Archive for the ‘River history’ Category

Capstan Patent

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Capt John Smith McMillin was born on 23 Jul 1817 in Georgetown, PA.  During the Civil War, he achieved considerable fame for fearlessly running the batteries at Vicksburg as the owner and master of the steamer Silver Wave.  He was also an inventor. In that role, he was awarded a US Patent for the invention of the steam-powered capstan.[1]  The capstan patent was a Letters Patent No 63,917, granted on 16 Apr 1867 to John S McMillin for “an improvement in applying steam-power to the capstans of steamboats and other craft”. [2]

 

The steam-powered capstan patent was contested in court in at least two cases.  One suit, McMillan[3] v Rees[4] (17 OG, 1222), was filed against John S McMillin to “restrain the infringement” of the patent.  The circuit court opinions issued in both cases were not in favor of Capt McMillin.   The capstan patent was declared void “for want of any patentable invention”.  The basic arrangement of “shafts and cog-wheels” of the capstan was unchanged.  In the case against McMillin, the argument was that the modification to steam power did not warrant the issue of a patent because there was no “ingenuity of merit”, only the “ordinary judgement and skill of a trained mechanic”.   Capstans and steam engines were old technology, well known elements used in many places including grist mills and steamboats.      

 

Capt McMillin appealed the decisions.  On 17 Nov 1884, the Supreme Court of the US decided:

 

Upon the ground stated, we think the letters patent upon which the suit is based are void.  The decree of the circuit court by which the patent was sustained must therefore be reversed and the cause remanded with direction to dismiss the bill, and it is so ordered.  [5]

 

The history of the patent process was long and curious.  The first application for the patent was filed by Capt McMillin on 23 Jul 1855.  This application was rejected.   On 7 Feb 1856, the application was amended.  This amended application was also rejected.  Eleven years later, the application awarded the patent included the drawings and specifications of the first application unchanged.  The steam-powered capstan had been in wide use for more than a decade without any new state of te art developments or improvements.   That was the defense relied on to defeat the patent in court.              

 

More research is required to determine whether John S McMillin was demanding royalties from other steamboat owners and lines. 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes and References.



[1]   A capstan was a spool device mounted on the steamboat deck used for winding up heavy rope.  With booms and block-and-tackle, a capstan was used to move heavy loads on and off the boat.  It was also used when “sparring” the boat over sandbars.   Before the steam-power improvement, the cylinder was turned by muscle power.    

[2]   Decisions of the Commissioner of Patents and of the US Courts in Patent Cases for the Year 1884, Washington Government Printing Office, 1884, p472.

[3]  McMillin was misspelled, or at least spelled differently.  In the two lower court challenges, the name is spelled with an “in” on one docket and “”an” on the other.  Adding to the confusion, the name McMillen is found on markers in Georgetown Cemetery.   Changing the spelling of a family name was not uncommon at that time in our history.  Such changes occurred between generations rather than within a family.  That makes this case unusual.  

[4]   Rees is a famous steamboat family from Pittsburgh.   Thomas M, James H, or William, or the Rees firm could have filed the complaint.

[5]   Decisions of the Commissioner of Patents and of the US Courts in Patent Cases for the Year 1884, Washington Government Printing Office, 1884, p475.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Francis W Nash
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No part of this website may be reproduced without permission in writing from the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capt John Smith McMilllin

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Over the weekend, David McMillin introduced me to his triple great grandfather David Bruce McMillin who was born in Georgetown on 28 Jan 1810.   The McMillins owned Lots 52 and 53 on the town square.  Lot 7 on the river next to Capt Andrew Parr was listed to Steel McMillin.  A daughter, Sarah McMillin, married George Nash who owned property and a sawmill along Smith or Nash Run. 

