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RIVERBOAT CAPTAINS
Whose Names Begin With
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03/05/06
 
Click name to see information about captains below
Fredric Way Jr., George Weems, Andrew Wineland, Augustus Levan Witherington,

FREDRIC WAY, Jr. From THE PADDLEWHEEL RIVERBOAT: ITS EVOLUTION AND SURVIVAL by Carl R. Wright Borrowed from This Web Site
Frederick Way, Jr. (1901-1992),
of Sewickley, PA, did more to preserve the
history of and interest in paddlewheel boats than anybody. He developed a
love for the river, the boats, and the people of the river at a very early
age. He started a photo collection and biographical sketches of people and
boats when he was a just a boy, and continued until his death at age 91.
His career ranged from "mud clerk' to Captain and owner of packetboats.
He piloted both sternwheel and propeller driven towboats. He gathered
information and artifacts. He wrote books. Some of his better known books
are The Log Of The Betsy Ann, The Saga Of The Delta Queen, Way's Packet
Directory, and Way's Steam Towboat Directory. He also started the Inland
River Record which is still published annually by the Waterways Journal. 

Fred was also a good organizer. On June 3, 1939, he gathered a group of
"riverpeople" together in Gallipolis, Ohio for a meeting with the purpose
of forming an organization to "perpetuate the memory of pioneer rivermen..
..." The result of this meeting was the formation of the Sons and Daughters
of Pioneer Rivermen. This organization is still going strong, and has members
world wide. They began publishing a quarterly journal known as the
S&D Reflector, which Captain Way wrote and published for nearly 50 years.
This publication usually contained 48 pages which were filled with first
hand accounts of river experiences of hundreds of rivermen. Every issue had
lots of pictures of people and boats with accurate biographical sketches.
The S&D Reflector has served to enlighten the world about the past, present,
and future of our great inland river system, it's boats, and it's people,
and Captain Fred Way carried the torch. Another purpose of the Sons and
Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen, is to gather pictures, letters, papers,
models, artifacts, and anything else of importance to the rivers and place
them in museums around the country. 

This effort has also been successful, and as a result, the history of the
paddlewheel boat era has been preserved in many ways. Captain Way and the
Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen has kept the paddlewheel boat
fascination alive for more than fifty years, and although most of the
originators are gone, the S&D continues it's work.
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CAPTAIN GEORGE WEEMS and THE WEEMS LINE From site visitor, Sherry Simpson
Dear Dave, Thanks for the quick reply. I'm from Midwest myself, Wisconsin, but my roots were in Maryland and D.C.. The Weems line was begun by Captain George (Weems) of Baltimore 1817 when he acquired steamboat Surprise. His next two were the "Eagle" and the "Patuxent". George suffered serious burns an explosion on "Eagle" in 1824, but he recovered and expanded the steamship line to include other ports. The business remained in the family until 1904. George's son, Mason Locke Weems took it through many years then two of Manson Locke's daughters continued the family tradition. Apparently the Weems line was famous for its excellent Southern cuisine for many years! Elijah Weems, my ancestor, appears to be the only family member who left Maryland to work the Mississippi River trade during those bustling days of the 1830's. I would so like to find out more about his life when he called Vicksburg his home port! Again, thanks. Sherry S. Back to Top
Captain Andrew Wineland
