The sloop Wasp was built in Lansingburgh in 1813. Some of what’s been written about it over the years seems to have confused it with a sloop-of-war also named the Wasp, also built in 1813, but built in Newburyport, Massachusetts; it was the Newburyport sloop-of-war that fought the Frolic and the Reindeer during the War of 1812. During the Lansingburgh Wasp’s decades of service, it helped transport granite for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
A replica of the Wasp built by Gene Bodner in 2016 is a prominent part of an exhibit at the Stony Creek Museum.
The fourth Wasp, a sloop chartered on Lake Champlain late in the summer of 1813, served as a tender for Commodore Thomas Macdonough’s fleet during the latter part of 1813 and into 1814. Small and a poor sailer, Wasp saw no combat. She was returned to her owners early in 1814; and her battery was transferred to the newly launched schooner, Ticonderoga.
https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/danfs/w/wasp-iv.html (This seems to describe the Lansingburgh Wasp.)
EVERYTHING BUSY ALONG THE RIVER.
—To settle a dispute as to which is the oldest boat built on the Hudson river and now afloat, the following statement has been obtained from the New York custom house: The sloop Wasp was built at Lansingburgh in the year 1812; was launched on the 12th of August, 1812; was captured by the English on Long Island Sound, and recaptured by the Americans commanded at the time by Captain Lewis, and is now plying between Hell Gate and the Battery, New York, carrying stone.
Kingston Daily Freeman. March 22, 1880: 4 col 6.
Syracuse Daily Courier. March 27, 1880: 2 col 3.
—Capt. Jacob Platt of West Troy commanded from 1830 to 1835 the sloop Wasp, which has recently received prominent mention as the oldest vessel afloat on the Hudson river.
“Local Brevities.” Troy Times. April 8, 1880: 3.
The sloop Wasp, now lying at the post-office wharf with stone for the butments to the Shore Line railroad bridge, is said by some was a United States man-of-war ship and was engaged in several battles in the year 1812, and has papers to prove the assertion.
“Fair Haven.” New Haven Daily Morning Journal and Courier. November 3, 1884: 3 col 7.
The old sloop Wasp, which has been repaired on the Wright marine railway, will be launched shortly. She is probably the oldest vessel hereabouts, and is now owned by John Beattie, the contractor. She was built in 1814 near Troy, N. Y.
“News About Town.” New Haven Register. February 7, 1886: 4.
PORT OF NEW HAVEN.
ARRIVED, December 1. […]
Scn John Beattie, Connos, Leete’s Island, stone
Sch Alice Scranton, McAvoy, Leete’s Island, stone for the jetty.
Slp Wasp, Leete’s Island, stone for the jetty.
New Haven Daily Morning Journal and Courier. December 2, 1886: 3 col 4.
The oldest coasting vessel engaged in the trade of Long Island Sound, is believed to be the sloop Wasp, owned by the proprietor of Leete’s Island quarries. She was built at Cohoes [sic], on the Hudson, in 1812, and for many years was a packet on the Hudson River. She is in comparatively good seaworthy condition.
“Long Island.” South Side Observer [Rockville Center, NY]. August 5, 1892: 4 col 1.
“Long Island Improvements and Industries.” Newtown Register. August 11, 1892: 2 col 4.
Long Island Traveler. August 12, 1892: 2 col 7.
—John Beattie, of New Haven, claims to be the owner of the oldest seaworthy craft in the world. The vessel is the Wasp, a schooner purchased by Mr. Beattie in 1870. She was built at Cohoes, on the Hudson river, in 1812. The Wasp is older than the whaleship Stonington, that is to be taken to Chicago to the world’s fair. For years after being launched the Wasp ran as a Hudson river packet, and along points on the sound. Once, when lying in the North river, her crew mutinied and murdered their captain. The murderers were hanged. The vessel is now employed in carrying granite to the breakwater off the mouth of the harbor.
“Of General Interest.” Union Springs Advertiser. October 13, 1892: 4 col 4.
Victories Over the Frolic and Reindeer Recalled—How John Beattie Made His Start.
The sloop Wasp, now receiving repairs on Morgan’s ways, is probably one of the oldest boats afloat to-day. On October 18, 1812, she gained a decisive victory over the British brig Frolic. Later in the war she captured the sloop-of-war Reindeer, the Avon, and after taking several prizes, was lost at sea. After the disappearance of the Wasp, for a time the American flag ceased to wave from the masthead of national war vessels. She was purchased by John Beattie of Leete’s Island and raised, and with the schooner Alice Scranton laid the foundation of his present fortune. There is some talk of sending the Wasp to the World’s Columbian exposition at Chicago.—New London Day.
New Haven Register. December 16, 1892: 4.
