John M COLE, Master of the ship Virginia Dare :: Genealogy
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John M COLE, Master of the ship Virginia Dare

Journal by Marlinwine

I am looking for information on John M COLE, the Master of the sailing ship Virginia Dare from 1861 to 1865. My family tradition says that he was related to my family. Other names that may be relevant are Josiah Boydell HOMEWOOD, Susan Ann BANNON or CANNON and Thomas PURDY.

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by Marlinwine Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2011-06-18 09:05:35

Marlinwine has been a Family Tree Circles member since Jun 2011. is researching the following names: COLE, JAGGERS.

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by historyhound on 2012-02-11 18:08:56

I've read about John M. Cole in the December 3, 1860 issue of the Richmond Dispatch. He was described as "an experienced seaman, and polite and accommodating gentleman."

I don't know any more of his personal information, but am researching the Virginia Dare and am very curious to know what became of it after the war started. Where did you learn that it was in service until 1865?

by Marlinwine on 2012-02-12 07:21:01

Dear Historyhound,

I was delighted and intrigued by your response to my query with regard to the Virginia Dare. What is your interest in her? As I mentioned in my first posting, my family tradition has it that one of my ancestors, Thomas Purdy, was her master. I now know that he was not but there must be some family connection and I am still trying to discover this.

I have built up a reasonable knowledge of the ship but have fared less well in discovering more about her owners and crew.

In the period of 1850 to 1890 there were about 7 sailing vessels of that name but I have only found details of five: one ship, one bark, one brig and two schooners; also one screw steamer. My interest is in the ship, a rather fine 3 masted square rigged vessel. As you obviously know, she was built for the Richmond and Liverpool Packet Line in Baltimore in 1860 and then sailed down to Richmond where the local paper ran a number of stories on her. She is listed in the American Lloyd's Register of American & Foreign Shipping. I have traced some of her movements up to October 1864 when she arrived in Cardiff but after that there is a gap until 1866 when she was sold to someone in Whitby and her name changed to Mikado; she was sold again in 1874 to a Norwegian when her name became Preciosa. As such she is listed in the Lloyds of London Register. She was abandoned in 1894.

My sources of information include , the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich and the Mariners web site.

Let me know what aspects you are researching to see if I can give you any help. Obviously, I would be interested to hear if you have other information on her.



by historyhound on 2012-03-17 19:02:00

Hi Marlinwine,

Thanks so much for your response. I just found it a couple days ago.

I found the listings online in the American Lloyd's Register...THANKS!

I'm simply curious about this ship, and want to find out everything I can, especially its career as a blockade-runner. I saw in the register that she was "metalled" in 1862, so I assume someone at least HOPED she could run the blockade. Can you tell me what you learned about her movements until 1864? (Please include citations.)

I'm considering writing a piece on the ship, since she was obviously important to Virginia trade just before the Civil War. (And perhaps DURING the war too.) I'd love to know what items were shipped during the war. And of course I would love to find a photo of her.

You mentioned that you were curious about her owners. In the American Lloyd's Register, it lists "D. & W. Currie" as "Owners or Consignees." Apparently these two men managed it, when situations arose that needed addressing. (Like towing, repairing, etc.) I believe the ship was owned by a joint stock company in Richmond, because one Richmond paper article says that the stockholders, leading merchants of Richmond, had a party on deck when she first arrived at the Port of Richmond in late 1860. They gave long toasts to her significance, which were published.

This is how she came about. In January 1860, because of the sectional tensions, dozens of Richmond merchants petitioned the Legislature for help in establishing a shipping line devoted solely to Virginia trade. That way, they could cut Northern ports out of the equation and assert Southern independence. Mr. H. L. Kent was vice president of the committee to form the Packet Line, who was a wealthy dry goods merchant in the city. The legislature did help the men somehow, perhaps with financing.

On the ship's maiden voyage to Liverpool, one of the passengers was Channing Selden. He was a son of John Armistead Selden, who owned the river plantation, "Westover." This is the same estate established by William Byrd II, the founder of Richmond.

At the library of William & Mary, I found a drawing of the ship, but it was very crude. There was a caption with it, alluding to the dangers of coming into Southern ports, referring to the ship as, "The Virginia Dare-not."

I found a blurb about her in the New York Times, March 1861:

ST. GEORGES, Bermuda Feb. 22 -- all the cargo damaged in the least, of ship Virginia Dare, has been landed, and on Monday last some 600 bbls. of flour and 500 bags wheat were sold as damaged which brought poor prices under the glut of the market by repeated sales of late. A very small portion of the flour, &c., could be pronounced seriously damaged, as the principal injury was from drippings through the between-deck seams merely staining packages, without injuring contents.



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