Archive for the ‘River history’ Category

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.



Steamboat Photos

Friday, August 14th, 2015

A wonderful series of steamboat photos has been posted on the East Liverpool Historiical Society website.  The images are attributed to Jim Paulaskas of Chester, WV.


The photos were taken in Georgetown, PA by members of the Capt Andrew Parr family circa 1899.




Copyright © 2015 Francis W Nash All Rights Reserved

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


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
All Rights Reserved

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 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. 



Copyright © 2015  Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved


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
All Rights Reserved


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