Otsego Herald for Aug. 1, 1818, compiled with comments. 

(Taken from the Plattsburgh Republican of Aug. 1, 1818.)

Some crewmen escape

Boston, July 13. The brig Mary. capt. Howland, of New-Bedford, was cast away on cape Blanco in Africa, on her passage from New-Bedford to Patagonia, on the 28th of May last. Two of the men were killed by the natives, and a third taken prisoner.

The remainder, twelve in number, including the captain and two mates escaped by putting to sea in their boats, and after seven days arrived at the isle of Sal — They afterwards proceeded to Bonavista, from which place they returned in the brig Gen. Gates, which arrived at this place yesterday.

COMMENT: Why the Mary was headed for Patagonia, at the foot of South America, is not explained. However, Cape Blanco is a 40 mile-long cape at the border between Mauritania and Western (formerly Spanish) Sahara, on the western African coast. Sal and Bonavista are islands in the formerly Portuguese island nation of Cape Verde in the Atlantic off that coast.

First trans-Atlantic steamship

Progress of Improvements — A ship of about 375 tons is now ready to be launched, from one of our ship yards, which is actually to be fitted up with a steam engine and apparatus as a Steam Packet Ship for crossing the Atlantic. — NY Paper

COMMENT: This was the SS Savannah, designed and built in New York in 1818 as a all-sail packet boat (i.e. one carrying mail and passengers on a regular schedule), but was purchased by Scarborough & Isaacs, a Georgia shipping firm, which added a 90 horse-power steam engine and paddlewheels, for use when the weather was too calm for sailing. On March 28, 1819, she began her first trans-Atlantic crossing, landing at Liverpool on June 20, but used her sails for most of the voyage. Nevertheless, she is generally credited as the first Trans-Atlantic Steam Boat. Several sailing ships encountered on the way thought at first that she was “on fire.”

Alas, the Savannah was wrecked off Long Island on Nov. 5, 1821. The first real trans-Atlantic steamboat was the British 1,700 ton Great Western, launched in 1837. While living with his family in France in 1832, James Fenimore Cooper wrote an comic short story (in French) called “Point de Bateaux à Vapeur — Une Vision” (“No Steamboats — a Vision”) making fun of the belief of many land-locked Frenchmen that trans-Atlantic steamboats were already a reality (see the James Fenimore Cooper Society Website).

Steamboats to frighten Indians

Steam boat Navigation — It is contemplated to convey supplies in steam-boats to the troops of the United States, on Yellow Stone River, eighteen hundred miles up the river Mississippi!! and to “astonish the natives” of the forest with some great guns on board. – NY Paper.

COMMENT: Steamboats, mostly of the paddle-wheel variety, had been common on American rivers since their invention by Robert Fulton (1765-1815), whose steamboat The Clermont, began passenger service between New York City and Albany in 1807.


Emigration — Niles’ Register states that the present rate of emigration from Europe to the United States, is about 200 persons per day.

COMMENT: That would be about 43,000 per year.

Heat wave

It is stated in the Philadelphia Franklin Gazette, that the thermometer in that city on Sunday last, stood at 102, average 100, and that four or five persons died by imprudently drinking cold water, notwithstanding the frequent warnings that have been given. – E. Post, July 14.

COMMENT: One modern website states: “There’s lots of anecdotal evidence that drinking iced drinks can be bad for you, even when the weather is hot – and the science backs it up.” I’m doubtful.

Nose attacked

On Saturday, Lawrence Pienovi, the Italian, who, in July last, bit off part of his wife’s nose, which case so highly excited the public feeling, was taken by Mr. Raymond, one of the police officers, brought before the magistrates, and on the charge committed to prison.

COMMENT: The wife’s name was Elizabeth, and the report of the trial has been published, but to what result I know not.

And, of course, the sea serpent

The Sea Snake paid a visit to Portland harbor on the 9th July. He came within thirty rods of the wharfs, it is supposed in search of Herring, and was seen by hundreds of people. The middle of his body was under water, and his fore and hinder parts out. Two small snakes, supposed to be of the same species, were lately seen by the crew of a vessel at sea. – Albany Argus

Mr. Samuel Schmidt, of Philadelphia, who was on board capt. West’s vessel at the time the Sea Serpent and Whale were seen in company, certifies to the facts in a similar manner to capt. West. He thinks the Serpent must have been 100 feet in length. (Capt. West’s signed account of this encounter was included in our column in the July 5, 2018, issue of the Crier.)

Captain Horton, of the sloop Lewis, on his way down the river, on Sunday, picked up a live black COW, with a rope round her neck, which the owner may have on proving property. At first, all on board took her to be the Sea Serpent. – N.Y. Gazette.