The sloop Wasp and the schooner Gilmore, also of Beatty’s fleet and loaded with stone for the breakwater, sank at their anchors at Leete’s island in the same gale, but have since been raised.
New Haven Register. October 7, 1893: 4.
Jibboom Club No. 1, After a Winter of Debate, Thinks It Knows.
SAYBROOK, Conn. April 7.—New London has a sailors’ club. It is “Jobboom Club No. 1,” and it has members now sailing on every sea, who may be known by the pin they wear, a gold capstan on a blue steering wheel.
There are 200 members, mostly Captains of vessels of all sorts, and they have a penchant for discussing things nautical during the long winters at home.
One of the most heated discussions at the club during the past three months has been in response to the oldest vessel in existence in the United States. The debate was started one day when a whaling Captain, who knows all that’s worth knowing about whales, declared that the first three-masted schooner ever built in the United States was the William L. Burroughs. This prototype of a class of vessels which have revolutionized the carrying trade along our coasts and prepared the way for four-mast and even five-mast schooners, was built at Greenpoint, L. I., in 1855. She was a double-decked schooner, planked with oak and fastened with iron and copper. For a long time she was owned by Thomas Dunham’s Nephew & Co., in New York. The Burroughs is a keel craft of 512 tons, with the almost unheard of draught of 19½ feet. Nowadays there are built three-masters that will carry as much as the Burroughs and yet float in one-half her depth of water. The Burroughs has been repaired twice, once in 1872 and again in 1879. At present she is owned by Thomas Franklin of New York.
No one in the club gainsaid this story, and then a hunt was made for the oldest vessel still afloat in the country. For some weeks it was held that the good sloop Wasp of Contractor John Beattie’s stone-carrying fleet at Leete’s Island, near New Haven, was the craft. The Wasp, while still in good condition, is one of the homeliest vessels ever built in America. She was built for a Government privateer at Lansingburgh, N. Y., in the year1813. She has the high stern and bluff bow of a typical North River sloop. She has been rebuilt so many times that very little of the original wood remains in her. The materials of her original construction were good seasoned Vermont white oak and iron from the mines of Cornwall, Conn. Most of her days have been spent about the piers of New York city, and she has seen great changes in Gotham in her time.
The Wasp was at length conceded to be the oldest vessel; with some grave doubts, however. Two weeks later one of the club members came in shouting, “Eureka, I have found the craft.” His discovery proved to be the old whaling bark Rousseau, built in 1801, and now lying, black and silent, at her moorings in New Bedford, Mass., almost a century old. She is now owned by Aiken & Swift. The Rousseau was a high, square-bowed craft, with a stern just as square. She is short, thick, and chunky. She is a regular tub, being of 305 tons burden, 92 feet long, 28 feet wide, and 18 feet draught. She was built in Philadelphia, and has not been overhauled very much,because the whale oil with which she is completely saturated has preserved her woodwork. Quite extensive repairs, however, were made upon her a few years ago. The Rousseau was originally built of oak, and she was fastened with iron and copper.
While the old salts were discussing the marvellous preservative properties of whale oil an officer of the lighthouse service entered. He picked up the thread of the discourse, and promptly told them they were all wrong.
“The oldest vessel in these United States,” said he, “is the glorious old Constitution, ‘Old Ironsides,‘ gentlemen. Built at Charlestown, Mass., in 1797, and at present unfitted for sea service. She is of 2,200 tons burden, ship-rigged when in commission, and she draws twenty feet of water. Gentlemen, a great deal has been written about her. Hats off, and three cheers for the brave old ship.”
Hats came off then with a jerk, and the cheers were given with a will that made the rafters crack.
N.Y. Sun. April 8, 1894: 7 col 4.
The South Side Observer a short time since, said that a sloop 50 years old was still engaged in freighting through Long Island Sound. In looking over a late U. S. marine register I find a large number of vessels in the freighting business very much older than 50 years. Sloops Addison, built at Coxsackie in 1819, hailing port N. Y. City; Ambassador, built at Coxsackie in 1820, now of Albany; Carver, N. Y. City, 1821, now of Albany; Victory, Marlboro, 1814, Albany; Wasp, Lansingburgh, 1813, New Haven; Contrivance, Jersey City, 1811, N. Y. City; Floyd S. Warner, Westfield, 1823, N. Y. City; schooners Comet, built at Brookhaven in 1825, now of N. Y. City; Dispatch, Brookhaven, 1827, Cold Spring; Green County Tanner, Catskill, 1932, Albany; Good Intent, Baintree, 1818, Rockland; Intrepid, Brookhaven, 1810, N. Y. City; J. G. Pierson, Haverstraw, 1821, N. Y. City; Lark, Falmouth, 1816, Castive; Mad Anthony, Haverstraw, 1816, N. Y. City; Philena, N. Y. City, 1810, N. Y. City; Polly, Amesbury, 1805, Rockland, and many others. Several whaling vessels belonging to New Bedford built between 1811 and 1835 are yet in pursuit of whales. BELL
Long Island Traveler. November 15, 1895: 2 col 4.