 

The email exchange that peaked my interest was the statement that John Smith McMillin was a steamboat captain who owned the str Silver Wave.  I had read about the str Silver Wave, but had no idea of its connection to Georgetown.  Capt John S McMillin also invented the steam  capstan.  He was awarded a patent, but litigation regarding that patent was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court against Capt McMillin.

 

 

The str Silver Wave was the first non-gunboat to pass the batteries at Vicksburg.  So Georgetown had two captains with their steamers loaded with troops and supplies at Vicksburg.  The str Horizon owned by Captains John N McNurdy and Thomas S Calhoon, collided with the str Moderator on its second pass by the batteries.  The str Horizon owned was a complete loss with many lives lost.

In the coming days, I will be adding a bio of Capt John S McMillin, researching the capstan patent, and amending the pages to include him and his steamers histories.  Till then a bio of Capt McMillin follows.  It was  included in the history of A history of the Grace Church Parish transcribed or contributed by Joan Skinnell Benincasa. 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPT. JOHN SMITH MCMILLIN.

     John Smith McMillin, son of William and Catherine Smith McMillin, Scotch-Irish Covenanters, who settled in Beaver County at the close of the last century, was born July 23, 1817, in Georgetown, Beaver County, Pa., where he spent his youth and received a common school education. He was the fourth child of a family of thirteen children. When fifteen years old he engaged in keel-boating on the Ohio River; he next became a pilot on a steamboat, and soon, by quickness and attention to business, he became a captain and was master and owner of several fine boats, and ran regularly to Memphis, New Orleans and all points on the Lower Mississippi River. During the Civil War he won for himself high reputation for bravery by fearlessly running the blockade at Vicksburg in his boat, the Silver Wave, and carrying supplies to the army below the city.


     He invented and put into successful use the well-known steam capstan, now a necessary part of the equipment of every river steamboat.


     In April, 1853, he moved to Pittsburgh and built a home on Grandview avenue, corner of Bigham street, Mount Washington, where he continued to reside until his death.


     He was married twice. His first wife was Phebe Ann Fry, daughter of Dr. Thomas Fry, of Rhode Island, who moved with his family to Georgetown. They were married in Georgetown in December, 1846, and Mrs. McMillin died in Pittsburgh July 8, 1866, leaving no children. His second wife, Mary Bindley, eldest daughter of John C. and Elmina Bindley, of Pittsburgh, he married August 7, 1867. She and three children, one daughter and two sons, survive him. He was baptized by Dr. Killikelly, in Grace Church, July 10, 1866, at the funeral of his first wife, beside the remains, and was confirmed by Bishop Kerfoot in St. Peter’s Church, Pittsburgh, April 14, 1867. He was a vestryman of Grace Church nearly thirty years ; was several times senior warden ; six years treasurer of the church, and was frequently deputy of the same church to the Annual Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He was a liberal contributor to the expense of putting a basement schoolroom under the church in 1865, and also to the fund for finishing and furnishing the church in 1869. He was a contributor to the support of the church from the time he moved to Mount Washington and a communicant of the same for twenty-six years. He died March 11, 1893, in the seventy-sixth year of his age.


     The circumstances of his death were peculiar. On Saturday morning, March 11, 1893, he started as usual for his place of business in the city, the Bindley Hardware Company. Near his gate he met Miss Elizabeth Kenah, and they walked on together, the Captain being, as he often was, in a joking, playful mood. They were proceeding along Grandview avenue going toward the Monongahela Incline Plane, and had just crossed Stanwix street, when he threw his left hand up to his head with an exclamation of sudden pain, tottered, and laid hold of the fence at the side of the street, sank down to the ground and in a few moments (before a physician could reach him) was dead.


     The funeral service was held at his late residence on Tuesday, March 14, 1893, at 2 P. M., in the presence of a large gathering of his relations and friends, and he was buried the same afternoon in Allegheny Cemetery.


     He was a well-known man, of strong character, noted for his simplicity, honesty and sincerity.

