Surviving historic Schooner pays first visit to Port St. Joe

Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 01:03 PM.

The Governor Stone, a floating national historic landmark, was constructed in Pascagoula, Mississippi in 1877, originally built for Charles Greiner as a cargo freighter for his chandlery business. Greiner named the vessel in honor of the first post-Civil War Governor of Mississippi, John Marshall Stone.

The Governor Stone is the last known schooner from an era where similar vessels numbered in the thousands.

In the past 100 years the boat carried equipment and materials to deep-draft ships lying off shore, and hauled general freight between ports along the Gulf Coast.

For 60 years, while owned by Nathan Mulford Dorland and Patrick and Thomas Burns, it fished the near shore waters of the Gulf and operated as an oyster buy boat, visiting the oyster tongers, transporting their catch to the local markets. 

Dorland, an Alabama settler, was a successful terrapin farmer who rose to fame after killing the last Gulf Coast pirate, Spud Thompson. Dorland purchased the Governor Stone for $425.

Once Dorland grew tired of the oyster trade he sold the boat to Patrick Burns who continued using it as a buy boat, captained by his son Thomas. Burns’ son eventually added a 16-hp motor to the vessel and made his own living, using the ship to bring contraband rum shipments ashore from Cuba for $500 a trip.

Designed with a flat bottom, these ships could easily reach ports that kept larger cargo vessels at bay. The Governor Stone’s speed was made possible by a hull constructed of yellow cypress, juniper and heart pine. The vessel, and others like it, provided the communication and transport abilities that made the development of the coastal South possible.

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