Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Interesting Bit of River History

The Marietta Daily Times, January 22, 1906

A Veteran River Man Furnishes the List of Boats and Their Captains Who Navigated the Muskingum in the Palmy Days of River Traffic.

Many of the Names Are Familiar and Will Recall Pleasant Memories.

In the appended article the writer gives a list of the early river craft plying the Muskingum and the men who followed the adventurous calling of boatmen.  A few of the names are quite familiar, descendants of the old time river men now being residents of this city.

Memories of the early days will be recalled by many who read the following contribution.

In making individual mention of bats and boatmen they will be taken up in order of their priority of date, as a class, and as there is no representative of the canoe era on the Muskingum now living, nor any trace of any of them to be found, we must pass over that class of craft and the men who navigated them and take up the days of keel boating.

Keel Boating

The writer has been unable to find anything that will definitely establish the date that keelboating first commenced on the Muskingum river, but there are many circumstances which strongly point to the time as about 1814 to 1815.

The following is copied from a letter written by a young lady of New York who was traveling in the west at the time it was written.  It was published in Marietta papers a few years ago:

Marietta, Ohio, May 14th, 1815.

The Muskingum has been six feet higher at Springfield (Putnam) than it was ever known to be.  A part of the upper bridge was undermined and carried away.  Dr. Fowler in attempting to cross the bridge was drowned.  He was much respected and highly esteemed as a physician and was the last person to bestow on us his good wishes and farewell when entering the boat we left Springfield in for this place."

Dr. Fowler is buried in the old Putnam grave yard, the inscription on his headstone states he was but 22 years old at the time of his death.

As this young lady made her trip from Zanesville to Marietta on a boat years before the first steamboat ascended the Muskingum and as it is improbable that she went in an open flat boat, it seems quite certain that at least one keel boat was here in May, 1815.  Perhaps others were here at an earlier date, but evidence of this is lacking.

List of Primitive Craft

The following list of names of keel boats which navigated the Muskingum river is doubtless very incomplete, but when we consider that it is nearly seventy years since the last boat of this kind was seen on this river, and that all the men but one or two who navigated them are dead, we can realize how useless would be an effort to obtain a complete list of the names of those early crafts.  With perhaps a few exceptions no attempt will be made to state the dates any of these boats were running on the Muskingum.  The name of the Captain of each of these boats so far as they have been learned will be given, but as the boats often changed captains as well as owners, some may have had more than one, but only one will be named here:

Amanda - Lemuel Pratt, captain.
Allegheny - Jesse Smith, captain.
Black Snake - William Scales, captain.
Buck - A. Z. Morris, captain.
Consolation - Absolom Boyd, captain.
Charity - Jesse Smith, captain.
Commodore - Absolom Boyd, captain.
Comet - Hercules Boyd, captain.
Davy Crocket.
Express - Harry Stull, captain.
Elk - Benjamin Godfrey, captain.
Faith - William Scales, captain.
Fink, Mike.
Governor Ritner - A. W. Sprague, captain.
General Marion - Ryan, captain.
Hercules - Hercules Boyd, captain.
Hope - Washington Scales, captain.
Hazard - Alexander Hahn, captain.
Lovely Sally - Ferrell, captain.
Lady - Williams, captain.
Merry Lady - John B. Lewis, captain.
Muskingum Valley - Dudley Davis, captain.
Mink, Mike.
McGregor, Hellen - Absolom Boyd, captain.
Majestic - Randolph Fearing, captain.
Marietta - Albert Carpenter, captain.
Marietta 2 - Baker, captain.
None such.
Number 4 - Absolom Boyd, captain.
Olive Green.
Patriot - Davis, captain.
Post Boy.
Pocahontas - Ferrell, captain.
Paul Jones - Hercules Boyd, captain.
Rob Roy.
Red Rover.
Return - George Carpenter, captain.
Rifleman - Absolom Boyd - captain.
Ram - Roberts, captain.
Remlin, James - Joseph Devol, captain.
Splendid - Reese, captain.
Silver Heels.
Sam Patch.
Steubenville Ranger - James Brooks, captain.
Saucy Jack.
Sycamore - Hart, captain.
Tam a am - Absolom Boyd, captain.
Uncle Sam.
Western Packet - S. M. Devol, captain.
Washington - Randolph Fearing, captain.
Waterford - Beatty Cheadle, captain.
Zanesville Packet - Dennis, captain.

Facts of the Amanda

The Amanda, named in the foregoing list, was sunk at Blue Rock bend in 1837, was soon raised, repaired and sold by her owners, Fearing and Sprague.  

The "Sycamore," belonging to Hale, Boyd and Scales, was sunk at Taylorsville, where her bones were to be seen but a few years ago and may be there yet.

Old Time Boatmen

The following is a list of the names of all the Muskingum river keelboatmen that can be obtained by the writer, but like the list of names of the keel boat, it is no doubt quite incomplete.  Many of these men became prominent steamboatmen and contributed much to the development of navigation of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys.

David Anson, Baker, Absolom Boyd, Hercules Boyd, James Boyd, Hiram Burch, McC. Bell, James Blunt, John Burroughs, James Booker, Booths, Curtis, McC. Coleman, John Carpenter, William Carpenter, Daniel Clay, Stephen Davis, Freeman Davis, Hildrick Davis, Ed Davis, Dudley Davis, Frederick Davis, John Davis, S. M. Devol, Paul Ditenhaver, Joseph (Little Jo) Devol, Bennett Devol, Simeon Devol, Till Devol, Dennis, Stanton Devol, Joseph (Big Jo) Devol, Evans, Frederick Erick, George W. Ebert, Evans, Evans, Ferral, Randolph Fearing, John Farris, Mike Fink, Jacob Flake, Benjamin Godfrey, Simeon Girty, Samuel Godfrey, John Green, George Hahn, Michael Hahn, Frederick (Major) Hahn, James Herron, William Helmick, Scudder Hart, Aaron Hart, Owen Hale, Issac N. Hook, Alexander Hahn, Israel, Knott, Knott, Isaac Johnson, Thomas Johnson, William (Purdy Bill) Larison, John B. Lewis, Robert Leggett, James Leggett, John Lyons, George Michael, A. Z. Morris, Adam Poe, Lemuel Pratt, William Parker, Jacob Poe, Reardon Reese, Tice Ridenhour, Ryan, Stephen Roberts, Harry Stull, William Scales, Lemuel Swift, Jessie Smith, Washington Scales, Nelson Stone, Stephen Stone, Austin W. Sprague, William Silverthorn, John Tarrier, Talbot, Asa Travis, Harris White, Stephen West, Williams, Webster.

Who They Were

Of the men named in the foregoing list the Boyds, the Hahns, the Caseys, Ayers, Scales, Ridenour and Helmick were from Zanesville.  The Davises were from Marietta and Lowell vicinities and the Devols were nearly all from Beverly and its vicinity.  Clay was from Lowell, Fearing and Hart were from Marietta.  The Johnsons, Evanses, Knotts, Godfreys, Leggetts, White, Swift and Webster were from Luke Chute.  Travis, Coleman, Bell, and others from McConnelsville.  Hook living near Windsor and nearly all the others resided somewhere on the Muskingum river and have descendants still living.  It is a matter of much regret that the names of all the men who were connected with these pioneer boats could not be obtained for publication in this list.

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