Civil War in NE North Carolina

Burnside's Expedition and beyond

Where was Lawrence's Shipyard and what is the steamer "Smith?"

Hey Folks,


Found a mystery - to me anyways.  And I thought I would share and perhaps someone (hint to you Bruce) might inform me.

Elizabeth City, The North Carolinian, Wednesday, December 15th, 1875

Local and Personal.

Lawrence & Son have employed the services of John Fair, a Diver from Portsmouth, to recover rollers, chains, etc., that had “gone down” at their Ship Yard.  During his submarine explorations last week he discovered a large boiler at the bottom of the river about fifty yards from shore, supposed to have been thrown overboard during the war.  They are now at work raising it.


Elizabeth City, The North Carolinian, Wednesday, January 5th, 1876

Local briefs.

….The boiler referred to in a former issue, sunk over 13 years ago in the river opposite Lawrence’s shipyard, has been raised.  It is in an excellent state of preservation and is said to be worth from six to eight hundred dollars.  It belonged to the steamer “Smith,” which was burned and destroyed in 1862.  …


So, when did this steamer "Smith" burn in 1862?  And where was Lawrence's shipyard"




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Comment by Bruce Long on April 19, 2011 at 10:05pm

Burgess/Black'c shipyard was on the north side of the creek. Grice's was on the south side. I think I remember it as being lot six in the original city plan. Martin bought Burgess' shipyard and Gilbert Elliott was building a Chattahoochee class wooden gunboat for him when the battle of Elizabeth City was fought. It and a schooner they were building on speculation were burned in the stocks to prevent their capture.


I would love to see the map you found in Palemon John's newspaper. Did you know he relocated in NC after being chased out of Pennsylvania for his politics? Rick Sauers is writing a book about him and e-mailed me for a photo of his grave in the Episcopal Cemetery.

Comment by Chris Meekins on April 19, 2011 at 9:54pm

So the 1885 map shows a Palin Shipyard in the area you mention.  I thought the Burgess/ Black shipyard was there at Poindexter Creek as well but got burned in the war.  Was Black's shipyard on the north side of Poindexter and Lawrence and Son/ Palin on the south side?  Just curious.


And way to plug the webpages - I was being lazy, obviously.  Besides it was more fun to let you be teh smarty pants that you are!


Did I mention I also found a map of Elizabeth City from 1873 in those same newspaper titles - Palemon John's newspaper?  Well I did.  No street names but the grid is there and the creeks (Charles, Tiber, Poindexter and Knobb's).  Pretty nice - its older than any map of E City I have seen.

Comment by Bruce Long on April 19, 2011 at 9:10pm

The Forrest, previously the Weldon N. Edwards, was originally named the J.A. Smith. She operated in this area prior to the Civil War and would have been more familiar to locals as the Smith. The Forrest (aka "Smith") was burned on the marine railway, which would place her at the Grice Shipyard at the foot of the current bridge. You might remember when there was a Gulf and later a BP service station located there.

The railway was still there when the fire insurance maps were made in the 1890s, so you have a landmark to go by that is on a scale-drawn map. (You introduced me to the maps.) It angled from the middle of Water Street upriver towards the current bridge tender's tower.

It took me all of one minute to go to to look up the information. Since the Forrest was the only steamer burned on the downtown waterfront in 1862's Battle of Elizabeth City (, I just looked up the original name of the Forrest. Sorry the answer was so easy. <GRIN> Pardon the shameless plugs for my two oldest web sites.


I need to go read those post-war newspapers!


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