People Associated with the Florida and Isis

At the time of the Florida's discovery, Annemarie van Hemmen, former Research Curator at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum, conducted an exhaustive search of archival depositories throughout the region, including the St. Augustine Historical Society, the University of Northern Florida, Jacksonville Public Library, the Jacksonville Corps of Engineers Office, and the National Archives in Georgia. Her work resulted in valuable data about these vessels, their construction, and their tragic endings, but also information related to a wide variety of people who were in one way or another associated with these two ships.

Several local ties began to surface. For example, one of the members of Isis' crew in the late 1910s, Cardell Daniels, would go on to serve as the Keeper at the St. Augustine Light Station. And Captain Joseph Rosenthal, Commander in Charge of the St. Augustine USCG Ponce Training Station during the latter part of World War II, had served as the Executive Officer on board the Isis during the beaching incident.

Below is a comprehensive list of individuals associated with these two ships.

Persons known to have ties with the Florida & Isis:

Capt. Otto N. Bie first Captain of the Florida; Captain of the Suwannee (dredge replaced by the Florida).
Capt. J.P. Sharp(e) Captain of the Florida when she foundered.
John Warren Sackett St. Augustine and Jacksonville Corps of Engineer Offices.
William Murray Black Sackett's boss in St. Augustine & during Spanish-American War.
Capt. McKinstry Sackett's boss during Florida construction.
E.B. Thomson assisted Sackett with Florida computations & drawings.
Merrill-Stevens Company A.D. Stevens, A.R. Merrill, Mr. Love; Kenneth Merrill, Isis salvage.
Capt. Charles E. Spencer US Inspector of Boilers.
H.B. Woodward Chief Clerk, US Army Corps of Engineers District, Jacksonville.
Jas M. Bronto inspected & evaluated the Florida wreck site.
Surviving Florida crew Louis Blanco - Stoker, George Hamilton - Deck Hand, Tom Johnson - Cook, Corbet King - Mate, G.F. Lawless - Chief Engineer, Dorman McPherson - Dredger, Joe Praddo - Stoker, Dave Styron - Asst. Engineer, Clyde Tuttle - Oiler.
Drowned Florida crew William Lumb - Oiler & William Pontou (Pontue) - "Negro Oiler, Waiter or Cook" (depending on the newspaper article). Census records seem to indicate that Mr. Pontou may have been from Jacksonville, and that his widow has taken in boarders.
William S. & John Taylor Spaulding Brothers from Boston, and initial owners of the private steam yacht Isis, launched NY state 1902.
Capt. Gilbert T. Rude in command of Isis 1915-1918 (Navy Cruiser Force during WWI).
Lt. CDR Robert F. Luce in command of Isis 1919-1920 beaching.
Capt. Joseph S. Rosenthal Isis crew, Executive Officer, aboard during Isis beaching. Later became Commander in Charge of the St. Augustine USCG Ponce Training Station during the latter part of WWII
Cardell D. Daniels Isis crew, late 1910s; later became St. Augustine Light Station Keeper.
Fred L. Peacock Isis crew, late 1910s; 1930s C. & G. Survey Field Station, Boston.
Motorists at Isis site Mr. & Mrs. E.A. Wiles and son Ernest; Mrs. J.P. Dodge and daughter Jacqueline.

Despite a wealth of information that has been compiled, many blanks remain to be filled. Although the shipwrecks took place a few generations ago, local memory and family stories may still shed some light on these dramatic events. Some residents may have heard tales about the ships and their losses, or possibly there is a family connection with Merrill-Stevens employees from the time the Florida was constructed or rebuilt in 1908, or stories passed down about shipwrecked items recovered on the beaches, or salvage operations of the vessels.

Any information at all about the Florida, Isis or persons connected with the vessels, as well as construction, operation or salvage efforts of the vessels will be greatly appreciated. Help us complete the picture by sharing stories, documents, photos and telling us about artifacts from the Florida or Isis. Please contact LAMP researchers at if you have any further information to share about this or any of the other shipwrecks in our area.


All text and images, unless otherwise noted, are copyright Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, Inc. We extend permission to scholars, students, and other interested members of the public to use images and to quote from text for non-commercial educational or research purposes, provided LAMP is acknowledged and credited. If there are any questions regarding the use of LAMP’s work, please inquire at 


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