Cobb Cottage is now a Florida Heritage Landmark | News
There should be a song about the wreckage of the Nathan F. Cobb and the heroic people of Ormond Beach who rallied to save the ship’s crew.
A cottage built in 1897 from the timbers of the three-masted schooner still stands along the narrow roads at 137 Orchard Lane as a monument to heroism.
The Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation recently approved the site for a Florida Historic Marker, which also classifies it as a Florida Heritage Landmark.
Randy Jaye, historian and board member of the Ormond Beach Historical Society who wrote the nomination for the state award, said it “demonstrates that this is a leading example of a true Florida landmark”.
The markers raise public awareness of Florida’s rich cultural history and enhance enjoyment of historic sites by residents and tourists, according to the Florida Division of Historic Resources.
The ship is named after shipbuilder Nathan F. Cobb, born in 1797, whose family was famous for salvaging stranded ships with no loss of life. Mr. Cobb’s efforts are considered a precursor to the US Lifesaving Service, a precursor to the US Coast Guard.
Fate would be less kind to Mr. Cobb’s namesake ship a century after its birth.
Rough seas capsized the Cobb during a voyage carrying lumber from Brunswick, Georgia, to New York on December 1, 1896.
The beleaguered crew stabilized the ship by removing the masts, but not before two crew members were washed overboard and drowned.
Helpless and waterlogged, the Cobb drifted until it ran aground on a sandbar 1,000 feet from the shore of Ormond Beach on December 5, 1896.
More than 50 Ormond Beach residents gathered on the beach to help rescue the surviving crew.
A first attempt to row a small boat to the ship failed. A second effort to sail a small yawl ended in tragedy after the yawl capsized and Freeman Waterhouse drowned. Tom Fagan made it back to shore safely.
“Having the citizens of Ormond Beach recognize the sacrifice of local resident Freeman Waterhouse, who lost his life attempting to rescue the stranded crew of the schooner Nathan F. Cobb in 1896, demonstrates a historic sense of respect for our past,” Mr. Jaye said.
Finally, Hiram B. Shaw and Edward DeCourcy began rowing a small lifeboat to the ship.
Meanwhile, inspired by the heroic efforts of the townspeople, Captain Cookson of the Cobb tied a rope around his waist, jumped into the water, swam to the small boat and held on while rowed to shore.
One by one, the rest of the crew were rescued as rescuers used the rope to send a life jacket to the ship and pull every man ashore.
William “Billy” C. Fagan asked to use salvaged lumber from the Cobb to build a cottage, which was completed in 1897. The lumber used included cargo for railroad ties, flooring, railings and d ‘stairs.
It is believed to be the oldest wooden structure salvaged from a shipwreck.
“It was the people who ran to the beach that day and it was the people. . . Members and donors of the Historical Society, who preserve the memory of those heroic people in 1896,” said Bonda Garrison, a volunteer with the society.