News from 1908: Georgic I sinks the liner Finance

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Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
A few days late, but better late than never?

The New York Times, 27 November 1908

Panama Boat Finance on the Bottom in 15 Minutes After Collision with
Captain with Drawn Revolver Saving the Boats for Women and
Children---Drowned Include 3 Passengers
Coming slowly into port through the thick fog about 8:30 o'clock
yesterday morning the big White Star freighter Georgic, from Liverpool,
ran down and sank the Panama Railroad Company's steamer Finance, outward
bound for Cristobal, in the Canal Zone.

The vessels came together in the main ship channel, about three miles
east of the Sandy Hook Lightship. Fifteen minutes after the bow of the
Georgic had torn a great hole in the side of the Panama steamer she was
lying on the bottom of the channel, with only a part of her bridge,
smokestack, and masts showing above water.

Three passengers and one of the ship's assistant engineers were drowned.
They were:

IRENE CAMPBELL, a 14-year-old colored girl, living near Cristobal.

HENRY MULLER, a railroad conductor, living at Basobispo.

CHARLES W. SCHWEINLER, a policeman from the Canal Zone.

WILLIAM D. TODD, third engineer, of New York.

There were about seventy-five passengers. Among them nineteen women and
fifteen children. [Sic.] Following the collision, several men and
women jumped overboard, but were picked up by the boats from the Finance
and the Georgic. On the whole, good order prevailed, and it was due to
this that there was not a greater loss of life. The officers and crew of
the Finance were cool. Capt. Mowbray appeared on the deck as his vessel
was sinking, armed with a revolver, and saw that the women and children
were first to enter the boats. After seeing the passengers into the
boats, the skipper returned to the bridge, refusing offers of help. He
was on the bridge when the vessel sank. Fortunately the bridge stayed
above water, and he was taken off afterward in a boat.

Ammonia Overcomes Engineer

Following the collision the ammonia tank on the Finance exploded.
William Todd, the third engineer, was caught in the escaping fluid.
Almost suffocated, he staggered to the deck and jumped overboard before
rescuers could reach him.

Muller was drowned while swimming about the Finance and Irene Campbell,
the little colored girl, refused to leave the Finance, clinging to the
rail in a frenzy of terror.

The accident was due wholly to the fog. It happened just when the
curtain of mist was being dispelled and the fog-bound steamers were
beginning to move, either for the open sea or for their city piers. The
Georgic, towering high above the Panama liner, caught her fairly
amidships on the port side, her great bows cutting into the Finance like
a knife into cheese. The freighter fell away after it was over with only
a dent in her great steel cutwater as a result of the crash. As quickly
as possible Capt. Clarke of the Georgic dropped his anchors and the
lifeboats from the White Star liner were in the water almost as soon as
those from the Finance.

The work of rescue was accomplished with remarkable expedition, which
spoke well for discipline and boat drill on both liners. The crews
worked desperately on both ships to save the women and children. Many of
the passengers were scantily clad, and they were taken on the big
freighter and made comfortable.

The survivors were brought to this city in the afternoon on the Georgic.
She went up the North River to Twenty-eighth Street and anchored off the
Panama Line pier. The Finance's passengers were taken from the Georgic
on the steamboat George Starr. They were transferred to the steamer
Alliance of the Panama Line, at anchor in the North River, and they will
be kept there until Saturday, when they will be sent to the Canal Zone.
Those who wished to land were brought ashore, but most of the
passengers stayed on the steamer.

Finance Held Up by Fog

The Finance sailed from her pier for Cristobal on Monday afternoon. She
did not get much beyond Quarantine, as Capt. Mowbray was forced to
anchor because of the fog that shut off the channel to the open sea.
Three different times, when there was a rift in the fog, the Finance
ventured a little further on her way out. The Georgic, making her first
trip here since the White Star Line temporarily discontinued its
Liverpool-New York freight service, was reported on Monday. She was held
up outside by the fog. The Finance had worked her way to the vicinity of
Sandy Hook, and there she lay yesterday morning in a fog so thick that
nothing could be seen beyond the bowsprit. She was surrounded by a
continuous volley of fog horns, the discordant blasts of the whistles
trying the nerves of her passengers and crew.