 

The Rev. R. J. Coster, in an address at his funeral, said:


     “God’s providences sometimes touch our hearts with peculiar force and stir our feelings to their lowest depths. Their suddenness and their pathetic surroundings point to God’s immediate presence and tell us that they are the work of His Hand. We cannot read the secret counsels of the Almighty; but this we know, His ways are wise and merciful. He doeth all things well. His infinite wisdom precludes mistakes. In faith, therefore, we bow to His Blessed Will, believing that His ordering is best. In times of sudden bereavement, like this, the promises of God’s Holy Word come to give us resignation and comfort. The Church of Christ, the mother of all the believing, comes to us with her sacred ministrations; her lessons and her prayers speak to us in Christ’s name and bid us fear not, faint not.


     “These thoughts harmonize well with the occasion that brings us together here today. Our friend and fellow-servant of God, to whom His Master granted more than his three-score years and ten, has been suddenly taken from our midst. So unexpected was the summons that we can hardly yet realize that we shall no more meet him in his home; no more meet him in the church.  We have been so long accustomed to see his tall form and his striking features, so long accustomed to see his kindly smile and to hear cordial welcome, that we shall sadly miss him many days. We had learned to look upon him almost as a permanent part of this community. For forty years he had occupied this home and identified himself with the interests of this section of the city. Most or all of those years he has been closely connected with Grace Church. For nearly thirty years he was one of its vestrymen; he was several times senior warden, for many years treasurer, and frequently he represented his parish in the Diocesan Convention All these years he and his family have been members of Grace Church, and often have they come to its aid in times of need. Some of you have known our departed friend longer than I have, but for nearly twenty-five years I have enjoyed his friendship and confidence.


     His home was always open to me, and here I always met a kindly greeting and a
The Rev. R. J. Coster, in an address at his funeral, said:


     “God’s providences sometimes touch our hearts with peculiar force and stir our feelings to their lowest depths. Their suddenness and their pathetic surroundings point to God’s immediate presence and tell us that they are the work of His Hand. We cannot read the secret counsels of the Almighty; but this we know, His ways are wise and merciful. He doeth all things well. His infinite wisdom precludes mistakes. In faith, therefore, we bow to His Blessed Will, believing that His ordering is best. In times of sudden bereavement, like this, the promises of God’s Holy Word come to give us resignation and comfort. The Church of Christ, the mother of all the believing, comes to us with her sacred ministrations; her lessons and her prayers speak to us in Christ’s name and bid us fear not, faint not.


     “These thoughts harmonize well with the occasion that brings us together here today. Our friend and fellow-servant of God, to whom His Master granted more than his three-score years and ten, has been suddenly taken from our midst. So unexpected was the summons that we can hardly yet realize that we shall no more meet him in his home; no more meet him in the church.  We have been so long accustomed to see his tall form and his striking features, so long accustomed to see his kindly smile and to hear cordial welcome, that we shall sadly miss him many days. We had learned to look upon him almost as a permanent part of this community. For forty years he had occupied this home and identified himself with the interests of this section of the city. Most or all of those years he has been closely connected with Grace Church. For nearly thirty years he was one of its vestrymen; he was several times senior warden, for many years treasurer, and frequently he represented his parish in the Diocesan Convention All these years he and his family have been members of Grace Church, and often have they come to its aid in times of need. Some of you have known our departed friend longer than I have, but for nearly twenty-five years I have enjoyed his friendship and confidence.


