Posts Tagged ‘national archives’

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
All Rights Reserved

Certificates of Enrollment

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Detailed information provided on the Certificates of Enrollment changed trough the years.  The following certificates for the str Financier specify the essential changes in the life of the packet.  The first certificate dated 21 May 1845 indicated that the str Financier was built for and or by Capt Adam Poe of Georgetown, PA.  The  next certificate dated 20 May 1846 indicated that the rights to operate the vessel had been renewed.  The third certificate dated 04 Jun 1846 indicated a change of owners. 



Str Financier


Owners and Partners Share Vol: 6628
Adam Poe   Enroll No : 11
Jacob Poe   Cert Date: 21 May 1845
Thomas W Poe   Cert Type::  
George Calhoon   Build Locn:  
Andrew Poe   Build Date:  
George Poe   Master Adam Poe
Washington Ebert      



Str Financier


Owners and Partners Share Vol: 6629
Adam Poe   Enroll No : 68
Jacob Poe   Cert Date: 20 May 1846
Thomas W Poe   Cert Type:: Admeasurement
George Calhoon   Build Locn: Pittsburgh, PA
Andrew Poe   Build Date: 1845
George Poe   Master Adam Poe
Washington Ebert      



Str Financier


Owners and Partners Share Vol: 6629
William J Kountz   Enroll No : 69
Geo Black   Cert Date: 04 Jun 1846
Robert S Hays   Cert Type:: Admeasurement
Clark and Thaw   Build Locn: Pittsburgh, PA
    Build Date: 1845
    Master William J Kountz


Note the new owners of the str Financier.  William J Kountz was a steamboat man from Pittsburgh who was later charged with providing river transportation for troops and supplies during the Civil War.  His clashes with Gen US Grant were famous.  He wrote to Gen Halleck who was the commander of the western theater headquartered in St Louis that Gen Grant was a “glorious drunk” who should be court marshaled.  Admiral Kountz was reported to be a teetotaler.


Thaw was William Thaw who had interests in the western PA canal transportation and was one of several who established the first Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line in 1842.  Later he was associated with the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroad (PRRs) which was a significant player in the the Molly Maguires sensational trials.  Twenty Mollies were prosecuted, and hanged, by the president of PRR and chief prosecutor on the testimony of one Pinkerton agent.  The president of the PRR and acting prosecutor was Franklin B Gowen who stood to gain financially from the destruction of the striking coal miner union. 


So much fun!


On 12 Oct 1850, the boilers of the str Financier exploded near Alton, IL causing the death of the captain’s son and second engineer.  Others were scalded.  [1]






[1]   Frederick Way, Jr.,Way’s Packet Directory, 1848-1994, (Ohio University Press, Athens 1994), p. 165.



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

The Destruction of the str Horizon

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Based on the readings from the National Archives, I loaded a page describing the collision of the str Horizon on the Mississippi River.  The page link is called A Case for Indemnity.

The losses of the Horizon and Clara Poe  differ in several ways.  The Horizon was definitely under contract to the US Army Quartermaster.  Yet the military Vessel File at the National Archives has more original source papers regarding the burning of the  Clara Poe


One interesting aside from Horizon were letters from an engineer named Kemper.  In a letter dated 4 May 1874, Kemper’s attorney requested pay for service on the str Horizon while running the batteries at Vicksburg.  As you no doubt have guessed, the response from the US Army Quartermaster was negative — stating “our records do not show that Kemper rendered the services”.  Eleven years after the event the US Army Quartermaster refused to pay the engineer Kemper’s day wages even though Kemper had an affidavit from an officer on the boat stating that Kemper served at Vicksburg.  No records – no pay – period!  You gotta admire these US Army logistics agents.

The Destruction of the Clara Poe

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Based on the records from the National Archives, I loaded a page describing the burning of the str Clara Poe on the Cumberland River.  The page link is called A Case for Indemnity.