Typed by E. J. Heinemann.
PRIMITIVE MAIL TRANSPORTATION AND THE WATER HIGHWAYS
Communication by letters during the early history of Virginia was rare and difficult for several reasons: First, because a letter was the result of the exercise of much thought and formality, occupying in its composition much time and labor,-- sometimes days and weeks; and in the second place there was a simplicity in their diction and a dignity in the use of language wholly wanting in the present day, especially since the type writing machine has come into such general use that letters have ceased to be pieces of composition requiring the exercise of skill and heartiness, and their writing has been permitted to degenerate into a mere habit of scribbling. The introduction of the typewriter as a contrivance for the destruction of letter writing and the former dignity attaching to the same has proven itself to be a great success. We may safely predict that in the course of a few years under present conditions the art of epistolary correspondence by the use of the pen will have become to a great extent obsolete.
The medium of communication by letters during almost the whole of the seventeenth century was exceedingly limited. Prior to the year 1693 letters to be conveyed from one section to another were committed to the custody of passing travelers, who sometimes proved to be uncertain and unreliable.
It was enacted by an old Virginia statute that ---"all letters superscribed for the publique service, should be at once conveyed from plantation to plantation to the place to which directed under the penalty of one hogshead of tobacco for each and every default." Further provision was made by a statute enacted in 1661 to the following effect--- "that where there is any person in the family where the letters come as can write, such person is required to endorse the day and hour he received the same, that the neglect or contempt of any person stopping them may be the beter known and punished accordingly."
Postoffices and postmasters were entirely unknown in America until the year 1693, when one Thomas Neale was appointed by royal patent "postmaster general of Virginia and all other parts of North America." Before the post office passed into the control of Benjamin Franklin, there was no method or arrangement in the operation of the mails. Afterward, they were carried on in a systematic, trust-worthy and regular manner.
As late as the year 1760 there were but eight mails a year carried from Philadelphia as far south as the Potomac River and the post rider was not required to start on his mission until he received a number of letters sufficient to pay the expenses of making the trip.
In the early settlement of western Virginia letters were confided to the care of chance passersby for carriage, except in the case of public service documents, when runners were employed to carry them from post to post. These runners were generally selected from among such as had more than an ordinary knowledge of woodcraft, and were skilled in the use of the rifle, and they were fully armed and equipped for their perilous service. They carried the letters in a pouch, which was securely strapped about the person, the provisions also being carried in the same manner.
In 1787 this primitive mode of carrying the mail matter was abandoned, and it was carried in a pouch on horseback. In the same year the coach was utilized for the purpose and also the pirogue or canoe. This last named was succeeded by the mail steamboat and later by the mail steam car, and now in many instances by the city electric car.
Previous to the year 1786 there was no regular mail service between Wheeling and the East and the country west of Wheeling. In the fall of 1786 the government inaugurated a system of post routes and a post was established between Philadelphia and Pittsburg and another from Virginia to Bedford.
Notwithstanding, the establishment of the mail route between Philadelphia and Pittsburg, there was great irregularity in the trips of the mail carriers between the two places, a two-weeks mail being regarded as a quick service. A few years later the mail boats were put on, which ran between Wheeling, Marietta, Limestone (Maysville) and Cincinnati. Such a route was established in June, 1794, by means of relays of boats running to Limestone (Maysville), Marietta and Gallipolis. It was so arranged that they were to leave their starting place at an interval of a week and, returning, one was to stop at Gallipolis, one at Marietta, and the last at Wheeling. The boats were propelled by six rowers and were so constructed as to carry a limited number of passengers.
It was somewhat of a dangerous experiment to navigate the Ohio in those days and hence each boat carried a small swivel gun in its bow, and the crew were well armed to protect themselves from anticipated attacks of the savages. These boats as a general rule were about 40 feet in length, with a space of five feet between the rowers, and had a cabin extending from 20 to 25 feet, facing which the oarsmen plied their task. They were built for swiftness, having sharp prows and being light in structure. Each passenger carried his own provisions and bedding and the crew were furnished their daily rations by the contractor.