     His home was always open to me, and here I always met a kindly greeting and a
cordial welcome. I constantly met him on terms of closest intimacy, and this intimacy only increased my confidence and respect for the man. As one learned to know him well, and to understand his ways and modes of expression, one could not fail to appreciate the sterling traits of his character, his simplicity, his honesty, his sincerity. Like every man of strong character, he had his peculiarities, and these peculiarities caused him sometimes to be misunderstood by those who imperfectly knew him. But to his intimate friends these peculiarities only intensified his personality and made him the man that they love to honor and remember. His sudden departure while still busy with his ordinary duties, the tragic termination of his active life, will tend to prolong his memory and to deepen the keenness of our sense of loss. But let us not sorrow for him as men without hope. He was a believer in Christ. He was a communicant of the Church. He died in the faith; and although he was reserved in the expression of his religious convictions, as most men of a like character are, yet he accepted the great truths of the Gospel and died trusting in his Lord. We can, therefore, lay him to rest believing that God will deal mercifully with him for Christ’s sake and give him the rest and peace that shall be the portion of his faithful people.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burials.

 

 

July 10. 1866:
PHEBE ANN McMILLIN, aged 50 years, wife of Capt. John S. McMillin, of Grandview avenue and Bigham street. Service at the church, conducted by Dr. Killikelly, the rector, assisted by the Rev. Dr. Page and the Rev. Mr. Snively, of the city. Buried in Allegheny Cemetery. “A devout communicant of Grace Church, a most excellent Christian woman and a valuable member of the church and of society.”

 

March 14, 1893:
JOHN SMITH McMILLIN, aged 76 years. Service at the late residence of the deceased, Grandview avenue and Bigham street, and interment in Allegheny Cemetery, the Rev. R. J. Coster, his pastor and friend for twenty-five years, officiating. A strong character, noted for his simplicity and integrity. (See obituary.)

 

 

 

 

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Georgetown Historical Markers

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

 

Foundations (Beaver Area heritage Foundation News Fall 2016)C

Foundations, the news for members of The Beaver Area Heritage Foundation, arrived by post a few days ago.  The column on the Lewis and Clark Legacy Expedition dedication caught my interest.  One of the five places in Beaver County where Lewis and Clark signs were recently erected was Georgetown.  The caption reads:

 

 “A leaky canoe was purchased here and they got stuck on a bar just below town”.  [1]

 

Not a happy experience for Merriweather Lewis no doubt.  

 

Of all the American rivers, the Ohio was the most important.  By way of the Ohio more than any other route, the whole continent was explored and populated.  Little known Georgetown, Beaver County, PA is located at Ohio River Mile Marker 38.9 from Pittsburgh.  It is a river town of lost elegance and importance.  Once there were hotels, taverns, general stores, a ferry, and wrought iron fenced homes that spilled music into the warm summer nights.  One wealthy resident even had a private airport through the 1950’s.  Sadly little of that era is left.  Like many of the towns along the Ohio, the old homes in Georgetown need repair.  The hotels and taverns are gone.  Only the churches remain.   

 

The Lewis and Clark Expedition legacy marker recently installed by the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation (BCHR&LF) is a two-part interpretive marker:  the triangular sign is a trail marker and the rectangular sign contains a comment from the journal kept by Capt Lewis.  A little-known fact is that Lewis in 1794 was sent as a member of the detachment of VA militia involved in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion.  People in western PA, and quite possibly Georgetown, were rebels in that cause.  The old family names, Dawson, Poe, Calhoon, and Mackall, were frontiersmen in Georgetown well before 1794 and long after 1803.        

 

Slowly, I have become aware that the streets of Georgetown, which I had walked every day as a child, had a broad, hidden history.  The Beaver County Historical Society put up a plaque, along Market St not far from my home dedicated to the Georgetown rivermen and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. [2]      At least eight other historical markers are, as the crow flies, within a one mile radius of this marker.

 

St Luke’s Episcopal Church (Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation)

A few hundred feet south in a direct line is the marker for St Luke’s Episcopal Church (now Anglican Church).  The first minister to the people of St Luke’s parish was Rev John L Taylor in 1814.  On 11 Jun 1833, John Bever deeded the lots to the Episcopal Church on which the

St Luke’s Episcopal Church Marker (Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation)

present building was erected and the first service was held on 15 Dec 1833.  It is fitting to mention that every Episcopal Church in the upper Ohio Valley has been a direct result of St Luke’s and the godly men who ministered there.

