Ships Named

From Wyoming Tales and Trails

This Page: The Schooners Wyoming, the Governor Brooks and the Washakie; General Kabis' ashes.

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About This Site

The Schooner Wyoming off the coast of Maine.

During the period 1907-1909, three wooden vessels came down the ways in New England each of which had a distinct relationship with Wyoming. One was the longest wooden ship in the world. Another had to be abandoned off the coast of Uruguay and was burned like a Viking long ship and finally dynamited to preclude it from being a hazard to navigation. The third ended her days in a fishing fleet working out of Pensacola, Florida. The most famous of those vessels was the six-masted schooner Wyoming constructed at the Percy & Small boatyard, Bath, Maine, in 1909. The ship was the longest wooden ship ever constructed, 329 feet long. Besides its name, major investors were from Wyoming. Two years earlier Governor Governor Byant B. Brooks invested in a five-masted schooner named in his honor, the Governor Brooks. Supposedly Governor Brooks made private investments in four ships constructed by Percy and Small.

The Wyoming under construction, Bath, Maine, showing the framing.

To preclude the frame from "hogging" [racking] in heavy seas, the ship's timbers were tied together with diagonal iron straps visible in the above image.

The Wyoming under construction, Bath, Maine, 1909.

The Schooner Wyoming

At the ship's christening, she was sponsored by Lena Natrona Brooks (McCleary), the daughter of Wyoming Governor Brooks. Both the Goveror Brooks and the Wyoming were constructed for the purpose of long distance transportion of coal. On the Wyoming's maiden commercial run from Baltimore to Boston she carried 5,822 tons of soft coal.

The launching of the Schooner Wyoming

At the time of the ships' construction there was still a need for bulk cargo ships propelled by sail. Although most merchantmen were coal fired steamers, delivery of coal supplies to distant points was expensive. Coal fired ships did not have a great range due to the bulk of coal. As an example,in the 1890's, the HMS Powerful and the HMS Trrible had the largest coal bunkers afloat, but without replenishing coal along the way, neither ship could make it to China. The German Imperial Navy's Gefion at the time of the Boxer Rebellion had the greatest range of any ship in the German Imperial Navy, approximately 4,000 nautical miles. From Hamburg to Shanghai in a straight line is 4753 nautical miles. The distance was far greater around through the British owned Gibralter, past Malta and through the Suez Canal. Britain had coaling stations in Gibralter, Malta, Alexandria and Aden. Indeed, it may be said that the reason the Royal Navy ruled the waves was that Britannia ruled the coaling stations. No foreign fleet could venture forth without the risk of not getting home. In showing his flag in China, the Kaiser had to rely on British owned coaling stations. At the end of the Spanish-American War troop ships returning American troops from the Philippines had to re-coal in Japan. Similarly when President Theodore Roosevelt dispatched the Great White Fleet, the Navy had to rely on some thirty British registered vessels to provide coal suffient to get the fleet from Hampton Roads to San Francisco. The Navy was able to contract with only eight American Registered vessels. The American merchant marine had not yet recovered from its decimation during the Civil War. At the time of the Spanish-American War, the United States had no foreign coaling stations. Even after the United States took control of the Philippines, and established its own coaling station there, it had to rely on New Zealand and Australian coal and obtained much of its coal used on ship in the North Atlantic from South Wales (soft coal was not really suitable for maritime use). Thus there was a demand for large sailing ships for long distance transportaion of coal.

Coaling stations had to be established along the various sea routes so that the steam vessels could be re-coaled. Sail provided an inexpensive method of delivering coal to far flung ports. Sailing colliers such as the Wyominghad the advantage of unlimited range and were inexpensive to operate.

The Wyoming was so equipped that it could be operated by a minimal crew of thirteen. The Wyoming represented the highest development in the construction of wooden sailing vessels. Hoisting of sails was accomplished using a gasoline powered donkey engine. On board, members of the crew could communicate with each other with telephones. The ship was fitted with wireless, steam heat, and hot and cold water. She cost $175,000 (in 1909 dollars) to construct and measured 3,730 tons. "Tons" when used with regard to a vessel refers to the volume of the ship not its weight. One ton equals 100 cubic feet of volume using a formula originally created in 1773. The total internal volume of a ship is its gross tonnage. Subtraction of that portion of the ship not used for cargo will produce the net tonnage. The total weight of the vessel laden is the displacement measured in long tons of 2240 lbs. The weight of the vessel is determined by subtracting from the displacement the difference in displacement when the ship is fully unloaded. The Wyoming had 3730 gross tons, 3036 net tons, and 6004 tons deadweight. The purpose of the measurement of tonnage was to determine port dues.

