All these travails left the Seabird in pretty bad shape when she began her winter stay in Manitowoc. So the Goodrich Company decided to completely overhaul her in the G. S. Rand shipyard. The newspapers said she received many improvements for passenger comfort, and she passed the regulations of the time for fire extinguishment and passenger safety. She also was freshly painted inside and out.35 The total cost of repair was estimated between $7,000 and $8,000.36
At the beginning of April 1868 she started her shipping season. Her Captain was John Morris. Captain Morris had become a Goodrich employee in 1857 or 1858. He started as a helmsman and worked his way up to Captain by 1863. He was highly regarded as a competent and trustworthy seaman. One newspaper said the crew numbered twenty-five, including the Captain, two mates, two wheelsmen, six or eight deck hands, two engineers, two firemen, two cooks, three boys, a steward, a porter and a bartender.37 Later estimates placed the number between 17 and 21. There was disagreement among the newspapers of the time, but names mentioned were:
In addition to these names were the names of Charlie Ricker, carpenter; Sol. Labrisky; William Green and Charley Barber, which were listed later.38 Seven of these crew members were from Manitowoc, including chief engineer Thomas Hannahan. One newspaper reported that Mr. Hannahan had "occupied the position since she (the Seabird) was first launched."39 April 8 was to be the fourth trip to Chicago, but something unsettling happened to Thomas Hannahan. His wife had a disturbing premonition about that day's voyage, and she pleaded with him, almost hysterically, not to go. He went anyway.40
About a week prior to the April 8 departure of the Seabird, something happened in Two Rivers, near Manitowoc, that would later have a connection with the Seabird disaster. A fire broke out one evening in the paint shop of the Joseph Mann pail and tub factory. The nearest fire-fighting equipment being in Manitowoc, the townspeople were helpless as everything burned to the ground. All that was saved were some newly finished and painted wooden pails. It is believed that these tubs were later put on the Seabird for shipment to Chicago.41
This ad was accompanied by a long, complimentary article about the Goodrich Steamship line and its new season. Besides starting the new season with a fanfare, it seemed to be the policy of the newspapers to write very positive articles about their advertisers. It is rumored that the newspapers were even paid for this.
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