I have decrypted a letter dated 1 Oct 1880 written by William Albert Calhoon on the Keokuk Northern Line letterhead .
Ltr WA Coalhoon to Parthenia Calhoon 1 Oct 1880 (Anna L and John F Nash Collection)
La Crosse Oct 1st 1880
I arrived here
on the Red Wing last
Tuesday to go on the Charlie
Cheever with Tom we will
leave here this evening for St
Paul and will be back about
Oct 5th or 6th Joe left here for
St Louis last Sunday evening
on the Str Annie had one of
Joes girls up on the Red Wing
From Dubuque to McGregor I
had a splendid time oh how
I wished you had been along
She is going up to Minneapolis
with us next trip, will close these
few lines will write from St Paul
with much love from all Wm A Calhoon
“Dear Sister” is Parthenia Parr Calhoon (b 16 May 1855 in Georgetown, PA d 10 Jan 1946). She had a twin brother named Joseph MC Calhoon – yes that was his middle name. Joseph never married so I do not know who “one of Joe’s girls” would be mentioned in this letter. The “ Tom” in the letter was an older brother Thomas Franklin Calhoon. Their father Joseph MC Calhoon (b 1823 d 21 Apr 1855) was a steamboat owner and captain who died of cholera while near St Louis. The story of his death and the return of his body to Georgetown, PA is told in the Georgetown tale – The Body.
In 1866 Parthenia Parr Calhoon, the wife of Joseph MC Calhoon, died. Five young children were orphaned. Capt George Washington Ebert , half brother of Parthenia Parr, was appointed guardian of the five Calhoon children. The Calhoon twins, Parthenia and Joseph, were reared in “The Poe House” by Mrs Jacob Poe (Mary Ann (Ebert) Poe, the sister of George W Ebert and half sister of Parthenia Parr). From the 1870 Census Report, I assume the three older boys lived with Capt George W Ebert.
Parthenia Parr Calhoon (b 1855) spent her entire life with her aunt and the Poe family in “The Poe House”. After Jacob Poe and his wife died, Parthenia continued to live in “The Poe House” with Charles Edgar Poe and his daughter Lillian May. George WE Poe and his wife also lived in “The Poe House” at that time. After Charley Poe died, Parthenia lived with her niece Lillian May and Lillian’s uncle, George WE Poe.
It is quite confusing, but important when you think of the names associated with Aunt Parthenia. Calhoon, Parr, Ebert, Poe - major names in Ohio River steamboat history.
The author of the letter, “Wm A”, was an older brother of Aunt Parthenia (William Albert Calhoon (b 13 Jan 1852 d 25 Oct 1889 unmarried)) . He died of “consumption” after spending some time in a hospital in Cairo, IL in Jul 1889. I have two letters dated 5 Jul 1889 written by William Albert to sister Parthenia Parr Calhoon and brother Thomas Franklin Calhoon. These two letters were written on Cherokee Packet Company letterhead four months before his death.
In the Keokuk letter to Parthenia Parr Calhoon, William Albert mentioned several steamers. The construction of the steamer Red Wing was supervised by Jacob Poe according to Capt Way’s Packet Directory. The str Charlie Cheever (officially named Charles Cheever ) was a sternwheeler built in Brownsville, PA where many Poe boats were constructed, but I do not know its owner nor master. The Annie was a sternwheeler built in 1877 for the Keokuk Line. I have found no historical data on her owner or master.
I do not know why William Albert Calhoon was traveling on the upper Mississippi at that time. Whether the Poes and/or Calhoons had any interest in the Keokuk Packet Line or the Keokuk Northern Packet Line is unknown at this time. More research and some luck is required to break through this mystery.