Archive for the ‘River history’ Category

Cannonballs

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

This week I brought eight cannonballs to Carlisle from Georgetown.  The munitions were associated with the cannon given to Georgetown after the capture of Gen Morgan and his Raiders near New Lisbon, OH in Jul 1863.  My trip to Carlisle included passing through six tunnels: two in Pittsburgh (Ft Pit and Squirrel Hill) and four along the PA Turnpike (Allegheny, Tuscarora, Kittatinny, and Blue).   None of the tunnels permit flammable or explosive materials 

 

 

Tom and Jack Kinsey ca 1928 Riding the Georgetown Cannon (Courtesy of the Kinsey Family Personal Collection)

One surviving image of the Georgetown cannon is a photo of the Kinsey boys, Tom and Jack, riding the big gun in about 1928. 

 

In 1942 the Georgetown council voted to donate the memorial cannon to the nationwide drive for scrap metal in support of the WW II effort.  Obviously, the cannonballs were not included in the donation.  The solid shot balls with their stands have been stored for many years in my Aunt Frances Finley’s basement. 

 

My neighbor, who is a professor at the Army War College in Carlisle and an expert on all things Civil War, and his associates have viewed the image of the Georgetown cannon.  The identity and model of the cannon remain undetermined.  To date the team of historians have not seen the cannonballs from Georgetown.  The munitions, combined with the image,  will hopefully help to identify the model of artillery. 

 

The scanned table below identifies the Civil War era cannons manufactured at the Ft Pitt Foundry.  More than 2,000 heavy guns were forged for the Federal Ordnance Department of the US government.  In other words  approximately 60% of all of the heavy artillery purchased by the Federal government came from Pittsburgh.  The Ft Pitt Foundry did not produce field artillery pieces during the war. [1]

 

Heavy Artillery Pieces manufactured at the Ft Pitt Foundry during the Civil War (Arthur B Fox)

 

 

 

Reference.


 

[1] Arthur B Fox, Pittsburgh During the American Civil War 1860-1865, (Mechling Bookbindery, 2002), p149.

 

 

 


Copyright © 2016  Francis W Nash   All Rights Reserved

No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.

 

PA Canals

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

 The Amazing Pennsylvania Canals by William H Shank, PE is truly amazing as suggested.  This map scanned from the book displays all 1,243 miles of public and private canals operated in PA, not all concurrently.  The Sandy and Beaver Canal which starts across the river from Georgetown is shown branching into Ohio along a former Indian trail to the Moravian villages.  The first edition of this book was published in 1960.  My booklet is the third edition printed in Oct 1973. 

 

Map of the Connecting Canal Systems in PA (The Amazing Pennsylvania Canals by William H Shank, PE)

 

I had not realized the canal boom of the early 1800’s was so extensive.  The connecting canal systems opened an avenue of transportation between the East and Ohio River Valley before the contrivance of railroads.  Capt Jacob Poe’s river career on the  steamer Beaver No 2 was in the Allegheny River trade transporting passengers and freight between Pittsburgh and various canal stops. Many of the “ports” along the canal system routes developed into sizable thriving communities: Freeport, Johnstown, Hollidaysburg, Middletown, Fredericktown, OH, and Hanoverton, OH.

 

Railroads signaled the demise of the canal systems and the bustling towns along the canal routes beginning in the 1850′s.  Today virtually all that remains of this grand past are ruins of various canal locks and National Historic Trust homes and taverns that have been saved such as the Spread Eagle Tavern in Hanoverton, OH and Union Canal House near Hershey, PA.

 

 

  

Copyright © 2016 Francis W Nash    All Rights Reserved

No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.

 

The White City

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

The national bestseller (2003), Devil in the White City by Erik Larson is a wonderful book about Chicago in 1893.  The White City is the World’s Columbian Exposition.  The devil refers to a serial murderer who used the fair to lure his victims to their deaths, at least nine and maybe a total of two hundred. 

 

 

Pass to the World’s Columbian Exposition (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)

For some unknown reason, I have a pass for 9 Oct 1893 with a hand written number – 716,881.  That day, Monday, had been designated Chicago Day.  Chicago was proud of its fair.  Every business closed for the day.  The weather helped also.  It was an “apple crisp” day according to Larson.  On that day 713,446 people paid to enter and another 37,380 visitors used passes.  The total was 751,026, more people than had attended any peaceful event in history.  It easily surpassed theformer world’s record of 397,000 at the Paris exposition. 

