I am attaching an article written (probably in the 50
or 60s in the Indianapolis newspaper) about the Governor Morton.
Carol S. Gromer of Indianapolis.
SINKING OF THE GOVERNOR MORTON
For many years, from the earliest settlers until after
the Civil War, Indianapolis citizens hoped that some day their thriving
village would be a river port; sincerely believed that White River
was a navigable stream.
They learned the hard way. Several arduous and expensive attempts
were made to bring steamboats and barges from the Wabash up White
River. The nearest got within 32 miles and hung up on a sandbar where
it was derelict for six months.
In 1865, the year the Civil War closed, a 100-foot twin-decked side-wheeler,
eventually named the Governor Morton (after Indiana's wartime governor),
was built in Indianapolis as a picnic and excursion steamer. It cost
For 13 months it cruised up and down White River from its mooring
spot just north of the covered National Road Bridge (at what is now
On its first voyage it was packed. It got as far upstream as Cold
Springs (about opposite 18th Street). On the return cruise, according
to Early Incidents in Indianapolis, a "fat Dutchman fell overboard."
The skipper piped all hands and lowered a lifeboat, but the "fat Dutchman"
had run hard aground on a sandbar. As the ship docked, returning from
its maiden trip, a "lady" fell from the gangplank "up to her armpits."
"A gay lothario dived over to save her--six months later they were
The "captain" was H.[enry] M.[Mansfield]
Socwell, a former Ohio River boatman. He was able to work his
craft on moonlight nights as far southwest as Waverly. Socwell was
dubbed "the admiral," by his newspaper friends.
The craft's career was beset by many mishaps--stacks knocked down
by overhead branches, getting hung up on snags and sandbars, and suffering
For 13 months the Governor Morton was the pride of the town, until,
on the night of August 6, 1866, she sank at her moorings. Several
days before she had strained her seams athwart a sandbar on her trip
Her engines went to operate a "mill of some sort," and Capt. Socwell
became one of the city's best-known grocers.
And that ended navigation of White River with the exception of the
short careers of the party boats, Helen Gould at Riverside Park, and
the Sunbeam at Broad Ripple Park in the early 1920s. The Sumbeam burned
at her mooring.
From site visitor, William W. Brewer,
My great-great-grandfather was Simeon Haigh Jr. Simeon Haigh Jr. died
in Humansville, Polk County, Missouri on 19 May 1900. I quote from
"....Mr. Haigh's ancestros [sic] have been engaged in
the woolen mill business for several generations. His great grand
father being the first successful carder of wool in England. He learned
the same business in which he was more than ordinarily successful.
He followed this business until 1857, when he entered into partnership
with his brother J. P. Haigh to conduct a coal shipping and steam
ship business on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Amongst the various
boats was the celebrated "GREAT
REPUBLIC", finest and largest passenger steamboat on either river
up to that time. In 1861 he sold out his boating business and went
back to milling."
I believe the brother mentioned was Joseph P.
Haigh, who is listed in the Pittsburgh City Directory for both 1850
and 1860 as the owner and operator of a foundry in Pittsburgh.
I have a fragment of a letter written by their father, Simeon Haigh,
from Pittsburgh in 1860. At the time he was staying at Joseph's home,
and in the letter, he mentions "the boat" and quite possibly touches
on what may have caused the breakup of the partnership between the
brothers. Unfortunately, I do not know what newspaper the above obituary
appeared in. I found the article in the family Bible after the death
of an elderly aunt. I assume it was in a Humansville newspaper, but
have not yet found the original. In any event, I thought you might
Further notes on the Haigh family:
Joseph P. Haigh is listed in Way's
Packet Directory, 1848 - 1994
as a principal, with Andrew Hartupee, of Haigh, Hartupee and Company,
of Pittsburgh, engine builders, the company that supplied the machinery
for the packet BELLE QUIGLEY in 1852, and the engines for the packet
KATE CASSEL in 1854.
Joseph P. Haigh is listed by Way's Packet Directory, 1848-1994 as
owning 1/3 of the GREAT REPUBLIC
in 1867, differing from the date in the obit. above by ten years as
does the date above when he got out of the boating business by ten
years. Way's shows him selling out of the GREAT REPUBLIC in 1871.
As newspapers are notorious for disseminating inaccurate information,
I (Riverboat Dave) an inclined to go with Way's dates.
An Albert Haigh is listed by Way's Packet Directory, 1848-94 as the
owner in 1889 of the LITTLE ACME, a 13.6 ton ferryboat at New Cumberland,
W. Va. There is no cross refference to confirm his relationship with
the Haighs above.
From site visitor Dean Thomson
Here is the information that I said I would send. I believe that
I originally received this info about 20 years ago from the Inland
River Museum in Sewickly, Pa.. I don't think it exist as such, anymore,
but I could be wrong. They had a numerical sequence of many boats.
Notice the Granite State referense to #382 is apparently a reference
to another boat. Apparently some pictures do exist of the old steamboats.
Those were also available at one time. Sincerly, Dean A. Thomson
2528 S. 53rd Lincoln, Ne. 68506 P.S. 1850 mortality schedual lists
Jesse K (lienfelter-d.) as
a steamboat captain, not pilot. This is a transcription of the information
Dean Thomson sent me:
The GRANITE STATE which
ran in the Cincinnati, Wyandotte trade was not the boat listed as
#382, this was an older boat and mostly ran Pittsburgh - Cincinnati,
Capt. Wash Kerr Master and
T.T. Johnston, Clerk. Came out about 1871 and ran until the last
GRANITE STATE was built
in 1879. Amoung her many pilots were JimmyHenderson, Thomas
Klinefelter and Eph Talbot. This boat one time had the distinction
(?) of nearly being struck by a falling meteor while downbound near
Cornicks Creek below Ripley, Ohio. Eph Talbot was on watch, in the
middle of a black night, when the missile zipped past the pilothouse,
and lit in the Ohio River ahead of the boat.