The Chippawa (1825)

There has been very little comment on the Chippawa in Great Lakes histories.  Perhaps the only exception is H. A. Musham who, in his generally excellent series of articles on Great Lakes steamboats, offered the following:

“Another steamboat that went into service on Lake Erie this same year [1824] was Chippewa of 100 tons, built at Buffalo.  She was of abnormal form and construction, her hull being shaped like a muskmelon and built of layers of planks and without frames. She was a failure and was soon abandoned.”[1]

As source, he cited the manuscript history of the Great Lakes by James Van Cleve.  Unfortunately, the copy of the manuscript deposited in Oswego does not include this reference.  The date of construction, the tonnage, and the place of construction referenced by Musham are all close, but incorrect. In fact, the story is significantly more interesting.

The first hint of a project to place steam on the upper Niagara River appeared in the Niagara Sentinel in September 1824:

“We understand that a steam boat is to be built at Black Rock, to ply on the Niagara river, between that place and Schlosser, which is intended to touch at Chippeway on the Canada side. The boat will commence running with the opening of the navigation next spring.”[2]

At the heart of this first project were the Porter interests at Black Rock, who set up an unincorporated Niagara River Steam Boat Company in the fall of 1824 to complement another steamboat they were building to run the length of Lake Erie. Shortly afterwards, the stockholders in this concern decided to enlarge her and put her on Lake Erie as well, where she came out as the Pioneer.[3]

However, a seed had been planted, and on 13 January 1825 the Buffalo Journal reported that:

“A Company has recently been formed under the title of “The Buffalo and Chippawa Steam Ferry-Boat Company,” for the purpose of building and putting in operation a Steam Ferry-Boat to ply between Buffalo Creek and Fort Eire, and Buffalo Creek and Chippawa, U.C. The stock of the company is $7000, one half of which is held in this village, and the remainder at Chippawa. The boat will be put in operation in June next, and will make one trip from Buffalo Creek to Chippewa for the accommodation of passengers, each day during the navigable season, exclusive of her trips to Fort Erie, as a ferry boat. The affairs of the company are to be under the guidance of six directors, chosen annually, in December, one half to reside in Canada, and the other half on this side of the river.  The first election has been had, and the following gentlemen are directors for the ensuing year, viz:–James Macklem, Samuel Street and Gilbert M’Micking, of Chippawa; and Thaddeus Joy, Ebenezer Johnson and William T. Miller, of this town.”[4]

Among the many interesting questions raised by this story is the spelling of the name of the community, company and eventually the boat. The vessel’s ads varied between “e” and “a”, while the latter has remained the preferred spelling of the village’s name.

In its following issue, the Black Rock Gazette asked:

“But Query? what will be the national character of this new steam boat, and how will her papers run? will she be British when at Chippewa, and American when at Buffalo? or will she be in the law language of both countries, filia nullius.

This was the question.  To be a British vessel a percentage of the ownership had to be British, along with the captain and the majority of the crew.  The same was true on the American side.  Splitting the ownership met neither requirement, … and which nation would supply the captain?[5]

However, running across the border did solve one of the remaining challenges with the Fulton-Livingston monopoly of steamboat navigation in the state of New York.  The 1824 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gibbons v. Ogden had struck down the monopoly’s ability to license traffic crossing state boundaries.  It would be February 1825 before the ability to restrict steamboat traffic within the state was quashed.  Porter had initiated enquiries in September 1824 concerning licensing rights from the Fulton and Livingston heirs. That winter the question would become moot.[6]

The board of directors for the Buffalo and Chippawa Steam Ferry-Boat Company was an interesting combination of people.  On the Upper Canadian side were some of the most important entrepreneurs in the province above the Falls. Born in Farmington, CT fifty years earlier, after the brutal murder of his father Samuel Street had moved to his uncle’s home on the Niagara frontier at the age of twelve. In partnership with Thomas Clark, Samuel Street had subsequently become one of the richest men in the province, engaging in a variety of activities including private banking and milling, from his base in Chippawa.[7] The 66-year old James Macklem had emigrated from his native County Tyrone, Ireland to Pennsylvania as a schoolmaster in 1788 and then on to Upper Canada three years later. Macklem was an active miller and distiller in Chippawa.[8] McMicking was also a Chippawa merchant, who in the years to come would be the local member of the Legislative Assembly, and collector of customs at Queenston.[9]

Ebenezer Johnson (City of Buffalo, Office of the Mayor)

To balance the Canadians, there were three American directors elected that January. A 39-year old native of Vermont, Ebenezer Johnson, had trained as a doctor but was busy making a fortune in Buffalo real estate and as a private banker.  In 1832, he would become the first mayor of Buffalo.[10]  With him were two emerging figures on the Buffalo waterfront.  At 40, Thaddeus Joy was another native Vermonter who with his family had moved to western New York in 1800. He had arrived in Buffalo in 1823 and moved his family the following year.  In the spring of 1825 he would partner with George B. Webster, build a warehouse and wharf, start investing in schooners and have a canal boat built for the Eire Canal.  It was aboard his canal boat, the Seneca Chief, that De Witt Clinton toured the finished canal that fall to declare it open.[11]  The third American was the 33-year old William T. Miller, whose father for a number of years had run the ferry from Black Rock across to Fort Erie.  Miller knew his way around both sail and steam, having commanded the schooner Michigan (the largest schooner on Lake Erie when it was built in 1816) and been the sailing master of the Walk-in-the-Water when it was wrecked at Buffalo in 1821. Indeed, he was also the sailing master of the Superior that had brought her out of Buffalo the following spring.[12]

From John D. Shepard & Thaddeus Joy papers (A00-414), Courtesy of The Buffalo History Museum

Among the first things the directors had to do was to get the stock paid in, and secure people to design and build the hull and engine.  It is still unclear where the engine came from. On January 28, the directors authorized Thaddeus Joy, then at Utica, to look into the possibility of getting an engine from Montreal, although Troy and New York were also mentioned.[13]  At either 25 or 30 h.p., it was quite powerful for the size of the hull that would be constructed.[14]  The “experimental harbour” at Black Rock would have a sloop lock at its lower end, but for years to run from Buffalo down the Niagara River to Chippawa had meant that the steamboat had to return against the “rapids”  For years, the Buffalo folks had sneered at the “horned breeze” of the oxen that towed the Walk-in-the-Water, her immediate successors, and various schooners upriver from Black Rock. The earliest steamboats that had run the length of Lakes Ontario and Erie had had smaller engines.  The Frontenac, with its 50 h.p. Boulton and Watt engine, was almost fifteen times the tonnage. Surely a 25 or 30 h.p. engine should be able to propel a 49-ton steamer up the rapids if necessary.

The design of the hull brings us back to the abnormality of the form to which Musham referred. She was later described as having been built “on the Annesley plan.” William Annesley Sr. was the author of two editions of a pamphlet entitled “A New System of Naval Architecture,” which described a mode of hull construction that he had patented in the United States, Great Britain and France.[15]  In its essence the “system” was one of frameless construction.  Moulds were put in place and a series of layers of thinner wood, (1 inch, 5/8ths of an inch, and ¾ of an inch) bent around them, first a longitudinal layer, then a layer of sheathing paper dipped in well boiled tar, then a transverse layer, more paper and a longitudinal layer.  Annesley had concluded three or five layers would be sufficient. After the last transverse layer was set then the keel and sternpost were put in place and treenailed with locust pins, which in the 1822 specification were compressed and shaped with very specific tools. The last layer was always longitudinal, and was the only section that lay up against the keel. The keel, sternpost and cutwater were laminated rather than single pieces, which meant much cheaper pieces of lumber could be employed.  After these are in place the moulds are taken out and the decking (again in multiple layers) was added.  Musham’s description of “muskmelon” gives a fair sense of the general form of the finished hull.  Why bother?  Annesley claimed a significantly reduced deadweight and enlarged internal capacity for a given size.  He eliminated the large timbers used in ship frames that were heavy, bulky and expensive.  The result was a much shallower draft.  There were also claims that the reduced weight yielded a faster vessel.  Cheaper to build, faster running and designed for shallow ports.  This sounded perfect to a variety of potential investors.

Nor was the Buffalo and Chippawa Steam Ferry-Boat Company going to be alone in adopting the Annesley system. The 1822 pamphlet opened with some testimonials, including Noah Brown, the New York shipwright locally familiar for the Walk-in-the-Water and Superior, along with other shipwrights in Britain and France, some sailors and former U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson. After a couple of small trials on the Hudson, Annesley had returned to Belfast in 1817 to build the schooner Annesley (49’ x 15’8”).  Two years later he built the barque Annesley at Deptford (91’ x 25’2”).  In 1821, the steam packet Aire (79’ x 18’ with 30 h.p. engine) was built to run the 55 miles of river between Hull and Selby in Yorkshire. The following year Annesley built the Hope (56’4” x 15’1”, with 10 h.p. engine) with a center-wheel.

A handful of other vessels were under construction in Britain when Annesley returned to North America.[16] His son, William Annesley, jr. had moved to Montreal and was involved with a company planning a ferry from the island to communities on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River.  The resulting steamboat was also named William Annesley (79’ x 17’2” with a 20 h.p. engine), which performed her trials in early September 1824 and had at time to run through the rapid current at the lower end of the island of Montreal.[17]  Annesley, in a letter quoted in the New-York Spectator only weeks before the Buffalo and Chippewa was formed, noted that that his namesake had made a fast trip down the St. Lawrence to Quebec and that he had “applications for sea vessels, at Quebec, for next summer; and am in treaty for some schooners for Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence such as those I built last summer on Lake Champlain.” He also noted that, Jahaziel Sherman, father of the current captain of the Superior, had used his principles that year to build the Mountaineer for Lake George.[18]

Along with all of these examples was the fact that a steam ferry was planned for the route from York (later known as Toronto) to the lower end of the Niagara.  Launched in the spring of 1825, the Toronto had also been built using the Annesley system.  By the time the new upper Niagara ferry was in service, the Toronto would be dismissed as the “driveling plan of a penny wise and a pound foolish.”[19] A close examination of the performance of Toronto over the course of the summer of 1825, shows that the problem was largely with a balky engine, and in particular a perpetually leaking boiler.[20]  What is not clear is who built either the hull or the engine.

The same is almost true of the new steam ferry for the upper Niagara River.  There was a passing reference in early April to the possibility that the new steam ferry would be too long to pass through the lock at the bottom of the Black Rock harbor.[21] If true, she still might perform her trips, but only if she could climb the rapids on the outside of the harbor dam. By mid-May, the launch of the Pioneer was anticipated and, almost in passing, the Buffalo Emporium noted that “The boat intended to ply from this place to Canada is launched, and if there is no disappointment in receiving the machinery, must be ready to run in a few days.”[22]  Disappointment there was.  Most of the Erie Canal was in service, but the locks at Lockport would not be complete until June, and the canal was not open to Buffalo until late August.[23] The parts for the engines for the new steam ferry, as well as those for the Pioneer and Henry Clay also launched at Black Rock in the spring of 1825, would still have to make part of the journey by cart. Given that it was mid-September before Chippawa went into service, it is conceivable that some parts of the engine did not make it through until the canal was open.

Buffalo Emporium, 3 Sept. 1825

Ads for Chippawa started to appear on 17 September 1825.[24] The schedule called for her to leave Buffalo at 7:00 a.m., across the Niagara River to Fort Erie, back across to Tonawanda and then back across to Chippawa, arriving at 11:00 a.m. Four hours were allotted for the run downsteam; five hours were scheduled for the upstream run. The Black Rock paper claimed that Chippawa had also failed to stem the rapids, and was using the sloop lock that had been built and the base of the new Black Rock harbor.[25] The Buffalo paper countered that she had passed up the rapids “which proves her engine to be excellent.”[26]

The Chippawa’s official registration is dated eight days after the date announced for her first trip.[27] They describe a steamboat built at Black Rock that year that was 63’ 6” long, with a 16’ beam and a depth of 5’5”.  The tonnage was calculated to be 49 17/95ths. The shipwright is identified as John Brown, who in a plain piece of paper filed with the registration was described as “of Province of Upper Canada.” What is perhaps more striking is the fact that the only owners listed in the registration were Brown and the captain, B. Armstrong.[28]  Other evidence makes it clear that, in fact, the Buffalo and Chippawa Steam Ferry Company still owned the vessel.

“John Brown” was a very common name even in Upper Canada.  One man by that name was the keeper of the Ontario House, one of the two principal hotels at Niagara Falls. Given that this Brown sent carriages to Chippawa to meet the steam ferry, he might have had a strong interest in the boat.  Whether that interest went so far as construction seem less plausible. The Bartholomew Armstrong listed as a seaman in the 1828 Buffalo directory, was the only B. Armstrong in Buffalo at this period.[29]

Chippawa’s first season on the upper Niagara was a short one.  There was already a ferry, albeit not steam, crossing to Fort Erie, which was capable of handling the demand for passage as the tourist season dropped off. Her owners found something more lucrative to help pay the bills.

That fall the Pioneer had begun running up Lake ErieOn October 16th, she had run ashore at Grand River, Ohio.[30] On the 23rd, the Chippawa arrived at Sandusky from Buffalo.  Two days later she set off for Detroit.[31] That week’s papers in Buffalo and Detroit announced Chippawa would be spending the balance of the season running between Sandusky and Detroit.[32]  The Detroit papers opened by suggesting that “there is no doubt but the proprietors will realize a handsome profit.”[33]  A week later, having actually seen her, they more soberly noted that she had “tolerable accommodations, and sails remarkably well.”[34] Considering that she was designed as a ferry and was being pressed into service providing a two day trip across western Lake Erie, “tolerable” was probably generous. The Sandusky marine lists have her clearing there on October 25, 29, November 1, 4, and 9.  She arrived back from Detroit on November 13th when she was laid up at Sandusky. The last clearance of the steamboat Superior was October 25 for Buffalo, making the Chippawa the last steamboat running on Lake Erie that season.[35]

Her first season does not appear to have met the expectations of the company that owned the Chippawa. While the annual meeting was not reported, by mid-February ads appeared in a number of the regional papers offering her for sale.  Contrary to her single set of registry papers, the directors were listed as Johnson, Joy and Miller, the same men who had formed the American half of the committee a year previous.[36] Despite this very public offer, there is no evidence that the owners succeeded in finding a buyer.

The 1826 Sandusky marine lists begin in early March with the Chippawa appearing in late April.  The season opened with her under the command of Wessell Whitaker, and her running from Cleveland through to Detroit, touching at Sandusky and LaPlaisance Bay (Monroe, MI) “and occasionally at Miami.”[37]  Under Captain Whitaker, she cleared Sandusky for Detroit on April 22nd.  Further departures for Detroit were on April 28, May 4, and May 9. Each of those departures came after she had run down the lake as far as Cleveland before returning.  On May 12, she cleared Sandusky bound down to Buffalo.[38] There was little business to keep her on the upper end of the lake. The new Henry Clay had come up on May 7, the Superior on May 10.  By the end of the month, yet another new lake steamer, the Enterprise, had joined them.

George Catlin, the Niagara River, 1827 (Library and Archives Canada, NMC-120091)

It would be a month after Chippawa had cleared Sandusky for Buffalo, that she was finally back on the route from there to Chippawa. The advertised schedule started later in the day, at 8:30 from Buffalo, and ran down to “the wharf of Mr. Yale, near the battle ground.”[39]

Not long afterwards Chippawa was seized because goods were being smuggled on board.  At this time, on both sides of the Lakes, when the customs seized goods that had come aboard a vessel, that vessel was usually also seized. As reported in the Emporium:

“A box of tea was put on board the boat on the American side, enclosed in a rough box without knowledge of the captain; and it is supposed that the person to whom the box belonged, caused immediate notice to be given to Col. Warren, the British revenue officer at Waterloo. The facts were stated, and Col. W. as we understand was under the necessity of seizing the boat. It has been since ascertained to the satisfaction of those interested that the tea was put on board for the purpose of causing the seizure by a person inimical to the running of the boat. He has not, however, accomplished his purpose and she will continue to perform her regular trips. We hope all the facts, and names connected with this business will be given to the public, and that the malignant wretch who has thus exercised his ingenuity to injure others to benefit himself, will not go unpunished.”[40]

While this story speculates about the identity of the person behind the “setup,” it would have been evident to those on the Canadian side that Colonel John Warren (his rank was from the local militia), was not only the collector of customs at Fort Erie (Waterloo being just downstream of the fort), but was also the man with the Upper Canadian rights to the ferry, having just renewed his lease over the winter.[41] However, there was also a American ferry on the route, operated from 1821 by Asa Stannard and after 1826 by Donald Fraser and Lester Brace.[42] Two weeks later it was announced that the Chippawa had been released from her bonds by the Inspector General of Upper Canada, the official to whom the customs officials reported.[43]

Over the course of the summer, she continued to make her regular trips, with even more travelers taking advantage of the Erie Canal, she must have been much busier on her trips up and down the river.  In an advertisement dated August 12th, Samuel Street, signing himself “A proprietor of the Steam-Boat on the Canada side,” took William Forsyth, owner of the principal hotel at the Falls on the Canadian side, to task for an ad that seemed to imply that Forsyth was the sole proprietor. Street asserted “Mr. Forsyth has no interest whatsoever in the Steam-Boat, and [he] considers it not only indecorous, but an act of unwarranted presumption in Mr. F. to publish any thing concerning a business in which he … has nothing to say.”[44]

Buffalo Emporium, 16 Sept. 1826

Towards the end of the 1826 season, the proprietors placed an ad addressed “To Ship Carpenters.” They were looking for proposals for a new boat, to be modeled on the Niagara (the latest steamboat launched at Black Rock). She would have a 25 horse power engine, and would be required to pass the lock into Black Rock harbor, not drawing more that 2.5 to 3 feet of water. Presumably the engine would be that of the Chippawa. Prospective shipwrights could contact Thaddeus Joy, B. D. Coe or William Williams at Buffalo, and James Cummings or Samuel Street at Chippawa and the Falls.[45]

It is a fair assumption that these were the new directors of the Buffalo and Chippawa Steam-Boat Ferry Company, and that they were looking to replace the Annesley-style hull with a more conventional model only twelve months after it went into service.  In 1825, Bela D. Coe had taken over the principal stage line in the Buffalo region, having been in the business elsewhere in New York for some years.[46] William Williams was a Buffalo merchant, and among the proprietors of a tract of land in Tonawanda being actively marketed in 1825.[47] On the Canadian side, James Cummings was another resident of Chippawa who the following year would marry James Macklem’s daughter Sophia.[48]

It was certainly unusual in this era to advertise for a master shipwright, as distinct from skilled workmen needed to finish a project.  Nothing appears to have come from this effort.

Buffalo Emporium, 22 July 1827

The Buffalo vessel documentation is reasonably complete for the mid-1820s, and there is no sign that the company sold the Chippawa over the course of the winter.  She would not appear on the Niagara River until the beginning of June.[49]  Instead of leaving Buffalo, however, departures were from Black Rock, with “post coaches” running down from the Eagle Tavern and the Farmer’s Hotel in Buffalo.[50]  The later hotel was currently under the management of “M. Case & Son.”  Manning Case’s son, Nehemiah would be the new captain of the Chippawa.[51] It is not clear if Case had any experience in vessel management, beyond work with his father in the hotel business.

Perhaps the most serious accident to the Chippawa happened on his watch in early July:

“The steamboat CHIPPAWA, which plies between this place and Chippawa, caught fire on Thursday, when at Yales, (2 miles above the Falls of Niagara,) the blaze burst out of the forecastle with such fury as to compel the Captain to cut a hole in her deck, to put out the fire. By the great exertions of the Master and crew, the fire was got under, although the wind blowing fresh at the time, with comparatively little damage, notwithstanding the threatening aspect it bore when first discovered. The boat will continue her usual trips.”[52]

The wide press coverage that the story received could have done little good for business.

Far more press coverage was focused on the Chippawa in August when she towed the “Pirate Michigan” from the Black Rock ferry down to the foot of Navy Island.  The Michigan had been the largest vessel on Lake Erie before the launch of the Walk-in-the-Water in 1818, but was now “condemned.” In the summer of 1827, the proprietors of the hotels on both sides of the Falls, in collaboration with some of the steamboat and stage proprietors, turned the Michigan into one of the first great “spectacles” associated with the Falls.  Estimates of the number of spectators varied from 10,000 to 30,000, a handful of whom paid 50 cents to ride down to the top of the rapids on the Michigan.  Notices of the event emphasized that

“The greatest exertions are making to procure animals of the most ferocious kinds, such as Panthers and Wild Cats, Bears and Wolves; but, in lieu of some of these that may be impossible to obtain, a few vicious, worthless Dogs, and some few of the toughest of the lesser animals, will be added, to complete the cargo.”[53]

Obviously, at this stage the creatures would be “well secured.”  A correspondent of the New York Daily Advertiser offered his perspective, from the deck of the Chippawa:

“I took my passage on board this boat, and we got under way before the others, passed through the basin at Black Rock, and about a mile below the Rock took in tow the vessel destined to make the dreadful plunge.  As soon as we got underway, the scene became interesting. The sun shone in full splendor, the waters of Erie [sic] were place, there being scarcely a ruffle upon its surface and a few miles astern of us four steamers, crowded with passengers, and with bands of music on board, were ploughing their way down the rapids of Niagara. Our little boat towed the Michigan as far as Yale’s landing on the British shore, within three miles of the Falls, where she anchored; and at this place the Chippewa landed her passengers, as well as the William Penn, and they were conveyed from thence to the Falls in vehicles of all descriptions. …”

In the end, Chippawa completed her task, the Michigan was towed out into the rapids by a small boat, was released and promptly rolled over and broke up.  Depending on the story teller, either the Michigan or merely pieces of her, were then swept over the falls.  Some of the animals escaped, most were swept over the falls.[54]

Strangely, this is almost the last reference to the Chippawa.  Her summer’s advertisement said that “the trips in October will be continued no longer than the travel may warrant running the Boat.”  With no surviving marine lists that include her it is not clear how late that was.[55] At the end of the year an article on the Commerce of Lake Erie in the Buffalo Journal included a passing reference to the Chippawa.[56] 

After that, silence.

She wasn’t lost.  She didn’t burn. But there are no ads or other references to her in the accounts of travel to the Falls in 1828 or afterwards.  Nor was she immediately replaced, as the Victory would not take up the route until 1834. She was small enough to be taken down the new Welland Canal, but there is no evidence of her on Lake Ontario.  She may have had her engine removed and her hull turned into a barge, but again there is no evidence.

Sometimes you just have to be content with the fact that you may never know the end of the story.


[1]  H. A. Musham, “Early Great Lakes Steamboats, 1816 to 1830,” American Neptune, v. 6, n. 3 (July 1946), p. 199. (

[2] Buffalo Emporium, 11 Sept. 1824 quoting Niagara Sentinel. ( The article went on to suggest that the new steamboat to run between York and Niagara (the Toronto) would be built at Niagara.

[3] An explanation of the process is in Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society (BECHS), Peter B. Porter Papers, C-84, [Peter B. Porter], Black Rock to Mathias Bruen, 7 Mar. 1827 [draft]

[4] National Advocate (New York), 26 January 1825.  ( The files of the Buffalo Journal have not survived from this period, and the National Advocate was one of the few papers that quoted the story in full, supplying the names of the directors. A paraphrase in three sentences was supplied by the Buffalo Emporium, 15 Jan. 1825. (

[5] Black Rock Gazette, 25 Jan. 1825 (

[6] BECHS, Peter B. Porter Papers, K-93/K94 Ogden Edwards, New York, to Peter B. Porter, Black Rock, 22 Sept. 1824 with enclosure.  The details of the monopoly are well told in Thomas H. Cox, Gibbons v. Ogden: Law, and Society in the Early Republic, (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2009) with barely a reference to the implications on the Great Lakes.

[7] Bruce A. Parker, “Street, Samuel,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1966-) 7: 832-35. (

[8] Edward Marion Chadwick, Ontarian Families: Genealogies of United Empire Loyalist and other Pioneer Families of Upper Canada (Toronto: Rolph, Smith & co., 1898), 2: 177. (  James Macklem’s son, Oliver T. Macklem would marry Julia Ann Street, Samuel’s daughter, while his brother Thomas C. Macklem married sister Caroline Street.  See also Arthur Wentworth Roebuck,  The Macklems of Chippawa : being an account of the lives of the descendants of James Macklem, standard bearer to King William III at the Battle of the Boyne 1690 and in particular of James Macklem who emigrated from Ireland and settled at Chippawa, Ontario in 1791 (Toronto: the author, 1969).


[10]  William Richard Cutter, comp. Genealogical and Family History of Central New York (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1912), 2: 844-45 (

[11] Commercial Advertiser (Buffalo), 22 Aug. 1848.  (  [Catherine Cornelia Joy Dyer], A Brief History of the Joy Family, by One of Them, (Private Circulation, 1876). pp. 18-19 citing the obituary of Captain Thaddeus Joy in the Buffalo Daily Courier.  ( 1830 to his death in 1853, Joy ran his forwarding operation on the Erie Canal from an office in Albany, NY.

[12] Truman C. White, Our County and Its People: A Descriptive Work on Erie County, New York (Boston History Company, 1898), v. 1, p. 172-73. ($b728047?urlappend=%3Bseq=220) Miller was born in 1792 (Obituary in Buffalo Daily Republic, 30 March 1853).

[13] BECHS, Mss A00-855, Buffalo & Chippawa Steam Ferry Boat Company Directors, Buffalo to Thaddeus Joy, Utica, 28 Jan. 1825.

[14] Detroit Gazette, 1 Nov. 1825 (

[15] A Description of William Annesley’s New System of Naval Architecture, as secured to him, for the three Kingdoms and Colonies, by His Majesty’s Royal Letters Patent (London:  Annesley and Sowerby, 1818) pp. 5-23 spells out the British patent’s specifications. ( Thirteen figures accompanied the patent but not the pamphlet. William Annesley, A New System of Naval Architecture (London: printed by W. Nicol, 1822).  ( In the 1822 edition the patent claims preceded the principal title page.

[16] Annesley, 1822, pp.  5-20

[17] Frank Mackey, Steamboat Connections: Montreal to Upper Canada, 1816-1843, (Montreal and Kingston:  McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000), pp. 85-88.

[18] New-York Spectator, 27 Dec. 1824.  The Spectator was well read and frequently quoted by the Upper Canadian press, so there is a reasonable chance that some of the directors had read this story.

[19] Montreal Herald, 3 October 1825 quoting York Observer.

[20] Walter Lewis, “The steamer Toronto of 1825,” FreshWater, autumn 1986, pp. 26-29. (

[21] Buffalo Emporium, 2 April 1825.  ( Alternatively the editors of the Emporium have have been alluding to the Pioneer which had originally been intended for the Niagara River but had been enlarged for service on Lake Erie.

[22] Buffalo Emporium, 21 May 1825. (

[23] Buffalo Emporium, 27 Aug. 1825. (

[24] Buffalo Emporium, 17 September 1825. (

[25] Black Rock Gazette, 20 Sept. 1825. (

[26] Buffalo Emporium, 22 Oct. 1825. (

[27] The then current U.S. legislation required vessels engaged in international commerce to be registered while vessels coasting between American ports were enrolled.  This was part of the reason that Chippawa kept crossing the river.  Her papers would not permit touching at two American ports in succession.

