Towboat Oliver C. Shearer

Source: Marietta Manufacturing Company Records, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #742

M.V. Towboat "Oliver C. Shearer" being built

M.V. Towboat "Oliver C. Shearer" being built

Staff Person: Emily Blankenship

Description:
The Marietta Manufacturing Company records were officially donated to the Special Collections Department in the spring of 1997. A team of four library staff and students traveled to West Virginia to obtain the records. After spending two days retrieving over 200 cubic feet of records and packing them in a van, the team completed the nearly 900 mile roundtrip back to Greenville. The administrative (paper) records of the company are now processed. The finding aid is available online at: Manuscript Collection 742.

The photo below is of the towboat Oliver C. Shearer on the day it was launched, Dec. 8, 1960. The boat was built by Marietta for the O. F. Shearer River Transportation Company. If you look closely, there are 6 men standing under the boat readying the carriage and cradles (which hold the hull) for release and greasing the ways (rails) for the launching.

According to the January 9, 1961 edition of the Inland Waterways Journal, “Mrs. Oliver C. Shearer christened the boat at 3 p.m. and within seconds a hand ratchet was tripped. The boat slowly gained momentum until she careened down into the waters of the Ohio River, going in a 45 degree angle to port, and then lazily falling back to starboard before she settled and righted herself, head toward the shore. Numerous Marietta workmen in rowboats pulled out to retrieve the carriage and cradles on which the Oliver C. Shearer had made her trip down the ways.”

O.F. Shearer and Sons began operations in the early 1920s moving materials on the Kentucky River. By the 1950′s O.F. Shearer & Sons offices were located in the Union Central Tower in Cincinnati and the company concentrated on Ohio and Kanawha river business. In 1973, the firm was sold to the American Electric Power Co. Today AEP and its sister company, Memco Barge Lines, are major players in the inland river industry. The O.F. Shearer and Sons company records are in the care of the Pt. Pleasant, WV River Museum.

The Oliver C. Shearer still carries its original name, but is now owned by Campbell Transportation out of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Please contact the Special Collections Department with any questions or comments.

Marietta Manufacturing Company, “Made Mechanically Correct”

Source: Marietta Manufacturing Company Records, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #742

Staff Person: Dale Sauter

Description:
This week’s pick comes from The Marietta Manufacturing Company Records, 1906-1995, n.d. (bulk 1930-1965). M.M.C., the initials for the Marietta Manufacturing Company, also stood for its slogan, “Made Mechanically Correct.” This slogan resounded for generations, particularly with those associated with trade on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Marietta was a ship manufacturing company that began near Marietta, OH in 1852. Following a major flood on the Ohio River in 1913, the company moved to Point Pleasant, West Virginia where they remained until their closing in 1984.

The records were officially donated to the Special Collections Department in the spring of 1997. A team of four library staff and students traveled to West Virginia to obtain the records. After spending two days retrieving over 200 cubic feet of records and packing them in a van, the team completed the nearly 900 mile roundtrip back to Greenville.

In previous years all of the photographic images and a good number of the ship plan drawings have been conserved and processed by Lynette Lundin and her student assistants. The administrative (paper) records of the company have been processed. You can find a general finding aid to the records at the following.

Manuscript Collection 742

The current finding aid is in the proofing stage, but we plan to upload it very soon. There is also an historical compilation available which uses old newspaper clippings and other sources. This is “The History of Marietta Manufacturing Co.,” compiled by Captain Charles H. Stone. The call number is HD9727.W4 S76 2000 and is available in the stacks (circulating) and in the Special Collections Reference Collection (non-circulating).

The photo below (circa 1923) is of the towboat Standard, built by Marietta for Standard Oil of Ohio in 1923.

The towboat Standard.

The towboat Standard.

Now called Barbara H, it is also the oldest unaltered sternwheel towboat still in operation. A website for Barbara H can be found at the following.

Please contact us with any questions or comments you may have.