From its time of their launching until 1917, the ships regularly paid dividents to its investors so that by 1917, the investors had fully recovered their inial investments. With the war, the Wyoming and the Governor Brooks and several other vessels managed by Percy and Small were sold to France & Canada Steamship Line in New York. [Writer's note: There were two corporations named France and Canada. One was incorporated in New York and the other in Quebec. The ships were sold to the New York corporation.] The Wyoming brought twice what it originally cost to build and equip. The Philadelphia Enquirer, Jan. 20,1922, put it at $425,000. During the war, the ships carried bulk cargo to Europe and elsewhere, indeed as far away as East Africa. Following the war the Wyoming sold for $36,000 along with the Governor Brooks and the Cora F. Cressey and other vessels originally constructed by Percy and Small. They was put back in service carrying coal.

The Schooner Wyoming

With the Wyoming's great length, a problem developed. In heavy seas not withstanding the iron strapping, the ship's frame tended to hog or buckle, loosening the planking. Thus, the ship generally required the use of pumps. In late 1924, the Wyoming proceeded from Boston to Norfolk, Virginia, to pick up coal needed in St. John, New Brunswick, where there was a severe shortage of coal due to a strike in Canada. Norfolk was one of the few ports in the United States able to provide coal which came from northern Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Unidentified six-masted schooner at the Norfolk & Western Railway coal pier 3, Elizabeth River, Norfolk, Virginia. Detroit Publishing Company Phosphint image.

The schooner Governor Brooks also regularly took on coal at Norfolk. From newpaper reports the Wyoming was employed carrying bulk loads of coal southward as far as Argentina and carrying other bulk loads such as fertilizer and grain back. In December 1915, she was carrying a load of linseed on a return from Argentina. One hundred miles Southeast of Hatteras she ran into six hours of hurricane force winds in which her rudder head was sprung and lost her sails. she had to be towed into a port in North Carolina.

The Schooner Cora F. Cressey, 1902

The Governor Brooks cost $132,000 (in 1907 dollars). Investment in the ship were made in shares. Shares were purchased by Governor Brooks, his ranching corporation B.B. Brooks Company, and his brother John. Others from Wyoming who invested in the ship included the Richardson Brothers of Cheyenne, John H. Fullerton from Cheyenne; Harold Banner from Glenrock; Patrick A. Sullivan from Casper; and J. D. Woodruff from Fremont County. The Richardson Brothers (Warren Richardson, Jr, Clarence Richardson and Emile Richardson) had constructed the Tivoli Building and were involved in financing mortgages. All except Fullerton had interests in livestock (mainly sheep) and banks. Fullerton was the general manager of the Inter-Ocean Hotel in Cheyenne.

The ship' s insignia was a red "V - V" matching the governor's cattle brand. Due to the unusualness of the insignia, one spectator at the Launching allegedly commented: "I never saw it in a code book and suppose it is some Masonic sign." There may have been a reason for such supposition, all of the investors from Wyoming, were comparitively high-ranking members of the Masonic fraternity (Scottish Rite). Brooks, himself, later became the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Wyoming.

With the success of the Governor Brooks, the list of investors in the Wyoming two years later grew and included in addition to the previous ones such luminaries as brewers and soda pop bottlers the Hofman Brothers, Amelia Kent (maiden name for Amelia Kent Barber wife Amos Barber) and major landholders. All were politically savy with the exception of Democratic Party stallwart Leopold Kabis whose wife Nellie appears on the list of investors. In 1893, he figuratively relieved himself in his mess kit which resulted in his being censured by the state Senate. The New York Times, Feb. 20, 1893 in a non-judgmental and unbiased fashion explained:

In the State Senate last night the Republicans unseated a Democratic hold-over and censured another member of the party. The gentleman ousted is James Kime of Fremont. The flimsy charge hurled against him was that he was a postmaster. Kime resigned his Federal position Dec. 31, and, failing to get relieved, turned the office over to his bondsmen. He had documentary evidence, but a statement from John Wanamaker said that he was still "legally" Postmaster. He will be returned by his people. The member reprimanded wus Leopold Kabis of this town, a leading German of the State. He was disgraced on trumped-up charges that he had aided in an attempt to procure the absence of Kline from a joint session. Kline was put out before this matter was taken up, and was not allowed to speak on behalf of Kabis.

