News from 1895: Teutonic Rescues the Crew of the Schooner Josie Reeves

Mark Baber

The New-York Times, 10 February 1895

Teutonic Just in Time to Rescue Those in the Josie Reeves
Attempts to Row to the Schooner Given Up and Cameron Skillfully Got the
Steamship Close to Her

A thrilling story of escape from a watery grave was told yesterday by
the crew of the fishing schooner Josie Reeves, upon being landed in this
city from the White Star liner Teutonic, on which vessel they had found
a refuge from the fury of the gale, while their own drifted away to

The Josie Reeves was a two-masted fishing schooner, owned by George T.
Moon of Fulton.Market. She left port Jan. 27, under command of Capt.
John Ericksen, with a crew consisting of Mate C. H. Thompson, C. H.
Godfrey, Nels Nelsen, Oscar Kelly, S. Petersen, F. J. Carlsen, Fred
Andersoun, Harry Larsen, and a cook. The cook escaped the perils of the
trip, for on Sunday last, being ill, he was landed at the Marine
Hospital, at Quarantine, after which the Reeves sailed out of port,
never to return.

A graphic description of the eventful voyage of the Reeves was given
to a reporter for The New-York Times by C. H. Godfrey, one of the
survivors, a rugged, weather-beaten seaman, who, while deeply grateful
to Capt. Cameron, the officers, and the crew of the Teutonic for having
rescued him from certain death, seemed to regard the peril to which he
had been exposed as of no unusual importance to a sailor.

"We started from Fulton Market on Jan. 27," he said, "and went to the
eastward, fishing. We had bad weather from the start, encountering a
succession of heavy northeasterly gales. The sea was very high, and we
had a "wet ship," as we sailors say, from the start.

"But we expect bad weather at this time of the year, and did not mind
it. We continued to fish, with fair luck, until Sunday last, when our
cook was taken ill. So our Captain put about and we came up to
Quarantine and left the cook at the Marine Hospital.

"We did not come up to the market, but the same night put out to sea
again, resumed fishing, and continued it until Thursday morning. At
that time we were off Fire Isuand. [sic] A terrific easterly gale,
accompanied by blinding snow, came up, and we ran into Sandy Hook and
anchored in the bay.

"At 2 o'clock on Friday morning the ice came down on us, and we were
caught in the floe. Our anchors would not hold, we were wedged in the
pack, and dirfted [sic] hopelessly around the bay. At times we thought
the ice would crush our vessel like an eggshell.

"Our situation was so dangerous no one wanted to go below. The wind was
blowing fifty miles an hour, the temperature was below zero, and, to
add to our misery, we were caught in the blizzard. The snow was so
dense that we could see but a few feet ahead. The veesed [sic] was
sheathed in ice from stem to stern, as was the rigging. We suffered
intensely from the cold and our miserable plight can well be imagined.

"This state of affairs lasted from eight to ten hours when the ice
carried us on to Romer's Shoals. So great was the force of the ice
floe that we were carried completely across the shoal. The strain,
however, had been too much for the Josie Reeves. The ice had broken a
hole in her, and she began to leak badly.

"We hoisted signals of distress and put all our pumps at work. We worked
for life, notwithstanding the fact that the weather was intensely cold,
that we were wet through, and our clothing was frozen to our bodies. We
had to pump as hard as we could in order to keep the craft afloat.

"Seas were constantly breaking over us, and we were on the verge of
giving up the struggle from sheer exhaustion when the Teutonic hove in
sight. To our unspeakable joy she observed our signals of distress, and
we were delighted to see preparations being made on board of her to
rescue us. At this time we were about twelve miles east of the
lightship. The seas were running very high, and we doubted very much if
the big steamer's boats could live, even after being launched.

"One lifeboat was lowered and started toward us. We could see the men
tugging at their oars, but they made little or no progress. Finally the
boat returned to the steamship, and, as we subsequently learned, the men
were badly frozen. They could not come to us on account of the intense

"The Teutonic had now stood by our sinking craft for four hours, and we
were afraid the Reeves would go down at any moment. Then the Captain of
the Teutonic, and he is every inch of a sailor, Sir, with wonderful
skill sheered his ship as nearly alongside of us as possible.

"We lost no time in lowering our two dories. One of them carried five of
us, and the other four. We then put off, and had comparatively little
difficulty in reaching the steamship..

"As we drew near her we could see her decks lined with passengers, who,
as we came alongside, greeted us with cheers. Those were the most
welcome cheers I ever heard in my life. The. people hollered and made a
great time as we reached the gangway and were passed over the side. We
were met by the doctor and the other officers, and got hot coffee,
brandy, and warm clothes. They treated us fine. You cannot say enough
to express our appreciation of the generous treatment we received from
Capt. Cameron, his officers, and men.

"We soon lost sight of the Josie Reeves and have no doubt that she
foundered shortly afterward. All the crew lost all they possessed on
board of her. We were lucky to be saved at all. There were about 1,200
codfish on board, quite a valuable cargo, which, with all our effects,
were lost with the schooner."

