Friday, February 4, 2011

W. A. Parvin
A Steamship Captain

"We are informed that the Steamer Greenville, on her trip on the river, on Friday last, struck what seemed to be a log, but which afterwards proved to be a sturgeon, cutting him in two about three feet from the tail. Capt. [W. A.] Parvin, of the R. L. Myers, which went up behind the Greenville, discovered the fish floating head down and spouting blood from the stump of his tail. With the aid of cotton hooks …, the crew secured the prize and enjoyed fresh sturgeon the remainder of the trip."

The steamship R. L. Myers and her captain, W. A. Parvin, were frequently mentioned in the Eastern Reflector, a Greenville, Pitt Co., N. C. paper. Capt. Parvin sailed on several steamships. On 10/9/1889, the Reflector said: We were glad to shake hands with Capt. Bill Parvin the other day. It sounds like old times to hear the chime of his steamer, the Beaufort on the Tar [River] again. He is a clever captain." Later, on 11/27/1889: "Capt. W. A. Parvin of the Str. Beaufort sent us four cotton blossoms Monday. Very late for blooms, it strikes us, but there is no telling what our eastern section can bring forth."

On May 23, 1894, the following news: "The steamer Myers is on the ways at Washington [Beaufort Co., NC] undergoing her annual overhauling and repainting, and the steamer Greenville is making her trips. Capt. Bill Parvin, the veteran Master, is in charge with his fund of good humor and courteousness as exhaustless as ever."

R. L. Myers

The following story about Capt. Parvin appeared in the Reflector on 6/6/1894.

"Three Weigh 584

Capt. Bill Parvin, master of the steamer Myers, was whiling away some leisure time around the depot the other evening waiting for the train to come in. He had two of his little (?) boys along with him, and just for the fun of the thing, they tried the scales standing on the platform. The youngest, Dave, only reaches up in the neighborhood of 6 feet 2 and had just sufficiently recovered from a spell of sickness to return to work, but all the same he pushed the pointer down to 179 pounds. Young Bill is not so much for height, being hardly more than 5 feet 10, but when he stepped on the scales, the pointer wheeled around to 240 pounds and stayed there until he got off. The captain himself might not be called more than an average man in either height or weight, but he pulled down 165 pounds, which isn't any sorry summer figure. It's not an every day occurrence that you just happen to run up with three members of one family whose combined summer weight is 584 pounds. The Captain says some of the girls are almost as good at weighing as those boys."

Finally, 11/7/1889: "The Old Dominion S. S. Co. now requires all the officers in their passenger service to wear uniform. Capt. W. A. Parvin, the clever commander of the steamer Myers, was up town today for the first time in uniform, and his host of friends were greeting him with a regular Admiral's salute. The sleeves of the Captain's coat are ornamented with five gold stripes, each stripe indicating five years' service, showing that he has been in the continuous service of the Old Dominion Co. for a quarter of a century. Mr. Carty, engineer of the Myers also had five stripes on his sleeve, having been at his post twenty-five years."

[These Eastern Reflector articles were collected by Beverly Cole Parvin. The article was published in The Connector, newsletter of the Tar River Connections Genealogical Society, in the Fall 2006 issue.The picture of the R.L. Myers was furnished to The Connector by Harry Moore.]

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