 

 

 

Pass to the World’s Columbian Exposition obverse (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)

I have had this Chicago World’s Fair ticket for many years but until I read Devil in the White City I had not understood its meaning.  The ticket was included with the Jacob Poe family memorabilia.  I still have to determine to whom the pass belonged.   In 1893 a round trip fare to the world’s fair on the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line was $18. 

 

To me every trip to a library or an archive is like a small detective story.

 

 

 

Copyright 2016 © Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.

 

More Sad News

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Delmer Berg, the last known living US veteran of the Spanish Civil War, died on 28 Feb 2016.  He was 100. 

 

I have had a long interest in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the 2,800 American volunteers who fought for the elected Spanish government against the fascist insurrection led by General Franco backed by Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.  In fact, a friend and I used to attend the annual reunion of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in New York City for many years.  A fun day.

 

Our last trip to Barcelona was partly planned around a theme of the Spanish Civil War.  Sherron and I followed in the footsteps of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade as they marched down the Diagonal in a departure parade witnessed by 300K citizens of Barcelona.  When Franco’s troops “liberated” Barcelona about 30 days later, the same streets were empty.  Delmer Berg, according to his obituary, served in the Battle of Ebro River.  The Ebro ran red as Republican soldiers attempted to swim across it to safety.  On our vacation we drove along the Ebro for miles and may have passed the ground that Berg was defending.  We also tipped a glass of Cava to Ernest Hemmingway in the Hotel Majestique (still standing in Barcelona ) where he lived during the latter stages of the civil war.

 

Volunteers like Delmer Berg fought alongside Spanish Republicans.  Their cause was reported by Hemingway, Robert Capa, Martha Gellhorn, Eric Blair (George Orwell), and others.  The book, Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War, is a well written story about the devastation of the Spanish Civil War.  The Hotel Florida which was in Madrid was demolished. 

 

I feel sad because I lost a friend.  The world has lost a good man – Delmer Berg.

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Francis W Nash    All Rights Reserved

No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.

 

The National Archives

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

 

Last week I made my 9thtrip to The National Archives.  Usually a trip to DC is an overnight stay in a hotel or B&B.  A morning drive from Carlisle, PA allows one “pull” of references at approx. 1:30 PM if I arrive before 11:00 AM and meet the request time.  For reasons I do not understand, my requests take more time than most.  An archives reference specialist must “spot” my requests before the volumes are located and obtained.  Inadvertently I lose much valuable research time. 

Str Fearless Cert of Enrollment (The National Archives)

Although I made some progress last week, my pull request on Mon at 3:00 PM did not arrive at the reference room till almost noon on Tue.  This steamboat interest, obsession according to my wife, is expensive as well as time consuming. 

The jewel of this trip was the proof that the owner of the str Fearless was Capt Thomas S Poe just months before his death. 

 

My Monday request of four volumes of Certificates of Enrollment resulted in three on Tue.  By the time I realized I was missing a volume, my “archives vacation” time expired.  It was too late to submit another pull before I had to drive home.

 

Four more “full” days before I complete the review of the Certificate of Enrollments for the port of Pittsburgh.  By another measure, two overnight trips to DC.

 

I also need two or three days to review the Vessels File, Record Group 92, to complete the review of the service of the Georgetown civilians during the Civil war.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Francis W Nash    All Rights Reserved

No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.

  

New Year Musing

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Am I an expert on the Civil War?  No. 

Do I know a lot now about Ohio River and Civil War packets? Yes. 

Will I ever write a book about Georgetown packets and the Civil War?  Most likely not.

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Francis W Nash  All Rights Reserved

No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.

 

Vintage Book

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Transportation in the Ohio Valley fly leaf.

My reading this week has been A History of Transportation in the Ohio Valley by Charles Henry Ambler published in 1931.  The first edition history was lent to me by Michael Libenson who is the great great grandson of Capt Thomas Stevenson Calhoon.   The many comments and corrections hand written in the margins of the book make this book special.  Those comments were written by Harriet Darrington (Calhoon) Ewing (b ? d 1950), the daughter of Capt Thomas S Calhoon and great grandAunt of Michael Libenson. Her writing is the closest thing we have to a voice into these steamboat captains lives.  Mrs WH Ewing dated her copy of the book Oct 26, 1931.

 

Transportation in the Ohio Valley p173.