About 7:25 o'clock, as the fog began to thin, Capt. Mowbray ordered the
anchor weighed, and the ship started ahead at a quarter speed sounding
her whistle continuously. As the mist parted she passed one or two
vessels, dimly outlined through the fog and then, just when those of the
passengers on deck figured that they had left the maze of shipping
behind the giant bow of the Georgic, magnified by the mist, loomed from
out the dull gray wall. [Sic.] There was an exchange of sharp blasts
from the whistles on both ships, and then the Georgic drove into the
side of the Finance. For a few seconds the Finance seemed to lie on her
beam ends, and then, as the Georgic swerved, her bow tore out
from the hole it had made in the other ship, and the Finance righted. A.
moment later the rattle of her anchor chains told the officers on the
Finance that the Georgic had anchored.

With the crash of the collision and the rending of plates and timbers
there came a panic on the Finance. A few of her passengers were on deck
at the time. Some were In the dining saloon but many were in their
rooms, sleeping or dressing. This was so in the case of nearly every
woman and child on board. Capt. Mowbray and those on the bridge knew
from the first the Finance was doomed. There was a quick order to the
crew, and the men sprang to the boats. The sailors were rapidly putting
them over the side, when from the hold came oilers, engineers, firemen,
and stokers, climbing pell-mell up every ladder and companionway from
the interior of the vessel.

Scene When the Crash Came

The Finance had listed so that walking her decks was difficult, and the
work of launching the boats dangerous. The passengers came running from
every part of the vessel, many in their nightclothes, and some with
children in their arms. To add to the confusion there came from within
the hull a dull boom as the ammonia tank exploded in the forward hold.
Then the men ran on deck who had stuck to their posts in the engine room
with those who had gone down to investigate the damage done. With them
came Todd, the third engineer. He was partly overcome by the ammonia
fumes and staggered to the rail. He steadied himself there for a second
and then jumped overboard. He was not seen again. Some of the coolest
among the passengers procured life preservers and fastened them on. But
others, men and women, not waiting, jumped overboard.

When the first rush to the deck began Capt. Mowbray disappeared for a
second, and when he came into view again he had a revolver in his hand.

"Now, men," he shouted, meeting the rush from below, "there is going to
be no crowding, and the women and children are going to take the boats

Captain Drew His Revolver

The revolver was not put to use, for the men for the most part behaved
well. Discipline was maintained, and this with the intelligent work of
the sailors from the Georgic did much to avert loss of life.

As the Finance began to sink she took a heavy list to port, and those
left on board had to climb along the slanting upper deck until a boat
came along the starboard side. They would then slide down the slanting
side of the ship to the water, where they were caught by those in the
boat. A woman jumped overboard with a baby in her arms, but a boat was
near by, and she was picked up. Another woman threw her five-year-old
child from a porthole into a boat. Fortunately, those in the water wore
but few clothes, and so were able to keep afloat.

Only once, when the Finance appeared to be about to make her final
plunge, a few of the crew jumped into a boat just lowered. Capt. Mowbray
saw them.

"Get out of that, you men," he shouted.

They appeared not to hear.

"Get out of that boat." he said, and this time he pointed his revolver
at them. They got out and clambered back to the deck. Women and
children took their places.

Four boats and two rafts were put over the side of the sinking Finance.
The last boat was broken in launching it. From the Georgic a number of
boats were lowered and the men rowed about picking the Finance's
passengers from the water. The Campbell girl's death was seen by all the
passengers. She came on deck in the first rush from below and grabbing
the rail refused to leave. When it was evident that the steamer was
about to sink the wireless operator with two other men tried to break
her hold an the rail. She hung on with the strength of hysteria and when
the water came up to the deck they were forced to leave her while they
saved others.

