Excited! You bet!
As previously reported in my article in the February 28, 2007 issue of this newspaper, my sister, Joanne Klier, and I donated to Rockport’s Texas Maritime Museum a box of the old oxidized lead type found cradled in the remains of the ship George Lincoln along with Great-grandfather Edward Percy Howe’s Washington printing press, all of which were exhumed from the sands on Mustang Island in 1961 by Hurricane Carla.
As the February 25, 1853 saga unfolded regarding the George Lincoln ship- wreck at an old inlet between Mustang and Padre Islands, Great Grandfather and family experienced the loss of Howe’s only source of livelihood - a Washington printing press - all due to one fraudulent Captain Saunders who planned to collect insurance on the George Lincoln and its cargo of lumber.
(True, there were high seas and turbulent weather to substantiate his claim, but it was the dishonest Captain who hacked holes in the bottom of the boat).
After sending the Howe family across Padre Island with a roving band of Mexicans, he sold Howe’s household goods and the lumber but did not try to sell the press, possibly thinking that this over one thousand-pound item had no value.
Joanne and I had been patiently waiting to hear from Phillip Barnes, curator at the Texas Maritime Museum, announcing that the exhibit was up and ready for all to view and, sure enough, his telephone call came and we went to Rockport this past week, anxious and eager to see the exhibit.
We were so impressed: Phillip and his crew did such a fantastic job of telling the story of the events surrounding the shipwreck and other events which culminated in Howe’s death and the entire family being stricken with yellow fever in Galveston in 1854.
So exciting is the fact that 108 years evolved (1853-1961) before the ship, the Washington printing press, and old lead type - now oxidized and stuck together - would washed up there on Mustang Island for all the world to see.
It was a Waco lawyer, Sam Lanham, enthralled with printing on Washington printing presses, who purchased all the lead type from two fellows who had meticulously picked it up at the shipwreck site.
Upon learning that Edward Percy Howe had descendants living in Blanco and Fredericksburg, this now professor of History at Schreiner University, Sam Lanham, graciously presented to Joanne and me that exciting gift of four wooden boxes of the lead type from great grandfather’s printing press.
Unfortunately, the Washington printing press went to the Nueces County Warehouse and, someone, (no one would admit to the dirty deed) apparently thought it was junk and promptly disposed of it.
Since the exhibit will be at the Texas Maritime Museum only until March 2009, all of you history enthusiasts are encouraged to make a trip to Rockport to see it.
If you have never visited this museum, you will find the LaSalle exhibit, pictures of all the lighthouses on the Texas Gulf Coast, an offshore oil drilling display, and lots of additional marine exhibits - all very interesting.
While in the area, also visit the Corpus Christi Public Library where you will also see an exhibit on the second floor showing more of the lead type from Great Grand-father’s Washington printing press and the events pertaining to the wreck of the George Lincoln and the story of the Edward Percy Howe family’s sojourn in South Texas.