At this time the mail was carried by post riders from Pittsburg to Wheeling, who met each other at Washington, Pennsylvania, and exchanged their pouches, the route lying through that borough and the town of West Liberty, Virginia. The compensation allowed to these mail carriers was the sum of $375 per annum, and this included all expenses that could possibly attend the service. The post rider from Washington to Wheeling was to connect with the boat at this latter place every Saturday at 12 o'clock noon, at which hour the boat departed.
As there were no postmasters at the different points at which the mail was to be delivered it became necessary for the department to appoint the same. Maj. Isaac Craig, who was the quartermaster at Pittsburg, had intended to recommend to the postmaster general the name of Major Finley, who at the time was the acting quartermaster at Wheeling, but in making an appointment he by mistake made the appointment of one John McIntyre, of Wheeling, as is explained by the following extract from a letter of Major Craig's to the postmaster general which was written under date of June 13, 1794, and which is as follows: "I intended of taking the liberty of pointing out Maj. John Finley as a proper person to act as postmaster at Wheeling and am sorry I neglected it, perhaps, until it is too late, as I observe one of your packets addressed to Mr. John McIntyre. I have therefore most earnestly to beg you, if possible, to recall the appointment of McIntyre and appoint Finley, who is now with his family at Wheeling, and is acting as assistant quartermaster at that post. I shall take the liberty of retaining the packet to Mr. McIntyre till your pleasure is known on this point, in which I feel myself much interested, as I have already assured Major Finley that I should make the necessary application for him." In this connection we cite the letter from Major Craig to Major Finley under date of July 2, 1794, as follows:
"In my communication with the postmaster general respecting the establishment of a weekly mail from this post to Fort Washington I pointed you out as a person to act as postmaster at Wheeling, but Colonel Pickering not recollecting your name appointed John McIntyre, in consequence of which I wrote and pressed him to appoint you. The enclosed extract is his answer. I also enclose his letter to Mr. McIntyre, opened as he directed, accompanied by a blank bond and form of oath together with a packet containing the post office laws and other regulations respecting it. The whole of which I now submit to your consideration and immediate determination, as the first mail boat sets off from this place immediately after the departure of the eastern post on Friday next, and will touch at your post on its way to Limestone and will return to Wheeling. The second boat sets off the week following to Limestone and returns to Marietta. The third boat the week following the second and proceeds to Limestone and returns to Gallipolis the next week after the third has set off. The mail will be sent by land to Wheeling via Washington and West Liberty. Should you, on mature deliberation, decline acceptance of the office now offered, you will please close up the letter containing the bond and form of oath of office and also the packet containing the postoffice laws, etc., and deliver them to Mr. McIntyre, agreeable to their first address. But if you accept the office you will alter the name in the bond and oath, have them filled up, executed and returned to me as early as possible."
After some delay Major Finley secured the position of postmaster and at once entered upon the discharge of his duties.
In the year 1794 a person by the name of Green carried the mail between Pittsburg and Cincinnati in a piroque. On its downward trip it also carried a small quantity of freight. The boatmen in those early days were generally selected on account of their experience as Indian fighters. The Wetzels, Fowlers and others recorded on the pages of history as great and successful Indian fighters were no less notable as pioneer boatmen.
The first regular packet line between Pittsburg and Cincinnati was composed of four boats of 20 tons each. In the Sentinel of the Northwestern Territory, a paper printed at Cincinnati, In 1794, appeared the following advertisement:
"Two boats for the present will start from Cincinnati to Pittsburg and return to Cincinnati in the following manner, viz.: The first boat will leave Cincinnati this morning at eight o'clock and return to Cincinnati so as to be ready to sail again in four weeks from this date. The second boat will leave Cincinnati on Saturday, the 30th inst., and return as above. And so regularly each boat performing the voyage to and from Cincinnati to Pittsburg once in every four weeks.
