Natchez, MS Steamer GEORGE COLLIER Explosion, May 1839


This steamer was on her way from New Orleans to St. Louis. On the fatal day, at one o'clock, A. M., when the boat was eighty miles below Natchez, the piston-rod gave way, by which accident the forward cylinder-head was broken, and a part of the boiler stand was carried away. The steam which escaped scalded forty-five persons, twenty of whom died on the same day. A list of the dead and wounded was furnished by the clerk. We copy it, with the usual doubts respecting its accuracy, in many names must have been unavoidably omitted.

KILLED.—T. J. Spalding, fireman, of St. Charles, Mo. ; Charles Brooks, deck passenger, residence unknown ; William Blake, Boston. Mass.; Christian Herring, Germany; Mrs. E. Welch and two children, and J. O'Brian and wife, New Orleans ; Seldon J. Broqua, Poland, Ky. ; John Idida, France ; David J. Rose, New Orleans ; Dederick Groe, Germany ; Frederick Gross, and Joseph B. Bossuet, Boston, Mass. ; Peter Smith, New Orleans ; Joseph Lawrence, Parke co., Ind. ; Charlotte Fletcher and brother, England ; — Bilch, fireman ; and six others whose names are unknown.

WOUNDED.—Passengers.—D. Husselnanger, and Mrs Christian Herring, Germany, (both, badly scalded); Thomas Fletcher and wife, England, (badly burnt); Francis Bryan and wife, and Francis Sernelly, St. Louis ; Thomas Butler ; Isaac Raney ; Alfred Davis, deck hand ; John Brown, and James McDonald, firemen ; five children of Adam Woolbridge, some of them badly scalded ; a slave of Thomas Johnston ; Isadore Idida, deck passenger, badly scalded.

The cause of the disaster was probably a flaw or imperfection in the machinery.

Lloyd's Steamboat Directory and Disasters on the Western Waters, Cincinnati, Ohio; James T. Lloyd & Co, 1856, pages 112-113