[28] United States.  Enrollments. Port of Buffalo, Registration No. 1 of 1825, 27 September 1825. (

[29] A Directory for the Village of Buffalo … (Buffalo: L. P. Crary, 1828), p. 15 (reprinted in the 1876 directory).  A transcription is online at is identified as master of the schooner Comet clearing Buffalo for Cleveland; Chippawa’s direct, Miller, was the master of the schooner Governor Cass the same week. (Buffalo Emporium, 2 May 1827)

[30] Sandusky Clarion, 22 October 1825. ( also

[31] Sandusky Clarion, 29 Oct. 1825.

[32] Buffalo Emporium, 22 Oct.1825.  Detroit Gazette, 25 Oct. 1825.

[33] Detroit Gazette, 25 Oct. 1825.

[34] Detroit Gazette, 1 Nov. 1825.

[35] Sandusky Clarion, 29 Oct., 5 Nov., 12 Nov., 19 Nov. 1825.

[36] This does not necessarily mean that the Canadians had sold out, but simply that in offering an American flagged vessel for sale, that they may have stepped back.  Cleveland Weekly Herald, 24 Feb. 1826. ( Clarion, 25 Feb. 1826. Detroit Gazette, 28 Feb. 1826. (

[37] Sandusky Clarion, 22 April 1826.

[38] Sandusky Clarion, 29 April, 6 May, 13 May, 20 May 1826.

[39] Black Rock Gazette, 15 June 1826. (  Buffalo Emporium, 17 June 1826. (

[40] Buffalo Emporium, 1 July 1826. (

[41] For a summary of John Warren, see J. K. Johnson, Becoming prominent: regional leadership in Upper Canada, 1791-1841 (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989), p. 233

[42]  “The Old Black Rock Ferry” in Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society, January, 1879, pp. 91-112. (

[43] Buffalo Emporium, July 15, 1826 (

[44] Buffalo Emporium, 16 Sept. 1826. (

[45] Buffalo Emporium, 16 Sept. 1826.

[46] Roger Whitman, The Rise and Fall of a Frontier Entrepreneur: Benjamin Rathbun, “Master Builder and Architect” (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press and Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, 1996) pp. 51-55 (

[47] Buffalo Directory, 1828, p. 43-44.  A second William Williams was the cashier of the Bank of Niagara. He and his wife died of cholera in Niagara Falls in August 1849. Daily Republic (Buffalo), 21 Aug. 1849


[49] Black Rock Gazette, 9 June 1827 (

[50] Buffalo Emporium, 22 July 1827

[51] Buffalo Emporium, 12 Nov. 1827

[52] Commercial Advertiser (New York), 7 July 1827 quoting the Black Rock Gazette. The story was picked up by the Boston Traveller, 10 July 1827, and the Colonial Advocate (York), 12 July 1827 ( and summarized in a variety of other papers.

[53] Black Rock Gazette, 11 Aug. 1827 (

[54] Cleveland Weekly Herald, 14 Sept. 1827 quoting Buffalo Journal.  ( Rochester Telegraph produced a full column which was widely reproduced alongside the account from the New York Daily Advertiser. See for example, Baltimore Gazette, 17 Sept. 1827. The Christian Review and Clerical Magazine (London), v. 2 (January 1828), pp. 119-21. ( Ariel: A Literary Gazette (Philadelphia), 6 Oct. 1827, p. 92.( Virtually every history of Niagara Falls includes an account of this event, with varying degrees of disgust for the callous consideration of the animals trapped on board. See Ginger Strand, Inventing Niagara: Beauty Power and Lies (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008) pp. 65-68.

[55] BECHS, Augustus Porter Papers, 200.002, W.A. Bird, Black Rock, to Augustus Porter, Niagara Falls, 21 Oct. 1827 references receiving 18 barrels of flour from the Chipawa [sic] the previous evening, and that “the Boat had a full load from Buffalo for Chipawa Creek.”

[56] New York Spectator 25 Dec. 1825 quoting the Buffalo Journal. (

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