From site visitor and contributor, Patrick Ivers Dave, The following information comes from Kanzas and Nebraska, by Edward E. Hale, dated Aug. 21, 1854: Page 161 "The EL PASO steamboat ascended the Nebraska four to five hundred miles in the spring of 1853." page 72. "The steamboat EL PASO is said to have ascended the river (La Platte) last year, when the water was high, more than five hundred miles from its mouth, passing up the North Fork above Ft. Laramie." A contrarian Merrill J. Mattes in his THE GREAT PLATTE RIVER ROAD (1969) expressed his doubts about the journey on page 249: "In his promotional book Kansas and Nebraska, Edward Hale states that the steamboat EL PASO ascended the North Platte above Fort Laramie in 1853, but Hale was entirely mistaken when he wrote this, as a steamboat would have been in trouble before it ever reached the mouth of the Elkhorn River." However, documentation strongly suggests that Captain Andrew Wineland's vessel actually did steam up the North Platte past Fort Laramie in (correction to Hale) June of 1852. While visiting the Wyoming State Archives I (PI) found references to the EL PASO's actually coming up the North Platte to Fort Laramie in June 1852. In THE WYOMING PIONEER, vol. 1, no. 6, Sept/Oct 1941, on page 214 is a half-page description of the journey: "It was the first and only steamer ever seen on the Platte in Wyoming. It proved to be the EL PASO, and it continued its journey to the mouth of the Platte canyon where the current proved too strong for it to proceed further. Then the return journey was commenced.... The advance up the river below the junction of the North and South Platte was made at the rate of thirty-five miles per day and through the North Platte at the rate of twenty-five miles per day to the Platte canyon above Guernsey. The return journey was made at the rate of seventy- five to ninety miles per day. The EL PASO in ascending the Platte river into Wyoming was an achievement never surpassed by a boat of its class. In those days boats that distinguished themselves were entitled to wear elk's antlers as a mark until another surpassed it, but the EL PASO wore the horns until it was removed from service." Another account of the trip was written by Grant Lee Shumway in a book published in 1900 about the histrory of Nebraska. Of this work I could find nothing. Bill Windland, a descendent of Andrew Wineland's brother, sent me (PI) the following: The Missouri Historical Review, dated October, 1926-July, 1927 published by the State Historical Society of Missouri on page 241 lists as follows: "EL PASO: Side-wheel, 267 tons, about 180'x28', built at St. Louis, Mo. in 1850. Had two engines, 18 1/2" x 6 1/2, three boilers, 22" x 38', allowed a working pressure of 160 pounds. Owned by Bennett, Itzen and Wineland, Captain Andrew Wineland, master, Captain William R. Massie, pilot. Sunk by a snag at the foot of Franklin Island, just below Boonville, Mo., at White's Landing on April 10, 1855, and with its cargo became a total loss." The same review on page 362 states: "Two of the most famous steamboatmen were Captain Joseph LaBarge and Captain Andrew Wineland. The former has been made famous by Major Hiram Martin Chittenden's notable work, Early Steamboat Navigation of the Missouri River. Ways Packet Directory, 1848 -1983, which is considered one of the most authoritive sources on riverboats on page 143, paragraph 1740 states as follows: "EL PASO SW p wh b, St Louis, Mo. 1850. 180 x 28 (appros.) Engines, 18 1/2's - 6 1/2 ft. Three boilers. In 1852 ascended the Platte River to Guernsey, Wyo., the only steamboat ever to go there. In 1853 ascended the Missouri to the mouth of Milk River, first steamboat to that place, Snagged and lost at Franklin Island, White's Landing, near Boonville, Mo., on the Missouri River, Apr. 10, 1855. Owned at the time by Bennett, Itzen and Wineland. Her master was Capt. Andrew Wineland, and the pilot was Capt. William R. Massie." Mr Windland hired Carl Hugh Jones, Consultant on Archaelogy, Genealogy, History, Museums, Steamboats, in an attempt to verify the story of the trip to Wyoming. He provided the same description as listed above and shows the owners as Bennett, Itzen and Wineland (Way's Packet) and Bill Terrell (Chittenten). St. Louis Registrations lists: Masters: John Durack 1850, Andrew Wineland 1852, 1853, 1855 Mar. 4, 1850 #30 T. H. Barnney (new) May 27 1851 #48 I.B. Holland/A. Wineland etc. Feb. 2, 1852 #5 A. Wineland. A. Wineland, master etc. (prop change) April 15, 1852 #46 A. Wineland & A. Wineland etc. (prop change) Sept. 1, 1852 #86 A. Wineland & A. Wineland etc. (prop change) Feb. 28, 1854 #11 H. Thornburgh & A. Wineland etc. (prop change) May 25, 1854 #67 H. L Weleny & A. Wineland es (prop change) October 10, 1854 #104 W. C. Easter Feb. 19, 1855 # 6 T. Edds" Mr Windland has log records from May 3, 1852 to Aug. 1853 which all show Wineland as master. In the book History of Western Nebraska, Chapter XV, states: "Early in June, 1852, an event of more than passing moment came to the existence of Fort Mitchell. The wilderness about it, and the people at the fort, were startled by the scream of a steam whistle, and so far, as was within the knowledge of man here, there was no such thing nearer than the Missouri River. "From the lookout of the fort, the first and only steamboat that was ever in the Scotts Bluff country, could be seen ascending the river. The EL PASO, as it proved to be pulled into the bank below the fort, where now R. S. Hunt's stock go down to the water, and made fast for the night. The next day the EL PASO continued its journey up the Platte, and continued to the mouth of the Platte canyon, where the current proved too strong for it to proceed farther, and the return journey was commenced." We believe Capt. Wineland owned the boat during the trip up the Platte. I don't have any information on Bill Terrell other than that listed above. Andrew is the son of Friedrick Wineland and Maria Sies(s). They were married on 15 Jun 1797 at the Zion Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Md. (The church and the record book are still at that location.) They had six sons who are as follows: Frederick born 1799 in Cumberland, Md. Ferdinand born 1800 in Virginia. Daniel born 1800 (twin?) in Virginia. Joseph born 1801 in Pa. Wallace born 1807 in Ky., and Andrew born 1810 in Ky. There was also at least one girl, Susan born 1812 in Ohio. In 1820 the family was living in Boone Co., Ky. (census, marriage bonds, and personal property deeds). In 1829 they left Ky by flatboat with the John Deere family and traveled down the Ohio River and up the Wabash River to Montezuma, Indiana. They debarked at that location and traveled overland to Browns Valley/Waveland area in Montgomery Co. Id. All of the brothers purchased and for cash. On 11 Sep 1830, Andrew purchased 80 acres of land in Montgomery Co. In 1836, he married Margaret Ivers in Greene Co., IL. By 1840, they were living in St. Louis. The 1850 census shows Andrew and his wife Margaret, born 1814 in KY, with the following children: Walter born 1840 in MO., James born 1842 in MO., Charles born 1845 in MO., Francis Barnett age 6 months, Mary Barnett age 10, and Margaret Barnett age 5. On 18 Oct 1859, Andrew died of typhoid at his summer home, White Place. His funeral was held in the 2nd Baptist Church at Bellefontaine. Andrew was extremely wealthy and was the owner of the steamboats EL PASO, JAMES H. LUCAS, ADVENTURE, OMAHA, GLOBE, JOHN HANCOCK, HENRY BRY, VANDALIA, GENERAL LEVENWORTH, etc. Andrew held the record for the fastest time from St. Louis to St. Joesph, a record that was never defeated. Two anchors were found on a farm near Brady, Nebraska, in 1890. The EL PASO reported having lost two anchors on the voyage. If the river passage can be fully substantiated, those anchors would be a fascinating addition to Fort Laramie's collection. The critical name for me above is that of Margaret IVERS. She married Andrew WINELAND in Greene Co, IL, in 1836. The marriage notification refers to her as "Mrs. Margaret Ivers." She also had a daughter named Margaret whom Andrew Wineland adopted, according to the recording of the younger Margaret's marriage to Nathan W. PERKINS in St. Louis. I have one reference for James T. IVERS married to Margaret WALTER, but this doesn't seem to fit now since Margaret WALTER apparently died in 1847 in St. Louis, while Margaret Ivers Wineland died sometime after 1900. However, I'm certain a connection with my family exists because the BARNETT children mentioned belonged to Thomas BARNETT & his wife Elvira IVERS. Thomas was my James T. IVERS's business partner in St. Louis until they dissolved their partnership in 1831 (mentioned in newspaper). Thomas BARNETT married Elvira IVERS in 1829 in St. Louis. I don't know if Elvira was James's sister or daughter, but surely one or the other. Further, Andrew WINELAND, Thomas & Elvira, & Margaret WINELAND all were buried in the Nathan W. PERKINS plot in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. Additionally, James T. IVERS, Andrew WINELAND, & Thomas BARNETT each purchased land in Jersey Co., IL (which had been the southern portion of Greene Co. prior to 1839) in January 1840; Andrew & James bought property in the same township. Thus, the circumstantial evidence is certainly more than a collection of mere coincidences. Patrick Ivers Back to Top
CAPTAIN AUGUSTUS 'GUS' LEVAN WITHERINGTON
All of the below information is compiled from corrispondence sent to me by site visitor Bill King. Though he sent much more information on the Witherington family and its relations, I have sorted out that which has to do with the riverboat captains. To add to his information on the Witherington family in general, or for genealogical information on the rest, please contact Bill King. From Bill King: Gr. Gr. Gr. Granduncle, Agustus "Gus" Levan Witherington, was said to have been co-owner of the MORGAN NELSON with Capt. Robert Withers . I have family data that tells the very interesting stories of Capt. Bob and Gus enlisting a company of men at Champagnolle, AR and going down to New Orleans to join the troops there. However, the recruiting officer, persuaded (?)Gus and Capt. Bob to use the MORGAN NELSON in the service of the CSA [Confederate States of America] in ferrying foodstuffs, munitions and troops from New Orleans up into Southern Arkansas. The family lore says, and your web page seems to confirm, that A. L. Witherington also served as Captain of the DR. BUFFINGTON out of New Orleans. Gus was married to Amelia Finch, who he met on one of his trips to New Orleans. Amelia was teaching piano to the children of Dr. Buffington when they met. The following are exerpts from a letter dated Feb. 26, 1981: From Gordon L. Harrison, Jr. of Houston, Great grandson of A. L. Witherington To Virginia M. Witherington, Arkadelphia, AR, Gr. Grandniece of 'Gus' Witherington, descending from Gus' older brother, John Witherington [excerpt] A. L. [Witherington] first appears in Union County, Arkansas marriages 1829-1870, by Spencer. A. L. Witherington 21 to Martha K. Lovett 18, February 1848. A. L. Witherington 35 to Miss M. E. Finch 21, at Dr. Nance's on 13th Jan 1859. GUS WITHERINGTON OF UNION COUNTY, ARKANSAS and THE CONFEDERATE STEAMBOAT 'MORGAN NELSON' Note: The following is an exact transcription of a letter dated 8 Jan. 1992 from W. C. Finch (former Mayor of Crossett, Ark.) to Bill Witherington (researcher of Witherington Family of Southern Arkansas - now deceased). This letter was discovered in research materials of Bill Witherington, borrowed by Bill King (a Witherington Descendant) from Janis Hopper of Hot Springs Village, AR (daughter of Bill Witherington). This letter has been transcribed by Bill King on July 15, 1998 (as it was written) as a matter of 'family' and Civil War interest of those doing research of the Witherington families and of Civil War times in Calhoun & Bill King, Union Counties, AR. Information Developed by WILLIAM R. KING, JR.(3rd Great Grandson of John Witherington And Older Brother of 'Gus') Houston, Texas JULY 1999 Transcription of letter provided to Bill King by: KING FAMILY ASSOCIATION Bill King 14106 Carolcrest Circle Houston, Texas 77079 (281) 493-6767 Letter of W. C. Finch of Crossett, AR. 407 E 3rd Ave. Crossett, Ark. 71635 8 January 1992 (501) 364-7689 Dear Bill (Witherington) Gus Witherington came to New Orleans in 1858 on business and met Mary Emma Finch and married her there. {RESEARCHER'S NOTE: They actually met in New Orleans but were actually married in Union County, Arkansas/Source 1859 Union County Marriage Book 'B', Page 206} Gus then persuaded her brother Wm. S. Finch, her sister Amelia Finch, and her