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Ohio River Trade: Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Flatboat Trade from Crawford County, Indiana, to New Orleans

From The Hoosier Genealogist: Connections, Spring/Summer 2018. To receive Connections twice a year, join IHS  and enjoy this and other member benefits. Back issues of Connections are available through the Basile History Market.

Just outside the small village of Alton, Crawford County, Indiana, where the Little Blue River empties into the Ohio River, a lumber mill owned by Abraham N. Peckinpaugh and Lycurgus Harrison once stood. Founded under the name of Peckinpaugh, Harrison, and Company Mills, but also known as Indiana Oak Mills, the company produced toys of every variety, novelties and mantels for the “finest houses,” high-quality furniture, wagons, and carts (and the wheels to go with them).(1) In 1877, within a decade of the company’s founding, Peckinpaugh and Harrison saw an opportunity for their booming enterprise and began shipping carts, wagons, lumber, sugar paddles, and other supplies downriver to the sugar plantations of Louisiana.(2)

Peckinpaugh, called “Uncle Abe” by the Alton community, had tried his hand at farming and owned a general store with his brother John before opening the mill. He also was the president of the Alton Canning Company. Abraham and John’s parents, Nicholas and Eleanor Peckinpaugh, were among the first permanent settlers in Crawford County. The brothers registered for the military draft in 1863 as residents of Ohio Township. Abraham married his first wife, Emma Williams, in 1860, but she died suddenly in 1865, a few months after the death of their infant son. Abraham married again in 1874, this time to a Missouri woman named Ruth Elizabeth (Bettie) Wilson. Together they had at least two girls, Winonah and Katie. They lived near Alton in what was described as a “handsome and comfortable home,” likely built with the money made from their profitable lumber mill and river trade.(3)

Of all the fine woodworking produced in the mill, the products that stood out most in the mind of little Catharine “Katie” Calhoun Peckinpaugh were the flatboats produced to transport merchandise to the Southern markets. Born in September 1880, Katie wrote down some of her observations in about 1955.(4) Although considerable time had passed since her youth along the banks of the Ohio, Katie still recalled fondly the flatboat business run by her father and Mr. Harrison.

Knowing exactly what sort of vessel the Peckinpaughs were building, however, is not easily discerned. Different terminology from different times and places makes the term “flatboat” challenging to define. The large rectangular vessels were called “flatboats, Kentucky boats, Orleans boats, arks, broadhorns, Kentucky broadhorns, barges, [and] rafts.”(5) Boats could be 12 to 20 feet wide and 20 to 150 feet in length, with oars up to 40 feet. The size of the crew was dependent on the size of the craft, but typically ranged from five to ten.(6) Yet at the end of the day most of these boats served the same purpose: commerce with Southern planters.

In her notes, Katie states that her father would have these boats built each year, and she describes their basic layout: “The bunks for the crew were in one end where the kitchen was. The capt. & pilot had theirs in the other end. They loaded the lumber so there would be ventelation [sic] from one end to the other.” The crew then “guided and pulled the flat boats with paddles” standing on platforms built onto the sides of the boats. In good weather three men were needed to control the massive boats, but if the weather turned sour, more were needed to control the large vessels. To Katie’s recollection, the captain of their boats was usually a “Mr. Decatur Gaither,” who went by Kate.(7)

Boats usually were built keel up on the bank of a river and then flipped over into the water using pulleys and ropes. Con¬struction then was completed on the bunkhouses and kitchens.(8) Katie Peckinpaugh writes how the flatboats were built in the spring of the year “when the river was high so the sand bars would be covered & the flat boats would not get stuck on them.” They were built on the Little Blue River, “down the hill from [the] mill,” then brought to the junction of the Little Blue and Ohio Rivers, known to her as the “point,” to be loaded with supplies and shipped to New Orleans and the sugar plantations of Louisiana.9 All this made the location of the Peckinpaugh mill ideal for trade on the Ohio. The craftsmen of Alton became experts over decades of flatboat trade.