The marine enrollment of the port of New Haven includes the name of one of the oldest vessels in this country. It is of the sloop Wasp owned by John Beattie, the Leete’s Island quarryman. The sloop was built at Lansingburgh, N. Y., in 1813, and is of seventy-two tons. The vessel has not been in commission for several years and lies at the wharf at Leete’s Island. The Wasp was used several years in transporting granite for Mr. Beattie. Inspector Tindale, who keeps a run of old craft, says the Wasp is the oldest on the marine rolls of the United States, save two.
Morning Journal and Courier [New Haven, CT]. June 9, 1899: 3 col 6.
HON. ROBERT N. GIAIMO
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Thursday, March 8, 1973
Mr. GIAIMO. Mr. Speaker, I have re- ceived an informative article written by Mrs. Patricia Cochrane of my district concerning the vast quantity of quality granite obtained from the John Beattie Quarry on Leete’s Island in Connecticut for use in such historic monuments as the Statue of Liberty. I would like to take this opportunity to include a summary of this material as follows:
The unusual pink and black-veined stone found in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty is a product of a fine quarry on Leete’s Island, in the State of Connecticut. The excellence of this stone remained unappreciated until after the Civil War when John Beattie recognized its value and purchased a few acres in 1869, and enlarged his claim to 400 more acres within a few weeks. Now it recognized as a very durable stone—actually second hardest in the country—yet, despite its durability, takes on the fine polish of marble.
The contract for the statue’s pedestal was arranged in 1882, and 400 workmen were hired from all over the world to blast the stone with black powder, in order that the contract deadline of 1884 be met. Pulled by oxen and sled to Hoadley Point, the cargo was then carried by the schooners Wasp I and Wasp II into Long Island through Hell’s Point. The unshifting cargo—the four heaviest stones weighed 28 tons each—and the strong current made it necessary to scrap these ships at the end of their journey. When the cargo reached Bedloe’s Island, a small community was set up to accommodate the workmen and their families nearby in Guildford.
John Beattie did well with his investment, making over $70,000 on this one contract. Other sites which were to use this granite were the Brooklyn Bridge, Newport News Grain Elevator in Virginia, Battery Wharf in New York City, bridges on the Harlem Railroad, and the Smithsonian Institution. The quarry is no longer in operation, and most of the land has been sold for individual homesites. Only the small piece of land bought by Yale University and containing John Beattie’s home indicates anything of the activity that must have existed there during the 19th century.
Congressional Record. Vol 9, Part 6. March 8, 1973. 7229-7230. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-CRECB-1973-pt6/pdf/GPO-CRECB-1973-pt6-2-3.pdf
This contract [for “all the granite used in constructing the sea walls and pedestal for the Statue of Liberty”] was awarded to the John Beattie Granite Works in 1882 by D. H. King. […]
At his quarry, my great-grand-father would mark each of the granite pieces for the pedestal. They were then pulled by sleds and oxen he owned, and hoisted aboard the sloop Wasp at Hoadley’s Point, sailing all the way to Bedloes Island (now Liberty Island).
The Wasp, which he purchased in 1869, was a Hudson River sloop built at Lansingburgh, N.Y., in 1813 for use in the War of 1812. Her hull was strengthened to carry 100 tons on her decks and equipped with a stern hoisting engine, and carried four large lintels, with shield, on each trip to avoid major loss. Her remains are now in the salt marshes off Hoadley’s Point.
The last of the granite for the pedestal was swung into place April 22, 1886, and the jubilant workmen showered silver coins from their pockets into the mortar. ELLEN BEATTIE HARE Old Saybrook, Conn., Dec. 31, 1985
Hare, Ellen Beattie. “How They Brought Down the Granite for Liberty’s Pedestal.” N.Y. Times. January 11, 1986. https://www.nytimes.com/1986/01/11/opinion/l-how-they-brought-down-the-granite-for-liberty-s-pedestal-469486.html
Broderick, Frances D. The story of the sloop Wasp: built in 1813 by Russell Armington at Lansingburgh, N.Y. Lansingburgh, NY: Frances D. Broderick, ca. 1986.
“Lansingburgh Sloop Helped Build Statue of Liberty.” Lansingburgh Historical Society Newsletter [and] Annual Report 1985-1986. https://fc118b.a2cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/LHS-newsletter-1985-1986.pdf
“The Sloop Wasp.” The Courier: Newsletter of the Lansingburgh Historical Society. October 2015. https://fc118b.a2cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/newsletterOct2015.pdf