father Joseph Henry Finch and her mother Emma Dean (nee Kress) Conkey Finch all to move to Arkansas with him. Mary Emma did not want to move without her family. They arrived at Gus' home at Pigeon Hill Arkansas in 1858 on the west bank of the Ouachita River. The 1860 census of Union CO. shows them all in Gus' household. [1 Paragraph not dealing with riverboats or riverboat captains left out. D.] Amelia Finch met and married a steamboat captain named Robert L. Withers from Longview, Arkansas on the Saline River. They met when the whole family was making a trip to New Orleans. "Capt. Bob" owned an interest in this steamboat 'Morgan Nelson' at the time. Gus Witherington organized a company for the Confederate Army of men from the New London, Pigeon Hill and Longview areas, Union and Ashley counties on the two rivers. Gus was the [company] Captain, Wm S. Finch and Bob Withers were Lt.'s. In May 1863 the 3 brothers-in-law bought out all the shares of the 'Morgan Nelson' steamboat as partners. (All this sounds to me as if Gus was well fixed enough to outfit a Co. of soldiers and to buy a 1/3 interest in a steamboat, as well as to move all his in-laws from Pennsylvania to Arkansas.) They loaded the company on the steamboat and went to New Orleans to volunteer. The General told Gus he would accept his company with thanks but he would not accept Gus because he'd be the first one killed. Gus was 6' 6 1/2" tall. The General then said he could also use the steamboat, so they struck a deal. Gus, W. S. Finch and Capt Bob were given commissions each of Captain in the Confederate Army. The boat was to be operated by them to haul supplies up river for the CSA Army to various points on the Mississippi, Black, Red, Ouachita and Saline Rivers. They were allowed to haul cotton and other products south to New Orleans for civilians and could keep the money for non-military hauls. They also carried two flags, USA and CSA as well as uniforms for both sides to aid them in running the 'Yankee' blockades. (They could have been shot as spies if caught.) However, they were not caught and they operated the boat for the Confederacy, Major Latimer's Quartermaster's Corps, HDQ Camden, Arkansas, from May 1862 to June 1865 when they took the Oath of Allegence to the USA. They all 3 ended up 'rich' each with a chest full of Confederate bills. Their only real assets left were their lands and the boat 'Morgan Nelson' which they sold in New Orleans following the war. Captain Bob Withers used his share to buy another steamboat 'Carrie Poole' which he operated for several years. He also operated a ferry on the Saline River near Longview at Cavaness Landing. Wm S. Finch went into partnership with his other brother-in-law William Simon Terrell. They built and operated a store at Pigeon Hill until 1882 when Rebecca, his wife, died. . . . [There is more to this letter, however it does not deal with riverboats or with riverboat captains, and since I am short on web site room, I have left out the rest. For the rest of the letter please contact Bill King. Riverboat Dave] [excerpt] A.L. was evidently a prosperous businessman, got "Billy-Goats" drunk on Sunday, had many fist fights, and took an active part in the breeding of his female slaves. He was smart enough to be in the Quarter Master Corp in Texas, nearly caught by the Yankees when he was visiting Mary Emma in 1864 at Champonolle. As a boy in Warren, I was shown a Warren newspaper dated 1869 headlined: 'MR. DAVIS SHOOTS 'BULLY' GUS WITHERINGTON IN SELF-DEFENSE'. According to Gordon, A.L. whipped Davis before 1861 (?), and Davis carried a grudge against A.L. Gordon claims A.L. and his son, Henry Stuart, got off of A.L.'s steamboat a Moro Bay, Davis was lying in the bushes and rifle-shot A.L. in the back of the head. (Bill King Note: Newspaper story actually reported he was killed with a shot gun.) [End excerpts] Following the Civil War, Gus was murdered at the village of Moro Bay, Bradley County, Arkansas in 1869. He operated the store and Pigeon Hill ferry landing on the Union County side of the Ouachita River, across from Moro Bay. Shot three times in the back and head. He is buried at New London Cemetery in Union County, AR, just a few miles south of his store and ferry landing at Pigeon Hill in Union County. I have visited his gravesite. The below articles appeared in the Arkansas Gazette and were provided to Bill King, Jan. 10, 1999 by Jann Woodard of the Bradley County Historical Society - 12008 Ginger Lane, Benton, AR 72015 Ark. Gazette, April 3, 1869 (page 2, col 5) Killed: We are informed that Mr. Gus Witherington, late of Champagnolle, was, on Friday 26th ult., at Moro Bay killed by a Mr. James Davis. He was shot three times. We have not heard the particulars of the difficulty. (From the Camden News) April 6, 1869 (page 3 col 2) A.L. Witherington, formerly of Champagnolle, but more lately of Mt. Vernon, Bradley county, was brutally murdered on the 27th of March, at Moro, Calhoun county, by a man named James A. Davis. He was in conversation at the store door of Bratton & Co., with Mr. Schaer of Little Rock, when Davis approaching from behind shot him without warning. The first shot passed through his head, the second through his body, when falling upon the floor he was shot a thrid time in the left shoulder. Mr. Witherington was conveyed to Pigeon Hill, where he died on the night of the 19th. Pigeon Hill Masonic Lodge No. 98, buried Mr. Witherington with the usual ceremonies. We will publish their resolutions next week. Mr. Witherington was an old and respected citizen of Union County. AR Gaz Oct. 26, 1869 (page 4 col 2) The governor has offered a reward of $200 for the arrest and conviction of james Davis, charged with the murder of A.L. Witherington, at Moro Landing, Calhoun County. AR Gaz. Feb. 6 1872 (page 1 col 2) The Warren Eagle says Jas. A. Davis, who shot and killed A.L. Wortherington (sic), a highly respected citizen of Bradley county, about three years ago, and made his escape, created quite a sensation the other day by reappearing and surrendering himself to the officers of the law with a view of standing trial. The Bradley County Eagle, Warren, Arkansas, Sat. Jan. 27th, 1872 The Murderer Now In Jail In This City Last Tuesday night our town was thrown into a fever of excitement by the arrival at the Warren House of Mr. James A. Davis. Charged with murder and under an escort of armed men. It appears that about four years ago a difficulty occurred in the village of Mount Vernon, in this county, between two residents, named A.L. Wortherington (sic) and James A. Davis; the former being the aggressor. Davis was beaten in a most shocking manner, his face being battered in a terrible way; his eyes nearly put out; his jaw broken, and his spine injured beyond recovery. While being thus outraged and unable to defend himself he said: "Wortherington (sic), you had better kill me now, while you have a chance, for if I ever recover, I will kill you!" At last the difficulty ceased and the parties separated. Time rolled on and about a year elapsed, when they met again, in the village of Moro Bay, on the Ouachita river, about the 28th of March, 1869. When Davis saw Wortherington (sic), he said to a bystander: "Is that Wortherington (sic)?" And upon receiving an affirmative reply, walked off, got a shot gun, and deliberately shot his victim dead. Fearing mob law, James A. Davis took up his abode in Calhoun County where he remained until the time of his arrest. In the meantime it appeared the Grand Jury of this county found a true bill against him for murder in the first degree for which he was arrested. When the officers presented the warrant, he surrendered cheerfully, and is now closely confined in the county jail. He seems quite indifferent to his situation and thinks the law will justify his deed; and from what we learn, public sympathy is with him, for Wortherington (sic) is represented as being very turbulent and quarrelsome disposition, even to maltreat any person for the least imaginary cause and threatened the life of Davis several times carrying guns to execute his threats. These are represented by the facts in the case and we give them to the public without comment. Back to Top

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