And what did Senator Kabis do to his fellow Democratic senator "Uncle Jimmy" Kime [See Larson, p. 288] to warrant such action. H allegedly participated in bribing an individual to give Senator Kime a poisoned wine cocktail. "Men of Wyoming" referred to kabis as an "unadulterated and absolutely pure" Democrat. The Daily Sun, February 25, 1893, p.3 was less kind referring to him as "pompus and thickpated.' Possbly in recompense for the infamy visited upon him, Kabis was apppointed by Governor Osborne as Adjudant General. He was an Odd Fellow and the first Exalted Ruler of Cheyenne Lodge No. 660 of the Elks.

General Kabis died in 1919. Close to his death bed, he instructed Nellie to spread his ashes over the windswept prairies east of Cheyenne. In compliance with his wishes. she did so. For her efforts she was sued by Emile Richardson and A. R. Johnston demanding that, pursuant to Kabis' will, the ashes be turned over to them so that he could be interred in the Elks Rest Cemetery and a $500 monument could be erected in his memory. Besides the ashes having already been spread to the winds east of Cheyenne, there was another problem. There was no Elks Cemetery. Judge Mentzer rules in favor Nellie. She did not have to go out to the prairie and gather up her husband's ashes. See Wyoming State Tribune, July 16, 1920., p. 1.

The SchoonerGovernor Brooks, 1907

In 1920 the Governor Brooks was carrying a load of coal from Norfolk to Uraguay. As she crossed the equator, she ran into a storm which necessitated her putting into Rio de Janeiro for repairs. There another ship collided with her, extending the time for repairs. The coal had to be off-loaded by hand. In port at the same time was the ill-fated five-masted Carrol A. Deering delivering a load of coal. On December 2, 1920, the Carrol A. Deering cleared Rio de Janeiro. She never made it home. The fate of her crew is an unsolved mystery of the deep. It took another three months for the repairs to the Governor Brooks to be effectuated. In March, she finally resumed her voyage to Montevideo. On the way, the leaks reappeared and finally the ship had to be abandoned. A British freighter discovered the abandoned vessel and her crew. Because the Wyoming was a hazard to navigation, the British ship set the Governor Brooks on fire as if she were a Viking long ship. But she refused to die and she finally had to be dynamited.

As to the Wyoming, in 1924, perhaps several members of her crew had a premonition of disaster. On January 7, one of the mates on the Wyoming disappeared. Captain Charles Glaesel explained in a note:

To the U.S. Shipping Commissioner
Boston, Mass.


I hereby report the disappearance of John G Peters from the Schr. “Wyoming” of which I am Master. Peters came on board the Schooner 11 A.M. Jan. 7th, 1924 when the ship was tied up at Winnisimmet Ship Yard, Chelsea. About 6 P.M., he went to his room and to bed. Next morning the man could not be found on the vessel. A note was found on his desk directing that his Watch and valuables be turned over to Parties in Boston. The Note also read. Good Bye.
Watch, Money, Note and Papers were turned over to Police Headquarters, Chelsea, Mass. His Clothes, Sailors Bag and Suit Case forwarded to your office.

Yours truly,
Chas. Glaesel
Schr. Wyoming

The ship arrived in Norfolk on February 20, 1924. On March 3, after taking on coal, the ship's cook, 23 year old Soren M. Pederson, a former oil rigger from Texas, left the ship along with one othr ship mate. The two were replaced. the ship with a crew of 13, left Norfolk bound for St. John, New Brunswick, where there was a shortage of coal due to a strike. On March 10, a nor'easter hit the coast of New England. The Wyoming was seen at dusk that day by the Cora F. Cressey off the Pollock Rip Lightship. The Cora F. Cressey was a near duplicate of the Governor Brooks launched from Percy and Small in 1902. The Wyoming was apparently anchored in an effort to ride out the storm. The area was the same, as noted below, in which the fishing schooner Washakie in 1915 lost a number of its dories. The lightship, itself, in 36 hours of gale force winds was thrown on its beam ends and shipped heavy seas notwithstanding that it was running its engine. The lightship was lost with all hands on September 14, 1944.