Statement by Georgic's Captain

"Had the Finance kept going ahead there would have been no collision,"
said Capt. W. H. M. B. Clarke, the commander of the White Star freighter
Georgic, last night as, with Pilot E. P. Nichols, Freight Manager
Ridgeway, and Port Captain Smith of the White Star Line, he sat in his
quarters on his ship. "The fog was very thick. It lifted and I started
ahead. Suddenly there loomed up in front of me---not more than a few
hundred feet away---the form of a vessel. I whistled sharply one blast.
The other vessel responded and then started astern. Had she kept ahead
she would have passed us. When I saw the situation I rang to stop. But
we drifted ahead and the collision occurred. Under the circumstances it
could not be helped.

"When I saw the plight of the Finance I ordered my boats lowered. Within
one and a half minutes I had the first boat in the water. It was in
charge of First Officer Albert Edward Taylor, and took out of the water
ten men. Why those men jumped overboard I cannot understand. When we
struck the Finance she began to settle slowly. There was absolutely no
cause for a panic, and it was simply nonsense for the passengers to go

"The first persons seen in the water by our boat crews were several of
the Finance's firemen, with life belts around them. They were taken on
board the boats the same as the passengers. We got them to the Georgic
as soon as possible, wrapped them in blankets, and did everything
possible for them. Our boats took off 164 men, women, and children from
the Finance and from the water.

"We had five boats out from the Georgic---all in charge of
officers---and we saved every life that it was possible to save, but it
was simply foolish for the passengers of the Finance to jump overboard."

The collision, according to all reports, was not the fault of the
officers. The first news of the disaster came from the marine observer
at Sandy Hook. Through a lift in the fog he made out the sinking
Finance, with the Georgic standing by. Word was sent to the Sandy Hook
life savers,. and they went out to the Finance. The Merritt & Chapman
wrecking boat was also sent down the bay.

Most of the Finance's passengers were transferred to the Allianca of the
Panama Line, but several came ashore, and the trying experience they had
been through was shown from their appearance as they climbed up the
Panama pier in the dusk last evening. Many wore strange assortments of
clothing: shoes that were not mates, caps that belonged to stokers, and
shoes of all sorts, sizes, and shapes. John Schanzenbecker, the mail
clerk on the Finance, brought ashore three sacks of mail, all that were
saved of the 650 sacks the vessel had on board. The clerk took the last
boat away from the Finance, and he saved the sacks at great personal

Stories of the Passengers

"We had been anchored in such a confusion of whistles that we were
getting used to it," said M. C. Azima of Alexandria, Va., a passenger on
the Finance. "I understood that our pilot was making his last trip
before retirement after forty years of service. I was on deck when the
Georgic ran us down. Capt. Mowbray saw the other vessel coming on, and
he shouted, 'Put your helm over. You are going to strike us.' And then
she did. The Captain pulled a gun when the boats were being lowered, and
said that the women and children were to go first."

A thrilling story was told by Mrs. Minnie Strothotte, who with her
7-year-old son was an her way to Valparaiso. She was in bed when the
shock came. Her room was on the starboard side of the Finance. She said
last night she awoke to hear her son say: "Mamma, the ship is moving
again." Then came the crash. Mrs. Strothotte ran into the saloon to find
the floor flooded with water and everybody hurrying on deck. A Mr.
Whitman put a life preserver on her.

"I took up my boy and ran to the side, intending to jump into the
water," she said,. "when some one grabbed me and pulled me back. I
cannot describe my feelings while the life raft was being lowered. I
could feel the vessel settling under us. Finally the raft was ready, and
I got on it. There were other passengers clinging on it, one a woman
with her thirteen months' old child in her arms."

