General Slocum Medals

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Slocum Medal mail

I’ve talked a lot about General Slocum and the disaster that occurred June 15, 1904 when she caught fire and sank.  Many people became heroes that day, risking their own lives to try and rescue the passengers and crew.  Although the loss of life was high (well over 1000), it could have been much higher had people not reacted so quickly.  Most of these heroes are not remembered by history, but a few of them received honors and medals for their efforts.  Several of these were recently brought to our attention by Lt. Sere, who owns three such medals.

After doing a bit of searching on Captain Stephen McDermott I was able to find a news article about the presentation of the medal to him and two others.   Read more

General Slocum in Powerships

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I am very excited to announce that the article I had created earlier this year about the coin from the General Slocum that was donated to us has been published by the Steamship Historical Society of America’s publication, Powerships.  I am now a published author, woohoo!!  But truly, the tale of General Slocum is a very powerful story and the layout in the magazine is great.  So if anyone is interested in reading it, you can purchase a copy here:

Second General Slocum token

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The Zipse family has been very kind to us and donated another token from General Slocum, this time from Bill (William) Zipse, another grandson of the survivor William F. Zipse.

Like the other donated token, this piece was in William Zipse’s pocket when General Slocum caught fire and sank on June 15, 1904 and he carried it with him for the rest of his life in memorial of those that lost their lives, including his five siblings.  We have been unable to find another token like this, so as far as we can tell, it is the only one in existence.   Read more

The Little Ship that Couldn't

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Image found on Wikipedia
Image of General Slocum found on Wikipedia

Last month I posted an article about a new piece to the collection, an one cent token from the Knickerbocker Steamboat Company, which had been in the pocket of a survivor of the June 15, 1904 disaster on the ship, General Slocum. (Click HERE to see that post)  I have spent a lot of time researching the ship and the disaster in an effort to create various articles about it, including one for our Member’s Magazine, Ahoy!.  In the course of this research, I have started calling poor General Slocum the little ship that couldn’t.  Why?  Well, because she had numerous problems throughout her fairly short career.

She was built in 1891 by Devine Burtis of Brooklyn, New York (keel laid December 23, 1890) and was launched on April 18, 1891.  She was owned by the Knickerbocker Steamboat Company and was sister ship to Grand Republic.  From the beginning, General Slocum had a number of missteps:   Read more

Sinking of the steamboat General Slocum

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We receive quite a number of amazing donations here at The Mariners’ Museum, but every now and then we receive something this has such an amazing and touching story that we can’t help but be affected.  One such recent donation is an one cent token from the Knickerbocker Steamship Company, donated by Robert Zipse.  This token, and others like it, were used to purchase goods while on one of the Knickerbocker Company vessels.  What makes this particular token (pictured below) so special is the sentimentality and meaning attached to it by the man whose life was forever changed by a day that was supposed to be filled with joy and fun.

On June 15, 1904, St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church chartered the Knickerbocker Steamboat General Slocum for their annual excursion and picnic to Locust Grove.  St. Mark’s was located in area of Manhattan known as Little Germany as there was a large population of German immigrants in the neighborhood, including many who had only recently arrived.  As this excursion was on a weekday, it was mostly attended by women and children.  This included William F. Zipse (pictured below in 1906) who at the time was 15 years old, his mother Sophie Zipse (pictured below on the day of her wedding) and William’s five siblings, Sophia (17), Mary (13), Louise (10), Helen (3) and Albert (1).   Read more