San Pedro, CA Explosion Of The Steamer ADA HANCOCK, May 1863



We have already had, by telegraph from San Francisco, the announcement of the explosion of the steamer ADA HANCOCK at San Pedro. The Bulletin gives these additional particulars of the sad affair. It says:
"The ADA HANCOCK -- the boat on which the explosion took place -- was used for the conveyance of passengers and freight to and from the larger steamer to the shore at San Pedro. She was between three and four years old, 60 feet in length, of 60 tons burden, and was built in this harbor for Capt. MOON. She was originally intended to ply in this harbor as a tug, and to facilitate her evolutions, was rigged with a double propeller. She was sold about two years since to MR. BANNING, of Los Angeles, and since that time has been employed as above stated. After passing to the ownership of MR. BANNING, she was rechristened the ADA HANCOCK, in compliment to the daughter of Maj. HANCOCK, who resided in Los Angeles at that time. The boiler which exploded, spreading such terrible devastation, was a new one, put into her only a year since, and no suspicion was entertained of its safety. Thus far, as in most other cases of boiler explosions, the cause of the accident is involved in mystery.
The bodies found are those of THOMAS H. SEELEY, Captain of the steamer Senator; WILLIAM RITCHIE, express messenger of Wells, Fargo & Co.; CHARLES KING, Fort Tejon; a Mexican, name and whereabouts unknown; HIRAM KIMBALL and ATKINSON, Mormon missionaries from Salt Lake; JOSEPH BRYANT, Captain of the steamer ADA HANCOCK; A. P. GARDNER, La Paz; _______ SWEENEY; _______ LINSLAY; a teamster, name unknown; WM. T. B. SANDFORD, Los Angeles; T. E. KERLIN, Tejon Reservation; Capt. NYE, R. M. HALL, San Francisco; H. M. OLIVER, La Paz, the head, shoulders and chest only of MR. OLIVER were found; C. P. HUBBARD, La Paz; THOMAS H. WOODMAN, chief clerk of MR. BANNING; DR. R. H. MYLES, Los Angeles; two colored men, R. PRICE and WILLIAM JAN PRATT, Colorado; SIDNEY JOHNSON, eldest son of Gen. A. SYDNEY JOHNSON, Los Angeles.
The following list includes those who were known to be on the steamer, and whose bodies have not yet been recovered: MR. LEVY, San Bernardino; L. SCHLOSSINGER, Los Angeles; JOHN RODGERS, deck hand. It is stated that some 15 or 20, not known, were lost, whose bodies are not yet recovered. Several casualties are noted: A. CHELLIS, San Luis Obispo, suffered a fracture of the thigh; WM. W. WARDELL, Santa Cruz, suffered a contusion; JOHN GETTAMAY, Siskiyou County, had a broken arm; CHARLES CUNNINGHAM, from the Colorado mines, a contusion; HENRY BEER, Yroka, contusion; J. PHILIPS, deck hand, fracture of the elbow; WILLIAM JACKSON, Colorado mines, scald and contusion; G. L. TUCKER, San Francisco, formerly of this place, fracture of both bones of left leg; MRS. BANNING, contusion of the head, and probably some internal injuries; MRS. SANFORD, mother of MRS. BANNING, had her right leg and left arm fractured; MISS M. HEREFORD suffered a contusion of the head; MR. BANNING, internally injured; MISS WILSON, daughter of D. WILSON, contusion; A. C. YEARY, fracture of the leg; WELSH, scalded slightly.
MRS. L. COHN, two children and servant, of Los Angeles, were on board the HANCOCK. MRS. COHN escaped with a slight contusion. The servant escaped uninjured, and was taken into a boat, having the youngest child, an infant, in her arms, which received only a very slight scratch upon the left side of the head. MRS. COHN showed herself a heroine, displaying great presence of mind. She recovered her eldest child, about 2 years of age, from the water among the fragments of the wreck. For some time its life was considered hopeless, but it was restored by the perseverance of the mother, and by frictions and bathings with brandy.
The marks left upon it have the appearance of a scalp; otherwise the child appears to be in perfect health.
Two children of MR. BANNING were also on board, of whom one only received a slight scald. Both of the children were saved from the wreck by 'DARKNESS,' a colored servant girl of MRS. BANNING, who displayed undaunted courage and rendered great assistance to numbers of others. During the whole excitement she remained perfectly calm, and was the means of keeping several of the ladies' heads above water for some time after the vessel had gone down. Only three persons besides the little child of MR. BANNING --viz.: the child of MRS. COHN and the two servants as above stated -- escaped without injury.
WILLIAM KING, a young man, and a fireman and a Mexican, escaped unscathed. The explosion was instantaneous, no vestige of the boiler or the blues upon which it stood were left. Pieces of the shattered boiler were found upon a small island, a distance of three-quarters of a mile from the wreck. Splinters from the vessel were thrown into Government Corral, three-quarters of a mile from the scene of the disaster. MR. BANNING himself was thrown a hundred feet."

The New York Times New York 1863-05-31