"The proprietor of these boats having maturely considered the many inconveniences and dangers incident to the common method heretofore adopted of navigating the Ohio, and being influenced by a love of philanthropy and a desire of being serviceable to the public, has taken great pains to render the accommodations on board the boats as agreeable and convenient as they could possibly be made. No danger need be apprehended from the enemy, as every person on board will be under cover made proof to rifle balls, and convenient port holes for firing out. Each of the boats is armed with six pieces carrying a pound ball, also a good number of muskets, and amply supplied with ammunition, strongly manned with choice men, and the master of approved knowledge. A separate cabin from that designed for the men is partitioned off in each boat for accommodating the ladies on their passage. Conveniences are constructed on each boat so as to render landing unnecessary, as it might at times be attended with danger.
" Rules and regulations for maintaining order on board, and the good management of the boats, and tables accurately calculated for the rates of freightage, and the carriage of letters to and from Cincinnati to Pittsburg, also a table of the exact time of arrival and departure to and from the different places on the Ohio between Cincinnati and Pittsburg, may be seen on board each boat, and at the printing office in Cincinnati.
"Passengers will be supplied with provisions and liquors of all kinds of the first quality at the most reasonable rates possible. Persons desirous of working their passage will be admitted on finding themselves, subject, however, to the same order and directions from the master of the boat as the rest of the working hands of the boat's crew.
"An office of insurance will be kept at Cincinnati, Limestone and Pittsburg, where persons desirous of having their property insured may apply. The rates of insurance will be moderate."
In the early part of the last century the navigation of the Ohio River had developed a hardy, brave and adventurous race of men whose business it was by means of vessels known as flat-boats to carry the products and merchandise of the up-country to New Orleans and the towns and cities which at lengthened intervals studded the shores of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
The flat-boat vessel which varied in size, being from 50 to 75 in length, and from 20 to 30 feet in breadth, and from six to 10 in height, being equipped with long oars called sweeps on each of its sides and a long steering car attached to the stern, and was roofed with a layer of thin boards to protect the cargo from the weather. The boat was usually permitted to float with the current except when dangerous places, sand banks and snags were to be avoided, when the sweeps were manned to keep her free from such obstructions or to effect a landing. Months were often required in accomplishing the passage from Wheeling to New Orleans.
At this period the flat-boatmen had many difficulties to contend with and many perils to encounter in the course of their voyage, not the least of which were those they had to encounter with bandits, one of the most noted of whom was John Murrell, known as the "Land Pirate." These lawless bands under the cover of darkness would steal unawares upon the crew, and overpowering them would ransack and pillage the cargo, carrying away such portions of it as they most coveted to their caves and fatnesses, where great stores were secreted which from time to time they would dispose of through members of the band, or appropriate to their own use.
Those who were fortunate enough to elude these lawless bands, and to escape the perils of navigation, after their arrival at New Orleans would dispose of their cargoes for cash at good prices and the crew would be paid off and be allowed to shift for themselves. Another danger, however, awaited these men. Frank, generous and free-hearted men, the Western flat-boatmen were regarded as fair game for the idle, dissolute and depraved who took every advantage to deprive them of their hard-earned wages. Gambling at that time was a prevalent vice in the city of New Orleans, and its keen and vigilant devotees were actively on the alert to secure fresh dupes and new victims.
After the tedium of a long voyage the flat-boatmen would throw off all restraint, and freed from all responsibility would indulge in the most unrestrained license and extravagant excesses. The gambling fraternity, taking advantage of their well-known traits of character, enticed them into their infamous dens, and they would be relieved of the hard-earned money of toils and dangers passed through and frequently be left penniless in a great city hundreds of miles from home and dear ones.
Those who were more careful of their money would invest it in sugar or molasses and ship it by sea to Philadelphia or New York sometimes accompanying their venture in person, and realizing in most instances handsome profits. Frequently when the vessel was a keel-boat, they would load it with these commodities and accomplish their up-stream journey by poling and cordelling the boat, which last was effected by fastening one end of a long and strong rope to the boat, while several stout men on the shore at the other end of the rope would propel it against the current. This was a tedious process and consumed a corresponding period of time.
