Peter Cruse

Posted by on April 6, 2017 in History Stories | Comments Off on Peter Cruse

Ship Captain

(1828 first conveyor of rubber in America)

Peter Cruse was a captain in the old merchant man service, and traded in the West Indies and South American ports. He was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, and was at first in the Swedish Navy, having run away to sea, as so often the Swedish lovers of the Great Deep were apt to do. Being Anxious to go to America, his mother, who taught him the love of the Bible, which he learned to read at her knee, urged him if he went to America, to go where her cousin, Rev. Nicholas Collin, had long since settled. So Captain Cruse came to America, and Philadelphia. He at once attached himself to “Old Swedes'” Church. In Philadelphia the Captain fell in love and married Catharine Simpson, daughter of James Simpson, a builder of vessels.

After one of his voyages from South American he landed in Philadelphia, with what he called “a queer cargo,” for it was composed of clumsy rubber shoes in the rough. The virgin rubber had been melted, and before hardening, the feet of the natives had been presses, after cooling, into the soft substance, and they were to have the outside rough edges pared off with knives after reaching this country.

When the vessel reached Christian Street wharf, many of the prominent shipping men of Philadelphia were invited to visit the ship, and inspect the cargo. Among these shipping men one recalls the names of Thomas Earp, John F. Ohl, the Bernadous, and many others, all of whom were enthusiastic over the then mysterious substance in the vessel’s hold, which they were told was to be converted into shoes which would resist rainy weather. Peter Cruse, was the first conveyor of rubber in America. The local papers of that period made many favorable comments on the value of the cargo, and in the practical utilization of the product of the rubber tree.

In these days of motor cars, and the necessary rubber tires, what great strides have been made since Captain Cruse came up the Delaware River with
his “queer cargo.”