Message Boards

Message Boards (
-   Steamboats & History (
-   -   "Jacob D. Early," Capt. Edward Hollister, Alton, IL (

Paula Mahan 09-20-2011 01:15 AM

"Jacob D. Early," Capt. Edward Hollister, Alton, IL
I am searching for an image of the steamboat “Jacob D. Early.” It burned in 1858 from an accident. One of the owners of the boat was Capt. Edward Hollister. He salvaged the boat and used part of the railing for rails on the second floor balcony of the house he built in 1860. I now live in the house and would love to find anything that showed the railings on the boat to see if they were indeed used on the house as I was told.

Or perhaps there was a known type of railings used during that period of time? Would an expert in steamboats recognize this railing as something that would have been on a steamboat if I post a picture?


Source: Alton Weekly Courier, May 6, 1858

Last night about ten o'clock, a light in the upper end of the city raised an alarm of fire; when, proceeding in that direction, it was discovered that the steamboat, Jacob D. Early, which has been laid up for several weeks, a short distance above town, was on fire. By the time the firemen reached the ground she was too far gone to permit a hope of saving her. They, however, did good service by driving the fire back from her lines, and thus preventing her burning loose from the shore and floating past the city, by which much damage might have been done, as the wind set to the Illinois shore, and there were several boats at the levee. The flames spread rapidly at first, and in a short time the hurricane roof fell in and the boat was completely enveloped in flames. Although it was impossible to extinguish the fire, yet the firemen were able to keep it subdued and prevent its communication with the timber on shore. She burned rather slowly, but the fire did not cease until it had reached the water's edge. Jacob D. Early was five years old, valued at eight thousand dollars, was owned by Captain Hollister and others, and was insured in Cincinnati for five thousand dollars. The origin of the fire is not known. It was first discovered in the roof of the chambermaid's room, and it is thought it may have caught from the sparks from some passing boat. The boat had just been undergoing repairs at St. Louis at an expense of two thousand dollars. The books, papers, and everything of a combustible nature on board of her was lost. It is thought that the hull will be saved though in a damaged condition. The Pioneer Company are entitled to much credit for their promptness, and the untiring energy with which they labored to check the flames. They were the only company of the ground, and were instrumental in preventing much damage. The Washington Company, owing to the great distance at which their engine house is located from the scene of the conflagration, were late in reaching the scene. The Hook and Ladder Company, though out with their usual promptness, were unable to pass through a narrow passage in the road with their carriage, and had to leave it behind. The company went on however, and did efficient service. Additional in Regard to the Burning of the "Jacob D. Early:" We are happy to learn that the hull of this ill-fated boat was but little, if at all, damaged; the deck being burned through in one or two places only, and the boilers and shafts are still standing. This result - a very rare occurrence in steamboat fires - is owing entirely to the steady efforts and hard work of our Fire Department, the member of which, for four hours, fought the flames inch by inch, and finally conquered them. Had the burning boat escaped from its fastenings and drifted past our levee, the damage which would have been done can scarcely be estimated.

R. Dale Flick 09-20-2011 06:36 AM

Dear Paula:
I pulled WAY'S PACKET DIRECTORY, 1848-1983 noting one very short entry for the Str. JACOB D. EARLY.

R. Dale Flick 09-20-2011 06:44 AM

Dear Paula:
I pulled WAY'S PACKET DIRECTORY, 1848-1983 noting one very short entry for the Str. JACOB D. EARLY. Built Cincinnati, 1853 being 348 tons. Way mentioned the fire was on April 29, 1858. The news item you posted contains much more immediate information of the day. WAY'S DIRECTORIES based on existence of photo images from 1848 on. Good chance a photo exists in either Cincinnati Public Library collection here on Vine Street in the former Rare Books/Inland Rivers Collection now in the Cincinnati Collection. Also in photo collection at Murphy Library, UW - LaCrosse.

The very keen eyes [Not mine] on this web could give you a pretty good insight if the said "railings" came from a steamboat.

R. Dale Flick
Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

Paula Mahan 09-20-2011 12:24 PM

Str. Jacob D. Early
1 Attachment(s)
Thanks for the reply! I am going to attach a photo of the front of the house. If you enlarge the photo the railings on the balcony can be seen better.

These are the ones that were suppose to have come off of the Jacob D. Early.

Thanks to all for any help.

Judy Patsch 09-20-2011 06:02 PM

Those are definitely steamboat style railings, not whether they are like the EARLY's I don't know.

Paula Mahan 09-21-2011 10:30 AM

WAY'S DIRECTORIES - How to get copies from Cincinnati Public Library
Is there someone in the Cincinnati Public Library that one can get to check the Way's Directories for any reference to the Jacob D. Early, and if there is something on the Early make copies of those pages and mail them to me?

The fee would probably be cheaper than the travel expense to get there!

R. Dale Flick 09-21-2011 10:47 AM

*RE: Str. JACOB D. EARLY Etc.*
Hi Paula & Steamboating colleagues:
I apologize for not being more definitive RE: the EARLY with references. The information I posted [And appearing in WAY'S PACKET DIRECTORY] is rather short being but mere sentences. What other data Capt. Way had then--or in the Cincinnati Public Library--unknown to me. It states:

"No. 2911 Pg. 238 JACOB D. EARLY: 'SW [Sidewheel], Cincinnati, Ohio, 1853, 348 tons. Burned and lost at Alton, Ill., April 29, 1858.'" That's it as far as the entry Fred made in compiling. Many entries he composed much longer with incredibly minute detail on construction, yards, engines, trade, crew etc. with other insights. Again, how Fred did it a marvel to behold considering he did all with an electric typewriter, pen and ink--no computers with web sites, archival, university or other library sources on line. Fred went direct to the sources with a huge correspondence from others. A true labor of love working like a lonely monk. I'm rushing to a meeting now, but will get the Cincinnati Library soucres if they exist--or a contact person. What the Cincinnati Historical Society at Union Terminal has in their great library/collection a good guess.

R. Dale Flick
Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

Mike Marty 09-21-2011 02:51 PM

Here's an interesting note about the burning date: In the Google digitized book "The Executive Documents" printed by order of the the Senate of the United States 1858-'59 on page 271 it states that the Jacob D Early was burned on June 29th. I wonder how many other facts in a document for our Senate are wrong!

R. Dale Flick 09-21-2011 04:39 PM

*RE: Dates of Str. EARLY loss*
Steamboating colleagues:
Interesting point posted above on varying dates on loss of the Str. JACOB D. EARLY. Not unusual then considering how news and official reports traveled. The telegraph industry had consolidated to a near monopoly between 1857 and 1866 among the big companies termed 'The nation of six.'

Many official reports no doubt by telegraph with most being sent in penned reports with vagaries in writing. You see this in old letters, manuscripts, logs, dockets, maps, charts of the day. Newspaper print set by hand being small and hard to read unlike the clarity of today. Official documents only usually printed in finer type. I have a few official steamboat inspection certificates seeing all vital data on the boats done in ink by hand down well past 1875. Scholars the world over tear their hair out trying to decipher texts, narrow down conflicting commentary and dates. No on the spot news reporters with video cams to catch the mayhem, thrills and chills for the nightly news. You know, "If it bleeds it leads." That's the way it was then.

R. Dale Flick
Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

Carl Jones 09-22-2011 12:38 AM

hi all
I looked up the Jacob D Early in the Lytle-Holdcamper list "Merchant Steam Vessels of the United States 1790-1868" which says she burnt April 29 1858 at Alton, Ill with no loss of live. I checked the first two supplements and she was not listed. I believe there is a third supplement but I don't have a copy.

For the American Queen crew our high mountain tops got snow last weekend but it soon melted on the mountain I can see from home.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:10 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2
All content on this site is copyright protected and may not be re-used without written permission.