But in most cases the owner would dispose of his boat at the time or immediately after he did his cargo, and the boatmen would walk home on what was called the "Wilderness trail," beset with perils from both man and beast.
In the year 1816 David W. Bell established a boat yard in Wheeling, where for the following ten years he engaged extensively in boat building and running keel-boats. At the same time he operated two smaller yards, one of which was located at Pipe Creek and one at Round Bottom.
This gentleman in the latter part of the year 1814 left Pittsburg for New Orleans on a keel-boat of which he was the master and super-cargo and which had been fitted out by and belonged to a gentleman of the name of Mr. Adkins of the first named city. He arrived in New Orleans just in time to participate in the battle between the Americans and British on the 8th of January, 1815. As soon as he landed, himself and eight of his crew shouldered their rifles and marched directly to the battlefield. They were accompanied by Enoch Boone, a near kinsman of the famous Daniel Boone. After the battle Boone and a party of others retraced their homeward way on foot. Bell having disposed of his cargo to advantage, purchased sugar with the proceeds and shipped it and himself by sea for Philadelphia, where he sold the bulk of his cargo and then transported the remainder on pack horses to Pittsburg, giving such satisfaction to Mr. Adkins that he was furnished with sufficient money to enable him to establish the boat yard at Wheeling, mentioned above.
Keel-boating had become an extensive and lucrative business in those days, and so continued to be for many years even after the general introduction of steam on the Western waters. Prominent among those who followed this business for a livelihood was that celebrated character known as Mike Fink--- "the Bully of the Boatmen." In later days he has been regarded by some as a mythical personage, but this is a mistake, for there was a real individual of that name. The Mr. Bell mentioned above was probably the first person to employ Mike in the business in which he subsequently became so notorious. About 1818 or 1820 Mr. Bell had made arrangements to dispatch a keel-boat from Wheeling to Post Vinsen (Vincennes, Indiana), when one day Mike appeared dressed in the garb of an Indian, carrying a rifle and tomahawk and applied for a berth. When enquired of whether he thought he could successfully encounter the dangers of the voyage, he promptly replied he thought he could, as, he explained, "I once stood the fire of 17 Indians without winking." He secured employment and soon became one of the most expert and daring, as well as one of the most reliable, men in the crew. In the space of one or two years thereafter he was promoted to the command of a keel-boat, which at that period was a position of no small dignity and one much coveted. Keel-boating was a pursuit both dangerous and hazardous, resulting not only from the perils of navigation which in themselves were many, but also from the stealthy and sudden attacks of marauding bands of Indians. But even more dangerous than either of these were the apprehensions arising from the attacks of lawless vagabonds and banditti who infested the shores of the rivers, and embraced every opportunity to murder a crew and pillage a boat. Many individual lives were lost and in a number of instances whole crews were sacrificed to their greed and every vestige of boat and cargo would be disposed of. A notable instance of this character occurred in the case of one Aquilla McArdle, who had loaded a boat at Wheeling intending to trade along the rivers to New Orleans, but that city was never reached and neither he, his boat, his cargo nor his crew were ever heard of afterward.
A very dangerous locality on the lower Ohio was known as "Ford's Landing," or "Cave in Rock," being a noted rendezvous for these robbers, a nest of whom had terrorized the surrounding country and stricken with dread the hearts of navigators and boatmen, as they hesitated not by day nor by night to attack a passing boat, of the approach of which they were duly kept informed by spies, who belonged to their number, or by those who favored them. It was in a fight with these robbers of "Cave in Rock" that Mike became famous. His boat was attacked by them and after prolonged hard fighting he succeeded in driving his assailants away, but he did not stop here, but landing his force he carried the war into Africa and routing them from their hiding places exterminated many of them and dispersed the remainder. Upon examining the cave he discovered a large quantity of produce and merchandise, much of which was identified by the owners and which was recovered by them.
