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History of Muskingum County (Ohio) page 96-97

Submitted by Jane Peppler decendant of Charles Bowen, brother to Capt. William Bowen.

The first steamboats in the regular trade on the Muskingum river were built at Zanesville before the completion of the improvement, and some of them were engaged in the trade to Dresden. The canal boats from Cleveland with their cargoes were brought to Zanesville, towed by the small steamers in that trade. Large quantities of flour and salt were shipped on canal boats for the trade along the canal, and much of the flour was sent to New York.

"The Hope," built by Capt. Reeves, is represented as the first steamboat built at Zanesville. It was a small craft not equal to some of the small pleasure boats that were on the river a few years ago. The "Tuscarawas," Capt. Billy Scales commander, made a trip to Coshocton, during high water. Joseph Howland was engineer. The "Muskingum Valley," another of Capt. Scales' boats, was in the Dresden trade. There were also other boats engaged in this trade, the names of the best known being "The Ohio," McIntire," "Zanesville packet," "Muskingum," "Moxahala" and" Relief." The last named boat was built for the Dresden trade, commanded by Capt. Thompson. It also made a few trips to Pittsburg. The "Philip Doddridge," of Wellsburg, Va., was also early in the Muskingum trade.
Capt. Robert Hazlett was one of the owners of the "Muskingum," "Moxahala" and the "Relief," and he was a commander on the "Muskingum" and "Moxahala."

The "Putnam" was built by Capt. Blue on the canal bank near Second street. It went to New Orleans, and there was engaged in the Lake Pontchartrain trade. The "Del Norte" left the Muskingum for the Rio Grande river, crossing the Gulf of Mexico. It was commanded by Capt. William Bowen, who had commanded the steamer "Muskingum" in the Pittsburg trade. Capt. Bowen was a partner of Mr. L. H. Dugan in building the large flouring-mill at Duncan's Falls, now owned by Mr. John Miller. He was a brother of Mr. Charles Bowen, who was lost when the "Belle Zane" sunk, on the Mississippi river. Capt. Bowen engaged in trade in Mexico, and was killed by the Mexicans before the war with the United States.

(For more on Capt. Bowen see Family Records)

There appear to have been a great many boats carrying the first steam whistle on the Ohio. Mr. W. W. Little, of Little, Ky., writes that it was on the Mingo Chief in 1844. A veteran river man of Cincinnati is certain that it was on a boat called the "Revenue," owned by Capt. A. Bartlett, of Wheeling; she received the whistle the year following the great Pittsburg fire, in 1844 or 1845. The "Mingo Chief" was in the Pittsburg and Zanesville trade.

The steamer "Julia Dean" was the pioneer in having the first steam horn. It excited the people more than the first whistle. The "Belle Zane" was built at the California boat yard on the Monongahela river. The boat was owned at Zanesville and it was a regular packet in the Zanesville and Pittsburg trade, capacity 300 tons. It made a few trips to Cincinnati and to St. Louis. The "Belle Zane" was a fine model and one of the fastest boats at that time. In December, 1845, the boat was loaded at Zanesville with a miscellaneous cargo, consisting of flour, empty molasses barrels to be filled on the Louisiana coast with molasses for the Zanesville wholesale trade. At Marietta there were taken aboard 700 turkeys and a large number of chickens for the New Orleans market. About thirty cattle and 600 bushels of corn were added to the load at Madrid, Mo. The cabin was well filled with passengers and the boat had all the load it could carry. The rivers were very low and there was slow traveling on account of the low stage of water. John Brazure, of Cincinnati, was commander, and the other officers were Zanesville men, viz." Clerk, Edward Matthews; mate, Monroe Ayers; engineers, David Hahn and Joseph Howland. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bowen and son, and Mr. and Mrs. Wyncoop and son, were passengers from Zanesville. Mr. Bowen was a prominent citizen then engaged in the grocery trade. He had represented the county in the Ohio legislature. Mr. Wyncoop was also a well-known citizen. Many friends were at the landing when the boat lines were handed in and a large crowd were at the lock and remained waiting until the boat passed around the bend below Moxahala.

On the 17th, four sunken boats were seen that had been snagged. The night of the 18th and morning of the 19th of December the weather was very cold, the thermometer was near zero, and ice was rapidly forming. At two o'clock in the morning, soon after the first watch had left their places, there came a crash, a heavy shock, and the boat turned on its side; the boilers rolled into the river. A snag was struck, and the boat was sinking. The roof floated off, with Victor Fell, of Zanesville, on it. He was saved. David Hahn, Monroe Ayers and another man made a raft of the gang-plank and went ashore, and ran down the shore a distance and found a yawl, which they took and made for the boat, and commenced rescuing the passengers. When the snag was struck and the boat careened, there were a number drowned, and among their number were Mr. and Mrs. Bowen and their son. The crew of the boat worked like heroes. The cabin broke loose from the hull, and floated down the river several miles, with human beings clinging on the wreck. Mrs. Wyncoop and her son were rescued about two miles from the place of the disaster. Others were taken off as rapidly as the men in the yawl could relieve them. Robert Burns, of Cincinnati, a steamboat engineer, froze to death.

Miss Jane Conner was without shoes when taken off the wreck. One of the engineers pulled off his and gave them to her.

There were no other Zanesville people lost except the Bowen family. Their bodies were never found. The passengers and crew that escaped found shelter in the negro huts on the shore.

The cabin floated as far as Island 74, where it struck the ground; the people yet clinging to it were saved. Mr. Wyncoop was rescued at this place. From all obtainable information, eighteen or twenty passengers were lost, but all the crew escaped. The citizens of Napoleon, which town has itself been washed away by the "Father of Waters," had a social, and raised many things for the unfortunate victims of the wreck. Some of them went to New Orleans, others took passage for home. Mr. and Mrs. Wyncoop and son went to Vicksburg.

THE DAILY COURIER Tue Dec. 16, 1879 pub. Zanesville, Ohio

The survivors of the crew of the ill fated steamboat, Belle Zane, which was completely wrecked on the Mississippi river near the mouth of the Arkansas river, on the 19th of December, 1846 are to be entertained at a supper to be given at C. J. Oshe's, Thursday evening - the thirty-third anniversary of the disaster. The survivors now in this city are: Edward Matthews, clerk; Monroe Ayers, first mate; Joseph Howland, second engineer; Victor Fell; wood passer, and William Elmore, deck hand. Our old citizens will remember that by this disaster, William Bowen, wife and son, of this city and about twenty-five passengers were lost.

Magic Cabin


Information and images borrowed from the City of Bridgeport, Alabama's
Bridgeport, Alabama and Steamboatin' on the Tennessee

sTEAMBSteamboat Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith steaming down the River. This scene actually looks like the Ohio River, and someplace around Indiana. The Bessie Smith was a Tennessee Riverboat.

Please take a look at the City of Bridgeport's site.
Bridgeport, Alabama and Steamboatin' on the Tennessee

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