Update about blog

Come on over to my other blog, Alchemy of Clay and Living in Black Mountain NC, where the scenery and my ceramic arts life are combined. I've moved some personal blog posts, (as well as those that are about my ancestors) back here.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Captain Alexander G. Swasey's ship the Ella Warley

For this week's Sepia Saturday...come on over and see lots of vintage pictures.

Here's my contribution.
Somewhat nautical, the Swasey family began building ships in Massachusetts.  Then some sons moved south then west...Charleston, SC and eventually to Galveston, TX.

When the Civil War broke out, Captain Alexander G. Swasey, Jr. was committed to help the South. I have copies of records where he had signed ship's manifests from Europe to America, as well as one from Charleston to New Orleans which had listed one slave.  Today I have cultural guilt for this but have to remember that the times before the Civil War meant that the entire culture of the South depended upon the labor of slaves.  It was a way of life, though it was wrong to have an entire race deprived of freedom.  Any Black people who were freed may have been rare before Lincoln's address and Emancipation Proclamation, and many had to use the Underground Railroad to go north where they would receive respect and opportunities.

Captain Swasey began blockade running with the S.S. Ella Warley, a 212 foot long side wheeler steamboat.  Apparently Captain Swasey didn't spend very long as a blockade runner before being captured, and spending the rest of the war, and the rest of his life in Libby Federal Prison. *NOTE below:

An interesting post about the Ella Warley may be found here. 
I'm very glad this was posted July 16, 2013...just in time for me to forward it to you here.  I am thrilled by the interview with the pilot...where he probably was trying to cover his asterisk when caught with all those guns, by playing dumb.

Captain Swasey's first trip was in Jan. 1862, and he was captured in April 1862.  The Ella Warley having been captured by the Union, went on to other activities.

The Ella Warley belonged to E. Adderly, of Nassau, a British subject.  The South had looked to Britain to continue helping their commerce of cotton exportation, and initially there was good support of shipping received by investment in ships from British companies.  This is one of the ships that was part of that trade.

This was Captain Alexander G. Swasey's home in Charleston, SC, (as it appears today.) 

 Here's an interesting book that covers the pursuit of blockade running during the Civil War.

Captain Alexander G. Swasey, captain of the early blockade runner Ella Warley from January 1862 until his capture on April 25, 1862 (from a private collection).

 He was my grandmothers' grandfather, so my great great grandfather.

*NOTE: I was incorrect here, he didn't die until 1866 in Charleston, which fact came to my attention by a comment below.    
***NOTE second. He wasn't even in Libby Prison, which is what my family had told me. Oral History is often a bit wrong on names. 


Joan said...

An interesting post. Blockade running was probably quite lucarative, and certainly had a flair of drama to it. You must have many stories to tell.

Brett Payne said...

"Cover his asterisk" - I've not come across that one before. It doesn't work quite as well with UK English pronunciation.

Alex Daw said...

Yes I hadn't heard of covering one's asterisk either...or blockade running, I'm ashamed to say. I learn so much from Sepia Saturday.

Jackie said...

This is my first sepia Saturday
I am learning so much as I visit everyone!
What lovely verandas he had around his house, I bet he had great views all around in those days

Wendy said...

Blockade running - cool! Isn't that what Rhett Butler did too?

Karen S. said...

How lucky are you! This is just awesome, to be a part of!

Bob Scotney said...

Well it's a saying that will come in useful sometime I'm sure. Super picture of the ship.

Boobook said...

Are you really saying he never got out of prison? How much longer did he live?

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Hi Boobook: His death was in 1866, at an address not his home but in Charleston. "His cause of death is given as Phthisis." His grave was not marked according to a cousin of mine who looked for it a few years ago, but is in another family's plot. I guess I made a mistake in saying he died in prison.

Little Nell said...

Well I've learned something new too. I'd never heard of blockade running in the Civil War. How lucky you are to have copies of those documents.

anyjazz said...

A new bit of history for me. It is wonderful that you have those documents. Fine post.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating post - thank you!

Gail Perlee said...

I was surprised by how many didn't know about blockade running. I learned about it from reading historical romance novels. It's amazing how much history you can absorb in such a fun way!

Sharon said...

Love it. "Cover his asterisk" Think I will use that one :)