Archive for April, 2012

A Menu Book and so much more

Monday, April 30th, 2012

I have loaded a summary of a “Menu Book” and a list of “Events to Remember” by Lillian Poe Wagner.  The compositions present an interesting view of Lillian May Poe’s life with Dr Louis H Wagner in Cleveland, OH between the years of 1922 and 1936.  Think of the history of those days!  After the death of her husband, Lillian May Poe returned to Georgetown, PA to care for her father, Charley Poe, who had had a stroke, her uncle, George WE Poe who was 92 years of age, and her first cousin, Parthenia Parr Calhoon, who had lost an eye in 1927.


Lillian May Poe was undoutedly the most esteemed citizen of Georgetown, PA  during the 20th century.



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

CivWar150 – 24 Apr 1862

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Str Kenton Receipt during Civil War (Ohio State University)

Str Kenton Receipt during Civil War (Ohio State University)

The str Kenton and its crew were chartered for service by the Quartermaster from 27 Dec 1861 to 5 Jan 1862 and from 6 Jan for an unknown duration of time[1].  The str

Kenton receipts for three round trips between Pittsburgh and Louisville and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati were in the papers of Capt William B Anderson (civilian riverboat captain and pilot) in the Ohio State University Rare Books Collection.  Trip number 13 was dated 24 Apr 1862; trip number 10 was undated but signed by Standish Peppard (owner and first clerk of the str Kenton), and the third receipt was neither dated nor signed.  Capt Anderson was quite probably one of the pilots of the str Kenton on these trips.  In letters to his wife dated after 24 Apr 1862 Capt Anderson wrote of the str Kenton in the past tense which suggests he had moved to another packet.  In the letters, he also expressed his concern about being drafted while between government contracts and paying a $1,000 fine about avoiding the draft.  He also wrote about two captains, Capt Adams and the captain of the Florence Miller, arrested for cowardice by General Wright.  The Florence Miller was a tinclad packet.  The conflict between military and commercial control of the vessels was real.




[1]  Charles Dana Gibson and E Kay Gibson, Dictionary of Transports and Combatant Vessels Steam and Sail Employed by the Uniion Army 1861 – 1868, (Ensign Press, Cambridge, MA 1995), p 189.



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Census Data Analysis

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Sometime ago, I reviewed the Georgetown census data for 1860 and 1870 to determine whether the steamboat men of Georgetown prospered from their Civil War contracts.  According to the census data, the steamboat captains had accumulated the greatest wealth of any residents of Georgetown.  Comparing the value of real and personal property of the 1860 and 1870 data, showed that the relative position of the captains changed little.  Thomas Poe amassed more wealth than his older brothers, Jacob and Adam.  Their brother-in-law, George W Ebert, was in last place in the 1860 census.  However, only  George W Ebert’s wealth increased between 1860 and 1870.  The wealth of the Poe brothers, Thomas, Jacob, and Adam, decreased by 30-45%. 

The census analysis is available on the page Census Data Analysis.




Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

The National Archives

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The vessel documentation from the Customhouse in Pittsburgh, PA is maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration – Record Group 41.  The books containing the Certificate of Enrollment documentation are much like the large deed references found in your local county courthouses.  The books are fragile.  The documentation is handwritten. 

Certificate of Enrollment for the str Golden State (National Archives Vol 6634 cert no 129)

Certificate of Enrollment for the str Golden State (National Archives Vol 6634 cert no 129)

This image taken with my Droid Pro gives a good feel for the condition of the artifacts from our history.


On the left of the page under the sailing ship is the enrollment number (129), the type of record (Permanent), Where Surrendered (Pittsburgh), Date of Surrender (1 day of September 1852), and Cause of Surrender (the expiration of license and change of ownership).  Under the Enrollment title, the primary owner of the vessel is listed (Joseph M Calhoon) who has sworn an oath after which the partners are listed.  The vessel is named with its port of call (Golden State of Pittsburgh).  The place of build (McKeesport, PA) was listed as it appeared on another Certificate of Enrollment or a Certificate of Admeasurement.  The vessel dimensions were noted and her measurement in tons.  The vessel is described as a (steam boat) has (transom stern) and (cabin deck).  Finally the same named person (Joseph M Calhoon) who has agreed with the written information and the site and date of this testimony were listed.  On some pages the name of the scribe is listed on the left column under the Cause of Surrender.    

