Covington, Ky.; second chambermaid, colored; THOS. TRUNNELL, pilot, supposed lost; three ladies from New Orleans, Memphis and Vicksburg, respectively, names unknown; WALTER MARATTA, first clerk; THOS. FLYNN, St. Louis; WM. FORSTNER, second engineer; JAMES CHAPMAN, two firemen and a roustabout, and twenty others. MR. McFARLAND and the first engineer LINEBERGER died from exhaustion after reaching shore. The boat now rests with her bow on a snag, and her stern in twelve feet of water. Some of the survivors are expected at Memphis on the Nightingale. The first clerk, WALTER MARATTA, lost his life while nobly risking it in an attempt to save a lady passenger. The above is all that was learned of the accident, from the dispatches that were received up to dark.

The EMMA NO. 3 was a stern wheel boat of 600 tons capacity, built at Pittsburg by Captain JAMES H. MARATTA and others, in 1866. Her length was 159 feet; beam, 35 feet; hold, 5 1/2 feet. Her original cost was $35,000. Previous to her last trip from here, Captain MARATTA and MR. J. G. ISHAM, of this city, purchased the whole boat. When she was destroyed she was valued at $25,000, and insured for $16,000 in the following Pittsburg offices; Eureka, $3,000; Manufacturers' and Merchants', $3,000; Citizens', $5,000; Pittstburg, $2,500; and Monongahela, $2,500.

Captain THOMAS TRUNNELL, one of her pilots who lost his life, was a good steamboatman, who had few faults in his character. He had previously been in the employ of the Government as Captain of one of the snagboats. MR. WALTER MARATTA, the chief clerk, of whom the dispatch says he forfeited his life in the effort to save the helpless, was an estimable young man, who leaves a widow to mourn for him. He had been married scarce a year.

The following was received after 9 o'clock last night:
Cairo, Feb. 21. -- The following are the particulars of the accident to the EMMA NO. 3, as far as are at present known. They are dervived from the clerk of the Columbian: The EMMA NO. 3, JAS MARATTA, Captain, and WALTER MARATTA, clerk, bound from New Orleans to Cincinnati, laden with groceries and pig iron, left Memphis at midnight, Friday last, after adding 400 bales of cotton. WHen in the chute of Island, No. 35, about fifty miles above Memphis, on Saturday, at 10 A. M., she struck a snag and commenced filling with water. Every effort to back the boat off the snag, to get her to shore, or to stop the leak, was unavailing, and the officers prepared to send the ladies and passengers ashore in the yawl. At this juncture the steamer careened, upsetting her stoves, and setting fire to the boat in so many places that it was impossible to extinguish the flames. The passengers became greatly excited, and before the yawl, containing the ladies and as many passengers as it was deemed prudent to put in her, could be pushed beyond reach, a rush was made, and it was immediately swamped, and turned bottom upward, drowning all the ladies, many passengers, and the clerk and pilot, THOMAS TRUNNELL who had been put in charge to take it ashore. The officers then attempted to launch the lifeboat, but were driven away by fire, when the task was nearly accomplished; doors, planks and bales of cotton were then procured, and all on board started for shore except mate CALEB MARATTA, Pilot ATTENBOROUGH, three passengers, head chambermaid and head cook, who could find nothing secure enough to trust themselves to, and huddled together on a narrow strip of forecastle in front of some casks of scrap iron, which protected them from fire, and which they prevented burning by throwing water on them with their hats. Captain JAMES MARATTA managed to reach the wheel, which fortunately was not submerged entirely when the boat sunk, and extinguished the fire. He was soon afterwards taken off by skiffs which arrived from the nearest houses, one and two miles distant, as quickly as the owners could bring them. Also rescued a party on the bow which still hung on the snag. The greater portion of those who started ashore on floats succeeded in reaching it, but first engineer LYONBERGER and a passenger, named McFARLAND, died from exhaustion and cold after reaching shore. Many remained on the boat until badly burned before attempting to go ashore. JAMES FORD, steward, is at a farm house near the scene of disaster, badly injured and not expected to live. GEORGE WEBSTER, pantryman, is in hospital at Cairo, badly burned but may recover. Farmers in the vicinity did everything in their power for the survivors. Pilot ATTENBOROUGH reports that the Columbian reached the EMMA two hours after the disaster, and received all who remained on the bank uninjured. Others had been removed to farms back from the river, amny of the being unable to be moved to the boat. The officers of the Columbian treated the survivors with greatest kindness, giving hats, coats and boots to many who had divested themselves of such articles to enable them to reach shore.

The New York Times New York 1870-02-25