Posts Tagged ‘capt thomas w poe’

Packet Ownership

Monday, March 12th, 2018


For Georgetown the years between 1852-1858 were a time of speedy economic growth.  River business prospered.  The following table lists the partnership of owners over six years of one steamer, str Washington City, plying various inland rivers.  Few Poe family packets survived as long.     


The consistency of these findings taken from the Record Type 41 of the Certificates of Enrollment are unusual.  Other Poe family steamboats changed ownership annually and were often bought and sold outside the family within three years.  The following table lists the owners of the str Washington City from 1852-1857.   Although no data was found for 1855 during this research trip, it should be remembered that in Apr 1855 Capt Joseph MC Calhoon died of cholera in Alton, IL.   Despite dangerous high-water conditions Capt George Washington Ebert, a brother-in-law, clerk James Wilkins a brother-in-law, /pilot Jacob Poe a brother-in-law, and a skeleton crew of Georgetown relatives, steamed to St Louis to recover the body and return it for burial in Georgetown Cemetery.  Proof that the str Washington City was actively working in 1855.  The absence of data for 1855 is most unfortunately due to pages torn from the Enrollment and License book of records.



Cert of Enrollment for the str Washington City (The National Archives)

Str Washington City


1852 1853 1854 1855 1856 1857
Richard Calhoon
Samuel Cadman 2/16 2/16 2/16 2/16 2/16
George W Ebert 3/16 M 3/16 M 3/16 M 3/16 M 3/16 M
AB Gallatin
Samuel Moore 2/16 2/16 2/16 2/16 2/16
Steel McMillen
John S McMillin
Adam Poe
Andrew Poe
George Poe
Jacob Poe 3/16 3/16 3/16 3/16 3/16
Thomas W Poe
Samuel Smith 2/16 2/16 2/16 2/16 2/16
Thomas Smith 2/16 2/16 2/16 2/16 2/16
JT Stockdale
James Wilkins 2/16 2/16 2/16 2/16 2/16



In 1857,the town fielded a fleet of ten steamboats to work on all inland rivers as far as the lower Missouri River.  Several keelboats were also launched by Georgetown rivermen.  The following table lists the steamers 0f 1857 and the men who owned and commanded them. 



Georgetown Packets in 1857


Belfast Belmont Clifton Grand Turk John G Fremont Metropolis Neptune Silver Wave Wash City
R Calhoon 3/16 M
James Diehl 1/8 1/8
GW Ebert 3/16 M 1/8 1/8 3/16 M
AB Gallatin 1/8 M
Eliz McClure 1/8
Steel McMillen 3/32
JS McMillin 13/16 M
Adam Poe 1/2 M 3/8 M
Andrew Poe 1/8
George Poe 1/8 1/8 1/16
Jacob Poe 1/8 3/16 1/4 1/8 3/16 3/16
Thomas Poe 1/4 1/4 1/8 M 1/8 1/4
Samuel Smith 1/8
Thomas Smith 1/8 1/8
Alan Stockdale 1/8
JT Stockdale 3/8 M
Samuel Trimble 1/8
David Wilkins 3/32
James Wilkins 1/8




(1)  In an effort of complete disclosure, George Washington Ebert .  The Poes and Samuel Trimble were my third great uncles, Elizabeth (Poe) McClure my third great aunt.

(2)  The bold faces names in the table are the principle steamboat captains who built, piloted, and operated the boats on many rivers far from home – Georgetown.  The names in lighter type are investors who did not work on the rivers.

 (3)  John Smith McMillin and Steel McMillen were brothers although the Custom House clerk spelled their last name differently on several enrollment certs.

(4)  Samuel and Thomas Smith lived in the village opposite Georgetown on the Ohio River named Smiths Ferry.  They operated a ferry which had served the two settlements since circa 1794. 

(5)  Samuel Cadman, Samuel Moore, and David and James Wilkins resided in Pittsburgh and Allegheny City.

(6)  “M” in the fractional ownership cells indicates “Master” as listed on both the Enrollment and License forms.





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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
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

The Jacob Poe bio has been updated with new material obtained over the past two years.   Similarly, History in Homes has been modified with additional material and images.  As I have indicted before, it may be worth your time to stop by occasionally to see if a subject important to you has changed.


I am working on  Thomas W Poe.



Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
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Steamboat Losses

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Georgetown steamboat captains and owners littered the inland waterways with their steamboat wrecks.   The boats lost on various inland rivers when owned by a Georgetown captain follow:



      Georgetown (1855 snagged)
      Amelia Poe (1868 snagged)
      Ida Stockdale (1871 crushed by ice)
      Feerless (1882 sunk)


      Glaucus (1852 fire)
      Horizon (1862 CivWar collision)
      Nick Wall (1870 snagged)
      Glencoe (1877 snagged)



      Belmont (1859 fire)
      Mollie Ebert (1875 fire)



      Clara Poe (1865 CivWar arson)  



      John B Gordon (1851 snagged)


Other boats once owned and operated by Georgetown men were lost, snagged or burned after they had been sold have not been added to the list.



Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
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Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Mr Matthew S Schulte, Executive director of the Steamship Historical Society of America (SSHSA), has graciously granted permission to scan and post the pages of two articles published in PowerShips, the voice  of the SSHSA. 


The first article, “No Place For a Lady“, was the description of the Missouri River journey written by Nancy Ann (Poe) Ebert in 1869.


The second article, “The History of a Civil War Transport, the Clara Poe ” was the story of the str Clara Poe during the Civil War and the unsuccessful request for indemnity which spanned six presidencies.



Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
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PowerShips Article

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

The story of a Civil War transport, the str Clara Poe, was published in the Steamships Historical Society of America (SSHSA) magazine PowerShips Summer 2013 No 286.


The synopsis follows:


The history of the steamer Clara Poe has been essentially silent despite her lengthy Civil War service to the Union. Fran Nash’s account of the steamer is a bit of American history too important to be left untold.


Like my first article No Place for a Lady!: Journal of the Wife of a Steamboat Captain, this story was edited by Jim Pennypacker who is the editor of PowerShips.  He made me look professional.  If you can find the periodical, the story is a fun read. 



Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
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Thomas Washington Poe

Friday, March 29th, 2013

If there is a “night shade” hovering over any stone in the Georgetown Cemetery, it would be the spirit of Capt Thomas Washington Poe for good reason.   Capt Thomas Poe was arguably the most far-famed and ill-fated steamboat captain from Georgetown, PA.  Thomas Washington Poe was born in 1819 in New Lisbon, Columbiana Co, OH.  He died on 31 Dec 1881 aboard the str Fearless on his way to Pittsburgh. 


Capt Thomas W Poe with wives, Phebe and Martha Jane (F Nash Collection)

Misfortune paid its respects to Capt Thomas Poe many times and often far from home.  On 11 May 1855  the str Georgetown was fatally snagged at Bellefontaine Bluffs on the Missouri in route to a military post.  The  str Georgetown was owned by Thomas W Poe and other partners from Georgetown, PA.  He was the principal owner of the str Clara Poe which went up in flames during the Civil War - burned by rebel forces on 17 Apr 1865 at Eddyville on the Cumberland River.  He also owned the str Amelia Poe which was a complete loss when snagged on the upper Missouri river on 24 May 1868 and salvaged by 1,500 riotous Indians.  And he was the

Thomas Poe Illustration in Life on the Mississippi

owner of the str  Nick Wall which met a tragic end on the Mississippi River near Napoleon, AK on 18 Dec 1870.  Here a grisly incident occurred that Mark Twain retold in “Life on the Mississippi”.  The boat struck a snag and sunk rapidly.  Though injured himself by the falling roof, Capt Thomas W Poe attempted to save his wife trapped in a stateroom.  He chopped a hole in the roof with an ax striking the unfortunate Martha Jane Poe in the head.  Martha Jane Poe, fatally wounded, was returned to Georgetown for burial. 


Although Thomas W died on 31 Dec 1881 aboard the str Fearless on his way to Pittsburgh,  his spirit lived on ― in the courts.  The steamer sank eight months later on 26 Aug 1882 on the Missouri.    The legal case regarding the property loss was finally decided by the Supreme Court of Missouri in Oct 1887― not in favor of the Poe heirs.  This verdict feels perfectly consistent with the trend of Thomas Washington Poe’s lfe.




Copyright © 2013 Francis W Nash
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Lower Missouri River Commerce

Friday, December 28th, 2012

It is important to acknowledge that the Georgetown steamboat owners and their crews were in the river freight and passenger business at the sharp and dangerous, and always moving, frontier edge of our nation.  Without them and men like them, the development of the interior of our nation would have been delayed many years.

