Archive for the ‘River Tales’ Category

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.



The St Patrick’s Day Flood of 1936

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

There is INCREDIBLE newsreel footage of the Flood of 1936 in Pittsburgh on The Odd, Mysterious & Facinationg History of Pittsburgh


To compliment the rawness of the video, two sets of images have been uploaded to a page named Flood of 1936.   My Aunt Flora Nash collected those images from various newspaper from towns along the river.  Those images   were pasted in a scrapbook without identifying their origin.  Towns along the Ohio, Mon , and Allegheny Rivers are exhibited: Ambridge, Apollo, Coraopolis, Dravosburg, Emsworth, Etna, Homestead, Kittanning, Montgomery Island, McKees Rocks, New Kensington, North Vandergrift, Oakmont, Tarentum, Turtle Creek, Verona, West Bridgewater, West Brownsville, Wheeling, and more.



Copyright © 2015 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

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


Steamboat Video from 1929

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

I was led to a fascinating Facebook page on the unusual history of Pittsburgh.  Many thanks to Pat Dunsey for finding this site. 


The Odd, Mysterious & Fascinating History of Pittsburgh


One video shows a parade of steamboats on the Ohio celebrating the opening of the nine foot channel between Pittsburgh and Cairo.  Mrs Howard of Howard Shipbuilding Co strikes a bell aboard the str Cincinnati to officially open the waterway. 

The video was filmed on 18 Oct 1929 just eleven days before Black Tuesday, 29 Oct 1929 when the stock market crashed to begin the Great Depression.



The Odd, Mysterious & Fascinating History of Pittsburgh is definitely time well spent.



Copyright © 2015 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Statistics for 2014

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Today I completed my review of the “visit” statistics for 2014.  The page It used to be a River Town was by far the most popular page.  It was followed by the bio of Capt Thomas Stevenson Calhoon.  Surprising me in third position was the general description of Civil War Transports.  Due to the Sesquicentennial, all things Civil War have been intensified.  Yet the biographies of the specific Civil War transports, str Clara Poe, str Horizon, str Kenton did not reveal increased activity. 


Not in the top ten list but interesting to me, was the number of visits to the page of Capt Adam Poe’s River Experiences.  I find this memoir of his life fascinating.  I have three copies.  All differ.  I believe that the hand typed manuscript I have loaded on the website is the most complete version.  The eBook published by the University of Pittsburgh and the serial presentation by James F Mullooly edit some personal family information.




Copyright © 2015 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Georgetown Landing 1935

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

From my research the ferry at Georgetown had been in operation from 1794 to 1949.  The militia from Burgettstown marched along the Catfish Camp Trail and crossed the Ohio River at Georgetown on Dawson’s Ferry. The militia was joining Gen Anthony Wayne in the campaign of 1794.  Other references to the crossing at Georgetown, such as the Moravian missionaries who crossed the river as early as 1772, did  not include the word “ferry”.    The ferry ceased operation due to a fatal accident in 1949.



Georgetown Landing 1935 (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)


The name of the ferry or operating company has changed through the years.  The name changed from Dawson to Smith and back again a few times.  According to the writing on this image, the William M Semple Ferry Company was the operator in 1935.

The home on the bluff was built by the Thomas Poe, sold to Robert D Laughlin in the 1870’s.   




Copyright © 2014 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved


CivWar Pension Request

Monday, August 18th, 2014


Civil war Pension Request by Jacob Poe (Anna L and John F Nash Collection))

On 4 Apr 1881 Capt Jacob Poe penned a letter to Hon CC Townsend requesting that he be awarded a pension for his service during the Civil War.  In support of his request he has enclosed with his letter a newspaper clipping from a Pittsburgh paper indicating that two pilots, Sylvester and Harry Doss, received pensions.  Each Doss received a pension of $15 per month along with back pay of $7,500 (?).


The letter by Jacob Poe was written on the letterhead of his son’s livery service. 





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

Scary Wonderful

Monday, January 13th, 2014

With regrets I inform you that Georgetown suffered a severe blow from the recent Polar Vortex.  There was an electrical problem on Monday eve, the coldest night in a decade or more.  A transformer blew up in flames from an eyewitness report.  And Duquesne Light technicians were on site.  The entire town went dark.  That failure or the subsequent restoration of power resulted in an electrical surge that fried many appliances including TVs, microwaves, washer/driers, cable boxes, etc.  More importantly, furnaces were damaged resulting in frozen pipes.  Capt George Washington Ebert’s home had an indoor temperature of 26 degrees.  A scary, life-threatening situation for Georgetown residents.


Duquesne Light deemed the event an act of nature.  Whether Duquesne Light was switching power is speculation, but the electrical fault is mighty suspicious if not villainous.


George Washington Ebert (Anna l and John F Nash Collection)

The wonderful part of the story is that my sister discovered another box of steamboat stuff in her basement while recovering from burst water lines. For days, for nights, for months, for years, I had been searching for a photo with a label on the reverse identifying  Capt George Washington Ebert, my great great grandfather.  That box contained the photo. 

All-in-all, it was a happy story that made me sad, and the other way around.
















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