Among those who landed from the Starr was a man in an ill-fitting suit
of black, no collar, and on his head a soiled cap. In his arms he
carried a baby wrapped in a blanket. It was Judge S. E. Blackburn of
Louisville, a district Judge in the Canal Zone, who, with his wife and
young son, was returning to his post.

"I was in the cabin with my wife," he said.. "Following the listing of
the steamer I ran on deck with the baby in my arms and my wife following
me. We found the passengers gathering there and the men getting the
boats over the side. I worked my way forward along the deck, clinging
with one hand to the rail, and with my wife holding to me. I got pretty
well forward, and was waiting, with one arm about some rigging, for the
boats to come. The Finance had sunk low in the water, and where we stood
the deck was almost awash. A wave broke against the side of the
deckhouse, and the wash nearly carried me over board.

"Go to the stern!" some one shouted, and I worked my way aft again. In
that wash of water along the deck I saw children knocked down, and two
were washed across my feet. I cannot understand how they were saved.
When we got to the stern I found a boat there, and we were taken on

"I shall not soon forget this day," said John S. Steward of 52
Morningside Avenue, who was on his way to Iquique. Mr. Steward was one
of the first to bring up life preservers and blankets and hand them to
the women and children. Then he jumped overboard and was picked up.
"Muller, who was drowned, was near me," Mr. Steward continued. "He
appeared to be in distress though he could evidently swim. I shouted to
him to grab a chair that was drifting near him. He did so, but for some
reason let it go a minute after."

Woman Nurse Saves Her Friend

Miss R. G. Blanchard, a nurse in the Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago,
was on her way to nurse a sister living in Panama. Miss Blanchard saved
the life of a friend, Mrs. McCullough, by shoving her overboard when she
refused to jump to a raft.

Mrs. Thomas Haligan of Toledo, Ohio, who was on her way to Cristobal
with her five young children, was in bed in her cabin with her baby when
the collision occurred. Getting up as the vessel settled, she saw that a
small boat was alongside.

As she held her baby before the porthole in her cabin one of the men in
the boat shouted to her to throw the infant to him. This she succeeded
in doing, not believing that she would be able to reach the deck
herself. She managed, however, to struggle up the companionway, just as
Miss Minnie Mahoney, her sister, who occupied an adjoining cabin with
some off the children, got them to the deck. Fear of suction as the ship
sank caused the women to drop the children overboard near boats which
picked them up. Then they both jumped themselves and were saved.

Mrs. Ira Talbot of Chicago was the woman who jumped overboard with her
14-month-old son in her arms. She reached the upper deck from her
stateroom, stumbled and fell, rolled along, shielding the baby, then
staggered to her feet and jumped overboard. She was unconscious when
picked up by a White Star boat. When restored to consciousness her
first words were an inquiry about the baby. When told that it was saved
she fainted again, and when revived wept for joy.

A narrow escape from death was that of Mrs. Hattie Schwartzbergh of
Lumbertown, S. C., who was going to Panama to join her husband. They
were married in September and the young woman lost all her wedding
presents. Like other passengers, Mrs. Schwartzbergh jumped overboard. As
she was drifting away and making frantic efforts to keep afloat she
grabbed George H. Simmons of Detroit. Simmons was holding up Miss Bertha
Gebhart. In her excitement Mrs. Schwartzbergh caught him about the neck,
and the three were in danger of sinking, when Simmons cried out for her
to cling to him by his life belt. This she did, and the man kept both
women afloat until one was rescued by C. B. Jennings, a freight clerk.

The story of the skipper having threatened several men with a pistol to
make them leave a boat was told by J. E. Goldman, a Government Inspector
of Commissary in the Canal Zone.

"I saw half a dozen coal passers jump into one of the boats," said Mr.
Goldman. "I think it was the second. Than I saw the Captain draw his
revolver and point it at the men. I didn't near what he said but one of
the other passengers told me later that he had heard the Captain yell,
'Get out of there; women and children first.' As a matter of fact the
women and children, I believe, had all got off in the first boat, but
any way those coal passers jumped back to the Finance and went off again
later after the passengers."

