Capt Benjamin M Laughlin

Benjamin Mackall Laughlin was born on 8 Mar 1827 and died in 1908.  Like many other men born in  the Georgetown area, Benjamin Laughlin spent his life working on the river.  His career, as a clerk and captain, extended 52 years from 1844 to 1896.

On 28 Sep 1853, Benjamin M married Annie Blackmore.  According to a note in his book, Benjamin M departed Georgtown, PA on 31 Oct 1853 to steam to St Louis and New Orleans.  He did not return to PA till Christmas.  His wife, Annie died on 4 Jun 1854 less than six months later.

Benjanmin M’ second wife was Mary Johnston.  The date of their marraige in unknown.  And since Benjamin M dedicated his book to his cousin, I assume their were no children.

On 26 Sep 1876, Benjamin M married Sarah M Bain who was also born in or near Georgetown, PA.  They resided in Wilkinsburg, PA and had no children.

According to his hand written book, BM Laughlin first work on the river occurred in 1844 on the  str Rhode Island.  Owned by Captain RD Dawson of Georgetown, PA, the Rhode Island worked local Ohio River trades: Pittsburgh to Marietta and Pittsburgh to Wheeling. [1]  The Rhode Island was dismantled in 1849. [2]


In 1849 Benjamin M Laughlin served as clerk aboard the str John B Gordon No 2.  The John B Gordon No 2 worked on the Des Moines River and Minnesota River until 1855.  Benjamin M Laughlin also clerked for Capt Jacob J Vandergrift. [3]  (Capt Jacob J Vandergrift began his river career in 1843 on the str Bridgewater as a cabin boy.  At that time the Bridgewater was commanded by Capt George Washington Ebert, my great great grandfather, working the Pittsburgh to Wheeling trade.)    In the late 1860′s Jacob J Vandergrift achieved fame and enormous wealth through transportation of oil from the northwest PA oil fields for Standard Oil Company founded by John D Rockefeller.


In 1863 Benjamin M Laughlin was master of the str JT Stockdale.  The JT Stockdale was built for Capt Jackman Taylor Stockdale and named in his honor.  It was rated 188 tons and worked the Pittsburgh to Cincinnati trade.  On 13 Nov 1863 the JT Stockdale was sold to the US Army who converted it to  Tinclad #42.



Capt Benjamin M Laughlin’s last boat was the Ironsides in 1896.


The BM Laughlin book is documented on the following pages:

The BM Laughlin Book

Laughlin v Lytle-Holdcamper



Benjamin Mackall Laughlin (F Nash Collection)







[1]  Frederick Way, Jr., Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p. 393.
[2]  William M Lytle and Forrest R Holdcamper, Merchant Steam vessels of the United States 1790-1868, (The Steamship Historical Society of America, Staten island, NY 1975), p 185.
[3]   Frederick Way, Jr., Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p. 249.


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