After a brief time he became the owner of a keel-boat and wherever he landed he would amuse the rough fellows with whom he met as the members of his crew with exhibitions of skill with the rifle and tomahawk, in the use of each of which he was proficient. In these displays of his skill he used a lad who had been trained by him for such occasions-a protégé-named Bill Carpenter, from whose head he was accustomed to shoot a tin cup, placed thereon, for the edification and delight of the wondering spectators. There was also a woman-a compagnon du voyage-who accompanied him in his different voyages and also figured prominently in these exhibitions. He would compel her to stand in the bow of his boat and hold a tin cup between her knees as a target for his rifle. It happened that once while so engaged in her effort to balance herself steadily she fell overboard. A rush was made by many of the bystanders to rescue her from a watery grave, but Fink raised his rifle and covering the proposed rescuers with it threatened to kill the first man who ventured to her assistance. Cowed by his threats and being fearful that he would execute them, she was left to her fate and was carried away by the current of the river. This event occurred at Pipe Creek, on the Ohio side of the river, a few miles below the city of Wheeling. Charity leads us to believe that he resented any interference in her behalf believing that she was capable of saving herself, and desired that her rescue should be accomplished by her own and not by the efforts of others.
On one occasion there was an oarmaker living in Marietta who had wrought a fine steering oar intended to be used for keel-boat purposes, but in finishing it he had found a decayed place in the wood where the hole was morticed for the insertion of the oar-pin. Upon discovering this, the deceitful maker had cut out the dead wood and filled the cavity with blue mud, and then painted the oar, so that the fraud practiced was not apparent unless closely scrutinized. The fine finish and general completeness of the oar attracted the attention of Fink, who on one of his down the river trips purchased it. Now, as was customary, the inhabitants had turned out to witness the departure of Mike's boat, and as she gracefully swung out into the current he made a vigorous sweep with his new oar in his effort to head her right, when the oar suddenly snapped and broke in twain like a pipe stem, and Mike went overboard head foremost. On recovering himself and regaining the deck of his boat, he lost no time in effecting a landing and seeking the fraudulent oarmaker, but that person, fortunately for himself, could not be found. Fink, however, determined that he would not be deprived of his revenge; so, keeping his own counsel, he procured another oar to take the place of the broken one and again took his d eparture. After proceeding a few miles below the town he ran his boat into shore and made a landing; on the following day he made his appearance in Marietta, where he found the oarmaker indulging in great glee over the event, and relating with a glib tongue to an idle crowd of loungers in front of a grocery all the circumstances of the practical joke he had played on Mike, and dwelling with gusto upon the cleverness of the trick. As Mike approached, he recognized him and fled with the former in swift pursuit. The race continued all over the town until Fink, whose power of endurance was greatest, finally captured his man, whom he threw to the ground and, sitting astride of him, he drew his butcher knife and deliberately hacked and gashed the poor fellow's head, whom he swore he would scalp, until the townspeople interfering prevented him from further maltreating his victim.
We have been led to dwell thus briefly on some of the incidents in the life of this individual because the memory of the boatman is rapidly fading out, and but few of the present generation know much, if anything, concerning that class of men. Mike Fink was a typical character of his day as well as of a class of men who, in their own way, contributed in no small degree to the development of the western portion of our country. Very few, if any, of them now remain.
In this connection it may be interesting to learn the end of this notorious character. One day he was amusing a curious crowd of idlers by shooting the cup off the head of his protégé, Bill Carpenter, when his usually trusty rifle made a "long fire" and the bullet crashed into the skull of poor Carpenter, who fell dead in his tracks. A bystander remarked, "Fink, why did you shoot that boy?" Mike, while in the act of ramming a bullet down his rifle, replied, "Wait until my gun is loaded and I will do you the same way." But the individual did not wait, for instantly he drew a pocket pistol and shot him down. Thus perished Mike Fink, "the Bully of the Boatmen."
As the keel-boat is a vessel which has now passed almost entirely out of use by reason of the introduction of steam to so great an extent on our Western waters, a description of its equipments and the manner of its propulsion may be of interest.
