As we have noted in these pages on many occasions, it is only very rarely these days that items of marine interest manage to find their way into the daily press, and then only because of a particularly unusual or tragic set of circumstances. Gone are the days when the routine comings and goings of everyday boats were considered to be of interest to readers of newspapers.
To show how closely marine events were once followed by the press, we present here a series of excerpts from "The Port Huron Daily Times", dated from 1885 through 1899, which are provided through the courtesy of Rev. Peter J. Van der Linden. They trace the history of the wooden-hulled schooner HOMER D. ALVERSON and, no doubt, such a close watch was kept on her activities because she was locally built and owned and, therefore, of interest to resident of Port Huron. We only wish that such items could be found in the pages of today's newspapers!
The new schooner which is almost ready to launch at Dunford and Alverson's shipyard is one of the best built vessels on the lakes. The honor of naming her was claimed by Thomas Dunford of the firm of Dunford and Alverson, and he will adorn her with beautiful colors bearing the name HOMER D. ALVERSON, who is Thomas Alverson's oldest son. The bright little fellow is only four years old and is said to be "a chip off the old block". We hope that, in future years, Mr. Dunford will always be able to point with pride to the schooner and also to the man whose name she bears, and as they grow old together and go into port after completing the final trip, each may wear honors that will never fade.
The handsome schooner HOMER D. ALVERSON was launched at Dunford and Alverson's shipyard this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. She was built the past winter and is one of the finest vessels ever launched. She is 202 feet (overall), 35.6 beam, and 14 feet depth of hold. She will carry about 52,000 bushels and is A1 in every respect. She is framed out of 6 foot flitch and the frames are 21 inches from center to center. Her main keelson is 16 x 16, two assistant keelsons 14 x 14, two rider keelsons 16 x 16. Bilge strakes 2 x 8", 4 x 7", 2 x 6", from bilge up 5", three strakes of clamps 6", shelf piece three strakes 6". Two garboard strakes 6", one 5", and planked to the rail with 4" plank. She has six hatchways 8 x 14, her bowsprit will be 23 x 24 in the knightheads and 43' long. Her fore and main masts are 93' long, 26" in partners, mizzen mast 82' long, 20" in partners, fore boom 58' long, 16" in slings, main boom 6l' long, 16" in slings, mizzen boom 42', 12" in slings. Her very fine cabin is fitted with all modern improvements and her outfit is of the very best. She is owned by her builders who will run her until a purchaser is found who will give them the price they ask for. She cost about $40,000 and her outfit was furnished by David Robeson, Sr. She was named by Thomas Dunford in honor of Capt. T. A. Alverson's son.
The schooner HOMER D. ALVERSON was hit by the A. L. HOPKINS in the St. Clair River just above South East Bend on her maiden trip, carrying 50.200 bushels of wheat on a 14' draft. Friday at 5:00 p.m. in clear weather this happened. She was in tow of the AUSTRALASIA and her starboard cat head was carried away, main and monkey rails split, and two tinker heads twisted off. The large stock was badly wrenched and one of the flukes nearly broken off the anchor. She proceeded to Buffalo to unload. Repairs will be made.
Dunford and Alverson have sold their new schooner, the HOMER D. ALVERSON, to the Gilchrist Co. of Cleveland. The ALVERSON is almost a new ship, as she was one of the few launched last year. She is at present in tow of the propellor [sic] AUSTRALASIA and will probably remain behind that ship for the remainder of the season.
(Due to the demand for vessels caused by the Spanish-American War, many lake boats were chartered, late in 1898, through J. C. Gilchrist, Cleveland, to the Atlantic Coast Transportation Company, New York, for use in the east coast trade. HOMER D. ALVERSON was one of these and was taken to the coast.)
The barge HOMER D. ALVERSON went ashore near Popham Beach, Maine, on Monday night (December 5th).
The HOMER D. ALVERSON is so high on the beach that there is no chance of releasing her. She was insured for her hull value of $14,000.
Despite the somewhat florid terms used to describe the ALVERSON, these news clippings give a good account of the beginnings and final disposition of a typical lake schooner. She did not enjoy a particularly long life, but that is not surprising considering the fact that she was removed, at the age of 13 years, from her home waters of the lakes to the strange and hostile waters of the Atlantic coast. Nevertheless, the interest in the ship expressed through the Port Huron press at the time of her loss can readily be understood in view of her local origin.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.