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LeHavre in the late 1800s

Tobias Ambre Ohmer, my ggg grandfather, sailed from LeHavre, France to New Orleans, arriving on June 16, 1851. The Captain was listed as W. J. Fales.

What follows is information I have pieced together on the Carack:

Built 1849 in Thomaston, Maine

Ship Carack, 874 tons
Built by R. Walsh
Chief Owner W.J. Fales, Robinson, Ambrose Snow

The Aug 1, 1857 edition of the New York Shipping and Commercial states that the ship was owned in Thomaston, Maine and was built December 8, 1849. It also mentions that the Carrack was bound for Liverpool from New Orleans when it caught fire and sunk Southwest of the Tortugas.

The Cutler files states the Master was Ambrose Snow and the owner was R. Walsh. She was surrendered Aug 7, 1857.

Ship CARACK, (Not COSSACK,) from New Orleans to Liverpool, was the vessel as before suggested destroyed by fire S. W. of Tortugas. A letter to the Charleston Courier, from Key West, says that her cargo consisted of 2780 bales of cotton , and that the ship was valued at $30,000, and the cargo at $200,000. The crew were saved, but the vessel and cargo are a total loss – fully insured. The Carack was owned in Thomaston, where she was built in 1849, 875 tons register.

The Times Picayune, on Sunday, August 2, 1857 published the following:

Key West, July 25, 1857. The Thomaston ship Carack, Capt. Stilphen, from New Orleans bound to Liverpool, with a cargo of 2,728 bales of cotton, was destroyed by fire on the 16th and 17th inst., 100 miles northwest (This conflicts with the report from The New York Shipping and Commercial) of Tortugas. Capt. S. arrived at this port on the 22nd, in the pilot boat Edna, Jones, having been taken from the bark Ann Elizabeth. Capt. Norgrave, off this harbor, which vessel had fallen in with his boat near Tortugas, the 18th. The captain gives us the following account of the loss of his ship:

“On the 16th inst., when 250 miles E.S.E. of Tortugas, with fine weather and light winds from S.S.W., about 12 M., a thunder squall came up and the ship’s main mast was struck by lightning, which, coming down the lightning rod attached to the main royal back stay, penetrated the vessel, descending into the hold. We discovered by the smoke soon after, that the ship was on fire, and used every exertion to get at and extinguish it, but without success; and, as a last resort, calked down the hatches, stopped all ventilation, and kept the decks wet. We made sail for Tortugas, that being the nearest point, and hoped to have reached that place before the fire broke out. The smoke soon became so thick in the cabin as to compel us to leave it entirely. We then had the boats made ready and launched, so as to leave the ship when the fire should force us to abandon her. The fire first made its appearance near the main rigging, forcing up the deck so that the smoke came through the seams. We still continued to wet the decks, and by that means kept the fire from bursting out before it would otherwise have done. July 17 – The ship still on her course for Tortugas, but the smoke becoming so thick that we could only keep a man at. The wheel for a few minutes at a time. About 2 P.M. fire burst through under the mizzen chains, and we then took the boats and dropped them astern. About 3 P.M. our painters burnt off, and we were cast adrift. We then were eighty miles from Tortugas. We remained in sight of the ship until she was on fire fore and aft, and her masts had burned off. We then started with the ship’s three boats for Tortugas.”

A squall came up that night, which separated the boats. The captain’s boat was picked up on the 18th, by the bark Anne Elizabeth, Capt. Norgrave, of Philadelphia, and left her off Key West the 22nd inst., the captain and crew coming here. The boat commanded by the first mate was picked up by the ship Dudley B. Moses, and arrived at Key West the 23rd.  The third boat, in command of the second mate, has not yet been reported; there were in her seven men, viz., the second mate, carpenter, and five seamen. Capt. Stilphen thinks that they were picked up by some passing vessel.

The Carack sailed from New Orleans, the 11th inst., with 2728 bales of cotton, bound to Liverpool. The ship was eight years old, 874 tons burden, valued at $30,000 and fully insured. The cargo was valued at $200,000, and is together with the ship a total loss, there being no possibility of her drifting ashore.

Capt. Stilphen sent part of his crew to New Orleans, in the ship S. R. Mallory, Capt. Lester, leaving this port the 23rd. He leaves in the Isabel, tonight, bearing to his owner the accounts of the sad disaster.

The Times Picayune
New Orleans, Louisiana
02 Aug, 1857 (Sunday)

Two days later, The Times Picayune published this additional information:

In the account given by our Key West correspondent of the loss by fire of the ship Carack, (published on Saturday evening,) it was stated that the third boat, in command of the second mate, was missing, and that there were in her seven men, viz: the second mate, carpenter, and five seamen.

We learn from the Tampa Peninsular, of the 25th ult., that the missing boat is safe. The Peninsular says:

It was the intention for the boats to keep company and sail for Tortugas. The were, however, parted in a squall on the following night. Mr. Stearns (the second mate,) having dismasted his boat and sprung some of her timbers, was compelled to keep before the wind, and on the morning of Monday, 27th, boarded the fishing smack Frank Pierce, when he replenished his water casks, which had been empty for twenty-four hours, and started for Egmont Light – twenty five miles distant – which he reached the same evening.

Mr. Stearns arrived at this place, in company with Capt. Treska, lighthouse keeper, on Wednesday last. The carpenter, being sick, was left at the lighthouse.

Mr. S. speaks in the highest praise of the kind treatment of Capt. Sparks, of the Frank Pierce, and Capt. Treska.

-The Times Picayune
New Orleans, Louisiana
04 Aug, 1857 (Tuesday)

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