Mrs. M. J. Cody was travelling with four children. They were all
rescued. Mrs. Cody lives in Scranton, Penn. She was on her way to join
her husband.

"I was dressing in the cabin with Annie, who is 8 years old," she said.
"We heard a whistle, then came a crash and the boat listed. I saw a
small boat come along side, and I pushed Annie through the porthole. My
brother-in-law helped me rescue the other children, putting life
preservers on them before they jumped."

When the Georgic reached her pier at the foot of Christopher Street,
about 6:30 o'clock, the longshoremen on the pier were startled to hear a
terrific racket coming from the ship. Investigation showed the
disturbance came from four elephants consigned to the Hippodrome. In
the time they were marooned down the bay the four elephants trumpeted so
loudly and showed themselves to be so nervous as to cause great anxiety
to their mahouts and the crew of the Georgic. The moment they felt the
vessel grate against the end of the pier they seemed to recognize that
they were safe from fog and storm.

Passengers on the Finance

The passengers on the Finance were:

J. E. Goodman, Edward H. Galligher, Charles W. Schweinler, C. L.
Nielsen, Mrs. Herman Holmquist and infant, M. F. Rodriguez, Leroy Smith,
Charles S. McCallum, Mrs. A. E. Le Prince and daughter, R. A. Conrad,
Edward A. Brown, A. F. Blackburn, wife, and infant; A. P. Nucheesi, Mrs.
A. G. Meyer, E. L. Warren, Mrs. John Hayes and niece, John F. McGovern,
M. C. Azima and son, E. E. Fenharty, Charles H. James, B. F. Metcalf,
Mrs. William McCulloch, Miss Mahoney, Miss R. G. Blanchard, Frank
Whitman, Mrs. S. F. Talbot, and infant, Patrick Maloney, Mrs. K. M.
Gebhart and two children, 10 and 16 years of age; Miss Irene Campbell,
Stanley Greenridge, Paul Groff, Ignatz Kagdan, J. R. Sweeney, Campiani
Poalo, George H. Simmonds, George R. McKee, Mrs. Thomas Haligan and five
children, Mrs. Harvey A. Lincoln and two children, J. W. Martin and
wife, Mrs. M. J. Cody and tour children, Henry Miller. H. O. Jacrel,
Isadore Remas, F. A. Thompson, Richard E. James, Miss Gladys Reams,
Crawford Moore, N. Parrott, Mrs. A. Schwartzberg, Charles P Strum, F. H.
Brundage, John Stewart, George Sharte, Mrs. A. Stethott and
seven-year-old son, T. O. McQueen, G. Percival Chick, and George Hall.

All of these, with the exception of the last three, were bound for
either Panama or Colon, and nearly all were employes in the Canal Zone
or relatives of employes. T. O. McQueen's destination was Culebra, and
Chick and Hall were bound through to San Francisco.

The chances of saving the Finance are good unless a long spell of bad
weather sets in. The vessel was loaded with machinery, produce, and
general merchandise. The greater part will be damaged by the salt water.
The Merritt-Chapman Company has wrecking boats standing by the sunken
craft, and they will begin raising her at once.

The officers of the Finance are:

Captain Norman W. Mowbray, First Officer W. Peterson. Second Officer J.
Munroe, Third Officer A. T. Musselwhaite, Chief Engineer J. W. Puckett,
First Assistant Engineer A. Greig, Second Assistant Engineer A. Sunberg,
Third Assistant Engineer W. H. Todd, Purser C. M. Johnson, Surgeon Dr.
J. H. Neigh, Steward Thomas Maher, Wireless Operator F. B. Chambers,
Freight Clerk C. B. Jennings.

