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KEITH Sylvanus

Male 1767 - 1838  (70 years)Deceased


Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    Event Map    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name  KEITH Sylvanus  [1, 2
    Born  22 Jun 1767  Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 3
    Gender  Male 
    Name  Silvenus KEITH  [3
    Died  14 Jun 1838  At Sea Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Cause: Shipwreck of the SS Pulaski 
    Age  70 years 
    Buried  Scotland Cemetery, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gravestone of Sylvanus Keith, George Coy, and Caroline Keith Coy at Scotland Cemetery in Bridgewater, MA
    Gravestone of Sylvanus Keith, George Coy, and Caroline Keith Coy at Scotland Cemetery in Bridgewater, MA
    Inscription:
    Sylvanus
    Son of
    Robert & Silence
    Keith,
    Born June 22, 1767
    --------------------
    George W. Coy
    Born at Providence R.I.
    Dec. 27, 1798
    --------------------
    Caroline Eliza,
    Daughter of
    Sylvanus & Margaret
    Keith,
    And wife of
    George W. Coy,
    Born
    Aug. 19, 1807
    --------------------
    Caroline Eliza,
    Daughter of
    George W & Caroline E.
    Coy,
    Born Sept. 13 1829.
    --------------------
    Lost on board the
    Pulaski
    On the passage
    From
    Charlestown to Norfolk
    June 14, 1838

    Photo courtesy of Chip Mangio
    Person ID  I20374  One Big Family Tree
    Last Modified  3 Jul 2011 

    Father  KEITH Robert,   b. 18 Oct 1742, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Jul 1818, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  Age: 75 years 
    Mother  HARTWELL Silence,   b. 1730,   d. 19 Jan 1808, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  Age: 78 years 
    Married  6 Dec 1763  Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID  F7457  Group Sheet

    Family  HOWARD Margaret,   b. Abt 1775,   d. 1816  Age: ~ 41 years 
    Married  1806  [1
    Children 
     1. KEITH Caroline Eliza,   b. 19 Aug 1807, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Jun 1838, At Sea Find all individuals with events at this location  Age: 30 years
    Last Modified  3 Jul 2011 
    Family ID  F7465  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 22 Jun 1767 - Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - Cause: Shipwreck of the SS Pulaski - 14 Jun 1838 - At Sea Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Scotland Cemetery, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Notes 
    • Peril on the high seas: The sinking of the SS Pulaski

      By Tim Daiss
      tgdaiss@prodigy.net

      Built by the Savannah and Charleston Steam Packet Company, the steamship Pulaski was the pride of both cities. She was a sleek, wooden vessel measuring 206 feet in length with a 25-foot beam, a depth of 13 feet, 7 inches, and displaced at 687 tons.

      Boasting of the Pulaski, an April 1838 ad in the Georgian read: "No expense has been spared to have a vessel to answer the purpose she is intended to accomplish. Her engine -- one of the best ever made in this country, of 225 horse power: her boilers are of the best copper, and great strength. Her qualities as a sea vessel for ease, safety, and speed are superior to any steamer that ever floated on the American waters."

      An elaborate claim, yet not unfounded. The Pulaski was a marvel and many -- particularly Savannah's elite -- were thrilled with the new vessel and her elegant accommodations. The Pulaski, a side wheeler steam packet, was slated for the Savannah to Baltimore run with brief stops in Charleston, S.C.

      Savannah departure

      Wednesday morning, June 13, 1838, rose bright and clear. Scheduled to make her fourth voyage, the Pulaski waited on the Savannah River. As the early morning sun gave way to Savannah humidity, 95 passengers boarded, looking forward to a pleasant and enjoyable trip. Among them was Gazaway Lamar, principal owner of the vessel, and his wife, five daughters and his 14-year-old son, Charles. Thirty-seven deck hands were at their service, along with Capt. Dubois, an experienced and able-bodied seaman.

      Arriving at Charleston that evening, the Pulaski picked up 65 additional passengers and began her run up the Carolina cost. Around 10 p.m. she began to pitch in rough seas and more than a few passengers began vomiting over her side. Others, with stronger stomachs, bedded down for the night. Though seas were rough, the night sky glistened with summer stars. North Carolina's outer banks should be in sight by morning.

      Yet, around 11 p.m. an event took place that would alter the destiny of 197 souls.

