The Evening Star was launched in 1863 and was a luxury steamship that ran a weekly line between New York and New Orleans. It was one of the most elegant and popular steamships of its time.
On September 29, 1866, it left New York harbor, to considerable attention. Unlike previous departures, this one involved some of New Orleans’ top madams. The women had been in town for a few weeks picking some of the most “beautiful” and “unscrupulous” prostitutes to fill their brothels for the winter season. The newspapers reported on the “Freight of Frail Women” and the “Cargo of Courtesans.”
Aside from the approximately 90 prostitutes, other passengers included members of a French opera company and a circus troupe, and some of New Orleans’ most distinguished citizens, including General Henry William Palfrey and architect James Gallier, Sr.
During its journey south the Evening Star hit a hurricane and in the early morning of October 3, 1866 it went down, 180 miles east of Tybee Island. Less than 4% of the passengers and 30% of the crew survived. Those who did survive the sinking drifted in open lifeboats for 2 to 5 days in the open sea – battling thirst, hunger, one another, and sharks.
Come out this Saturday for more of the tragic and fascinating story. As part of my lecture, actors Diana Shortes and Chris Lane will be giving dramatic readings from various primary sources: letters, editorials, lawsuits, and sermons.
The event is free and open to the public!
Time and place: 2:30 to 3:30pm, this Saturday, September 13, 2014. The Old U.S. Mint, 400 Esplanade Ave., 3rd floor theater.
For the full, awesome lineup of the Downriver Festival, click HERE.