The Finance is owned by the United States Government, which holds a
majority of the stock of the Panama Railroad Company. She was built in
1833, was of 1,649 tons, 300 feet long, 38 feet beam, and drew 23 feet.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
MAB Note: As suggested in this article, there was litigation arising out
of the Georgic-Finance collision. Both ships were found to have been
at fault for not stopping when the other sounded her fog horns and
Finance for also being on the wrong side of the Main Ship Channel.
The Georgic, 180 F. 863 (S.D.N.Y. 1910).

The New York Times, 28 November 1908

High Seas Make It Impossible to Explore Steamer Sunk in Lower Bay
Clothing and Other Comforts Sent to Those on the Allianca---Steamboat
Inspectors to Investigate the Disaster
Wreckers made an examination yesterday of the sunken Panama liner
Finance, but the heavy wind created such a sea that the divers were
unable to go down. The Merritt-Chapman wrecking boat I. J. Merritt left
the Finance in the morning and came to anchor in the bay. The deckhouse
of the. steamer has been loosened by the sea and was washing about the
wreck yesterday. The vessel, it is believed, will be saved. The Board of
Steamboat inspectors is waiting the report of.Capt. Mowbray of the
Finance; which the skipper was too busy to file yesterday. There is an
unwritten law that such a report should be filed within twelve hours of
an accident.

The passengers from the sunken steamer are being cared for by the Panama
Railroad Company, and yesterday Vice President E. A. Drake of the
company had a large department store send down a salesman to the steamer
Allianca, where a majority of the survivors are housed, and by last
evening every one of the seventy-five passengers who could be
communicated with was supplied with clothing.

Capt. Ira Harris, Supervising Inspector of the United States Steamboat
Inspection Service, notified the local board to be ready to conduct an
investigation into the causes of the collision as soon as possible. Of
the two members of the board Inspector of Hulls Seeley is in town, but
Inspector of Boilers Crone is on leave. He will return to the office
on Monday, and it is believed by that time Capt. Mowbray will have made
his report and the investigation can be begun. The Georgic, being under
a British flag, Capt. Clark will have to face a British Board of Trade

As to the actual claim for damages which the Panama Line will file
against the White Star Line, Mr. Drake said that that matter was all in
the hands of Johnson & Higgins of 49 Wall Street.

The important features of the investigation will relate to the signals
and course of the Georgic. A steamship man pointed out that Capt.
Mowbray had fulfilled the law when he answered the Georgic's whistle,
and reversed engines as he sounded the danger signal.

Vice President Drake said that the value of the Finance was $250,000,
and that the cargo was assessed at the same amount. Besides, she carried
$100,000 in specie for the workmen in the Canal Zone.

To accommodate the friends of the survivors, who are sheltered on the
steamer Allianca at anchor in the North River, the Superintendent of the
Panama Line had a New York Central tug in service to carry visitors to
her. The tug took out a great quantity of clothing and many delicacies
to those on board. The same craft took out also a large supply of food
and clothing provided by the company.

The four Hippodrome elephants, which were brought over on the Georgic,
were landed yesterday afternoon. Capt Clark said that they were a
source of worry to him, for he expected that when the crash came they
might break out and stampede. The elephants were led from the liner by
Alfredo Rossi, the trainer.

Yesterday the wreckers succeeded in getting out of the wreck some of the
passengers' personal effects. A special effort will be made to get out
the mail matter. Of the 768 sacks of mail that the vessel carried only
six sacks have been recovered.

The Finance had on board a great quantity of foodstuffs, and in order
that there will be no shortage in the rations of the canal employes, the
Government, which owns the Panama Line, will rush supplies to the
Isthmus on the Orinoco.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The New York Times, 29 November 1908

Government Will Reimburse Panama Line for the Loss of the Vessel
Panama Company Said to Have Heard the Georgic's Steering Gear Had Gone
Wrong---Mail Recovered
Whatever loss there is through the sinking of the steamer Finance by the
Georgic on Thanksgiving Day will fall upon the Government unless the
Federal authorities recover from the White Star Line, and this accounts
for the fact that the underwriters have taken no interest in the
collision. Within a short time the Isthmian Canal Commission will
appoint a board of survey to examine into and fix the loss and the
commission will pay the amount awarded to the Panama Railroad Company,
as to a separate concern. What will really be done is that the
Government will take from the canal appropriation moneys to reimburse
itself for loss suffered by another department, for the Government owns
the stock of the Panama Railroad Company, and the Board of Directors is
composed of Government officials.

