Capt. Abraham Smith


1831 – 1890

Born in Proctorville, Ohio
Born in 1831 at Quaker Bottom near Proctorville, Ohio. He assisted his father on his farm until he was 17 when he accepted an offer of a captain on a merchant vessel to go to sea.
Captain of the steamer The Star that made a round trip three times a week to Isle Dernière.
Abraham came to Louisiana in 1854 and was placed in command of the steamer Texas, engaged in lower coast trade. In 1856 he became captain of The Star, which connected the Opelousas Railroad and plied through waters of St. Mary Parish, the Atchafalaya, Four League and Caillou Bays to Last Island.

Capt. Smith battled the winds and guided the Star through the storm all Saturday night to get to back near the Louisiana mainland in Caillou Bay on Sunday (the day the storm hit). “Sunday morning, crew on The Star, a steamboat ferry, debated whether to turn back inland after losing its bearing in the storm, “but Captain Abraham Smith, concerned about the fate of those left on the island, insisted on returning amid the hurricane – a decision that saved many lives.”

Guests formed a human chain arm-to-arm from the hotel to The Star to reach shelter on the steamboat. Captain Smith moved all passengers into the cargo hull beneath the cabin Monday morning and The Star wedged into the earth in the place of Muggah’s Hotel. The Star’s top decks were ripped off, but the hull stayed afloat and saved 160 people.

Pirates swarmed the island to search through the carnage looting for valuables and when they attempted to get on board the wreck from The Star, Capt. Smith prevented it.

Interesting Fact

Capt. Smith was a hero twice in his life. After becoming a captain again, in 1876, he saved all 40 passengers aboard the Minnie Avery when the boat hit a snag and sank in the Atchafalaya bay.

He was reported to be 6 feet 6 inches tall. The average height, according to Time was 5 feet 10 inches for an American male in the 1800s.