About Riverboat Owners and Companies Starting with the Letter
" S"

Steamboat Company of Georgia

The below entries are from those who have provided information on this company.

From Dee Swymer: Dave, I have found out a little more about the Steamboat Company of Georgia. Apparently, I have a distant relative (John Swymer) that may have captained 5 (1823-1834) of the 13 boats owned by this company. The steamers were: the Samuel Howard, the Altamaha, the Georgia, the Savannah, and the Edgefield. I am interested in finding out more about the company, the captain, and the boats. I will forward some additional info that I have collected thus far in another message. I don't know how accurate it is. Thanks again!


The Steamboat Company of Georgia was incorporated in 1817 and was in full operation in 1823. The original charter expired in 1837, but was extended 20 years from that date. At various times, the company owned some 13 boats. Of these, John Swymer is known to have mastered or captained at least 5. These are: GEORGIA #1GEORGIA #1 was built in Charleston, S.C. in 1817; 138 ton side-wheeler; the 3rd steamer on the Savannah River; was one of the first boats to try to go to Darien and to probe the Altamaha and Oconee Rivers; she seemed to be the vessel that towed new steamers OCMULGEE and SAMUEL HOWARD to Savannah from Charleston; final fate unknown. SAMUEL HOWARD was built in Charleston, S.C. in 1819; 195 ton side-wheeler; the hull was built in Charleston and towed to Savannah by Captain Talmadge on the steamer GEORGIA; then, the hull was fitted with engines and finished; she was considered one of the fastest of the early boats making the trip to Augusta in 2 days, 7 hours; she was one of the early boats used on the Altamaha and Oconee Rivers; her last recorded trip was December 7, 1829; reported abandoned in 1830. SAVANNAH was built in 1828 in Savannah; 152 ton side-wheeler; she spent her entire lifetime on the Savannah River; called one of the "good boats" on the river, no snagging or running aground ever reported; carried largest number of cotton bales at one trip (March 4, 1833) ever listed; 1829 bales; last record: June 16, 1834; final fate unknown. ALTAMAHA #1 was built in Charleston about 1817; arrived at Savannah on October 27, 1818, in tow of CAROLINA; final fate unknown. EDGEFIELD was built 1824 in Charleston; 227 ton side-wheeler; spent her entire lifetime on the Charleston, Savannah, Hamburg, Augusta run; reportedly sank at Burton's Ferry on Savannah River in 1835. Source: River Highway of Trade: The SAVANNAH by Ruby Rahn, published by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District Office, Savannah, 1968. Source: Tidecraft by Rusty Fleetwood, Coastal Heritage Society (page 91) talks about the formation of the Steamboat Company of Georgia.

More on the Steamboat Company of Georgia

From Ken Hulme To: Dee Swymer as an enclosure: "In 1816, the brothers Samuel and Charles Howard received the exclusive right to navigate Georgia state waterways by steam-powered vessel and formed the Steamboat Company of Georgia. They built a 90-foot vessel, which they named " ENTERPRISE", for service between Savannah and Augusta, Georgia. She was the first tow boat launched in America, and although she was built to pull cotton barges, she was capable of much more. On May 11, 1816, the "Enterprise" impressed her owners and other interested onlookers by pulling a large ship named the "Georgia" down river from Savannah to Five Fathoms at a speed of five knots. Two months later, she was used to tow another large vessel, the "Arethusa", from the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina to the outer buoy several miles away. When doing the work for which she was designed, the "Enterprise" easily handled two of the 70 to 90-foot cotton barges. To the delight of the Howard brothers, she also paid for herself by generating passenger revenues." Way's packet Directory doesn't show any of the boats in your list. Neither does Hunter's "Steamboats on Western Rivers" For documents relating to the vessels, I recommend the National Archives & Records Administration, in Washington, DC (they may have an office in Atlanta or somewhere too, they have a western brach in Seattle, WA). The records you would ask about are called Certificates of Enrollment, sort of like a car's registration... Sorry we can't be of any more help right now; we'll keep our eyes open for you though;
Ken Hulme & Sharon Kouns .

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