The following table lists the key information gleaned from the actual page of the vessel documentation. 


Str Golden State

Owners/Partners Share Vol: 6634
Joseph MC Calhoon 3/8 Enroll No : 129
Martin Lyon 1/8 Cert Date: 1 Sep 1852
Thomas Oliver 1/8 Cert Type:: Admeasurement
William Rea 1/16 Build Locn: McKeesport, PA
George McBride 1/16 Build Date: 1852
Hugh Martin 1/16    
William Noble 1/8    
David McNeal 1/16    


I have been reading every page of each volume because I have found Georgetown names listed as partners on boats not identified in my inherited materials.  Not all the vessels registered are steamboats.  I have also read about keel boats and canal barges.

As time permits, I intend to review all of the volumes from the port of Pittsburgh.  Four down –  forty-five to go. 




Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Georgetown Keel Boats

Sunday, April 8th, 2012


As I was reviewing the Certificates of Enrollments for vessels more than twenty tons from the Customhouse in Pittsburgh, I was surprised by the number of keelboats registered.  My surprise was in part due to the build dates of the keelboats.  I thought that the steamboat marked the end of the keelboat’s useful life years earlier.  I was also impressed by the size, length and breadth, of the vessels.  With little scientific or technological control of the vessel descending the Ohio River, I can only imagine the physical struggle to maneuver heavy cargo downstream in a keelboat.


I have only reviewed the volumes 6633-6636 of the National Archives Record Type 41.  Those volumes contain the enrollment data from 4 Jan 1850 to 30 Dec 1854.  Within that timeframe I found eleven keel boats built by Georgetown men.  The old family names, Poe, Laughlin, Dawson, and Calhoon, are all represented.  Like steamboats, keelboats were family owned with three or four partners – family members and friends.


The size of this sample of keel boats, from smallest to largest, follows:


            Length:                       100ft               114 ft
            Breadth:                     17ft                 17ft10in
            Depth:                           1ft 5in              2ft1in
            Capacity:                    27 39/95 tons  40 25/95 tons




Georgetown Keel Boats

Date:  31 Mar 2012


Name Original Primary Owner Locn Build Date Build
Big Foot Jacob Poe Glasgow, PA 1850
Cinderella 2 James Haslett Philis’s Island, PA 1850
Commerce Thomas Laughlin Georgetown, PA 1850
Hero G Dawson Glasgow, PA 1850
JS Porter Samuel Calhoon Industry, PA 1848
Key Stone B Dawson Christlow’s Landing, PA 1850
Martha Anderson George Laughlin Industry, PA 1854
Ocean Wave George Laughlin Georgetown, PA 1850
Osceola HW Laughlin Christlow’s Landing, PA 1853
Swan A Reed Glasgow, PA 1850
Wm Rodgers Benjamin Laughlin Industry, PA 1854



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

CivWar150 6 Apr 1862

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Still owned by Capt Jackman T Stockdale, the str Horizon was pressed into Civil War duty serving at the Battle of Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River on Apr 6-7, 1862. Also in 1862 with a number of other Pittsburgh based boats, the Horizon was called to the Cumberland River to relieve sick and wounded soldiers. [1]



[1] Frederick Way, Jr.,Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p. 217.

Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved



The Wreck of the str Fearless.

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

The Army Corp of Engineers Kansas City District published map of the Missouri River in Dec 2000 that shows the changing of the river channel over the last century.  This map is a composite of a map used by Capt HM Chittenden in 1897 and a more recent river channel map.  For historians, the map is interesting because it identified the approximate locations of steamboats wrecks.  Capt HM Chittenden located the sites in 1897.  From his historical research prior to 1962, Dr EB Trail also identified the sites of the same steamboat wrecks.  Their findings differ. 

Kansas City District Corp of Engineers dated Dec 2000

Kansas City District Corp of Engineers dated Dec 2000


For me the map is interesting because the site of the wreck of the str Fearless was identified.  The str Fearless was operated by Capt Thomas W Poe for a short time before his death.  Although he died in 31 Dec 1881 aboard the str Fearless on his way to Pittsburgh and the steamer sank eight months later on 26 Aug 1882, his spirit lived on in the courts.  The legal case regarding the property loss was finally decided by the Supreme Court of Missouri in Oct 1887. 



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved