Pitt and Cin Packet Line

While the steamer Katie Stockdale was being built in Nov 1877, Thomas Stevenson Calhoon and Jackman Taylor Stockdale organized the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line.   The officers of the line were Jackman T Stockdale (Superintendent with offices in Pittsburgh), James A Henderson (Steamboat agent with offices in Pittsburgh), Charles M Fairman (Steamboat Agent with offices in Cincinnati).  Thomas Stevenson Calhoon was the Commander of the Katie Stockdale. [1]

 

 

Confusion clouds the original name of the packet line.  The name on a letterhead found on correspondence dated Nov 1878 was the Pittsburgh, Wheeling, & Cincinnati Packet Line.  Later letterheads eliminated Wheeling as a destination of the line name.  The name was the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line.  Often this line is called the “second” Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line.  The “first” Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line had been established in 1842 by William Thaw, Thomas Shields Clarke and others.  At that time, William Thaw also had interests in western PA canal transportation.  Later he was associated with the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads (PRRs) western lines.  The “first” Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line faded from existence before the Civil War. [2]

 

In Nov 1878 the nation was beginning to recover from the Long Depression which started with the Panic of 1873.  One of the causes of the severe nationwide economic decline was the extreme overbuilding of the nation’s railway system.  The post Civil War period was one of unregulated growth with the government playing no role in curbing banking and manufacturing abuses.  In addition to the ruined fortunes of many American families, it was also the origin of bitter animosity between workers and banking and business leaders.   This financial depression marked with an exclamation point the second term of Grant’s Presidency. [3]  It was in this unquiet atmosphere, that the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line was organized.  The packets comprising the first fleet follow: [4]

Fleet in 1879

Packet Depart Pittsburgh Depart Cincinnati
Katie Stockdale Mon Thu
Emma Graham Wed Sat
Granite State  Fri Sun
Buckeye State 
WP Thompson

 

Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line Advertisement dated 1879-80 (From the Collection of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.)

Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line Advertisement dated 1879-80 (From the Collection of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.)

A round trip fare, Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, for one passenger was $10.  The Katie Stockdale, Emma Graham, WP Thompson, and Buckeye State were new luxurious boats giving the line a good start.  The Katie Stockdalewas the first boat built expressly for the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line.  In about 1880, the steamer St Lawrence joined the line.

 

In 1883, the letterhead for the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line listed four boats. [5]

 

 

 Fleet in 1883

Packet Depart Pittsburgh Depart Cincinnati
Katie Stockdale Mon Thu
Emma Graham Wed Sat
Scotia  Fri Mon
Hudson  Sun Wed

 

The Katie Stockdale commanded by Thomas Stevenson Calhoon led the relief effort for the victims of the Flood of 1884.   That story in detail is found in The Mercy Mission.

 

In 1886, the fleet included: [6]

Fleet in 1886

Packet Captain Clerk
Katie Stockdale TS Calhoon Charles W Knox
Scotia  George W Rowley Robert H Kerr
Hudson  JF Ellison AJ Slaven

 

 

On 8 Jun 1887, Capt Jackman T Stockdale died suddenly. After some time, James A Henderson, who had been Capt Stockdal’e’s chief assistant in the Pittsburgh offices, and his brother-in-law, George WC Johnston, bought a controlling interest in the line.  The Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line was reorganized in 1889 bearing the same name and listing the officers as follows.

 

Officer Position
James A Henderson President and General Manager
Thomas S Calhoon Vice president
George WC Johnston Secretary and TreasurerGeneral Freight and Passenger Agent
Alex J Henderson Assistant Superintendent
John Crockard Agent – Wheeling, WV
J Frank Ellison Superintendent – Cincinnati

 

In 1889 as the Keystone State was being built for Thomas Stevenson Calhoon and the Katie Stockdale was being dismantled, the steamer Rainbow was chartered by the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line. On 10 Mar 1890 the Congo was chartered to replace the Rainbow which had unfortunately burned while laid up for low water near Cincinnati.

 

At this time a round trip fare, Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, was $12.  A round trip fare to the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1892 and 1893 was $18.  The dedication ceremonies for the World’s Columbian Exposition were held on 21 Oct 1892 and the fair continued until 30 Oct 1893.

 Fleet in 1892

Packet Depart Pittsburgh Depart Cincinnati
Keystone State Mon
Scotia  Tue
Hudson Wed
Iron Queen Fri
CW Batchelor  Sat

 

The Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line packets and officers in 1893:

 

Fleet in 1893

Packet Captain Purser
Keyston State  Thomas S Calhoon Charles W Knox
Scotia  Mace Agnew Daniel M Lacey
Hudson  Robert S Agnew AJ Slaven
Iron Queen John MPhilips RH Kerr
CW Batchelor JM Keever George W Hunter
Andes  Thomas Hunter AJ Slaven

 

 

 

The Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line packets and officers in 1894:

 