The keels of these boats were shallow, and the capacity of the boats was anywhere from 50 to 100 tons. They were housed and covered for the protection of the cargo and this housing or covering along the sides receded toward the top, while on the outside a narrow deck or runway was attached to the side, on which strips of wood were fastened at right angles to secure a footing for the crew while navigating the boat. The equipment consisted of a mast, sail, sweeps, poles and a rope to cordelle with, which was fastened to the mast and was used in ascending by not in descending the stream, as in the latter case the sweeps or oars were used. The sail was utilized in running against the current when there was sufficient wind. The crew consisted generally of 12 strong, hardy and effective men, who were divided into two sections, each under the command of a leader or captain. In cordelling 12 or 15 miles a day could be made against the current on an average. This mode of propulsion was quite severe on the endurance of the men, as their physical strength was heavily taxed. Imagine, if you can, reader, a crew propelling a boat in the manner indicated from New Orleans to Wheeling,-- say an 80 - ton keel-boat, -- against a current averaging from five to six miles an hour by the sheer power of human pluck and endurance, through a wilderness 2,000 miles in extent, exposed every day to the bullet of the marauder, the Indian or the runaway negro, and you have an illustration of indomitable patience, perseverance and courage unequaled. The days of keel-boating began rapidly to wane after the introduction of steam on the Western waters, but it was not abandoned without a struggle. Now the round trip by water from Wheeling to New Orleans can be made in three weeks; then it required six months.
The first steamboat built in Wheeling was the "Washington" in the year 1816 on the bank of Wheeling Creek, just east of the north end of the stone bridge over the creek, on the site formerly occupied by Mr. Hubbard's sawmill. She was the sixth boat built to navigate the Western waters. She had a high pressure engine and four single-flute boilers and her capacity was 400 tons. The owners were Nilos Gillespie, Robert Clarke, of Brownsville, Pennsylvania; Noah Lane and George White, of Wheeling; and Henry M. Shreve. Her engines were made at Brownsville, Pennsylvania, under the immediate supervision of Captain Shreve. Her boilers were on the first deck and she was the first boat built on this plan that has since been so generally adopted. She crossed the "Falls" at Louisville in September, 1816, and went to New Orleans, returning to Louisville in March, 1817. She made the trip between these places in forty-five days. This trip convinced the Western people that steam navigation of the Western waters could be made a success.
The Louisiana Gazette of July 5, 1816, gives the following account concerning her: "On Monday last the steamboat 'Washington' sailed from Wheeling for New Orleans under command of Captain H.M.Shreve. She got under way at five o'clock and in forty-five minutes made nine miles, since which time she has not been heard from. The steamboat 'Washington' was built at Wheeling by George White; her keel was laid on the 10th of September last. In August all her timbers were growing in the woods. Her main cabin is 60 feet; she has three handsome private rooms beside a bar room. Her steam power is applied upon an entirely new principle and is exceedingly simple. She has no flywheel, and her engine possesses a power of 100 horses, weighing only 9,000 pounds. It is the invention of H.M.Shreve."
The ladies of Wheeling presented to Captain Shreve a handsome flag, on which they had embroidered the figure of Fame, holding in her right hand a trumpet, in her left a scroll containing on its side the following motto: "Our friends shall not withhold what we have wrested from our enemies," and on the other side, "Don't give up the ship." This motto was suggested by Livingston's vexatious claim to the exclusive right of navigation on the Mississippi River within the state of Louisiana. The forfeiture of other vessels is the penalty for attempting to navigate, incurred under the law of Louisiana territory conferring this extraordinary privilege. The company has a very good legal opinion from P.Doddridge, Esq., against the validity of Livingston's claim.
The citizens of Wheeling wished Captain Shreve to call her Andrew Jackson, but he preferred the name of Washington.
The Louisiana Gazette of July 3, 1816, says: "A letter dated at Wheeling, the 11th inst., gives an account of the steamboat 'Washington's' boiler bursting. She left Wheeling on the third with 21 passengers on board. On that day or the next day at, or near, the town of Marietts, Ohio, the boiler burst and 17 out of 21 were either killed or wounded, the captain only slightly. It is strange the boat is not injured, except the loss of the boiler. We shall probably hear more of this truly melancholy accident." The Washington" arrived for the first time at the port of New Orleans October 7, 1816.