 

Along with her notes, Harriet D Calhoon taped a response letter from CH Ambler to the front flyleaf.  The response, on West Virginia University letterhead, was dated 13 Aug 1930.  The content of the letter indicated that the exchange of information was too late to be included in the forthcoming book.  Whether a meeting or additional correspondence between them ever took place is unclear.  There is no record of such a meeting and no updated edition of the book.  

 

 

 

 

Transportation in the Ohio Valley p293.

 

Harriet D Calhoon is well known to those with long memories.  Often Capt Frederick Way used her comments in articles about Georgetown in the S&D Reflector.  See Vol 2 No 4 Dec 1965 p10,12.

My final comment/concern is how many books similar to this history written by captains or pilots have I missed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015  Francis W Nash  All Rights Reserved

No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.

 

 

 

Old Economy Village

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

I recently returned from a visit to Old Economy Village in Ambridge PA.  Old Economy Village is the last of three settlements established by the Harmony Society.  Ms Sarah Buffington, curator and employee of the PA Historical and Museum Commmission guided me through their archives.  Time well spent.

 

The OE archives have a treasure of wonderful books and documents. In 1825 the Harmonites built a steamboat named the str William Penn. The str William Penn was one of the first 25 western river steamboats built. That alone makes it significant.  Beyond that the archives contain letters, to and from Johann G Rapp and some in German, documenting its conception and design by Henry Miller Shreve to its sale.  Drawings of the design also exist.  Most of the other boats of that day have only their name remembered.  Their details have been lost to history.  Following the Harmonite correspondence and weaving Shreve and the captain and pilot selections into the tapestry would make a valuable historical work of art.

 

Ms Buuffington is also entwined with the history of the Civil War Battle for the Buffington Island.  So I reread the article about Morgan’s Raiders in the S&D Reflector, June 2013 by Myron J Smith Jr with greater interest.  That Jul 1863 Sunday, my great grandfather made a Paul Revere like ride from Georgetown to Hookstown to raise the alarm that Morgan’s Raiders were coming.  It was reported that you could hear gun fire all over the county. A gun forged at the Pittsburgh arsenal was brought down river to defend Pittsburgh from Gen Morgan.. It ended its service in Georgetown’s vets memorial.  I have a picture of two Kinsey boys “riding” the cannon in c1928. After 78 years as a monument in Oct 1942 the relic was donated as scrap metal for the WWII effort.

To me those stories are fascinating.

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015  Francis W Nash  All Rights Reserved

No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.

 

Fantastic Week

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

As my wife says, I never tire of telling Georgetown steamboat stories which is Oldspeak for boring people to death. That as background, my presentation to the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation was the highlight of my summer.   There I met many interesting people with a bent for local history.

 

On Mon before the BAHF presentation, I received an email from the great-great-grandson of Thomas S Calhoon = Mr Mike Libenson.  Mr Libenson was planning to visit Georgetown with his daughter on Sat and notified me via GeorgetownSteamboats.  From Boston, they carried gifts of gold: a book published in 1932 on Ohio Rriver Transportation and photos of Poe men that I had been unable to identify.  In addition to those items, Mr Libenson also has a complete genealogy of the Calhoon, Poe, and Parr families prepared by Dr John Ewing, Capt Thomas S Calhoon’s grandson.  I plan spending much time with that volume.

 

While visiting the Georgetown Cemetery with the Libensons, we spoke to Mr Tom Lombard who is the president of the Georgetown Cemetery Maintenance Association (donations greatly apppreciated).  Mr Lombard provided the history of the Calhoon cemetery lot, and others, plus a map of the cemetery with every stone marked and accommpanied by a listing by name, where legible, of the people interred.  The map and listing are a fantastic find that I will compare/merge with work already in progress. 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015  Francis W Nash  All Rights Reserved

No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.

 

 

BAHF Program

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

 

BAHF Postcard

BAHF Postcard

 Tue eve, I told a Georgetown story at the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation 2015 Speakers Series.  To me it was fascinating to see so many people interested in local history.  The people there had an incredible wealth of steamboat knowledge and river history.  Truly an inspiring evening for me.

 

The McDermotts, Judy and Jim, and the Deelos, Judy annd Mike, could not have been more accommodating.

 

I wish I knew more, and was a better presenter of, GeorgetownSteamboat stories.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 Francis W Nash All Rights Reserved

No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.