In the waning years of the nineteenth century, as Alton reached its peak population, the Peckinpaugh and Harrison mill could boast being one of “the most extensive manufactories of the kind in the State.”(10) By the time of Katie’s writings, however, more than half a century later, the “Golden Age” of flatboating had long since passed, and the industry that had once supported southern Indiana was but a distant memory.(11)

The town of Alton and Peckinpaugh, Harrison, and Company Mills were not unique. For many years the towns and businesses along the Ohio had depended on the trade made possible by the river’s deep, navigable waters. In fact, the Louisville Weekly Register estimates that between October 1810 and May 1811 some 1,200 such boats passed Louisville, “wafting the rich produce of the western world to the markets” of the eastern United States, much of it en route to New Orleans.12 Even before the first steamboats made their way on the Ohio in 1811 (an advent that made the return journey much quicker and cheaper), merchants and farmers found this long-distance trade profitable.

While certainly there were some craftsmen such as Peckinpaugh and Harrison shipping their manufactured products, the majority of trade going downriver was the excess agricultural produce of local farmers. The early settlers of the Old Northwest sought to establish themselves near water, the highways of a pre-industrialized world. Having cleared the land and firmly settled in, the entrepreneurial Hoosiers along the Ohio learned how farmers in the South mainly raised cash crops, such as cotton and sugar, and needed the staples produced abundantly in places like Indiana.13 In his study of southern Indiana’s nineteenth-century society, Richard Nation asserts that in an effort to not only survive but also to ensure the survival of their children’s fortunes, Hoosier farmers became dependent “upon the local community and their involvement in more distant markets.”(14) This system of long-distance business played a vital role in Indiana for nearly the entire course of the nineteenth century and even into the twentieth century.

The Weekly Register shows that trade was on the rise in the early nineteenth century. The amount of food flowing out of western states, including Indiana, and being shipped to the South at that time is truly staggering. In 1820, 2,400 boats floated downriver laden with “1,804,810 lbs. of bacon, 200,000 bbls. [barrels] flour, 20,000 bbls. pork, 62,000 bushels oats, 100,000 bushels corn, 10,000 bbls. cheese, 160,000 lbs. butter, 11,207,333 fowls and 466,412 lbs. of lard.”(15) At the end of 1844, the going price in New Orleans was $4.50 for a barrel of flour, $1.50 for a barrel of onions, and 30 cents per bushel of oats.16 So long as harvests were plentiful, the river swift, and boats easy to make, most everyone stood to benefit from prices like these.

The large amount of produce available to Indiana merchants was in part due to the fact that on the early nineteenth-century frontier, much trade was still done by barter. When the owner of a local store traded his goods for surplus crops, often he was left with an excess of produce, which he could then sell at a profit in the markets along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and in New Orleans. Much of this was transported cheaply downriver by flatboat.(17)

Even Abraham Lincoln became part of this network. While living along the banks of Little Pigeon Creek in what is today Spencer County, Lincoln made his first trip via flatboat to New Orleans: “He was a hired hand merely; and he and a son of the owner, with out other assistance, made the trip. The nature of part of the cargo—load, as it was called—made it necessary for them to linger and trade along the Sugar coast.”(18) Perhaps this boat, owned by local shopkeeper James Gentry, was a fair bit smaller than the ones Katie described if only two young men were required for a successful trip.

At any rate, Lincoln and Gentry’s son, Allen, put out for New Orleans in 1828, carrying the surplus goods of the Little Pigeon Creek community.(19) River trade might be lucrative, but a trip downriver was fraught with danger. At the green ages of nineteen (Lincoln) and twenty-one (Gentry), navigation around sandbars, snags, and eddies, not to mention all the other boats, was just one of the issues they faced on the river.(20) Katie knew that bad storms could throw both ship and crew into disarray, “especially on the Mississippi.”(21) In fact, the very shape of a flatboat, being in essence simply a large rectangle, made it challenging to steer, even in good weather.

