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United States/Covers & Postmarks : Postal Card to a New York Canal Boat

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Linus
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17 May 2019
01:02:55pm
Today I will share another item that I recently added to my postal history collection showing how to send a message to a New York canal boat captain. This postal card was mailed August 12, 1878 from Boonville, New York to the Utica, New York canal collector with the instructions: "Collectors please hand this to Beach." I find this process interesting.

Linus

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pigdoc
23 May 2019
04:10:31pm
re: Postal Card to a New York Canal Boat

Yes, very interesting, Linus!

Appears to be a mechanism to make barge captains accountable for the tolls to be paid for transiting the Erie Canal. In other words, makes it impossible for the captain to honestly say, "I didn't know".


On second thought, I would bet that it's a simple message from someone, perhaps with a commission, to Captain Black to look for a letter when he gets to West Troy. The toll collector was being employed as a postman to deliver the card to the boat. At any rate, we can say the barge was eastbound! Makes me wonder how long it took to make the 150-odd river miles. Several days? A week? The sender was located 30-odd miles north of Utica, if he lived near Boonville.

I think what you are reading is actually "Black". Andrew Black, Captain of the Jennie Black.

This is probably a different Andrew Black:
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It's an English painting, done in 1865, and it depicts a maritime context, not an aquatic one.

Lots of canal boat resources out there, maybe one could find the Jennie Black...

-Paul

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Linus
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24 May 2019
08:40:28am
re: Postal Card to a New York Canal Boat

Paul - Based on research I have done, I still think it is "Beach" instead of "Black" and I am still trying to confirm it, but I have found out that Boonville, New York was a canal town. The Black River Canal in Boonville connected to the Erie Canal. The first Black River Canal Superintendent was Nelson Beach. There was Beach's Bridge and Beach's Landing on the Black River canal, and I have seen canal photographs taken by H M Beach. The Beach family name was associated with the canal system, but still trying to tie Andrew or Jennie to the Beach family.

I appreciate your response to this thread, Paul.

Linus

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pigdoc
25 May 2019
09:42:26am
re: Postal Card to a New York Canal Boat

Linus,

I tend to agree with your conclusions. So, already from your research, you can tentatively conclude that the canal boat captain was connected to Boonville, and by extension, to the sender of the card (Webster). So, there was more there than simply a business proposition (presumably represented by the letter to be picked up in West Troy).

I played around with googling H.S. Webster and got nowhere. (I did find out that Daniel Webster, as US Secretary of State, gave a speech in Syracuse, within sight of the Erie Canal on May 26, 1851, warning abolitionists to stand down.) At any rate, I wonder if Webster's choice of the word "instructions" indicates that he had a role in lining up cargoes. Perhaps he owned the vessel? Or, maybe he was just an insistent consignor...

I love puzzling over items like these! Many times, this forces us to become handwriting analysts. There are 15 instances of the letter "l" that allow us to statistically examine differences between it and the letter "e" in the sender's handwriting. From that, I think it is conclusive that we're looking at 4 instances of "Beach", not "Black". However, the very last one seems to end in "k", not "h".

I bet, if you had access to the Erie Canal history library, that you could document Captain Beach's voyages, and figure out what the "instructions" were! Guess you should move to Albany, NY!

Very interesting!
-Paul

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Linus
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25 May 2019
10:21:18am
re: Postal Card to a New York Canal Boat

pigdoc -

I saw that too, the last Beach is written with what clearly looks like a "k" instead of an "h" but if you look at how the writer wrote the word "please," he clearly makes a large swooping "L" after "P" and he did not do that in the word "Beach."

I have sent an email reaching out to the Boonville Black River Canal Museum in Boonville, New York, and I will update this thread if I get a reply or find out anything.

Here is their link, there is a lot of history here, an excellent website if you click the "History" and "Chronology" links in the upper left corner. I had no idea they put that much engineering and Irish hard labor into building the canal system there.

http://www.blackrivercanalmuseum.com/


I actually would like to vacation/visit western New York state someday as my great, great, grandfather was originally from that area before moving to Anamosa and then Springville, Iowa. His Civil War story is incredible, I could write a book.

Linus

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pigdoc
25 May 2019
11:52:05am
re: Postal Card to a New York Canal Boat

Ya, I spent most of the month of August, 2016 in the Hudson River Valley, based out of Albany, and gained a similar appreciation for the engineering marvel that is the NY Canal system. While there, I had a chance to explore a still-operating hand-operated lock (#13) on the Old Champlain Canal, just South of Fort Edward. Spent some time talking to the lockmaster there.
-Paul


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jmh67
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25 May 2019
03:45:44pm
re: Postal Card to a New York Canal Boat

As for the name of the recipient, I also think "Beach" is the correct reading. If you write in a hurry, it is easy to confuse letters. Note also that the sender wrote "canall" on the address side which is certainly an odd spelling even for the 19th century. Mistakes happen all the time.

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BenFranklin1902
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Tom in Exton, PA
28 May 2019
08:22:54pm

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re: Postal Card to a New York Canal Boat

Quote:

"Note also that the sender wrote "canall" on the address side which is certainly an odd spelling even for the 19th century. Mistakes happen all the time."



Misspelling is common on 19th century writings. Note that my 1905 Facts that I have in one of my Powerpoint presentations says, that 2 out of 10 adults were illiterate and only 8% of our population had graduated high school!

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