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These pages are meant to make available queries submitted by e-mail, and to provide a venue for those looking for information. I will add to it as questions of various kinds come in. I hope it helps. Who knows, someone else may be looking for the same information as you.

I have no experience with boats, but I am helping a woman research her grandfather's genealogy, and in a pamphlet written about his life, he says that he had "taken deck passage" from Nashville Tennessee to Covington Kentucky on the steamboat, Silver Thorn. He said he had traveled for two days in 1875, and when they got within a short distance of Paducah "going up" he asked for the captain to put him on the other boat which was named "Bermuda". He said that the Silverthorn then sunk to it's hurricane deck not long after that. I can't find anything about these ships, but was wondering if there is any way to find records to prove this detail actually happened in 1875??? Where can I find records for steamboat during this time?? Thanks. ~ Mary


Hello Dave,
I am trying to find information on the Mississippi River steamer Illinois, she was working the lower river in September of 1864. I am transcribing letters from an officer in the 21st Iowa, Lt. Gilbert Cooley. His regiment along with the 99th Illinois, 120th Ohio and a battery of field artillery were travelling on board her from Morganza, Louisiana to the White River, Arkansas during the first week of September, 1864.
Any information you my be able to give, would be very welcome.

Thank you,
Eric Starnes

I'm seeking any additional information about a boiler explosion on the Dr. Franklin No. 2, near Ste. Genevieve, Missouri in 1852. The boat apparently survived since it burned at the wharf in St. Louis the following year. Local lore holds that a sizable number of people were killed in the explosion and buried in a mass grave in Ste. Genevieve, now unmarked if it exists. The explosion is verified by at least one coroner's report on a body found floating in the river a week later. Western writer Ned Bluntline was supposedly aboard the Dr. Franklin No. 2 at the time of the explosion.
Any further information about this incident would be appreciated. Thank you.
B. H. Rucker

I noticed your web site about riverboats. I am looking for 2 people and their steamboats that popped up in my ancesterial line. The Iberia steamboat owned by J.A. Greer and John Stinson who owned the James Battle. MR

Of particular interest to us is the Steamer Vigo which is noted in the advertisment which appeared in the Vanceburg (KY) Courier December 7, 1881. We already have information and photos the the Handy and Handy No. 2, but would welcome information on the W. T.(P.) Thompson.

The T. B. Hoobler who is noted as the Master of the Vigo was Thomas Benton Hoobler of Lewis Co., KY. He was murdered in 1897 when a man in disguise knocked on the door of his Vanceburg home. When Hoobler answered the call, the man through a bottle of acid in Hoobler's face, causing his death shortly thereafter. Hoobler's great-granddaughter, Marianne Jeanne Hoobler, is the wife of football great, Roger Staubach.

In 1876 when Capt. Hoobler went to Louisville for the summer to put in a portion of the dyke at the falls for which he had recieved a contract, Capt. Bagby (James Thomson Bagby - brother-in-law of John McAllister, builder of the Fannie Dugan) took over command of the Vigo.

Best regards,
Dan Dunham
See advertisment that came with this query

Working on a prospective film project, we are inquiring about information on the steamboat Governor Allen, captained and co-owned by John G. Benson (New Orleans) c 1870s –late 1870s. He was the captain named in the case Decuir v Benson, later overturned by US Supreme Court as Hall v Decuir. Any information would be helpful. If any photographs of the boat are available, this would be of interest, as well.

Thanking you in advance for your consideration to my request, I am,

Julie Eshelman-Lee


Was looking for details on Riverboat Fontenelle, your site should have given me the needed data.

There is a gap between F Page 1 and F Page 2. (Fl to Fo)
It leaves off at Flying EAGLE and starts at FOREST CITY. The FONTENELLE is missing.
(I have since entered the FONTENELLE - Dave.)

The Riveboat Fontenelle was the boat that was at Carroll Landing on September 23, 1877 when the Nez Perce attacked Cow Island, on the upper Missouri. Captain Baldwin, 5th US Infantry was aboard and sensed something was wrong and had the Captain _________ turn around and go back. The Fontenelle then transported the Army of the Yellowstone across the Missouri and they headed off to capture the Nez Perce at Snake Creek "The Bears Paw".

I am looking for the name of that boat's captain.

There were two other steamers there at the time. Steamer Peninah, captained by Captain William Kountz, had just off loaded freight at Cow Island and was heading downriver. The steamer Benton, captained by Captain Grant Marsh (of Far West fame), just left Cow Island Landing and was hailed my General Oliver Howard to carry him and 100 of Major Mason's 21st Infantry to Cow Island to relieve the besieged.

I got my information from Nez Perce Summer - 1877 by Jerome A. Green. I forget the page but is written about during the Sept 19 through 28th, 1877 time period.


Thank you for your attention and help.
Lee R. Williams
Author, Nez Perce Series, Book III, Waves of Blue
Hesperia, CA

See Capt. John H. Shaw - Dave


My Grandfather Robert Franklin Myers was the Captain on the Gordon C. Green in 1922 and on the General Woods in 1920 he ran from Pittsburgh to New Orleans as he met and married my Grandmother in Huntington W Va and took her on board for their honeymoon in New Orleans- for a time she was the cook on the boats so they wouldn't be apart-but when the kids started coming she stayed home with them-pls direct me as to where I can get the historyon these wonderful vessels.

Thanks for your help,
Nancy M. Smith


I am George Summers Dudding. My great grandfather was Captain James Benton Dudding of the steamer Telephone. My grandfather George Summers Dudding was clerk on the steamer Telephone. In one of your entries I notices that James B. Dudding was incorrectly listed as James L. Dudding (middle initial wrong) (corrected, Dave)
James B. Dudding owned the Kanawha Valley Packet Line. Prior to owning the Telephone he also owned the steamer West Virginia. I have the original picture of the steamer West Virginia in my possession. My cousin has the original picture of the steamer Telephone in his possession. My great grandfather traded the steamer West Virginia for the Telephone. I am trying to figure out if it is the same West Virginia you list. The date on yours is 1829 and I didn't think his was that old. If I can help on anything let me know. The site is an excellent source. Thanks for the work you have done on it. I am going to look up some information on the West Virginia. (1871 WEST VIRG. entered - Dave)

George S. Dudding


Greetings from Norfolk County on the north shores of Lake Erie, Canada! Your web site is now on my favorites list! I discovered it while researching a newly aquired treasure. I have long had an interest in anything antique and so I attend a lot of auctions. Recently I purchased a box lot which included a collection of Victorian ladies fans.One of these was covered from one end to the other on the back with signatures. Some where accompanied by locations such as Memphis, New Orleans and Council Bluffs. There are several dates as well from July 31st to August 8th, 1896. Several of the inscriptions refer to "Sunshine" and another, "On good old Sunshine'. Thanks to a little digging on the web, including your site, I now realize that what I have is no less than a souvenir of a lady's cruise on the steamer "Sunshine" in the summer of 1896! The following names may be of interest to you as they provide crewmen and their jobs. Capt. A.C. Hazlett, Str Sunshine July 31/96 / ON THE GOOD OLD ( Old is underlined) STR. SUNSHINE! Chas. M. HOWARD / L..A. Kreis "Str Sunshine" / John P. THOMPSON -Mate/ Ed PARKER ,Steersman Str. "SUNSHINE" / Jas. E. SEERY, Steersman Str. SUNSHINE. Other names appear to be fellow passengers and some are unreadable. I hope this information is helpful in your research. Please contact me if you want any further info or have questions. I do have one request, since the only reference to a steamer by the name Sunshine is that of a sidewheeler sunk at the end of the Civil War, and there is no mention of this boat in the list of The Cincinnati Portsmouth, Big Sandy and Pomeroy's fleet, could you let me know if you uncover any more info on her. I would very much like to find a photo of her if one exists! Thanks for your time. Gary PURMAL.

My name is Jackie Cosper Holloway. I’m doing family research on an ancestor of mine, Samuel A Cosper. He was a steamboat capt on the Coosa river in the early 1900’s. His son, also called Samuel A Cosper, and his father, Silas S Cosper, were also involved with steamboats. I have a few pages from books mentioning Sam Cosper, but I don’t know what books they are from. The person who gave them to me got them from someone else, who got them from someone else…. Would like to find the source of these pages.

So, can you help me? Do you know of any books that might have mentioned my ancestor, Sam Cosper? Would you give me the names of those books so that I might be able to get them from the library?

Samuel Cosper was ship master of the Clifford B Seay in the 1890's, also in some capacity on the Magolia and the Willie C Wagnon.
I've made copies of some of Bert Neville's books about steamboats. Would love to have my own, but it seems that they are out of print. Most of the ones I've seen were published in the early 1960's.
Would appreciate any help you can offer.

My email address is

I am trying to find any information on the steamboat, Brigadier General built in Cincinnati. It ran between Cincinnati and New Orleans. One of my ancestors, Richard Henry Stokes Jr. supposedly had this boat made. I have not been able to find any information on this ship. Do you have anything that can help my research??
Blythe Stokes


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