Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Old Times - Our First Boat

Marietta Register, May 3, 1892

Oakland, California, April 17, 1892.

Editor Register.

In addressing you on matters of interest to myself I think I can give you some items of much interest to your readers.

I was born in Washington county in 1811, consequently, as you well know, a boy never forgets his happy school days.  I went to school in the house adjoining the Presbyterian church, with the little brick bank in the same block, opposite the residence of Governor Meigs.  My school mates were George and Charles Hildreth, Dudley and George Woodbridge, Richard and James Green, Bill Nye, Jack Brough, Will Holden and others too numerous to mention.  Mr. Slocomb was our teacher, and could use the switch splendidly.  Our residence adjoined Parson Robbins' on one side and the three maiden Stone's on the other.

I have a host of relatives living in Washington county.  My mother's name was Devol.  She had two brothers and one sister settled in Adams township, Washington county.  They all raised families - Isaac, Allen, and Nancy were their names.  Nancy married Oliver Dodge and left two children, Richard and Mary.  Mary married P. B. Johnson of McConnelsville, Ohio; Richard left no children.  The children of Isaac and Allen are too numerous to give their names.

My father was John Green.  He built the first steamboat ever launched in Marietta.  At that time there were only five or six steamboats on the Ohio river.  The boat was built just above the ferry, where, I am informed, the dam is now situated.  The boat was called the General Rufus Putnam, and was a funny craft compared with the present steamers.  Her dimensions were:  length, 100 feet; breadth of beam, 16 feet; depth of hold, 6 feet.  She had a cabin of ten lengths of berths, making forty all told.  Her engine was spurr gearing, with two boilers; her fly-wheel made two revolutions to one of the water wheels.

She made her first trial trip on the Fourth of July, 1821.  The boat was as full as standing room would accommodate.  She left Marietta for Parkersburg, Virginia, at 10 a.m., and made the trip (12 miles) in one hour and a half.  At Parkersburg there was firing of cannon, speaking and a general jubilee for two or three hours.  

We left for Marietta about 2 p.m. and made good progress until about half way (just opposite Judge Cutler's residence), when the engine was stopped and A. M. Phillips, the builder of the engine, hallooed to father he must drop the anchor, as the boilers were getting out of water.  The anchor was let go and the wheels were uncoupled and the engine given a rapid motion and soon had plenty of water.

The engineer then sang out:  "You can hoist the anchor," but did not stop the engine.  When the anchor was up, father shouted, "Go ahead."  There was a man at the coupling, who geared the wheel, and at the word "Go ahead," he threw the wheel in gear, and in consequence broke the main cog-wheel.  That put us in a bad fix; the skiff was brought into requisition, and a line run ashore, the boat landed and all on board had six miles to walk home, and the majority of them were ladies!  It took old Commodore Davis four days to work the "Putnam" back, and it was three weeks before a new wheel was brought from Steubenville - it had to come down in a skiff.

In my next I will give you an account of the first trip of a steamboat to Zanesville.  I do not think there are many living who made that trip.  The only children on board were Miss Maria and Miss Julia Holden and Richard Green (son of Daniel), and myself.

It is fifty-five years since I was in Marietta.  I came to California in 1849.  The only persons from Marietta I have met in this State were David and James Whitney, Dudley Stone, and my cousin, Dick Johnson, also a son of Robert Crawford and some Browns who mined in Tuolumne county, California.

I have been written to often, asking for advice about emigrating to California or Oregon.  I will send you an article on my views of the Pacific coast as a home, and shall hope you will find this of sufficient interest to publish it.

Alonzo Green
No. 264 Sixteenth St.
East Oakland, Cal.


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