Fleet in 1894

Packet Captain Purser
Keyston State  Thomas S Calhoon Charles W Knox
Scotia  GE Rowley Tim Penwell
Hudson  J Frank Ellison DM Lacey
Iron Queen John MPhilipsTS Calhoon RH Kerr
Congo  Ed F Maddy J Wehrman
Andes  Thomas Hunter AJ Slaven

 

Capt Thomas S Calhoon (left) aboard the Virginia 1896 (From the Collection of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)

Capt Thomas S Calhoon (left) aboard the Virginia 1896 (From the Collection of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County)

The Iron Queen burned on 3 Apr 1895 while Thomas Stevenson Calhoon was in command.  The steamer LA Sherley with Capt Ed F Maddy and J Wehrman in the office was chartered to replace the Iron Queen until the completion of the Virginia which was launched in Dec 1895.  The Virginia came out on New Years Day 1896. [7]

 

 

The Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line packets and officers in 1896:

 

Packet Captain Purser
Keyston State  Charles W Knox
Queen City  Thomas S Sandford Daniel M Lacey
Virginia Thomas S Calhoon RH Kerr
Hudson

 

Str Queen City on Ohio 1912 RPPC (F Nash Collection)

Str Queen City on Ohio 1912 RPPC (F Nash Collection)

The Queen City and her sister the Virginia were deluxe packets designed to cater to a rather high class patronage.  Both were advertised in the Pittsburgh social register, to great advantage, as many fashionable Pittsburghers trod their decks.  Both  steamers made annual trips to the Mardi Gras with great success.  Their stewards and chefs were the best money could hire.  The minutes before departure of a Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line boat always had a somewhat carnival air.  Men were dressed in topcoats and silk hats; women wore outfits made complicated by bustles.  All this while roustabouts performed their ballet of loading barrels and boxes.

 

Pittsburgh Cincinnati Packet Line Postcard (F Nash Collection)

Pittsburgh Cincinnati Packet Line Postcard (F Nash Collection)

The Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line packets and officers in 1904:

 

Packet Captain Purser
Keyston State Charles W Knox
Queen City Thomas S Sandford
Virginia Thomas S Calhoon
Hudson

 

Thomas S Calhoon retired from the river in 1904 at age 70.  His career spanned 56 years from his first trip aboard his Uncle Richard Calhoon’s steamer Caledonia to his final voyage on the Virginia.   He witnessed the rise and decline of steamboat commerce.

 

Thomas S Calhoon from the Pittsburg Bulletin dated Jan 5, 1899 (F Nash Collection)

Thomas S Calhoon from the Pittsburg Bulletin dated Jan 5, 1899 (F Nash Collection)

Of the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line Charles Henry Ambler in 1932 wrote:  “To this day one needs only to mention the names Thomas S Calhoon, J Frank Ellison, and Charles W Knox, commanders of the “Second” Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line, to revive the best river traditions of the Ohio…  The steamboatmen of this period are the pride and boast of the inland waters.  In courtesy they had few if any superiors; in efficiency and accomplishments they were surpassed, among rivermen, only by their contemporaries, “the coal barons”.  For a generation or more the richest river annals of America have been the stories of their deeds and achievements…  From their biographies and those of their contemporaries who have passed on in the last generation could be written important chapters in the story of our national development.”  [8]  Those were the happy days.  What could be a better tribute?

 

None of the steamers in the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line was built with, operated with, or carried a bar.  [9]

 

The Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line was forced into receivership in 1909 but continued to operate until 1912 when its assets were sold to John W Hubbard of Pittsburgh.

 

 

Summary.

The packets built expressly for the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line were the best of their day.  Style and luxury were their key features:  Katie Stockdale (1877), Keystone State (1890), Iron Queen (1892), Virginia (1895-6), Queen City (1897).   None of these boats were designed to operate or carry a bar. [10]

 

Thomas Stevenson Calhoon and Jackman Taylor Stockdale were over-achievers from the long forgotten borough of Georgetown, PA.

 

 

References.

 


[1]  Alexander C McIntosh, A Genealogy Report on the Calhoon Family, Beaver County Historical Society.
[2] Thomas Cushing, A Genealogical and Boigraphical History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Clearfield, Chicago 1889, pg 214.
[3] Philip Feldon Foner, History of the Labor Movement in the United States, Volume 1, International Publishers Co, Inc, 1947, p 475.
[4] Frederick Way, Jr.,Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p. 150.
[5]  Alexander C McIntosh, A Genealogy Report on the Calhoon Family, Beaver County Historical Society.
[6]  Alexander C McIntosh, A Genealogy Report on the Calhoon Family, Beaver County Historical Society.
[7]  Alexander C McIntosh, A Genealogy Report on the Calhoon Family, Beaver County Historical Society.
[8] Charles Henry Amble,, A History of Transportation in the Ohio Valley, pg 293-294.
[9]  Alexander C McIntosh, A Genealogy Report on the Calhoon Family, Beaver County Historical Society.
[10]  Ewing Family Papers, Thomas S Calhoon Papers. Box 5, Heinz History Center.

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2011 Francis W Nash
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