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John Quill: 1910

John Quill: 1910

Circa 1910. "Sternwheeler John Quill, packet steamer." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Jas. T Staples' ghost!

Researching to find out why some steamboats have fluted stacks like the Staples in the distance, I came across this:

Visit any university campus in Alabama and someone there will tell you about the resident ghosts. One of the strangest ghost stories is the tale of the Captain Norman Staples. Captain Staples designed and built the most elegant riverboat on Alabama rivers and named the boat after his father, James T. Staples. From the moment of its maiden voyage in 1908, the riverboat James T. Staples was in trouble.

The large riverboat companies at the time were determined to put Captain Staples out of business and succeeded in doing so in 1912. On January 2, 1913, Captain Stapes committed suicide and three days later, his ghost began appearing on the deck of the riverboat. The crew, frightened by his apparition, quit and another crew had to be found. The new crew, although they knew nothing about the former Captain, reported seeing a ghost like man in the boiler room of the ship. Exactly one year, almost to the hour, the boiler of the riverboat blew up, killing the new captain and twenty-five members of the crew. Once the ships sank, local residents reported seeing Captain Staples' ghost standing guard over the graves of his four children in Bladon Springs Cemetery.

Chills up my spine!

Tired Already

The John Quill looks pretty tired for only two years of service. Must have led a hard life. Note the interesting struts and tension cables designed to pull the ends up and keep the boat from "hogging" (rising in the middle), which increased drag and reduced fore and aft freeboard. I wonder if those were original or added later.

Alabama steamer

The "John Quill" was a common sight on the Mobile, Tombigbee, and Black Warrior Rivers, running north from Mobile to Alabama inland river ports such as Demopolis, Claiborne, and Tuscaloosa. Google it for links to lots of digitally archived photos of the steamboat in its working days.

The John Quill

ran primarily the Tombigbee and Warrior Rivers in Alabama above Mobile, where this photograph was probably taken. Built by the famous Howard Shipyard at Jeffersonville, Indiana, for her namesake in 1907, she served that stretch of river until towed to Twelve Mile Island on the Mobile River (just northeast of Mobile) and dismantled there in 1928. The other vessel is the Jas. T. Staples, built 1908 at Mobile.

Show Boat

One can almost hear a rich voice start to sing "Old Man River"

Meet John Quill

The John Quill was built in 1907 at the Howard yards in Jeffersonville, Indiana. She was 168 x 35 feet. Ran for the Quill and Moore line on the Mobile, Tombigbee, and Alabama rivers. Her last trip was in 1928.

The second boat is the _y Staples.

[James T. Staples. - Dave]

Launched 1907, Destroyed 1928

Launched: 1907, Jeffersonville, Ind. by Howard Yard
Destroyed: 1928, Feb., towed from Mobil to Twelve Mile Island on what was termed her last trip.
Area: Mobile, Tombigbee and Alabama Rs.
Owners: built for Capt. John Quill and Moore, Mobile, Ala.
Comments: 1916, June 12, Warrior R., hit rock and sank in 15' of water. LINK

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