The New York Herald-Tribune and The New York Daily Times printed a report in their "Shipping Intellegence" section that on 3 April 1856, at latitude 42, longitude 36 (roughly half-way across the Atlantic), Empire State "fell in with ship Eudocia of and for St. John, NB, from Liverpool with rudder gone, stern post started, fore yard broken, and leaking badly; had thrown overboard large quantities of cargo, took off the crew and passengers, in all 60, including 8 cabin...had a continuation of gales..." The passenger list filed at New York, which was not written by Luther as it normally would be, doesn't give a hint at this. The list is also devoid of such usual things as deaths on board, which there were in this case. There is nothing to suggest yet another aspect of this eventful trip. The following report in The New York Evening Post does:

Sickly Ships Seeks Safe Harbor

Smallpox and yellow fever have come to shore. The ship Empire State arrived in a pestilent state, with 25 of her 516 passengers suffering from highly contagious smallpox plus eight dead felled by the disease during passage. All aboard, including the skipper, Captain Briggs, were detained in quarantine while the ship was cleaned, ventilated and fumigated.(another ship had brought in cases of yellow fever). (13.2)
     The Brooklyn Eagle commented on 1 May that "The packets from Liverpool are bringing liberal installments of that...loathsome disease, the small pox, to the quarantine hospital. The Empire State, from Liverpool, reports 33 cases on the voyage, 8 of which proved fatal. We do not wish to become alarmists; but with these facts before us we would urge the necessity of cleaning the streets wherever they require it, and removing everything calculated to produce atmospheric impurities and lead to the introduction of pestilence and disease."



This engraving shows the expansive New York Marine Hospital and quarantine complex at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, in 1858. Luther was forced to stop here twice due to outbreaks of smallpox on his ships.



Large ships likely docked at this pier, which appears to have been to the right and out of view of the first image.



The residents near the complex were angered at the constant presence of the diseased immigrants nearby. They formed an angry mob and burned the buildings late in 1858.


      The New York Times reported that 1856 was a particularly bad year for ship damage and losses, and lists Empire State with $5,000 in losses. What they were isn't specified, but the ship had only one known arrival in New York in that year. Perhaps it, too, was damaged in the storms that sank Eudocia. The report refers generally to cargo loss due to "long and boisterous passages" aside from direct damage to ships. Those issues would have paled in comparison to what happened at home while Luther was away the winter of 1856. On 26 December 1855, about 3 weeks after he left port, his daughter Mary died. A notice in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle says she had scarlet fever. Almost a month later, Harry died. The children were both placed in a recieving vault in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, then buried on 5 June 1856 after their father bought a plot for them. More information may have been found in their death records, but the Borough of Brooklyn has managed to lose such records for 1855 and 1856, along with many other valuable municipal records. By 14 June, Luther was gone again for Liverpool.
     In the Summer of 1858, Luther was sailing on a calm sea with dense fog when the steam frigate Niagara appeared and they nearly collided, coming within shouting distance of each other. Had they collided, not only would hundreds of immigrants lives have been at risk, but it may also have delayed a milestone in technological advancement. Niagara was there to lay the first transatlantic cable, thus allowing telegraphic communication between England and the US. With its partner, the English ship Agamemnon, they had just survived a severe, week-long storm in which Agamemnon was nearly swamped. When they reached a prescribed point in the ocean, literally in the middle of the North Atlantic, two pieces of cable were spliced and the ships proceeded in opposite directions until they reached land with the two cable ends. It took several attempts. After the gale and the near miss with Empire State about 50 miles away, the cable ends on the two ships were spliced together. Steaming in opposite directions, the test signal was soon lost. They went back, tried again, but the cable eventually broke. The mission was revisited a month later and was a success. The captain of Niagara was William Hudson. Twenty years earlier, Hudson met Luther's father John when he was whaling in the South Pacific. At that time Hudson was part of the so-called Wilkes Exploring Expedition to map unsurveyed islands and gather geographical, biological and ethnographical information. John Briggs was given some medical assistance, probably for a crew member, and gave the officers of the Peacock some shells and spears they had collected at one of the islands. Hudson died in Brooklyn in 1862, and it's interesting to think that he and Luther's paths might have crossed again.


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13.2. This quote was found online with the citation of the 30 April 1856 issue of The New York Times. It isn't in the Daily Times, perhaps in the Evening Times. See also 27 April 1856, The New York Daily Times for a similar report and a briefer report on the first page of its 29 April issue titled "Small Pox on an Emigrant Ship."

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150 Years Ago Sickly ships seek safe harbour NEW YORK Smallpox and yellow fever have come to shore. The ship Empire State arrived in a pestilent state, with 25 of her 516 passengers suffering from highly contagious smallpox plus eight dead felled by the disease during passage. All aboard, including the skipper, Captain Briggs, were detained in quarantine while the ship was cleaned, ventilated and fumigated. On the same day the ship General Taylor came to shore with half her crew dead from yellow fever. Captain Waterman warned that the crew caught the fever at Port au Prince in Haiti and that the new strain ravaging the Caribbean was even infecting sailors acclimated to the tropics. Source: New York Times April 30, 1856 this isn't in the Daily Times. Is it from the Evening Times? description of Empire State in Rockingham (NH) Messenger, 8 March and 12 April 1849.