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Joshua Appleby


United States Coast Guard Cutter 

Joshua Appleby 

Commissioned 8 August 1998 

175 ft. Buoy Tender 

Homeport: St. Petersburg, Florida

Picture courtesy of USCG


Captain Joshua Appleby


   It was called the Great Hurricane of 1846 and from eyewitness accounts of the recorded event, no one will dispute it’s violence and destruction. The storm, born in the Caribbean, grew to maturity as it devastated Cuba and then headed for the Florida Keys.

   Joshua Appleby, living at the time on Sand Key, could not have known, on the morning of October Eleventh, what was in store for him on that fateful day. Joshua was a fifty-two year old Mariner, out of Newport, Rhode Island when he came to the Keys. He was a Captain of a wrecking-ship and records prove many ships sailed with him as the Master. It is more than probable that he was a familiar figure in all the ports of the Eastern Seaboard.

   In late 1822, Joshua founded the first settlement on Knight Key at the western end of Key Vacas and named it Port Monroe. Two years later, he moved from there and became one of the first settlers at Indian Key. As before, he opened a store to trade with the wreckers and new settlers. He, also, developed a new and profitable business, a business that eventually put him under arrest and returned him to the United States Circuit Court in Rhode Island.

   If the story is true, and documents in Rhode Island Courts indicate the possibility, then it is a fascinating story of piracy and privateering, as it involved conspiracy between Joshua Appleby and a Captain Hopper of the armed schooner, La Centilla.  A United States  government anti-piracy squadron arrived and upon investigation, arrested Joshua and took him to the Courts in Rhode Island. The case was in the courts for three years, and there was eventually some kind of monetary settlement.  Afterwards, Joshua returned to the Keys and sailed once more as the Master of yet another wrecking schooner.   

     According to records, Joshua Appleby was born in Rhode Island on 5th of December 1770, although some say "about 1773".   As early as 1797, he was already the Master of ships out of Providence. Twice married, Joshua and his first wife Sarah (Sally) Viall, were married 13 June 1793, in Providence. A daughter, Eliza Viall Appleby was born to them on 23rd January 1795. The mother died the following year. Joshua’s second marriage was to Mary Forrester, born ca. 1769, and they were living on the Keys at the time of her death on 4th February 1833.

   By 1837, Joshua Appleby was leading a much quieter life as keeper of the lighthouse at Sand Key. He, his daughter and his eleven year old grandson, Thomas Forrester Patterson, were with him in the lighthouse on October 11th, 1846, when the hurricane hit the Keys. At Sand Key, the winds began at ten o’clock in the morning and increased rapidly. The tide rose, as did the wind, the Sand Key lighthouse was destroyed, and Sand Key was totally submerged by the water. Joshua,  and his family with him, was carried away by the raging sea.

   In 1996, a historian of Joshua Appleby wrote, at length, to Appleby Heritage, giving his version of the story of his ancestor.  He believed Joshua was innocent of any wrong doing and he may well be correct in his opinion.  The United States Coast Guard must agree, as they now have a Buoy Tender christened Joshua Appleby.

Whatever went on in the Keys in those days made colorful and fascinating history. 


A link to another story of Joshua is:


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webpage: 2 June 2001