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 also deeper. All six sons of William Calhoon (a ranger on the western frontiers) and Elizabeth Hutchinson were steamboat men.
Capt John Calhoon (b1809), 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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