Archive for the ‘River history’ Category

Two Ohio River Maps

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Two interesting maps for your review.  The first map lists all of the frontier forts and blockhouses on the upper Ohio River between 1775 and 1795.  A brutal time in our history when we were not quite civilized.  The map was adapted by Stephen Lazzaro from the illustration in “Every Home a Fort, Every Man a Warrior” written by Michael E Nogay.  The revised map identifies the frontier fort in Georgetown, PA.  Mr Lazzaro and I agreed to name the outpost Fort Reardon’s Bottom, although in 1777 Major Henry Taylor referred to the it in military correspondence as “the Chief of the old posts”.  The word fort preceding the location defines the fort as a “public” fort.  Public forts were manned by regular US Army troops and supplied at the taxpayers expense.  The fort in Georgetown was manned by Continental Army troops.  There is a warm poetic ring to the name.  It is the first map I have seen with the Georgetown fort listed.

Adapted by Stephen Lazzaro from Dennis R Jones’ Illustration for Michael E Nogay’s “Every Home a Fort, Every Mana Warrior”


The second map is the obverse of an advertisement (ca 1925) that lists the steamboat stops and railroad connections on the upper Ohio River.  The two maps provide the boundary in time for Georgetown – a boundary between the founding of our country and the Golden Age of Steamboats.   

Steamboat and RR Connections ca 1925 (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)



Copyright © 2014 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved


New Bio of Thomas W Poe

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

The Capt Thomas Washington Poe biography was updated yet it still is incomplete.  Information from the Certificates of Enrollment for his later steamboats will not be added until I have made time to review the appropriate volumes at The National Archives. 


Copyright © 2014 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Steamboat Memorabilia

Monday, January 20th, 2014

The str Senator Cordill has quite a history.  According to Way’s packet directory, on 27 Jan 1903 the str Senator Cordill participated in the anniversary when the Yazoo River put Vicksburg back on the river.  In 1920, str Senator Cordill was sold and put in the Pittsburgh Charleston trade.  In 1929 str Senator Cordill was purchased by the Ohio River Transportation Co and put in the Pittsburgh Cincinnati trade.  The following travel brochure indicates that the steamer had been “catering to tourists for six years” which means that the river tour document was issued between the years 1926-1929. 


Str Senator Codill ca 1920 (Anna L and John F Nash Colleciton)

One of the points of historical interest was “the scene of the famous fight between Adam Poe and the Indian Big Foot”.


Capt Frederick Way Jr and Judy Nash in Georgetown, PA in 1971 (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)

Another reason this particular packet is important is that Frederick Way, Jr was its master-pilot in 1931 and pilot in 1932, 1933, and 1934.  The str Senator Cordill sank in Dam 14 on 5 Feb 1934.  The pilots at the time were Wilsie Miller and Fred Way, Jr.  It was unclear who was at the wheel at the time of the incident.











Copyright © 2014 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved


Source Documents

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

A friend, and Poe relative, introduced me to the personal diary of Isaac T Goodnow.  In her research of Rev Adam Poe who was a cofounder of Ohio Wesleyan University, she crosses into the Poe steamboat land. 


Isaac T Goodnow helped establish the community of Manhattan, KN in the 185o’s.  His diaries are an interesting read.  Kansas was the topic of the day.  Slavery was the main issue.  Isaac T Goodnow traveled from Boston to Kansas at least once a year.  Isaac T Goodnow knew Rev Adam Poe who arrived in KN via steamboat to attend a religious conference.


In Issac T Goodnow’s travels, he mentioned steamboats often.  However, he rarely named them.  Two daily journal entries are listed below where he named the packets built by Georgetown men:


            (1)  str Financier.  At the time of the journal entry, Goodnow would have steamed on str Financier II built for Capt Adam Poe in 1850.   Capt Adam ran the str Financier II for three years and then sold it.  In 1855, he was commanding the str Ella which was also working on the lower Missouri River. 


            (2)  str Admiral.    In 1857 Capt Jackman T STockdale was a partner in the ownership of the str Admiral, At that time it is unclear whether he was its captain or pilot. 


The Isaac T Goodnow diaries are a fantastic first hand account of the violence in Kansas in the troubled 1850′s.   For me, they also provide source information that confirms my statements that Georgetown steamboats were working at the sharp and dangerous edge of our frontier.