In the early years of the nineteenth century, pirates were also a hazard to unsuspecting tradesmen. Brigands such as those called the “Harpes” patrolled the waters between Henderson and Cave-In-Rock, Illinois. They would often lure in travelers, feigning an emergency, then take their supplies and sometimes kill the boatmen.(22) It was not a trip for the faint of heart, and not all were called to it. One flatboater, George Torrence Paull, expressed this sentiment in a song he wrote on his 1842 trip:

Some love to roam, o’er the hills at home, Where the shrill winds whistle free, But a chosen few, for a flat-boat crew, And a life on the waves for me.(23)

There seem to be many philosophies about when was the best time to “set sail,” no doubt in part related to all the dangers noted above. According to Lucie Rieman, whose father was a pilot for many years, boats would leave Aurora, Dearborn County, “about the middle of September each year,” so that they could reach the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers before ice began to form.(24) While it is not all that common for the Ohio to freeze over, it could be yet another deadly threat if it did.

The changing seasons were not a deterrent for those in the meat business, however. Farmers shipping meat (mostly pork), such as the Gentry and Lincoln families, waited for the coolness of winter before beginning the butchering process in November and shipping the meat off once preservation was complete.(25) The hog business was of great importance to many farmers at this time. Fairly self-reliant and tough, hogs presented a relatively easy source of income for Indiana herdsmen. They were so important to the early settlers of Indiana that Nation asserts that “one cannot really understand antebellum Indiana—and probably much of the United States—if one does not understand hogs.”(26)

Then, of course, there were those such as the Peckinpaughs who chose to wait for the high waters in spring, when the weather was warmer and the rivers faster, before shipping their wares. Travel during the spring would help sailors avoid snags and sandbars and likely made for a quicker journey due to the fast flowing waters from the spring runoff.

No matter what time of year a boat shoved off, trading was usually profitable, though once in a while, the business endeavor would bust. If the Peckinpaugh crew did well, they could sell the flatboat and ride back on a steamship. If money was not made, however, they would have to walk.(27) The company also seems to have made backup plans in the event of failure, as implied when William Dunn, an employee/part owner of the mill, wrote to his brother Temple Dunn in 1892, “Capt. Harrison will go South in a few days[.] he will take photograph with him & try and sell the Southern furniture[.] If he fails we will do our best when we go in the Spring.”(28) And yet business must have been very good on the whole, seeing as this Indiana mill did business with Southern planters for more than forty years.

The round-trip journey from Alton to New Orleans, an expedition of roughly 1,300 miles one way, usually took about two months.(29) Often farmers’ produce would never make it as far as the Gulf Coast but was instead sold at markets along the Mississippi. Paull recalled seeing eighty to one hundred flatboats at Memphis in mid-April 1842, just one stop of many along the way.(30) Some began trading their goods as soon as they entered the Mississippi for those Southern rarities of cotton, tobacco, and sugar.(31) Rieman states that her father’s flatboats “stopped at a number of places and sold our miscellaneous supplies, especially where coasting boats had landed for years,” implying the existence of established trading posts.(32)

It seems that the specialty lumber goods of Peckinpaugh, Harrison, and Company Mills were often intended specifically for the markets of New Orleans and plantations along the Sugar Coast. Perhaps the nature of trade had changed by the latter part of the nineteenth century, or maybe this company was unique. By 1888 the company even went so far as to secure a warehouse in New Orleans to accommodate excess goods.(33)

What would travelers have encountered upon their arrival in New Orleans? Katie doesn’t appear to have ever made the trip herself, but instead relied on reports from friends and family, including a certain “cousin . . . who made many trips.”(34) Rieman recalled a trip she took with her parents in 1883, claiming that making a trip to New Orleans was considered “quite the thing, in a cultural way,” especially exciting for [a] young lady of ten.(35) And small wonder, for New Orleans at this time was a truly international city—a far more ethnically diverse place than many from Indiana were used to. It was here that many young Hoosiers got their first taste of the outside world. They were awed by the big city, which even in the 1820s boasted a population of nearly forty thousand, many of whom still spoke French.(36)

Before the Civil War, a trip to New Orleans also gave some their first glimpse of the slave trade. Gentry family tradition holds that on their trip, Lincoln supposedly spoke up to his partner about the matter of slavery: “Allen, this is a disgrace. If I ever get a lick at the thing I’ll hit it hard.”(37) Whether or not this story is true, it helps us see how the journey to New Orleans could have been the “most exciting and important experience of Abe’s Indiana years.”(38)