      The explosion

      Without warning, the Pulaski's starboard boiler blew up, sending concussions throughout the ship, shattering the starboard side of the ship's mid section and sweeping some into the sea. The less fortunate were scalded to death. The bulkhead between the boilers and forward cabins also gave way. As the ship heeled to her starboard side, the Atlantic began to rush in.

      First Mate Hibbert, who had taken over the watch at the forecastle around 10pm, searched in vain for Capt. Dubois. Dubois was never seen again, probably blown off the ship.

      Minutes passed like hours, as panicked passengers clad in bed clothes tried to remain alive. After 40 minutes, survivors climbed to the promenade deck and huddled, wondering what to do. But the ship began to rip in two as both the bow and stern rose out of the water, then came crashing down.

      Dozens of passengers sought refuge on the extreme part of the bow. Others clung to furniture and wreckage. As the vessel sank, four life boats were lowered. Two of the boats capsized, while the other two took on passengers. In just 45 minutes since the boiler explosion, nearly half of the Pulaski's passengers were dead, drowned, scalded or crushed by falling masts. Others panicked and jumped overboard.

      The survivors

      After searching for survivors for most of the night, the two life boats, loaded with shivering and frightened passengers, reluctantly rowed away and set course for the North Carolina shore. But before they made landfall, five unlucky souls drowned when one of the boats capsized within sight of land. The other boat, making way against strong breakers, landed safely.

      But there were other survivors still splashing aimlessly in the Atlantic. Maj. Heath and 2nd Capt. Pearson lashed together floating wreckage with ropes and fashioned a crude raft, taking 22 on board.

      Tossing about in the open sea, Thursday turned to Friday and Friday to Saturday as the 22 clung for life and any glimmer of hope. Thirst became unbearable, and Heath and Pearson had to forcibly keep others from drinking sea water. Most, with blistered faces, lips and necks, collapsed. Others, without shirts, baked by day and shivered in the cold at night. On Saturday morning four more survivors, clinging to wreckage, were plucked from the ocean and climbed aboard the raft.

      The first ray of hope appeared when a small dot on the horizon turned out to be the Carolina coast line. But hopes were shattered when strong winds swept the raft back out to sea. Adding insult to injury, driving rain stung exposed bodies as brisk seas turned into a gale.

      Monday morning came calm and clear. And by mid-afternoon, four vessels had been spotted, each bringing a measure of optimism, each passing by without notice. Some forlorn survivors, caught in the throws of despair, gave up and prepared for death.

      Tuesday morning broke as one weary survivor thought he spotted sails on the horizon. The Henry Camerdon, a Wilmington-bound schooner, was headed toward the raft. Finally, the nightmare was over. The 26 were hauled in, fed, clothed and nursed back to health.

      Meanwhile, another small portion of wreckage was found with four survivors, two of them Savannahians: Gazaway Lamar's son, 14-year-old Charles (who later died in battle during the Civil War), and Robert Hutchinson. Gazaway also survived, but he paid a heavy price. Except for his son, he lost his entire family, including his wife, five daughters and a niece.

      The aftermath

      News of the Pulaski reached Savannah on Thursday, a week after the disaster. Gloom hung over the city for days as friends and relatives waited for casualty reports.
      Two days later, news broke that another steam packet, the New York, had spotted the tiny raft on her way to Virginia. But its captain, intent on maintaining his schedule, refused to stop.

      By year's end, an inquiry concluded that the explosion was caused by neglect. The Pulaski's second engineer permitted water to boil off in the ship's starboard boiler, then let in a fresh supply of water on heated copper, with deadly results.

      With steamship fatalities mounting yearly, Congress finally bowed to public pressure and passed regulations governing the inspections of steamers. But for 100 Pulaski victims, it had come too late.

      Taken from http://www.savannahsinfonietta.org/savannahonline/stories/history.pulaski.html on 23 Apr 2011.

  • Sources 
    1. [S51] History of the Early Settlement of Bridgewater, Nahum Mitchell, (Boston, MA: Kidder & Wright, 1840.), p. 220. (Reliability: 3), 21 Apr 2011.

    2. [S49] Vital Records of Bridgewater, MA to 1850, New England Historic Genealogical Society, (Boston, MA: n.p., 1916.), Vol. 2: p. 506. (Reliability: 3), 16 May 2011.

    3. [S49] Vital Records of Bridgewater, MA to 1850, New England Historic Genealogical Society, (Boston, MA: n.p., 1916.), Vol. 1: p. 192. (Reliability: 3), 10 May 2011.