USS Merrimack aka CSS Virginia

Source: John L. Porter Collection, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #850

USS Merrimack aka CSS Virginia

USS Merrimack aka CSS Virginia

Staff Person: Jon Dembo

Description:

Attached is an original pen & ink sketch of the MERRIMAC (sic), the famous Confederate ironclad ram. The sketch was made in 1862 by Naval Constructor John Luke Porter (1831-1893) who had helped convert her into the first ironclad warship. The sketch is part of a notebook / diary which he began writing in 1860 and continued until after the Civil War. A slightly edited version of the text was published as John L. Porter: Naval Constructor of Destiny, by Alan B. Flanders in 2000. However, this may be the first time that this image has ever been published.

Originally a frigate in the US Navy known as the USS MERRIMACK, the retreating federal forces had burned her to the waterline in 1861 in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent her use by the Confederacy. Porter, one of the few professional naval constructors in service to the Confederacy led the team that raised and converted her into an ironclad warship.

Upon commissioning, the Confederate Navy renamed her CSS VIRGINIA. Almost immediately, on 8 March 1862, the MERRIMAC engaged in a series of historic naval battles sinking or damaging several wooden Union warships in an attempt to break their blockade of Southern commerce. In doing so, she decisively proved the superiority of iron over wooden-hulled warships. She made history again, on 9 March, when she fought the even more radical Union ironclad, the USS MONITOR, off Hampton Roads, Virginia. That battle, which ended in a tactical draw, was the first ever between iron hulled warships. It ushered in the age of iron and steel warships which endures to the present day. The battle between the MONITOR and the MERRIMAC proved a strategic victory for the Union by preserving the blockade and thus, may have spelled the doom of the Confederacy.

Later during the Civil War Porter went on to build more than a dozen ironclads for the Confederacy and become the head of Confederate Navy ironclad building program. Among a variety of other writings, the Porter notebook / diary contains two versions of the story of raising and re-fitting the MERRIMAC and concludes with a description of Porter’s experiences during the final days of the Civil War in Eastern North Carolina.

In later years, Southern sympathizers tended to avoid using the name MERRIMAC to describe the vessel; Porter, a loyal southerner, however, consistently used his slightly corrupted version of the ship’s original name instead of VIRGINIA. In the wake of the famous battle between the MONITOR and MERRIMAC, Porter engaged in a long-running controversy with Lt. John M. Brook, CSN, who also claimed to have been chiefly responsible for raising the MERRIMAC. Both sides continued the battle until long after the principals were deceased but without settling the matter decisively.

The Porter notebook / diary may be found in the John L. Porter Collection (#850) along with a variety of other materials relating to Porter. Please contact the Special Collections department if you have any questions.

Vessels Constitution and Etner

Source: U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office Collection, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #1041

Two sailing vessels, the Constitution and the Etner

Two sailing vessels, the Constitution and the Etner

Staff Person: Jon Dembo

Description:
This digital image shows two sailing vessels, the CONSTITUTION of Manteo and the ETNER of New Bern, in the waters of Pamlico Sound, North Carolina. The ETNER, the two-masted vessel to starboard, may be in some difficulty or have an injured or sick crewman. Her sails have been hauled in rather clumsily, she is flying a flag at half-mast, and she is tied to the CONSTITUTION by several lines. Both ships appear to have African American crews. The donor, Coast Guard Historian Jeffrey L. Bowdoin, believes that the image was taken from the Coast Guard Cutter KANKAKEE, during the summer of 1921. The KANKAKEE may have been attempting to provide assistance at the time.

The image was made from one of two 3.5″ x 5″ black and white negatives in the U. S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office Collection. Researchers may access the U. S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office Collection (#1041.1.a) through the Special Collections Department Search Desk on the 4th Floor of Joyner Library.

If anyone can provide additional information concerning the ships, crews, or situation shown in the image, please contact the Special Collections Department at (252) 328-6671.

CSS Neuse

Source: William H. Rowland Papers, East Carolina Manuscript Collection #876

CSS Neuse

CSS Neuse

Staff Person: Lynette Lundin

Description:

This photograph is from Collection #876/12 William H. Rowland Papers (1861-1971). The Hull remnant was of the Confederate ironclad gunboat CSS NEUSE. It was set on fire by Confederate troops to prevent being captured in March of 1865. It was found in the Neuse River and raised after many problems due to lack of funds and ownership controversies. This is one of many 4×5 negatives taken during the archaeology dig in which they recovered 15,000 artifacts. I think this is a truly amazing collection. There is a finding aid online for this collection and you can click this link to get to it: Manuscript Collection 876.