Paull was amazed by the increasing extravagance of the Southern homes along the lower Mississippi. As his 1842 trip progressed, he was impressed by the “highly improved . . . ornamental and expensive residences.” Paull recalls “Wade Hampton’s plantation,” which contained four sugar manufactories and was worked in by more than six hundred people.(39) These operations must have seemed truly gargantuan to the small-time farmers of Indiana. Perhaps the Peckinpaughs would have felt more at ease, however, for Abraham had built an elegant home in about 1870 with a scenic view of the Ohio River.(40)

The carts and wagons produced at the Peckinpaugh mill were pulled by mules in the field to haul loads of sugar cane to the refineries. Katie recalls how the mill’s sugar paddles were used to scrape the sides of the containers during the evaporation stage of the refining process for brown sugar. (The family later learned that some of their paddles were also used by a fraternity in its initiation rites.)(41)

Once all the goods were sold or, in the case of the Peckinpaughs, stored in their Southern warehouse, the sailors then had to make their way home. The men working for the Peckinpaughs would either strip down the boat and sell the lumber or have the boat towed back home. Katie tells us that “later, they bought a small to[w]boat [called the Hornet] and [towed] the flat boat down and back.”(42) This must have been quite a relief to the men.

Flatboat trade declined as the twentieth century opened. Despite this and a fire in September 1903 that destroyed the company’s Alton warehouse (costing about $3,000—no small expense at that time), Indiana Oak Mills maintained excellent relationships with the sugar planters of the southern coast.(43) In 1892 William Dunn expressed that business was good, saying, “We are not in the market for anything Spokes, Logs, or lumber. We are in an excellent shape to wait,” going on to explain how the company planned to pay off its debts.(44) Business was good for both mill operator and plantation owner. One Southerner admiringly remarked in the Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, “never once since this system was inaugurated many years ago have Messrs. Peckinpaugh, Harrison, & Co. failed to make their annual voyage.” In fact, by 1913 the industrious men of Alton had earned quite a reputation with their Southern customers, who regarded them as “old, true and staunch friends.” These traders from the North reportedly had not given “a single instance in which they [had] done anything to forfeit the high esteem in which they [were] universally held.”(45)

The entire enterprise was reasonably profitable for farmers, store owners, and most everyone else as well. Nation argues that much of southern Indiana became “civilized” through this commerce with Southern markets. Hoosiers attained better living conditions and consumer goods, such as window glass, making their homes warmer and drier.(46) In the years before quality roads, canals, or trains, much produce and other merchandise were available chiefly in river towns. There were, of course, the basic groceries brought in through the barter system mentioned above, but often the stores offered more sophisticated products as well.

Items such as “silks, satin, elegant umbrellas and parasols . . . slippers . . . chinaware . . . cutlery,” and other products could be bought in river towns like Alton all up and down the Ohio. As one historian describes, they were “a veritable department store.”(47) Such niceties found their way to the frontier via the international trade made possible in part by the flatboat trade with the markets in New Orleans. All this had a profound impact on southern Indiana and continued to bring business to the area even after the opening of well-maintained roads and interstates.

Yet such advancements would in time lead to small towns such as Alton being bypassed and falling into obscurity as the twentieth century marched on. The success of Peckinpaugh, Harrison, and Company Mills eventually came to an end. Abraham Peckinpaugh died in Alton in the spring of 1912 at the age of 73.(48) Harrison would follow his partner in 1925; however, the mill’s operation doesn’t seem to have lasted long past Abraham’s death.(49) By 1917 the mill was known under the name of “William Dunn Successor to Peckinpaugh, Harrison, & Co.,” and after this year no longer makes an appearance in the Louisiana Planter.(50) The company may not have been very successful under Dunn, for in 1919, as he returned to Alton for a visit, a local newspaper reporter noted how sad it was that “the old mill [had been] torn down.”(51) In all likelihood, whatever was left of the mill in 1937 was destroyed in the massive flooding of the Ohio that year.

