Posts Tagged ‘keel boat’

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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Georgetown Historical Markers

Sunday, November 20th, 2016


Foundations (Beaver Area heritage Foundation News Fall 2016)C

Foundations, the news for members of The Beaver Area Heritage Foundation, arrived by post a few days ago.  The column on the Lewis and Clark Legacy Expedition dedication caught my interest.  One of the five places in Beaver County where Lewis and Clark signs were recently erected was Georgetown.  The caption reads: 

 “A leaky canoe was purchased here and they got stuck on a bar just below town”.  [1]

 Not a happy experience for Merriweather Lewis no doubt.  


Of all the American rivers, the Ohio is the most important.  By way of the Ohio more than any other route, the whole continent was explored and populated.  Little known Georgetown, Beaver County, PA is located at Ohio River Mile Marker 38.9 from Pittsburgh.  It is a river town of lost elegance and importance.  Once there were hotels, taverns, general stores, a ferry, and wrought iron fenced homes with second story porches that spilled music into the warm summer nights.  One wealthy resident even had a private airport through the 1950’s.  Sadly little of that era is left.  Like many of the towns along the Ohio, the old homes in Georgetown need repair.  The hotels and taverns are gone.  Only the churches remain.   


The Lewis and Clark Expedition legacy marker recently installed by the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation (BCHR&LF) is a two-part interpretive marker:  the triangular sign is a trail marker and the rectangular sign contains a comment from the journal kept by Capt Lewis.  A little-known fact is that Lewis in 1794 served as a member of the detachment of VA militia involved in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion.  People in western PA, and most probably Georgetown, were rebels in that cause.  The old family names, Dawson, Poe, Calhoon, and Mackall, were frontiersmen in Georgetown well before 1794 and long after 1803.        


Slowly, I have become aware that the streets of Georgetown, which I had walked every day as a child, had a broad, hidden history.  The Beaver County Historical Society put up a plaque, along Market St not far from my home dedicated to the Georgetown rivermen and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. [2]      At least eight other historical markers are, as the crow flies, within a one mile radius of this marker.


St Luke’s Episcopal Church (Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation)

A few hundred feet south in a direct line is the marker for St Luke’s Episcopal Church (now Anglican Church).  The first minister to the people of St Luke’s parish was Rev John L Taylor in 1814.  On 11 Jun 1833, John Bever a tavern owner and surveyor deeded the lots to the Episcopal Church on which the

St Luke’s Episcopal Church Marker (Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation)

present building was erected.  The first service was held on 15 Dec 1833.  It is fitting to mention that every Episcopal Church in the upper Ohio Valley has been a direct result of St Luke’s and the godly men who ministered there.


PA-VA Boundary 1785 (Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation)

At the entry to town there is another marker noting the survey of the western boundary of PA completed in 1785.  About one-quarter of a mile down river one of the original stone markers from the survey of 1785 stills exists.   [3]


Nearby historical markers include The Point of Beginning [4], The Sandy and Beaver Canal,  the First Paper Mill/Little Beaver Creek Bridge, and Smiths Ferry are directly opposite Georgetown on the north side of the Ohio River.  The Death of Pretty Boy Floyd Historical Marker is just outside this arbitrary range.


Georgetown has at least eight historical markers and one-hundred-seventy-four residents per the 2010 census.  It should have more markers, and more residents.  The Georgetown Cemetery deserves a marker.  The oldest stone in the cemetery is dated 1795.  Small American flags flying from their holders in front of headstones denote the graves of Revolutionary War or War of 1812 or Civil War or Spanish-American War or World War I and WW II veterans.  Many steamboat pilots and captains also rest in peace there.  The River Hotel, which was built in 1802, deserves a marker.  Rivermen, hard-working, hard-drinking, hard-fighting men that most river towns dreaded to see stop, stayed there. The Post office was established in 1802 – second in Beaver County after Frankfort Springs.  It deserves a marker.  The Georgetown United Methodist Church was built in 1877 by steamboat builders and carpenters deserves a marker for its unique architecture.  The Indian Rocks, located in Smiths Ferry, were destination landmarks until flooded by the last series of dams were installed on the Ohio.  Although the petroglyphs will presumably never be uncovered, their history should not be forgotten.  Finally, the frontier fort in Georgetown should be remembered with a marker.

Many private homes in Georgetown qualify for the Beaver County Historical Research & Landmarks Foundation Heritage Marker Program but few owners have applied.


A classy small town with a big history – Georgetown.





Copyright © 2016 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

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


[1]   Quotation from the journal of Merriweather Lewis in 1803.

[2]  This marker was erected by the Beaver County Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation.
It is included in the Beaver County (PA) Historical Research and Landmarks Foundation marker series.

[3]  The cut-stone marker is on private property owned by FirstEnergy Corp.  Permission must be obtained to visit these national treasures.

[4]  Different historical societies have installed multiple markers commemorating elements of the same basic event – the completion of the survey of the western boundary of PA which opened the Northwest Territory for settlement.  The additional markers include Beginning Point of the US Public Land Survey, Gateway to the Northwest, Land Ordinance of 1785, and The Seven Ranges.

Capt Jacob Poe Update

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

The biography of Capt Jacob Poe has been updated.  Data acquired from the Certificates of Enrollment for the port of Pittsburgh at the National Archives has been included for some of the early Poe family steamboats.  By “early” I mean before 1848 when Capt Way’s Packet Directory starts its history of steamboats. 


Capt Jacob Poe was also in command of several keel boats.  I intend to add data on these Georgetown keel boats in the near future.




Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Georgetown Keel Boats

Monday, August 6th, 2012

I have updated the page Georgetown Keel Boats including Certificate of Enrollment info from my trip to the National Archives on 2 Aug 2012.  An impressive number of the boats build between 1846-1850 were built in Georgetown, PA along Nash Run.  Registration was required for all vessels with a capacity rating of more than twenty tons.  The capacity of these vessels ranged from 20 50/95 to 43 65/95 tons.






Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

National Archives – 3 May – Part 2

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

I have reviewed eight volumes of Certificates of Enrollment record group 41 from the Customhouse at the port of Pittsburgh.  The volumes 6633-6640 contain enrollment records from 4 Jan 1850 to 31 Dec 1857.  The enrollment records include documentation for all vessels greater than twenty tons.  In these volumes the vessels types have included steamboats both side and stern wheel, keel boats, canal boats, flatboats, and barges.


Sandy and Beaver Canal Postcard (Spread Eagle Tavern Website)

My Georgetown men built and operated steamboats and keel boats.  I have not found any evidence that they operated canal boats even though the Sandy and Beaver Canal connecting the Ohio River to Lake Erie followed the Little Beaver Creek which emptied into the Ohio opposite Georgetown.  The canal ceased operations in 1852.


No flatboats have been registered to Georgetown men.  Although I was again surprised to find an entry for a keel boat in 1857.  That boat, SR Smith, was built by George  and Henry Laughlin.  It was rated at 68 85/95 tons and its dimensions were: 118′x22′x2’10″.  As I review earlier volumes, I will no doubt find more keel boats registered by Georgetown men.


A page listing the Georgetown Keel Boats has been loaded for your review.


Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Georgetown Keel Boats

Sunday, April 8th, 2012


As I was reviewing the Certificates of Enrollments for vessels more than twenty tons from the Customhouse in Pittsburgh, I was surprised by the number of keelboats registered.  My surprise was in part due to the build dates of the keelboats.  I thought that the steamboat marked the end of the keelboat’s useful life years earlier.  I was also impressed by the size, length and breadth, of the vessels.  With little scientific or technological control of the vessel descending the Ohio River, I can only imagine the physical struggle to maneuver heavy cargo downstream in a keelboat.


I have only reviewed the volumes 6633-6636 of the National Archives Record Type 41.  Those volumes contain the enrollment data from 4 Jan 1850 to 30 Dec 1854.  Within that timeframe I found eleven keel boats built by Georgetown men.  The old family names, Poe, Laughlin, Dawson, and Calhoon, are all represented.  Like steamboats, keelboats were family owned with three or four partners – family members and friends.


The size of this sample of keel boats, from smallest to largest, follows:


            Length:                       100ft               114 ft
            Breadth:                     17ft                 17ft10in
            Depth:                           1ft 5in              2ft1in
            Capacity:                    27 39/95 tons  40 25/95 tons




Georgetown Keel Boats

Date:  31 Mar 2012


Name Original Primary Owner Locn Build Date Build
Big Foot Jacob Poe Glasgow, PA 1850
Cinderella 2 James Haslett Philis’s Island, PA 1850
Commerce Thomas Laughlin Georgetown, PA 1850
Hero G Dawson Glasgow, PA 1850
JS Porter Samuel Calhoon Industry, PA 1848
Key Stone B Dawson Christlow’s Landing, PA 1850
Martha Anderson George Laughlin Industry, PA 1854
Ocean Wave George Laughlin Georgetown, PA 1850
Osceola HW Laughlin Christlow’s Landing, PA 1853
Swan A Reed Glasgow, PA 1850
Wm Rodgers Benjamin Laughlin Industry, PA 1854



Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved

Cherry Blossoms and Steamboats

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

I spent a couple of fun days in DC.  BTW, the cherry blossoms are over.  Sherron spent her time visiting museums and art galleries, and of course shopping in Georgetown.  Together we did make time to observe the art display, “Suprasentorial”, on the Hirshorn Museum.  And I do mean on the museum.  The work was projected on the exterior walls of the museum – the entire surface – accompanied by many versions of the song “I only have eyes for you”.  It shows dusk to midnight till the May 13.  Quite impressive with Jupiter, Venus, and the moon aligned just above the museum from the sculpture garden. 


While Sherron was touring, I was playing at the National Archives.  I wanted to seriously review the Certificates of Enrollment from the Navigation Customhouse of Pittsburgh, PA (National Archive Records Administration Record Group 41).  There are forty-nine (49) volumes covering the period between 5 Jan 1831 and 28 Jun 1901.  I reviewed four volumes in two days.  Do the math.  It will takes a serious commitment of time to review all the records.  Who is next the William M Lytle or Forrest R Holdcamper or Frederick Way, Jr character willing to dedicate a lifetime to compile this data from all the Customhouses into a modern data base application?  Till that person is discovered I intend to put the Pittsburgh Customhouse data related to my Georgetown guys online so it will be available in at least two places. 


At the National Archives, I learned some amazing stuff.  For example, Georgetown river men continued to build keel boats through 1854.  Jacob Poe built a keel boat named Big Foot in 1850.  As you probably know, his brother Adam built the str Big Foot in 1875.  The dimensions of the keel boat Big Foot were biblical.  On the Certificate of Enrollment the length was 114 ft, breadth 17 feet 3 inches, and depth 1 foot 7 inches.  Most of the Georgetown keel boats were rated between 25 and 50 tons.  I intend to add keel boat data to my Xcel spreadsheet of steamboats and tugs. 


In addition to the newly learned keel boat information, I discovered new  Georgetown names associated with the river business.  The Certs of Enrollment list the original owners which I intend to add to my steamer biographies.  That process too will take some time.

In sum, two days of vacation has introduced an assortment of new information and generated the energy to develop the new topics. 






Copyright © 2012 Francis W Nash
All Rights Reserved