This Hans Schuler sculpture depicts the 19th Century ship the Julia Rollins. Marking Commodore Thornton Rollins grave in Green Mount Cemetery, the detailed relief was created around 1935, the year of the Commodore’s death. Thornton Rollins was a successful Baltimore merchant who dealt heavily in the international coffee trade. In 1885 Rollins commissioned the Skinner & Sons shipbuilding company to build the 146-foot bark for his growing enterprise. Baltimore was a thriving American port in the late 1800s and Skinner & Sons was a premiere shipbuilder, employing around 250 people and maintaining a 350′ X 350′ dry dock at the harbor. The Julia Rollins was named after the Commodore’s wife and cost $24,208.
On January 29, 1894, the 586 ton bark came under enemy fire at Rio Harbor. The merchant ship was attacked by Brazilian insurgents during their bombardment of Rio de Janeiro. The complicated diplomatic affair was tempered by the American Admiral Andrew E. K. Benham, a Civil War veteran sent to the region to protect American interests. Benham’s order of return fire from the U.S.S. Detroit stunned the determined insurgents. However, the Brazilian rebels, under the leadership of Admiral de Gama, did not go easily, and musket fire was exchanged. Realizing the American’s strict stance, de Gama attempted to surrender to U.S. forces. Admiral Benham refused and maintained his defensive position until the conflict was resolved. The rebellion ended a few months later and order was returned to Rio Harbor. The minor maritime standoff made newspaper headlines across the United States and was seen as an act of patriotism by President Cleveland and his administration. The Julia Rollins was later renamed the Northwest. It sank off the coast of South Carolina on July 13, 1916.