Capt. Cameron of the Teutonic, talking of the rescue yesterday, said:
"When we sighted the Reeves she was bobbing up and down in a heavy sea
with canvas set, but completely helpless. The starboard lifeboat forward
was got ready to lower away and rescue. Fourth Officer Arten and three
sailors manned the boat, but no sooner had it been lowered away, than
the crew had to be hauled back on board, all badly frostbitten. The
temperature was 2° below zero and the wind had a velocity of
seventy-five miles an hour. Third Officer Robinson and three other
sailors took their places, but they, too, had to be hoisted back to the
deck before the boat touched the water. They were all badly frostbitten,

"The crew of the Reeves then put out to us in their dories. The wind
was so strong and the sea so high that several times everybody expected
to see the dories blown out of the water. We succeeded in hauling all
hands on board by lines. Dr. Radmore stripped them of their wet clothes
and put them to bed. He worked like a beaver, and those nine men owe
their lives to the little doctor as much as they do to those who hauled
them from the lifeboats."

The Josie Reeves was built at Greenport, N. Y., in 1876, and was of 13
tons burden, 6 feet in length, and 19 feet beam. She was valued at
$3,000, and had only recently been purchased by George T. Moon, to
replace the Maria Louisa, another of his boats which was lost in a storm
about four months ago. Capt. Ericksen of the Josie Reeves was in command
of the Maria Louisa at the time she was lost. This fact, however, did
not shake Mr. Moon's confidence in his skipper. Ericksen has had a good
deal of ill luck. In addition to losing these two vessels, two years ago
his two brothers and two cousins perished at sea, being lost with one of
the Fulton Market fishing fleet.

The survivors of the Reeves yesterday were hailed with enthusiasm by
their comrades in West Street, who are exceedingly anxious as to the
whereabouts of other vessels belonging to the fishing fleet.

Wharfmaster Stephen Woolsey told a reporter for The New-York Times
yesterday that the following vessels were overdue: The Sam Greenwood,
the F. D. Nelson, the Stephen Woolsey, the Mystery, the Emma, and the

The Mystery, which left port Jan. 25, was sighted off Fire Island by
the Josie Reeves on Thursday last, and, as she has not been heard from
since, grave fears are entertained that she was unable to weather
Thursday night's gale. She is commanded by Capt. Troutman, and carries a
crew of six men.


Kristina Cameron

Hello Mark

I am resending a post as I cannot find it in the archives.

I have noticed your postings about Capt John Gemmell Cameron. This is my GGGrandfathers son.
His parents are Robert Cameron and Sarah Gemmell from Greenock, Renfrewshire and Muirkirk, Ayrshire Scotland.
As you can see I have used your sketch that you posted,hope you don't mind.
I am amazed with the likeness of John Gemmell Cameron and my father.I knew straight away that it was my Dads GG uncle.
Thank you so much for all of this interesting information. I now know why I love the sea and vessells so much.

Kristina Cameron.

Mark Baber

St. Paul Daily Globe, 11 March 1895

Touching Scene on the Deck of the Teutonic

NEW YORK, March 10 - There was an interesting event on the saloon deck of
the Teutonic today, when her commander, Capt. John G. Cameron, presented
medals to the six men composing the crew of the life boat that went to the
rescue and saved the lives of nine men of the crew of the foundered schooner
Jerry [sic; should be "Josie"] Reeves in midocean on Feb. 8 last.
Immediately after muster the crew of the big ship was called to the saloon
deck amidship. In the circle formed by about fifteen grizzled seamen the six
heroes stood to receive their reward. Capt. Cameron said:

"My men, it gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to be able today to
fittingly reward those whom duty called in an hour of need, and to which you
courageously responded. Deeds of daring on the deep are all too infrequent
nowadays, and when a company of men, willing and anxious to endanger their
own lives to save those of their fellow men, put out in a frail life boat in
a stormy ocean to succor some poor distressed crew, it is but just that
these intrepid fellows should be rewarded for their sacrifice. It is my
pleasant duty this morning to prove to you, my men, that the people of New
York appreciate noble effort and unfaltering courage."

During this little address the rough company of mariners who surrounded the
skipper of the Teutonic were visibly affected. Capt. Cameron then announced
the name of Fourth Officer Ortin. Mate Ortin was in command of the lifeboat
that put out to the rescue of the Reeves' crew. To him he presented a gold
medal, suitably inscribed, and in a few words explained that the Royal Naval
reserve, of which he was a member, was justly proud of the noble showing.
Then, as each name was called, the five members of the lifeboat crew
shuffled, forward and each received a silver medal, similar in design and
inscription. These men were William Fitzpatrick, John Zeed, William
McLoughlin, David Jones and Alfred Hawley. After the presentation the crew
loudly cheered Capt. Cameron and their mates. Their medals were the gift of
the Life-saving Benevolent association, of this city.

Can anyone throw any light on this document. It would be much appreciated. It was in my grandmothers effects. Her single name was Hawley. Alfred Hawley was on the Teutonic when they rescued fishermen off the Josie schooner in February 1895.