Greenfield Daily Recorder on March 14, 1924, reported the names of the crew of the Wyoming presumed to be lost: Capt Charles Glaesel, Boston; first mate Augustus Lundahl, Cambridge; second mate, Orrin McIntyre, Boston; engineer, Wiliam Allen, St. Jude,N.B; seamen, Edwward Rollins, Cambridge; John Lopez, Boston; John Medina, Norfold, Va; Frank Smith, Huntsville,Mo.; Jacob O. Gammon, Boston; Antonio Santos, Norfolk; E. V. Covineau, Boston, and Pedro Borrios, Boston; cook J. Peterson, Boston On March 16, the Portland Press Herald reported that several life belts from the Wyoming had been found. Other reports came in that the name board and a 72 fts. section of a mast had washed ashore on the north end of Nantucket. One other vessel was lost, a rum runner, name unknow. Seventy-nine years later the remains of the great sailing ship were found. On November 8, 2003, the Cape Code Times reported that the remains of the Wyoming had been found at a depth of 65-70 feet. The ship had broken midship. One of the members of the company searching for the vessel speculated that with the heavy seas, the ship laden with a full load of coal had hit bottom in a large trough breaking the keel.

The work of the seamen onboard the great coal schooners was a dirty one and hard one. In some ports the coal had to be unloaded by shovel. Each member of the crew participated.

Seamen of the Wyoming, undated.

The Washakie, launched in October 1909, was constructed in the Richard T. Green shipyard in Chelsea for Captain Elias A. Malone. Malone was a commission merchant in Boston. The vessel was fitted out in Gloucester. The vessel was a two-masted "knockabout" schooner. She was 100 feet long, 21 ft. beam and 9 ft. 7 inches deep. Knockabout schooners were originated by Thomas P. McManus of Boston. They eliminated the necessity of a bowsprit by lengthening of the bow. The Washake was used for long lines fishing. The vessel was regarded as the final evolution of a fishing schooner. See "Portrait of Port Boston, 1852-1914," The fishing was conducted from dories. The expression "the fog bound coast of New England," is not without meaning. A danger in fishing from dories is that in the fog the dories could become separated from the mother ship. In 1913, the Washakie lost two dories, but the men were able swim ashore on Cape Cod somewhat worse for the wear.

In June, 1915 wire services reported:

LOST GLOUCESTER, Mass., June 5. - The fishing schooner Washakie, of Boston, put into this port today in charge of the cook and one fisherman, the other twelve members of the crew having heen lost in the fog, while fishing from dories on Sunday, when thirty miles off Nantucket. The schooner's crew could not find the fishermen in the dense fog.

The rest of the crew was rescued by men from two separate light ships. Sometimes the crews lost in the fog would be picked up by a passing steamer. If the steamer was heading east, that might be Queenstown [present day Cork] or Liverpool. But oft times, the fishermen would never be heard from again. In 1916,the Washakie was sold to the Warren Fish Co. of Pensacola, Florida, 1920 and used for Grouper and Red Snapper fishing off the Campeche Banks in the Gulf of Mexico. Andrew Fuller Warren (1842-1919), the founder of the fish company, originally came from Massachusetts. The company he founded continued to use excusively sail at least until the 1950's. Sail, of course, made sense inasmuch as the fishing ground were approximately 700 miles from Pensacola. The company finally closed in 1959.

The Washakie, at the Baylen Street Wharf, Pensacola, Florida, approx. 1920. Photo courtsy of the Florida Bureau of Archives.

The Warren Fish Co. owned the Baylen Street Wharf in downtown Pensacola. In 1920 the company owned 18 fishing schooners the majority of which were constructed in New England, although about five were constructed near Milton, Fla. Many of its fishermen were from New England. However, as pointed out by Jason Thomas Raupp in his "Hook, Line, and Sinker, Historical and Archaeological Investigations of the Snapper Wreck (8SR1001) Masters Thesis University of West Florida, they were regarded as "motley crews of nomads" drinking up their shares in the bars along Palafox Street or by frequentling other facilities for lonely seamen on Liberty Street. Raupp quoted one captain: "The cheap wine they sell in those Palafox bars is a bigger menace to the snapper industry than any hurricane." The years did not relieve the thirst of fishermen employed on Warren Fish Company vessels. In Bass v. Warren Fish Company, 146 F. Supp 742 (1956), reversed on other grounds 245 F. 2d 43 (5th Cir. 1957), the court noted as to the crew of another of the company's boats, "The evidence indicates strongly that most of the crew, including plaintiff, that left on the Francis Taylor were intoxicated when the vessel left port and remained in an intoxicated condition until the vessel arrived at the fishing grounds some five days later."

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