Insurance on the fleet of the railroad company, which operates the line
of steamers between this port and the Canal Zone was discontinued on
July 11 last, and the Government took upon itself all responsibility for

At the last session of Congress a provision was made in the section of
the bill appropriating money for the Canal Commission that the
appropriation should be available to reimburse the Panama Railroad
Company for all marine losses such as could be covered by insurance. It
provided, however, that the company discontinue all other insurance.
This was done on July 11, the first of the fiscal year, when the
appropriation became available.

The Finance was valued at $250,000 and her cargo at a like figure. As
the law does not specify what amount at the appropriation can be used to
make good the loss to the Panama Company, the officials are not
worrying, for they have at their disposal many millions of dollars to
pay for the steamer and her cargo. The Government, as the owner of the
line, will make the White Star Line pay the bill if the facts brought
out at the investigation show that Capt. Clark was at fault.

Two interesting facts in connection with the accident were learned
yesterday. It is said that when the Georgic struck the Finance some one
on the Georgic made the mistake of letting go the anchor before her bow
was clear of the hole cut in the Finance. In consequence of this mistake
the anchor dropped in the hole in the Finance's side, and as the
Georgic fell away the fluke of the anchor caught and tore out some of
the sinking steamer's plates. It had been reported to the officials of
the Panama line, though they refuse to discuss it, that Capt. Clark was
heard to say that his vessel refused to answer her helm, and that she
was too light to be easily handled.

The total loss by the collision was yesterday cut down $115,000 when the
wreckers recovered from the strong room of the sunken vessel specie and
other valuables. Besides the $100,000 in gold, which the commission was
shipping to pay off the employes, there was in the treasure room $7,200
belonging to the navy, a valuable registered mail, many packages
containing valuables, and some jewelry. The valuables committed to the
care of the purser are still in the safe in his room.

As soon as the wrecking boat went alongside the Finance yesterday
morning the divers began the work of recovering the treasure. The strong
room was on the main deck aft, and was easily reached. Two keys open the
safe. The diver had but little trouble. Entering the room, the diver
brought out the nine or ten boxes containing the gold, and it was
hoisted to the lighter. Yesterday a number of mail bags and many small
articles were recovered.

The next thing that will be undertaken is to get the cargo out of the
sunken hull. As soon as that is done the work of raising the vessel
will be begun.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The New York Times, 1 December 1908

Inspectors Commend Him for His Conduct When the Vessel Was Sinking
War Department Is Advised That She Can't Be Refloated---Storm Heading
This Way
The local board of United States Steamboat Inspectors yesterday
exonerated Capt. M. W. Mowbray of the Finance, sunk last Thursdays [sic]
in collition [sic] with the Georgic, and declared that he had taken all
necessary steps for the protection of his passengers. Not only that,
Inspectors Seeley and Crone, comprising the board, commended him for
compelling some of his crew at pistol's point to give up a lifeboat to
the women and children when the Finance was sinking.

The board did not attempt to pass upon either the conduct of Capt. Clark
of the Georgic or to fix the blame for the collision that cost four
lives. As the White Star liner is under the British flag, that side of
the case will be investigated by the British Board of Trade.

The report that the wreckers will not be able to save the sunken Finance
is borne out by a dispatch sent yesterday to Secretary of War Wright. He
was informed that the vessel will be a total loss.

The wreckers are giving all their attention to taking out the cargo.
Yesterday a lot of valuable cargo packages were recovered.

The purser's safe, in which are the passengers' valuables, has broken
through the deck into the hold.