 

PA-VA Boundary 1785 (Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation)

At the entry to town there is another marker noting the survey of the western boundary of PA completed in 1785.  About one-quarter of a mile down river one of the original markers from the survey of 1785 stills exists.   [3]

 

Nearby historical markers include The Point of Beginning [4], The Sandy and Beaver Canal, First Paper Mill/Little Beaver Creek Bridge, and Smiths Ferry are directly opposite Georgetown on the north side of the Ohio River.  The Death of Pretty Boy Floyd Historical Marker is just outside this arbitrary range.

 

Georgetown has at least eight historical markers and one-hundred-seventy-four residents per the 2010 census.  It should have more markers, and more residents.  The Georgetown Cemetery deserves a marker.  The oldest stone in the cemetery is dated 1795.  Small American flags flying from their holders in front of headstones denote the graves of Revolutionary War or War of 1812 or Civil War or Spanish-American War or World War I and WW II veterans.  Many steamboat pilots and captains also rest in peace there.  The River Hotel, which was built in 1802, deserves a marker.  Rivermen, hard-working, hard-drinking, hard-fighting men that most river towns dreaded to see stop, stayed there. The Post office was established in 1802 – second in Beaver County after Frankfort Springs.  It deserves a marker.  The Georgetown United Methodist Church was built in 1877 by steamboat builders and carpenters deserves a marker for its unique architecture.  The Indian Rocks, located in Smiths Ferry, were destination landmarks until flooded by the last series of dams were installed on the Ohio.  Although the petroglyphs will presumably never be uncovered, their history should not be forgotten.  Finally, the frontier fort in Georgetown should be remembered with a marker.

Many private homes in Georgetown qualify for the BCHR&LF Heritage Marker Program but few owners have applied.

 

A classic small town with a big history – Georgetown.

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Francis W Nash
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[1]   Quotation from the journal of Merriweather Lewis in 1803.

[2]  This marker was erected by the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation.
It is included in the Beaver County (PA) Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation marker series.

[3]  The cut-stone marker is on private property owned by FirstEnergy Corp.  Permission must be obtained to visit these national treasures.

[4]  Different historical societies have installed multiple markers commemorating elements of the same basic event – the completion of the survey of the western boundary of PA which opened the Northwest Territory for settlement.  The additional markers include Beginning Point of the US Public Land Survey, Gateway to the Northwest, Land Ordinance of 1785, and The Seven Ranges.

Cannonballs

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

 

Cannon Shot (Frances and John Finley Collection)

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 with the canon shot included passing through six tunnels: two in Pittsburgh (Ft Pitt and Squirrel Hill) and four along the PA Turnpike (Allegheny, Tuscarora, Kittatinny, and Blue).   None of the tunnels permit flammable or explosive materials.  Whew!  It was a daring trip.  

 

One piece of shot was missing.  Eight balls, two rings and, two plates made the trip to Carlisle.  The total weight was approximately forty lbs.

 

 

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.

 

 

 


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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 true to its title.  I was astonished to learn that the canal boom of the early 1800’s was so extensive.  This map scanned from the book displays all 1,243 miles of public and private canals operated in PA.  Not all the systems worked  concurrently.  The Sandy and Beaver Canal which starts across the river from Georgetown is shown branching into Ohio along a former Indian trail leading to the Moravian villages. 

 

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

 

The connecting canal systems opened an avenue of transportation between the East and Ohio River Valley before the contrivance of railroads.  In 1837 Capt Jacob Poe commanded the  str Beaver No 2 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, and Middletown in PA and  Fredericktown and Hanoverton in 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.

The first edition of The Amazing Pennsylvania Canals was published in 1960.  My booklet is the third edition printed in Oct 1973.

 

 

  

Copyright © 2016 Francis W Nash    All Rights Reserved

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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 advertised at $18. 

 

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

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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