I have added a page to tell their story: Lower Missouri River



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

National Archives Trip 5

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Last Thursday (6 Sep 2012), I spent another afternoon and early evening at the National Archives in DC.  I reviewed the Certificates of Enrollment records (Record Group 41) from 3 Jan 1859 through 23 Dec 1862 (Volumes 6641-6644).  Sadly, volumes 6643 and 6644 were water damaged.  Their condition was disastrous.  For many entries the ink was completely washed out and incomprehensible.  I know not whether a conservator could recover the data.  In addition to the ruined volumes, there was no volume for the year 1862.  This catastrophe is a dreadful loss because the time frame extends through the period of the Civil War when approximately fifty percent of the civilian steamboats impressed or chartered for service on the western rivers by the US Army Quartermaster were built in the Pittsburgh region. 


Enrollment Record in Volume 6643 (F Nash 6 Sep 2012)

Enrollment Record in Volume 6643 (F Nash 6 Sep 2012)


Enrollment Record from Volume 6644 (Fnash 6 Sep 2012)

Enrollment Record from Volume 6644 (Fnash 6 Sep 2012)

On a more positive note, I found two (2) new keel boats built by  Georgetown rivermen.  The last of these unexpected discoveries was built by HW Laughlin in Industry, PA and registered on 1 May 1861.  This discovery should dispel some illusions that keel boats were quickly displaced by the technological superior steamboats.  Low water was the spur of necessity that favored the keel boat to this late date.


Only twenty-eight volumes of the Certificates of Enrollment for Pittsburgh to review before my National Archives research will be complete.  That said, since I last viewed the Vessel File (Record Group 92), I have discovered that I have doubled the number of steamboats from Georgetown.  In addition to the Vessel File, I was pointed to the Index of Claims for the Army Quartermaster.  There was an index entry for Thomas S Calhoon (str Horizon), but none for Thomas Poe or Jacob Poe (str Clara Poe).   If time permits, I will also review the Preliminary Inventory of the Textual Records of the office of the Quartermaster general – Part 1 Vessel records. 

The National Archives is a fascinating place to explore rare and monumental artifacts.




Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
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National Archives Trip 4

Friday, August 3rd, 2012


It has been far too long since my last post.  Trust me –  it is not due to lack information. 


Today ( Thu 2 Aug 2012), I spent the afternoon and early evening at the National Archives in DC.  I am always amazed with the info I collect.  Today I reviewed the Certificates of Enrollment records (Record Group 41) from 16 Mar 1846 through 24 Dec 1849 (Volumes 6629-6632).  Some details about three steamboats in which my Georgetown guys were either principal owners or partners came into my knowledge.  And fourteen (14) keel boats built by  Georgetown rivermen.  


Only thirty-two volumes to go to complete my research on certificates of enrollment.  Sixteen books have been reviewed even though I have that uneasy feeling the I have missed important data, and so should redo them.  By the way, since I last viewed the Vessel File (Record Group 92), I have discovered, I have doubled the number of known steamboats from Georgetown.  One more day, or two, for the vessel file ?!?


One example of a terrific new find is the str New England.  Until today, I had never seen any info in my inherited boxes to relate the str New England to Georgetown steamboat men.  And, as you well know, I do stretch the thinest threads without shame. 


According to Capt Way, the original principle owner and master of the str New England was Capt Samuel B Page.   Capt Way also described the vessel as a sidewheeler, yet the Cert of Enrollment declared her wheel position at the stern.  The str New England was a flagship departing Pittsburgh with soldiers bound for the Mexican War.   

In Mar 1847, the str New England was purchased by Capt George W Ebert who operated the sidewheeler between Pittsburgh and Wheeling till 1849. 


Str New England

Owners and Partners Share Vol: 6629
Geo W Ebert   Enroll No : 26
Jacob Poe   Cert Date: 3 Mar 1847
Andrew Poe   Cert Type:: Enrollment 180
Thomas Poe   Build Locn: Pittsburgh, PA
Wm J Kountz   Build Date: 1844
David Wilkins   Master GW Ebert

Check out the owners of  the str New England in 1847.  Geo W Ebert was my great great grandfather;  Jacob, Andrew and Thomas Poe were brothers and my great great granduncles.  During the Civil War, William J Kountz declared that Gen US Grant was  a “glorious drunk” who should be court marshalled.  Grant arrested William J Kountz who was in charge of procuring river transportation for the war effort in the western theater.  I do not know the relationship of David Wilkins to my Georgetown steamboat men.


No doubt that these Georgetown men were touched by history.



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
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