"Daniel's Steamboat Line"

Our Family's Oral History States That Our G.G. Grandfather ran a Steamship Line on the Monongahela & Ohio Rivers. Like a lot of Oral Histories This is not exactly as it was, or was it? Below Are the facts We have been able to uncover.

**From : Way's Steam Towboat Directory Page 226

T2501 V. F. Wilson

Stw tb wh 1860-1873 b. McKeesport, PA. 285.71 tons. Engines 17's-6 ft. stroke. Three Boilers. Owned by V. F. Wilson with Capt. