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Pilots in 19th Century - Ohio River

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Old 06-14-2009, 09:15 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 16
Default Pilots in 19th Century - Ohio River

I have been researching William Clark (born about 1814 in what is now West Virginia and died after 1891 probably in Belmont County, OH. Census records indicate he was a “pilot” and another record I have found indicates he was an “Ohio River Pilot.” I also found an obituary of a family member from 1891 that references him as “Captain William Clark.”

I am curious about a few things and was hoping someone might be able to give me some further information:

1. My understanding is that the pilot had to be licensed (I remember reading about Samuel Clemens and how he was licensed as a pilot on the Mississippi). In the 19th century, who was responsible for licensing? Was it a governmental entity or was it the steamboat industry?
2. Did pilots ever become captains or were pilots sometimes referred to as “captain”?
3. Do any records exist regarding the licensing or other details of a pilot’s career on the Ohio river ca 1830-1900?

I am hoping to learn a bit more about this position generally and this individual in particular.


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