Diary of Isaac T. Goodnow


Transcribed by staff and volunteers of the Riley County Historical Museum from a typescript of the original diary held in the collection of the Kansas State Historical Society.



Thursday, 8/16/55         

            Br. Wm. E. left this morning in the steamer Financier for Kansas City.  Hope to see him back soon.  Very rainy.  Drove to Judge W-s 7 miles to dinner.  P.M. rode on to Mr Roberts’ an Illinois man.  Has 120 acres corn.



Thursday 11/12/57

            Bought 2 land warrants $281.60  Saw my old friend Hugh M. Thompson, formerly of Greenfield.  Did some considerable business, & at 3. P.M. started by Pacific R.R. for Jefferson City, arriving at 9. & taking the steamer Admiral for Leavenworth City.  Lay by till morning on account of the darkness.  Rested tolerably well.  Rainy, P.M. & Evening.



Copyright © 2014 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved


Another Used Book Review

Monday, December 16th, 2013

“The Conquest of the Missouri” by Joseph Mills Hanson I highly recommend.  Published in 1909 the book is a biography of the life of Capt Grant P Marsh concentrating on the days of his support of the US Army during the Indian Wars of the 1870s.  Capt Marsh was a direct participant in some important historic moments


For several reasons, this is a great book on steamboat history and the general history of the development of the upper Missouri River valley: 


                (1)  Joseph M Hanson lived during the period he was writing about, 

                (2)  Joseph M Hanson personally interviewed Grant P Marsh who furnished much of the material set forth in the book.

                (3)  Joseph M Hanson also interviewed many of the Army officers who served in the Indian Wars and other notable people and steamboat men, such as William F Cody (Wild Bill), Samuel L Clemens Mark Twain), and Horace Bixby Mark Twain’s pilot mentor).

                (4)  The illustrations and plates are fascinating, such as the group of officers (including Custer) and ladies of the 7th US Calvary at Fort Lincoln in about 1875, approximately one year before the battle of the Little Big Horn.

                (5)  The names of many steamboats (Luella, Ida Stockdale, Key West, Josephine, and the Far West) and their officers are woven into the narrative unlike most other historic accounts.

For other reasons, this used book is of great interest to me, but maybe not to you:

Flyleaf of The Conquest uf the Missouri ca 1910 (F Nash Collection)


                (1)  The original owner of this book received it as a gift on16 Mar 1910 according to the inscription on the flyleaf.  That person, or subsequent owners, loosely inserted many newspaper clippings and notes about specific events on many pages.  These insertions I find fascinating.  In one case, an obituary was inserted including a hand written correction of what should have been written in the book.  The back of a First Loan and Trust deposit slip Yankton, SD 192_ was used as paper for the hand written correction.

                (2)  Capt Grant Marsh worked for some of my guys from Georgetown, PA.  Unfortunately, Joseph M Hanson got many of the Georgetown details, as I understand them, wrong.  I am considering writing a correction sheet and inserting it in the book for the benefit of the next reader.   Of course, Capt Marsh was the master of the str Ida Stockdale during the 1867 season on the upper Missouri River and his salary was $1,200 month.  That he was a skillful navigator and a proven captain is not arguable.  However, Joseph M Hanson gives Capt Grant a little too much control of and credit for building the boat that, in my opinion, belongs to Georgetown men.  The str Ida Stockdale was owned by Capt Jackman Taylor Stockdale and Capt Thomas Stevenson Calhoon who as partners directed the purchase and building of other packets.  There is no discernable reason that they would relinquish this oversight task to a hired captain.  Both Stockdale and Calhoon were veteran captains and pilots working on the lower Missouri before the Civil War and all the military waterways during the war.   Both had been to Ft Benton.  Joseph M Hanson named the owner of the str Ida Stockdale as Capt RS Calhoun rather than TS Calhoon.  The Georgetown Calhoons were prideful of the spelling of their name.  Joseph M Hanson acknowledged that Capt Thomas S Calhoon “accompanied” Capt Marsh “though he made the voyage for pleasure only and had nothing to do with the management of the boat”.  Actually, as well as a principle owner Capt Thomas S Calhoon was the first clerk of the str Ida Stockdale for the venture on the upper Missouri.  For confirmation, Capt TS Calhoon’s journals can be found at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.


