Archive for September, 2010

Parthenia Parr Calhoon Autograph Book 1878

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

A biography of Parthenia Parr Calhoon has been loaded on a page named Parthenia P Calhoon .  Some of the pages of her autograph book dated 20 May 1878 are found in Autograph Book 1878.    Miss Parthenia P Calhoon was aboard the str Red Wing with her brother Thomas Franklin Calhoon.  The position of the str Red Wing was Dubuque, IA.  The signatures included the captain, William T Hight and several officers.  Passengers from numerous states also signed the book adding brief messages of inspiration.


If anyone wants a list of passengers and their home addresses, please let me know.

Old Steamboats

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Why is there is so little interest in old steamboats? My definition of old is precisely the years between 1811 and 1848.  These were the years of great experiences and many great men.  Has interest faded because the information is too hard to find? The data exists. I also believe we must find it soon or it will be too hard to find, or worse lost forever.

Two recent examples from the tiny village of Georgetown, PA worthy of note.

(1) Account of Adam Poe, Sr River Experiences
written 2 May 1889
(2) Steamers Built in Pittsburgh from 1811-1904
presented on 20 Sep 1904

Capt Adam Poe’s account of his river experiences is a fascinating glimpse into an interesting life. It started as a struggle for survival, yet he lived to see prosperity for his family.  In genealogy correspondence, I had read about this book, but I still have never held it.  I did find a photo copy, with a few lines distorted beyond understanding, at the Beaver County Genealogy and History Center in Beaver Falls, PA.  The autobiographical account has been loaded under Capt Adam Poe as a page called book of river experiences.

People in Georgetown know of my interest in steamboats and their history. Several have provided old documents and photos. Recently, my aunt showed me a book written by hand listing all the steamboats built at Pittsburgh between 1811-1904. Its author was Benjamin M Laughlin.  His list was compiled from “Custom House records taken by Mr Showing”.  On the fly leaf, he presented the book to his brother RD Laughlin (Robert Dawson Laughlin).  He lists 50 pages of boats pre 1848.  I repeat 50 pages of steamer names and tonnage pre Capt Way.  He comments on some boats, ie where she snagged, exploded, sunk, etc.  He lists the names of the daily packets of the old Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line (1842-1855).  BM Laughlin remembered the flood of 10 Feb 1832.  The first steamer remembered was the Emigrant built 15 Aug 1831.  A fascinating trove of information from a person who lived during the time.  I have not come across unique primary source data like this.  I will share this information as I am able.




Copyright © 2009 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Adam Poe River Experience

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

A wonderful account of the life and river experiences of Capt Adam Poe  has been loaded.  Full of  swash and buckle.  There is a grace and a toughness about him.  The account, written by Adam Poe in 1887, was printed in a serial form in the East Liverpool Crisis in 1889 or 1890.  I have added a few comments, mainly dates highlighted in blue print, to add perspective.  It is a wonderful read. 

Account of Adam Poe, Sr.  River Experiences

A copy of the Poe account can be found in the Poe folder at the Beaver County Genealogy and History Center in Beaver Falls, PA.

Place of Build

Monday, September 6th, 2010


Recently while updating my steamboat file, I sorted the data using  the keys “Place of Build” and the “Year of Build”.  My results ordered by the number of boats built in a city are listed in the following table.


Eighty-eight percent of the boats owned and operated by men from Georgetown were built in PA boatyards; seventeen percent in Pittsburgh although some of the boats built in nearby towns were “finished” in Pittsburgh.  Most of the boats ordered in Ohio were the luxurious packets expressly designed and built for the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line.


Georgetown Steamboats


Number of Boats

City/Town State

Range of Years




Pittsburgh   1843-1886


Freedom   1844-1864


California   1854-1877


Cincinnati OH 1864-1897


Brownsville   1848-1863




McKeesport   1853-1868


Shousetown   1850-1870


Elizabeth   1847-1854


Glasgow   1846-1848


Belle Vernon   1857




Fallston   1837


Fishing Creek WV 1861


Georgetown   1865


Harmar OH 1890


Industry   1848




Line Island   1852


Smith’s Ferry   1845


West Elizabeth   1851



Unidentified Steamer

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

In the PLCHC Photo Collection of Inland Riverboats, I found a photo of a boat steaming by Georgetown Landing.  The steamer’s name was listed unidentified.  Part of the name is visible when the photo is enlarged ==> ” ????ATE “.   Other clues are provided by the descriptive characteristics of the boat: sternwheel, texas, simple stacks, and a minimalist  designed pilot house.


Ohio River at Georgetown  from the south bank (From the Collection of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)

Ohio River at Georgetown from the south bank (From the Collection of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)

With Way’s Packet Directory in hand, I started my investigation.  Seventeen boats names ended with word “STATE” and one “GATE”.  The number of candidates was reduced to six with the elimination of side wheelers and the absence of a texas.  I began a search for photos of the six candidates.  At the UW La Crosse – Historic Steamboat Photographs, a photo of the str Keystone State fit the clues and matched the unidentified photo.  Level of confidence — 95%.


My level of confidence increases considerably knowing that the captain of the  Keystone State was Thomas Stevenson CalhoonThomas S Calhoon lived his entire life in Georgetown, PA.  In fact, five’ll getcha ten, the photo was taken from the backyard of his property overlooking Georgetown Landing.


I will send my comments to the PLCHC wiki.