Archive for the ‘River Museums’ Category

Old Economy Village

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Recently, I 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 cannon forged at the Ft Pitt Foundry in Pittsburgh 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.


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 arguably deeper.  All six sons of William Calhoon (a ranger on the western frontiers) and Elizabeth Hutchinson were steamboat men.


Capt John Calhoon (b 1809), 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.


Ohio River Museum Donation

Friday, March 19th, 2010
Ohio River Museum Donation ca 1965

Ohio River Museum Donation ca 1965

This copy of an old newspaper clipping provides the details of a donation to the Wellsville River Museum in Wellsville, OH.  The gifts were presented by people from Georgetown, PA: Capt Albert C Gilmore, Mrs Louis H (Lillian May Poe) Wagner, Mrs Edwin W (Clara Laughlin) Coopper. and Edna E Dawson .  The contributors were all associated with river commerce and river history.  I do not know which local paper carried the article.  Nor do I know the date it was published except that the date was before 1971.


The second paragraph indicates the last pilot’s license of Capt Jacob Poe was donated by Lillian May Poe.  This framed license actually had thirteen licenses stacked.  The Wellsville museum trustees graciously gave me the one dated 11 Dec 1882.  Lilian May also an old Poe family plate.

Jacob Poe's Master License dated 11 Dec 1882 (F Nash Colleciton)

Jacob Poe’s Master License dated 11 Dec 1882 (F Nash Colleciton)



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

Wellsville River Museum

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

On Sun, Aug 9, I made time to visit the Wellsville River Museum in Wellsville, OH.   The home of the museum is picturesque Victorian home overlooking the Ohio River.  The museum is open only Sundays from 1:00 -5:00 PM from May to Sep.  Back in the day, Wellsville was both a train terminal and a steamboat port so the museum devotes space to both.  It also displays local historical artifacts, such as a mural of the famous Poe battle with Bigfoot and a death mask of Pretty Boyd Floyd who was gunned down by the FBI nearby.  Time well spent.

Wellsville River Museum 9 Aug 2009

Wellsville River Museum 9 Aug 2009

 The museum had the framed master’s license for Jacob Poe dated 24 Mar 1873 on display.  I asked for a copy.  Graciously, the museum volunteers agreed.  To our surprise the single frame had 14 licenses from 1873 -1890 stacked.  The museum agreed to part with one copy so I  now  possess the 1882 master’s license of Jacob Poe, my great great grand uncle.  I am quite proud.

Little Known Georgetown

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Last Tuesday, I made some time to visit the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.  None of the center associates knew the borough of Georgetown, PA.   So I have provided a MapQuest view of Georgetown’s relationship to Ohio and WV and other river towns, such as Beaver, Aliquippa, Sewickley, and Pittsburgh. 


Until the end of the packet era, Georgetown was a “rivertown”.  It had a buzz of activity associated with packets and riverboats.  Today it has an old-fashioned charm.  Compared with the fast pace of the info age, it has an unusual quietness in a pleasing way.

Georgeotwn, Beaver CO, PA MapQuest 2009
Georgeotwn, Beaver CO, PA MapQuest 2009