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Str. Betsy Ann Bell

 
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Old 05-12-2009, 09:08 AM
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: On the "Beautiful Ohio" at New Albany, Indiana, opposite Louisville, Kentucky
Posts: 2,078
Default Str. Betsy Ann Bell

As mentioned previously on this forum, the roof bell from Capt. Fred Way's famed packet BETSY ANN reposes in the courtyard behind Stanton Hall at Natchez. The boat, built in 1899 at Dubuque, Iowa, was named for Elizabeth Learned, wife of Rufus Learned, who operated a large lumber mill and logging industry at Natchez. Although Mrs. Learned spelled her name "Betsey", the sign painter omitted the second "e" and the boat ran for her entire career with the name as BETSY ANN. Last week I saw an exhibit in the museum/visitors center at St. Francisville, LA which contained a freight bill from the boat with the name spelled "BETSEY ANN" -- and she is so designated on the U.S. List of Merchant Vessels.

The BETSY ANN first was a mail packet in the Natchez-Bayou Sara trade, until sold by the Learned family in 1921 to D. Grover Gill, of Gallipolis, Ohio, to run in the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati trade. Capt. Fred and his father bought the BETSY in 1925 and retained ownership until November, 1932 when she was sold at Memphis. The BETSY had returned to the lower Mississippi in 1931 when a company chartered her to carry cotton, but due to financial difficulties the deal did not materialize. The steamboat is immortalized in Capt. Fred's epic 1933 book, The Log of the Betsy Ann. The photos of the roof bell were taken last Tuesday (May 5).

As I always do when visiting Natchez, I gave the bell three taps in loving memory of Capt. Fred. Nearly 17 years after his passing, he is still MUCH missed!
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