Today few buildings are left in Alton. While certainly it was never a large town, it has only a few permanent residents now and bears no obvious signs of its successful manufacturing past. To its credit, it still holds a breathtaking view of the Ohio River from its shores. The Peckinpaughs’ “handsome and comfortable home” can still be found in Alton, albeit in a state of disrepair. One does not need a terribly active imagination, however, to see that in its day it must have been a house of some grandeur. The property of about twenty-five acres on which the mill once stood and where the home can still be found was sold at auction in October 2017.(52) Perhaps its new owners will be inclined to restore it to its former glory.

Katie Peckinpaugh moved on from the small-town life of Alton and by 1910 was living with her husband, Sidney Hatfield, in Indianapolis. They had two children, Nicholas and Wenonah. Katie passed away in November 1968, some thirteen years after writing down her memories of the Peckinpaugh, Harrison, and Company Mills and its extensive flatboat trading network.(53) Indeed, most of the family must have left the area in the years following Abraham’s death because the family cemetery (about five miles outside of Alton) ceased to be used around 1914.(54)

The mill in Alton may very well have been one of the last businesses to regularly send supplies to the South and also one of the last truly successful enterprises in the town. Upgraded methods of transportation, along with improvements in the Southern agriculture and lumber industries, led to a decline in need for Northern food and manufacturing.(55) And so, the great age of the flatboat, like Peckinpaugh, Harrison, and Company Mills, fell from prominence and into the memory of an older generation, leaving behind only scraps of stories such as Katie’s brief notes. But perhaps with more work and a fair amount of luck, we will be able to preserve the stories of the flatboat towns and families, such as Alton and the Peckinpaughs, that once thrived in the hills of Crawford County in southern Indiana.

1. John M. Gresham and Company, Biographical and Historical Souvenir for the Counties of Clark, Crawford, Harrison, Floyd, Jefferson, Jennings, Scott, and Washington, Indiana (Chicago: Chicago Printing, 1889), 2:60; Hazen Hayes Pleasant, A History of Crawford County, Indiana (Greenfield, IN: Wm. Mitchell Printing, 1926), 123, 125; “Old and Reliable, Yet Young and Active,” Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer 50, no. 14 (April 5, 1913): 221. The Louisiana Planter tells us that the mill also supplied southerners with “plow beams, handles, backbands, [and] sugar paddles.” They also offered to cut boards to any size, provided that an order was placed early enough.

2. “Old and Reliable, Yet Young and Active” cites the company as being founded in 1872, but Peckinpaugh’s obituary estimates that it was established in 1867; see “Abraham N. Peckinpaugh Died Suddenly At His Home,” Cannelton Telephone, March 7, 1912; Also, advertisement for Peckinpaugh, Harrison, and Co., Indiana Oak Mills, Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, 1, no. 1 (July 7, 1888): 56.

3. Gresham and Company, Biographical and Historical Souvenir for the Counties of Clark, Crawford, Harrison, Floyd, Jefferson, Jennings, Scott, and Washington, Indiana, 2:59–60; “Abraham N. Peckinpaugh Died Suddenly At His Home”; Entries for John I. Peckinpaugh (line 7) and Abraham N. Peckinpaugh (line 8), Indiana, Second Congressional District, vol. 2, p. 350, digital image, “U.S., Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863–1865,” Ancestry; Certificate of death for Ruth Elizabeth Peckinpaugh, no. 14800 (1927), Marion County, Indiana State Board of Health digital image, “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899–2011” database, Ancestry; 1900 U.S. census, Crawford County, Indiana, population schedule, enumeration district 23, p. 3A, dwelling 46, family 46, Abraham N. Peckinpaugh household; A. N. Peckinpaugh and Emma Williams, license date October 11, 1860, Spencer County, Indiana, digital image, “Indiana, Marriages, 1810–2001” database, Ancestry; Abraham Nicholas Peckinpaugh and Ruth Elizabeth Wilson, September 7, 1874 (recorded December 7, 1874), Saline County, Missouri, digital image, “Missouri, Marriage Records, 1805–2002” database, Ancestry.