I repeat that these apparent discrepancies are important to me, but maybe not to you.   Regardless, the book is a grade-A read.    




Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved



Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

The Jacob Poe bio has been updated with new material obtained over the past two years.   Similarly, History in Homes has been modified with additional material and images.  As I have indicted before, it may be worth your time to stop by occasionally to see if a subject important to you has changed.


I am working on  Thomas W Poe.



Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Thank You

Monday, November 11th, 2013

On this Veterans Day, I am reminded of sacrifices made.  I have scanned and loaded two newspaper articles dated Oct 1942 about a cannon that had been standing in the town square Georgetown since shortly after the Civil War.  One article identified as a “Special to the Review”  stated that the cannon had been installed as a monument 78 year earlier.  In Oct 1942 the Georgetown town council, like many other small towns, had voted to donate the relic to help relieve the national shortage of scrap metal.   


Civil War Cannon Memorial (Newspaper Clips dated Oct1942)


The historic cannon, forged in Pittsburgh, was transported from the Pittsburgh Arsenal by packet to Line Island where is was to be used to defend Pittsburgh from Gen John Hunt Morgan and his cavalry.  When word reached Georgetown that Morgan’s Raiders were in eastern Ohio on Sunday 26 Jul 1863, the ferry boat was scuttled, women were told to secret their valuables and take their children to a safe place, and the roads were filled with men on horseback riding to defend Georgetown, PA .  It was reported that you could hear gun fire all over the county. 


After many anxious hours, the Georgetown heroes learned that Morgan had been captured a mere 25 miles away near Lisbon, OH.


The Georgetown people sacrificed the cannon and its bit of history to help their sons and daughters serving in WW II.  That was fitting and proper.


Today, I want to thank all veterans of all wars for your service and sacrafice.



Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Steamboat Idiom

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Highfalutin,  no apostrophe of course, is clearly the cropped form of highfaluting.  Today it means pompous or pretentious or excessively ornate.  It first appeared in American print in the mid-1800s.  There are several possible origins.  My favorite origin is the steamboat jargon taken from the idea that wealthy people booked passage on the upper decks far away from the animals and cargo in the hold.  The Texas deck was closest to the pineapple topped stacks or flutes as they were sometimes called. 



Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved


Another Old Book

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

I found a fascinating historical quarterly on eBay.  The Annals of Iowa (Third Series Vol IV No 5) dated April 1900.  My copy came via a private collector through the New Jersey Historical Society.  The book itself is quite interesting.  The binding is not sewn, yet the book is composed of quarto pages which is unusual.  It has not been read completely because most of the pages had not been cut.  Cutting the pages in order to read the book was a delicate process, and probably value destructive.   


The article in the quarterly that caught my eye was the History of Steamboating on the Des Moines River, From 1837 to 1862 by Tacitus Hussey.  It is a collection of arrival and departure logs from two ports and personal diaries.  Combined the logs and diaries confirm that several of my Georgetown guys were working on the Des Moines River as early as 1851. 





Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Jewels from the Internet

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

In Jan 2012, Kevin Mahoney contacted me through GeorgetownSteamboats.  His interest was the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line.  Specifically, he was interested in William (Capt Billy) Anderson, his great great grandfather.  Thanks to Capt Benjamin M Laughlin, I have some unique information on the Pitt-Cin Packet Line.  My information, however, pales in comparison to the Mahoney treasure-trove.


Str Virginia in cornfield in 1910 (courtesy of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)

Capt Billy Anderson was the pilot of the str Virginia on 6 Mar 1910 - the night of the cornfield episode.  One passenger wanted to debark at Willows Grove, WV.  The passenger’s ticket represented a transaction of fifty cents.  Pilot Billy Anderson argued that the stop was too dangerous with the high water; Capt Charles Knox convinced him to try.  That night the str Virginia  parked securely between cornstalks six hundred feet from the river channel.  For six long months the str Virginia was aground – sitting high and dry on fertile soil.  Robins built nests in the pilothouse;  mudwasps constructed hives in the shelter of the decks.  An archaeologist from the Ohio State Historical Society said the str Virginia was stuck on an Indian mound when artifacts were dug under the hull.  A sad state for the proud str Virginia.


Mr Mahoney has family and steamboat photos and stories written by Capt Billy’s daughter.  It is a bit of American history that should be made public. 




Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved