Posts Tagged ‘yorktown’

Packet Memorabilia

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

My collection of boarding passes and advertisements for the Poe and Georgetown steamboats lacks richness and volume.  The sad number is  doleful four.  The scanned images of these mementos have been loaded on the page entitled Steamboat Memorabilia


One recently acquired boarding pass for cabin passage on the steamer Yorktown was dated 1868 for passage from St Louis to Ft Benton;  a boarding pass for the steamer Mollie Ebert after the packet was sold by Capt George W Ebert is circa 1874; a boarding pass for the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line dated 1900 was signed on the reverse by T Poe (Theodore Cochran Poe of Georgetown, PA who managed a wharf boat in Pittsburgh); and one advertisement for the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati Packet Line was dated 1896 based on the packets listed in the pool of steamers.

Have a look.  Steamboat Memorabilia.

Fort Benton

Monday, September 28th, 2009


“Fort Benton on the Upper Missouri is a small town with a big history.”  That is the beginning of the introduction of a delightful book by Ken Robison on the history of Ft Benton.  The book, Fort Benton, includes photographs and postcards from Mr Robison’s collection.  One image, special to me, was a steamboat passenger boarding pass for the Montana and Idaho Transportation Line.  The St Louis based line was owned by John G Copelin and his father-in-law John J Roe.  According to Mr Robison, the line dominated the Missouri River commerce from 1864-68. 

Montanna and Idaho Transportation Line Boarding Pass (The Ken Robison Collection)

Montanna and Idaho Transportation Line Boarding Pass (The Ken Robison Collection)

Look carefully at the names of the pool of boats used by the line.  Thomas W Poe was the captain of the Amelia Poe and George W Ebert was the captain of the Yorktown.  In 1867, one other Georgetown packet docked at Ft Benton:  the Ida Stockdale in the first of five seasons.  Captains Thomas S Calhoon and Jackman T Stockdale were partners and Capt Grant Marsh was the master in 1867.


The Amelia Poe  docked at the Ft Benton levee on 9 Jun with 183 tons of freight and 50 passengers.  Eighty-five days from St Louis.  The Yorktown arived at Ft Benton on 14 Jun  (84 days from St Louis) with 210 tons of freight and 15 passengers.  The Nymph No 2 arrived on 20 Jul (118 days from St Louis); the GA Thompson 30 Jun; the Deer Lodge 5 Jun.  The arrival of the Bertha is not recorded in “Fort Benton The World’s Innermost Port” by Joel Overholser.

Steamboat Stories

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

In the fall of 2006, I inherited a  journal recounting a lively steamboat trip on the upper Missouri River in 1869.  The author, Nancy Ann (Poe) Ebert, was my great great grandmother.  The trip was one continuous adventure.  It is a bit of American History that I shall attempt to bring to life.

Nancy Ann Poe ebert Journal Segment 1 Front

Only two journals, daily written, chronicle that 1869 Missouri River season.  The styles could not differ more, yet their comparison provides meaningful insights.  In his journal Nelson G Edwards, first clerk of the steamer Henry M Shreve, was objective.  Nancy Poe Ebert was observant and emotional.  My great great grandmother wrote about loneliness, fear, flowers, disappointment, beauty, and Indians.  Indians boarded their steamer for three days causing much anguish.  Tracking the two journals, the sidewheeler Henry M Shreve was 8-14 days ahead of the sternwheeler Mollie Ebert at common positions per date along the Missouri.

My transcription of the journal is a rendering with spelling errors and missing punctuation uncorrected.  Its length is 59 pages covering 57 grueling days.

Nancy Poe Ebert Journal Segment 2 Front (Anna L and John F Nash Collection

Investigations of the inherited journal and boxes of old photographs and letters led to other stories about the men and women of Georgetown, PA.  During the Golden Age of Steamboats which some describe as the period from 1850-1870, Georgetown produced some far famed steamboat captains.  Each captain and each steamer has its tale.  At a time when railroad transportation meant traveling mostly in upright chairs on unheated soot filled cars that rocked and pitched their way along state imposed “standard” gauge track, steamboats were admired for their luxury, their comfort, their ornamentation —  in a word – their style.  Steamboats also out performed the rival railroads during that period.  More troops and supplies were transported by packets than railroad cars during the Civil War.  These Georgetown captains and pilots with their civilian crews were contracted and impressed into service by the Army Quartermaster which led to many tales.  The Georgetown captains owned and operated approximately fifty packets during this Golden Age.

Local histories are also numerous, such as the grisly death of a steamboat captain far from home in April 1850, a Paul Revere like ride to warn the area of the danger of attack from Morgan’s Raiders in July 1863, a baseball game with Honus Wagner and his All Stars in August 1924, etc.  I am a retailer, not an inventor, of these tales.  Vexingly, their stories have been virtually ignored by generations of historians.

Their story was not a story of my choosing, but what could make a better story!