4. Collection guide, Ohio River Transportation Materials, ca. 1900–1964, SC 3081, Indiana Historical Society. Though the collection labels the typed transcript ca. 1895, the original notes that Katie (Peckinpaugh) Hatfield wrote are handwritten on the back of typed budget reports dated January 1955. [Hatfield’s notes will hereafter be referred to as Katie (Peckinpaugh) Hatfield’s notes.]

5. R. Carlyle Buley, The Old Northwest: Pioneer Period, 1815–1840 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1950), 413–14.

6. For a fuller understanding of traditional crew sizes and profit¬ability of flatboat trading, see Erik F. Haites, James Mark, and Gary M. Walton, “Western River Transportation: The Era of Early Internal Development, 1810–1860,” The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975), 15, 36–40, Appendix E; Gail King, A Flatboat Hornbook: Being an Account of Flatboats Pertaining Especially to their Use and Era in the Ohio River Valley (Henderson, KY: Gleaner Print Shop, 1975), 17.

7. Collection guide, Ohio River Transportation Materials, ca. 1900–1964.

8. Louis A. Warren, Lincoln’s Youth: Indiana Years, Seven to Twenty-one, 1816–1830 (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1959), 177, 178.

9. Katie (Peckinpaugh) Hatfield’s notes.

10. Gresham and Company, Biographical and Historical Souvenir for the Counties of Clark, Crawford, Harrison, Floyd, Jefferson, Jennings, Scott, and Washington, Indiana, 1:60. Alton reached its peak population in 1890 at 277 residents and began steadily declining after that. See U.S. Census Bureau, “Census of Population and Housing: 1880 Population of Civil Divisions Less Than Counties,” “Table III—State of Indiana, Crawford, Alton town, 1900 Minor Civil Divisions,” “Table 5—Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions, 1890 and 1900—Indiana, Alton town,” and “1930 Population—Indiana, Table 4—Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930, 1920, and 1910, Alton town,” all at

11. King, Flatboat Hornbook, 10.

12. H. Niles, ed., “Louisville (Ken.) May 31, 1811,” Louisville Weekly Register 1 (September 1811 to March 1812): 10, available at Internet Archive,

13. Thomas Records, “Flatboats,” Indiana Magazine of History 42, no. 4 (December 1946): 325–26.

14. Richard Franklin Nation, “Home in the Hoosier Hills: Agriculture, Politics, and Religion in Southern Indiana, 1810–1870” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1995), 201.

15. H. Niles, ed., “Chronicle: The Western States,” Louisville Weekly Register 20 (March to September 1821): 239, available at Internet Archive. See note 6 above for more on the profitability of river trade. 16. Harold Brown Adkinson Papers, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, box 1, folder 10, December 2, 1844, and December 31, 1844.

17. Warren, Lincoln’s Youth, 176. William Bartelt confirms this sort of economy when telling us how the “Little Pigeon community used ‘surplus production’ to barter with local storekeeper James Gentry for items they could not produce themselves” in There I Grew Up: Remembering Abraham Lincoln’s Indiana Youth (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2008), 35.

18. Bartelt, There I Grew Up, 9–10. Abraham Lincoln wrote down the story of traveling on a flatboat to New Orleans as part of a biographical piece for the Chicago Press and Tribune after his nomination as the Republican presidential candidate in 1860.

19. There is some discrepancy as to the actual date of Gentry and Lincoln’s departure. Some believe they left in spring 1828, while some say it was in December that same year. See Bartelt, There I Grew Up, 35–36, and Warren, Lincoln’s Youth, 178–79.

20. Bartelt, There I Grew Up, 35–37.

21. Katie (Peckinpaugh) Hatfield’s notes.

22. Bartelt, There I Grew Up, 37; King, Flatboat Hornbook, 21.

23. George Torrence Paull, “Account of a Trip to New Orleans by Flatboat,” April 7, 1842, SC 1978, Indiana Historical Society.