Negotiations are still pending for the purchase of the steamships
Shawmut and Tremont, now at Seattle, Wash. If they are obtained they
will be used as transports for the Isthmian Canal, and one of them will
take the place of the Finance.

Congress appropriated $1,500,000 to purchase two transports, and the
owners of these vessels are asking the Government $750,000 apiece for
them. The department has not agreed to the price.

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The New York Times, 3 December 1908

Sunken Ship's Owners Want White Star Line to Pay $82,000
E. A. Drake, Vice President of the Panama Railroad Company, owner of the
steamship Finance, sunk as a result of a collision on Nov. 26, filed a
suit in Admiralty in the United States District Court yesterday against
the British steamship Georgic of the White Star Line in which damages of
$260,000, less specie amounting to $178,000 recovered from the sunken
vessel, are asked for the loss of the vessel and cargo.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The New York Times, 8 December 1908

A Drop of 23 Degrees Already---Gale Along the Coast
[The first four paragraphs, describing yesterday's 12-hour daytime
temperature drop from 57 degrees Fahrenheit to 34 and a heavy rainstorm,
with a forecast of colder weather and a severe gale to come, have not
been transcribed.]

It is considered probable that the storm has destroyed the chances for
saving the steamer Finance, sunk near Sandy Hook on Thanksgiving Day by
the White Star liner Georgic. The wind shifted so that she now lies
with her bow to the north. Her upper works have broken up, and
yesterday her stack was carried away. Last night she lay with nothing
showing above the water but her masts and the flagstaff at her stern.

It is probable that not much can be done toward salving her and that
within a few days she will be blown up.

[A final paragraph has also not been transcribed.]


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The New York Times, 18 February 1909

The Georgia's [sic] Captain Refuses to Manoeuvre His Ship for Them.
The tug John A. Bouker took down the bay yesterday morning Lieut.
Commander Crossley and Lieut. Nichols of the navy. Their object was to
board the incoming White Star freighter Georgic and come with her
through the channel in order to see how the vessel steered and how the
channel was negotiated.

On Thanksgiving Day the Georgic, incoming, ran down and sunk [sic] the
Panama liner Finance, and several lives were lost. The Government, which
practically owns the Panama Line, then brought suit against the White
Star Line to recover damages for the loss of the Finance. The naval
officers wanted to study conditions under which the two vessels collided
with a view of giving expert testimony.

The big freighter had reached Quarantine yesterday when the tug got
there, and the naval officers boarded her and requested Capt. Clark, the
Georgic's commander, to take his vessel out to sea and in again so that
they could make observations. This the Captain refused to do, and he
brought the Georgic to her pier.

The Georgic brought a 9,900-ton cargo, including 400 tons of Irish


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The New York Times, 16 June 1909

Divers Worked Six Months to Get It from Sunken Liner
After some six months of heavy work under the surface of the water in
the lower channel, divers employed by the War Department yesterday
rescued six bags of first-class mail, some of it containing registered
letters, from the wreckage of the steamer Finance of the Panama Railroad
Company. The bags themselves, sealed and locked, were in good
condition, though the mail within was thoroughly soaked with water. It
is now drying out in the engine room of the General Post Office.

The White Star liner Georgia, [sic] a freighter, tore a great hole in
the bow of the Finance on Nov. 27, 1908, and sent her to the bottom when
both she and the Finance were manoeuvring three miles east of Sandy Hook
Light in the fog trying to get to sea. Fifteen minutes later the
steamer sank with all her mail and baggage aboard, and in the confusion,
three passengers and an assistant engineer were drowned.

The War Department gave the contract of removing the wreckage and
recovering the mall to a wrecking company, whose divers have been at
work ever since. Some second-class mail was recovered months ago, dried
out with good results, and sent on to its destination, but the
first-class mail, in bags weighing from 30 to 40 pounds, was so enmeshed
in wreckage that the divers could not work their way to it until

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