The Victor Wreck
The 1872 wreck of the Victor, en route from New York to New Orleans, was an example of how the early settlers benefited from others’ bad fortune. When the steamer drifted ashore in a storm off Jupiter, lighthouse keeper James Armour and his assistants, Charles Carlin and Hannibal Pierce, brought all the passengers and crew to safety and signaled another ship to pick them up. Hannibal’s son Charlie later wrote:
Father returned at half past eleven, but Captain[s] Armour and Carlin remained, busy picking up the goods that came piling in on the beach. . . . I went to look down the river to see if there was anything to report. The tide was coming in on a full flood and water was full of wreckage of all kinds that had washed in through the inlet.
On the east side of the dock, a dry goods box and a big Saratoga trunk had grounded, and barrels and boxes of every description were floating by me. I flew back to the house and between gasps told father. …
He pushed out in Capt. Armour’s little catboat, Kate, after some of the stuff that was floating toward the Indian camp; at the moment of pushing away from the dock an immense box and trunk came floating past. He got a line fastened to it and hauled it onshore. This carton, when opened later, was found to contain 50 men’s suits.
After landing the big box, he saw two Indians trying to get a large container into their canoe. He sculled up alongside and told them it belonged to him; they gave it up without protest or hesitation as there were too many other things floating in the river. … Father said he knew as soon as he came near that it was a sewing machine . . . and mother used it for many years.
The settlers rescued many other items from the Victor’s cargo, which had been valued at $150,000: perfume, butter, muslin, cognac, shirts, and a trunk full of patent leather valises. Three prize collies swam ashore who were named Victor, Wreck, and Storm and lived at the lighthouse for years.
© Historical Society of Palm Beach County.