Archive for March, 2013

Thomas Washington Poe

Friday, March 29th, 2013

If there is a “night shade” hovering over any stone in the Georgetown Cemetery, it would be the spirit of Capt Thomas Washington Poe for good reason.   Capt Thomas Poe was arguably the most far-famed and ill-fated steamboat captain from Georgetown, PA.  Thomas Washington Poe was born in 1819 in New Lisbon, Columbiana Co, OH.  He died on 31 Dec 1881 aboard the str Fearless on his way to Pittsburgh. 


Capt Thomas W Poe with wives, Phebe and Martha Jane (F Nash Collection)

Misfortune paid its respects to Capt Thomas Poe many times and often far from home.  On 11 May 1855  the str Georgetown was fatally snagged at Bellefontaine Bluffs on the Missouri in route to a military post.  The  str Georgetown was owned by Thomas W Poe and other partners from Georgetown, PA.  He was the principal owner of the str Clara Poe which went up in flames during the Civil War - burned by rebel forces on 17 Apr 1865 at Eddyville on the Cumberland River.  He also owned the str Amelia Poe which was a complete loss when snagged on the upper Missouri river on 24 May 1868 and salvaged by 1,500 riotous Indians.  And he was the

Thomas Poe Illustration in Life on the Mississippi

owner of the str  Nick Wall which met a tragic end on the Mississippi River near Napoleon, AK on 18 Dec 1870.  Here a grisly incident occurred that Mark Twain retold in “Life on the Mississippi”.  The boat struck a snag and sunk rapidly.  Though injured himself by the falling roof, Capt Thomas W Poe attempted to save his wife trapped in a stateroom.  He chopped a hole in the roof with an ax striking the unfortunate Martha Jane Poe in the head.  Martha Jane Poe, fatally wounded, was returned to Georgetown for burial. 


Although Thomas W died on 31 Dec 1881 aboard the str Fearless on his way to Pittsburgh,  his spirit lived on ― in the courts.  The steamer sank eight months later on 26 Aug 1882 on the Missouri.    The legal case regarding the property loss was finally decided by the Supreme Court of Missouri in Oct 1887― not in favor of the Poe heirs.  This verdict feels perfectly consistent with the trend of Thomas Washington Poe’s lfe.




Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

George Washington Ebert

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

George Washington Ebert was my great great grandfather.  He was born 13 Aug 1810 and died in Georgetown, PA on 24 Apr 1879.  Those were the years of great experiences and many great men.  During his lifetime,  GW Ebert established quite a record as a wide-ranging steamboat captain and owner.  According to the Certificates of Enrollment for vessels more than 20 tons registered at the Port of Pittsburgh, GW Ebert was the principle owner of fifteen (15) packets and was a partner in eight (8) other boats owned by Georgetown men.  My definition of “principle owner” is the person first named on the Certificate of Enrollment record for registration of the vessel.  And I have not yet concluded my review of the Certificates of Enrollment for the Port of Pittsburgh.  No doubt some data is missing due to water damage of early volumes and even worse because of lost or misplaced volumes.  Even with incomplete data, the fragments pieced together paint an impressive picture.   


Ebert Steamers

Date:  24 Mar 2013


Packet Name Build Date Way’s Directory Original Primary Owner (Signed Cert of Enrollment)
Belfast    1843 George W Ebert
Bridgewater 1843 George W Ebert
New England 1844 George W Ebert
Hudson 1846 George W Ebert
Hibernia* 1847 George W Ebert
Glaucus   1849 George W Ebert
Washington City  1852 George W Ebert
Yorktown   1853 George W Ebert
Clifton    1855 George W Ebert
Belmont  1856 George W Ebert
Melnotte  1856 George W Ebert
Argyle 1859 George W Ebert
Kenton     1860 George W Ebert
Yorktown * 1864 George W Ebert
Mollie Ebert 1869 George W Ebert
Fairmont 1837 Jacob Poe
Financier 1845 Adam Poe
Pioneer 1846 Adam Poe
Euphrates 1847 Joseph MC Calhoon
Tuscarora 1848 Jacob Poe
Golden Gate 1852 Joseph MC Calhoon
Caledonia * 1854 Richard Calhoon
Grand Turk 1854 AB Galatin

Note:  The asterisk indicates the second boat with that name.



Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved


More Georgetown Boats

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

Thursday afternoon and Friday were fun days at The National Archives.  I reviewed eight volumes of the Certificates of Enrollment from the Customhouse Records for the Port of Pittsburgh.  The records covered the time from 1 Jan 1863 to11 Jan 1867.   Due to a gap in the records, data for the str JT Stockdale, and perhaps other boats, was not reviewed.   Although the index of volume 6645 indicated that there were certificates registered between 17 Oct 1863 and 26 Jan 1864, there is no book containing the information.  Sad.  Those records are gone forever.


I did find eight new steamboats and one ferry which connections to Georgetown steamboat men.  These newly indentified vessels are not listed in Capt Way’s directory.  Most of the steamers are listed in The little-Holdcamper List.  Of course, all of the boats , except str JS Cosgrave, are listed by Benjamin Mackall Laughlin in his hand written list of all steamboats built in Pittsburgh between 1811-1904.  The following table lists the boats and whether they are listed by Capt Way and Little and Holdcamper.



SteamerOwner/Master Build Year Built Location Way’s Directory Little-Holdcamper
Hawk Eye

George D Laughlin

1854 Pittsburgh No No
Grey Eagle

BM Laughlin

1857 West Newton No Yes
JS Cosgrave

George Calhoon

1858 Elizabeth No Yes

HW Laughlin

1860 Pittsburgh No No
Coal Bluff

GD Laughlin

1862 Bellevernon No Yes

HW Laughlin

1864 Cincinnati No No
JS Neil

BM Laughlin

1865 Pittsburgh No Yes
Wild Duck

George D Laughlin

1865 Brownsville No Yes
Driver (steam ferry)

Jesse Smith

1865 Pittsburgh No No


The current count of steamboats owned and operated by  Georgetown men stands at 102.  I have 24 more volumes of Certificates of Enrollment to complete my review from 5 Jan 1831 to 28 Jun 1901.  Seventy years of Georgetown steamboating.

Note:  Bellevernon is the spelling of the clerk who registered  the Cert of Enrollment for the str Coal Bluff.  Not mine!



Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved