Archive for April, 2015

Point of Beginning for Wisconsin

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

The national Point of Beginning was associated with the Rittenhouse and Elliot survey of 1785 marking the western boundary of PA and the south east corner of the Northwest Territory.  Before 1785, the Ohio River had been the recognized boundary between the United States and Indian territory.  Across the river from Georgetown, this survey point marked the starting point for the surveys of all public land west including Alaska, excluding the thirteen original colonies, Texas, and Hawaii.   The phrase, the Point of Beginning, was clearly more significant than the name given the geographic survey marker.  It referred to the spiritual and emotional heart of the American Dream – the springboard to the West.



The Historical Marker for the Point of Beginning for WI


The Wisconsin public land surveys began in 1832 and were completed in 1867.  Late in 1831, when Wisconsin was still in Michigan Territory, Lucius Lyon, U.S. Commissioner on the survey of the northern boundary of the State of Illinois, set a post to mark the intersection of that boundary and the 4th Principal Meridian.  Every section corner monument in the state, the boundaries of each county, city, village, township, farm and lot; the position of roads, lakes and streams, all were surveyed and mapped from this Point of Beginning (POB).

As the historical marker explains, this is where Wisconsin begins, both geographically and historically. [i]   

Of course, the POB for WI was mapped from the original POB marking the beginning of the Northwest Territory and the Commonwealth of PA which was across the Ohio River from Georgetown.


In the History of Wood County, Wisconsin, there are several interesting names in the Original Land Entries for Wood County, Wisconsin in 1856.  No land was taken in this Township 25, Range 3 until 1856. [2]  The first entries recorded included:


              Township 25 Range 3 (Marshfield and Cameron)  1856 

Name Recorded Sections Steamer in 1856
Jacob Poe 1,2,3,and 11 Belmont, Yorktown 1
Adam Poe 3 and 4 Ella, Financier 2
Thomas Poe 11 and 12 Georgetown
George W Ebert 12 Belmont, Washington City


Before the Civil War, the Georgetown Poes had accumulated considerable wealth in the river transportation business.  With their boats, they were delivering settlers and supplies to the lower Missouri River towns.  All the river ports on the Missouri River became wealthy outfitting emigrants following the Mormon, the Oregon, and the Santa Fe Trails.  In the years leading to 1856, the boats operated by Georgetown men are also listed in the table.  All of the named steamers were succesful.  Only the str Georgetown was fataly snagged on the lower Missouri. 


Profits from their steamboats were apparently invested in land.  In 1856, Jacob Poe, Adam Poe, Thomas Poe and George W Ebert acquired or “marked” land in Wood County, WI.  Whether their names are woven in the history of the county is unclear.  Remembered or forgotten, they laid the foundation for the history of the county. 


What became of their investments is unknown.  Why they would chose to acquire land in themiddle of an unsettled frontier territory without access to a major river is also open to speculation.  Sections 11 and 12 are adjacent to Sections 1 and 2 indicating that these four steamboat captains “marked” 6 square miles of land to settle together.  (According to the system of metes and bounds one Range was 6 miles; one Section was approximately 1 square mile; one township was comprised of 36 sections.)  Whether I stand to benefit from my ancestor’s investment  is still to be settled.   








[2] George O Jones, History of Wood County, Wisconson, HC Cooper Jr and Cooper, 1923, p70.





Copyright © 2015 Francis W Nash
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CivWar150 str Clara Poe

Friday, April 17th, 2015

The str Clara Poe went up in flames ― burned by rebels on 17 Apr 1865 at Eddyville on the Cumberland River while transporting supplies and barges of hay to Nashville. [i]     The battle for compensation was waged by Capt Jacob Poe for twenty-five years through six presidencies, in vain. 




[i]  Frederick Way, Jr.,Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p. 99. 

The owners of the str Clara Poe formally requested indemnity from the US Army Quartermaster.  Correspondence between the principal owners and the US government is available at the National Archives in the military “Vessel File” Record Group 92 Entry 1403 Box 81.



Copyright © 2015 Francis W Nash
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No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.

The Calhoon Rivermen

Friday, April 10th, 2015

No doubt Capt Thomas Washington Poe was the most ill-fated steamboat captain from Georgetown.  Singularly, he lost five boats; four to snags and one to arson during the Civil War.  In those five events many lives were lost including his second wife and a young nephew.


The Calhoon family also suffered loss in the waters of the Ohio and Missippi.  Their loss was more diverse, and arguably deeper.  All six sons of William Calhoon (a ranger on the western frontiers) and Elizabeth Hutchinson were steamboat men.


Capt John Calhoon (b 1809), was claimed by the river on 7 May 1846.  He was a charter member of the Ohio River Pilots’ Society as recorded on 12 Aug 1836.  According to George WE Poe on that dark May night near Marietta, John Calhoon misstepped on the unguarded main deck of Jacob Poe’s boat and fell into the Ohio River.  His body was recovered, returned to Georgetown, and buried in the Mill Creek Cemetery.  After his death, his wife, Nancy Stevenson, with her family of young children (the oldest twelve; the youngest unborn (Elmira wasa born 3 Dec 1846)), moved to Hookstown with her parents.  In the years between 1845-1847, the Hookstown vicinity suffered from a malady called “Hookstown Fever”.  Nancy Stevenson’s father died of this disease on 7 Jul 1847, her brother Andrew died on 1 Sep 1847, Nancy died on 2 Sep 1847, and her brother Jonathon died on 2 Noc 1847.  Seven orphaned children were left with their grandmother and her only remaining son Sampson in an unknown and unsafe condition.  The children lived with other relatives but considered the Stevenson farm home. Thomas Stevenson Calhoon was taken into the home of his Uncle Richard Calhoon who was also a steamboat captain.  For twenty years Thomas S Calhoon lived, and worked, with his uncle until his marriage in 1867.



Str Golden Gate Llicense dated 1854 (Frances and John Finley Collection)

Joseph MC Calhoon was also a steamboat captain.  He built the str Caroline then sold it before taking possession.  Likewise with the str Parthenia Parr.  He also built the str Golden State which he commanded till his death.  While aboard the str Golden Gate he became ill near Alton, IL. He intended to return home to Georgetown.  He travelled no farther than St Louis where he put up in the Franklin House where he died 21 Apr 1855.  A Masonic funeral service was held on 22 Apr, 1855 and his body was placed in a metal vault in the St Louis Cemetery. At the time, the Ohio River was closed to traffic due to high water.  When the riverway reopened Capt George W Ebert with a skelton crew of Georgetown men drove the str Washington City to St Louis to collect the body.  Capt George W Ebert was his brother-in-law; the clerk, James Wilkins was another brother-in-law; the primary owner of the boat was another brother-in-law, Jacob Poe.  No doubt the mates and crew were also Georgetown men.  The str Washington City returned his body to Georgetown and it was intered in the Calhoon family lot in Mill Creek Presbyterian Cemetery. Capt Joseph MC twin children, a son and daughter, were born after his death.  Joseph MC’s wife died a few years later and his children were placed in the care of the Ebert families in Georgetown.    


The early steamboat days were full of hardships and life shortening dangers.  Floods, ice jams, fog, steamer wrecks, snags, sand bars, boiler explosions, and fire were dangers that confronted the officers of a every packet.  Mississippi diarrhea, cholera, jaundice, injury, consumption, and drowning were the constant companions of all of the crew and passengers.  Like many other steamboat families, the Calhoons sacrificed, suffered, and learned to live with their losses. 



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National Archives Trip 7

Friday, April 3rd, 2015


Thursday (2 Apr 2015), I spent another afternoon at the National Archives in DC.  My seventh trip and eighth day to the research room.  My researchers access card had expired which means time lost – even for a renewal card the researcher must review the training slide presentation.  That is actually a good thing.  Some procedures change within a years time; stuff moves; The National Archives research lobby has been refurbished and reorganized.  The archives assistance is always professional.


I reviewed the Certificates of Enrollment for the Port of Pitsburgh records (Record Group 41) from 14 Feb 1870 through 30 Jun 1875 (Volumes 6657-6659). One new thing I learned. Capt Benjamin M Laughlin built a keelboat in 1871.  Keelboats had gone the way of Lewis and Clark I had thought.  Before this I had been surprised to find a new keelboats registered in the 1850’s.  If there was money to be made during low water, these Georgetown men were at the ready.


Cherry Blossoms in front of The National Archives 2 Apr 2015 (F Nash Collection)


It was a beautiful day.  Cherry blossoms were full.  Mild temperature after such a brutal winter.  Late lunch at Jaleos in the Penn Quarter with my world traveling partner.  What could make a better day? 








Copyright © 2015 Francis W Nash
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No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.




Georgetown People Repeat

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

I have mentioned the close connections of Georgetown people from the Poe angle – Special People of Georgetown.  I am always amazed and somewhat amused.  This maze of names focusing on the Calhoon connections is also interesting.  Follow closely.


Capt Joseph MC Calhoon was the brother of Capts John, James Hutchinson, Richard, George Goshorn and Thomas Dawson; Joseph MC’s sister Mary Jane married Capt Jackman T StockdaleCapt Thomas S Calhoon was the son of John Calhoon and a nephew of Capt Jackman T Stockdale.  Joseph MC Calhoon married Parthenia Parr.  James Wilkins, the clerk of the str Washington City, married Myrtilla Parr, sister of Parthenia Parr.  Capt George W Ebert  half brother of Parthenia Parr, married Nancy Ann Poe, the sister of Capt Jacob Poe.  Capt Jacob Poe married Mary Ann Ebert, half sister of Parthenia Parr.  Capt George Goshorn Calhoon married Sarah Poe, the sister of Capt Jacob Poe and Nancy Ann (Poe) Ebert.  Elizabeth Calhoon, niece of Joseph MC Calhoon and daughter of Capt James Hutchison Calhoon, married Capt Andrew Hague Parr, brother of Parthenia Parr.  


Calhoon, Ebert, Parr, Poe, Stockdale, and Wilkins were hopelessly entangled with the river and each other.  With more effort Dawsons, Laughlins, Mackalls, and Potts can also be included in the puzzle.  Nearly everybody in the town was related by blood or marriage.




Copyright © 2015 Francis W Nash
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No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.