24. Records, “Flatboats,” 332, 333.

25. Bartelt, There I Grew Up, 35.

26. Nation, “Home in the Hoosier Hills,” 267.

27. Katie (Peckinpaugh) Hatfield’s notes; Cannelton News, February 22, 1955.

28. Temple H. Dunn Collection, January 9, 1892, box 1, folder 3, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library.

29. Paull, “Account of a Trip to New Orleans by Flatboat.” George Paull traveled from the area near Sullivan County, Indiana, down the Wabash River, heading for New Orleans. The trip there and back took place from March 31 to ca. May 23, 1842. Lincoln’s trip also lasted about two months, April to June 1828. See Bartelt, There I Grew Up, 38, 179. For contemporary distance, see U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ohio River Navigation Charts: Cairo, Illinois, to Foster, Kentucky, Sheet A, Chart 69, June 2010,, accessed April 2018; and “Cruising the Upper Mississippi River,” Captain John,, accessed April 2018. The former makes it evident that Alton is roughly 302 miles above Cairo (where the Ohio enters the Mississippi) and the latter that Cairo is 954 miles up the Mississippi, making it a trip of about 1,300 miles by river.

30. Paull, “Account of a Trip to New Orleans by Flatboat.”

31. Warren, Lincoln’s Youth, 184.

32. Records, “Flatboats,” 333.

33. Katie (Peckinpaugh) Hatfield’s notes; “Old and Reliable, Yet Young and Active,” an 1888 advertisement in the Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer lists the company’s warehouse at Toledono and Water Streets in New Orleans.

34. Katie (Peckinpaugh) Hatfield’s notes.

35. Records, “Flatboats,” 332.

36. Warren, Lincoln’s Youth, 181.

37. Bartelt, There I Grew Up, 38.

38. Warren, Lincoln’s Youth, 175.

39. Paull, “Account of a Trip to New Orleans by Flatboat.”

40. Gresham and Company, Biographical and Historical Souvenir for the Counties of Clark, Crawford, Harrison, Floyd, Jefferson, Jennings, Scott, and Washington, Indiana, 2:59–60; Candy Hudziak, ed., Crawford County, Indiana, Historic Sites and Structures Inventory (Indianapolis: Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, 2008), 72.

41. Katie (Peckinpaugh) Hatfield’s notes. For more on the sugar refining process, production, and industry during the nineteenth century, see the section “Early Sugar Plantations” in Tatiana Shabelnik, Chuck Thomas, and Matt Mullenix, Sugar at LSU: A Chronology (Louisiana State University Libraries, 2002),, accessed April 2018.

42. Katie (Peckinpaugh) Hatfield’s notes.

43. Pleasant, History of Crawford County, Indiana, 556.

44. Temple H. Dunn Collection, November 27, 1892, folder 3.

45. “Old and Reliable, Yet Young and Active.”

46. Nation, “Home in the Hoosier Hills,” 223.

47. Buley, The Old Northwest, 554.

48. Certificate of death for Abraham Nicholson Peckinpaugh, no. 1 (1912), Crawford County, Indiana State Board of Health, digital image, “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899–2011,” Ancestry.

49. Pleasant, History of Crawford County, Indiana, 124.

50. Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer 59, no. 26 (1917): 16.

51. English News, July 4, 1919, p. 8.

52. Listing in Beckort Auctions’ online catalog:, accessed April 2018.

53. 1910 U.S. census, Marion County, Indianapolis, Indiana, enu¬meration district 32, Ward 1 (partial), page 10A, dwelling and family numbers illegible, Sidney J. Hatfield household, Ancestry; Certificate of death for Catharine C. (Peckinpaugh) Hatfield, no. 05807 (1968), Marion County, Indiana State Board of Health digital image, “Indiana, Death Certificates, 1899–2011” database, Ancestry.

54. Hudziak, Crawford County, Indiana, Historic Sites and Structures Inventory, 76.

55. Records, “Flatboats,” 342.

Patrick Hanlon is a graduate student in history and library science at Indiana University–Purdue University, Indianapolis. An Ohio native, he earned bachelor’s degrees in history and classics from Valparaiso University in Indiana. After having taught in Chicago for two years, he is now an intern for the Indiana Historical Society Press.

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