The Louisiana Gazette of May 6, 1817, says: " The steamboat 'Washington' commanded by the indefatigable Captain H.M.Shreve arrived at the levee last Saturday night, only seven days from the Falls of the Ohio, but six of which she was under way. The 'Washington' made the trip up in 24 days, so that in going and coming she was 31 days in running 3,000 miles. We have been favored with a Louisville paper of the 26th ult. Received by the 'Washington.'"
Extract from a Louisville paper, April 26, 1817: "The citizens gave Captain Shreve a grand dinner on Wednesday at Union Hall in honor of the quick trip he made with the steamboat 'Washington' from New Orleans to this port, in the unprecedented time of 24 days." The address of the citizens was as follows:
Capt. H. M. Shreve:
"Sir: The undersigned, in behalf of their fellow citizens of Louisville avail themselves of this occasion to express their sincere gratification at your speedy return to this place, and beg you to accept their congratulations at the very expeditious voyage you have performed from Louisville to New Orleans and back. While they view with the liveliest interest the revolution that the application of steam to the navigation of our rivers is effecting in the commercial relations of this country, they fully appreciate your exertions for the success of an undertaking once deemed by many to be of doubtful issue, but whose practicability they deem by you in particular to be established in certainty, and felicitate themselves in being the organ through which is made known the esteem in which your undertakings are held by their fellow citizens.
"Signed, Levi Taylor,
"James A. Pearce.
"Louisville, April 21, 1817."
Capt. H.M.Shreve returned thanks to the citizens of Louisville and predicted that the trip from New Orleans to Louisville would yet be made in ten days-a prediction that was regarded as visionary. The trip has been made in less than five days.
The Louisiana Gazette of May 6, 1817, gives an extract from the log book of the steamboat "Washington:"
"Monday, March 24, 1817, sailed from New Orleans for Louisville, Kentucky, at 5 P.M.
"March 25, spoke steamboat 'Harriet,' at noon, 50 miles up the coast.
"March 29, arrived at Natchez at 2 P.M.
"Thursday, April 3, spoke a brig from Cincinnati in Cypress bend.
"Off Arkansas River, Sunday.
"Monday, 7th, off Chickasaw Bluffs at 5 P.M.
"Tuesday, 8th, spoke off Plum point, keel-boat 'Western Trader,' bound for Nashville.
"Wednesday, 9th, spoke off Island 21, barge 'Eliza Mary,' Captain Butler.
"Thursday, 10th, touched at New Madrid.
"Friday, entered the Ohio.
"Saturday, touched at the mouth of Cumberland.
"Monday, 14th, touched at Henderson.
"Thursday, 17th, off the mouth of Indian Creek at 8 P.M. ; spoke the 'Buffalo' for New Orleans.
"Arrived at shipping port after a passage of 24 days."
The foregoing account has been mainly obtained from a communication of the late Capt. C.W. Batchelor, of Pittsburg.
We append hereto a list of the steamboats built at Wheeling up to and including the year 1835, with their tonnage, names, etc.:
Year in which built - Tonnage - Name 1815 212 Washington-high pressure 1818 140 Johnston-high pressure 1819 100 Wheeling Packet 1819 150 Virginia-high pressure Snagged at St. Genevieve 1822 1819 55 Mars-high pressure 1819 235 Expedition 1822 160 Congress 1828 ... Clinton 1828 50 Madison-high pressure 1828 50 Traveller-Sunk at St. Louis in 1832 1828 135 Lagrange-abandoned 1832 1829 60 Kitty Clover-abandoned, 1832 1829 90 West Virginia-sunk by ice in 1831 1831 46 Bolivar-high pressure 1831 135 Freedom 1832 85 Bravo 1832 156 Jefferson-high pressure 1832 146 Warsaw-high pressure 1834 75 Denmark 1834 40 Lady Boone 1835 138 Anna Calhoun 1835 100 Roanoke 1835 90 Monroe 1835 94 Mt. Pleasant 1835 104 Robert Emmett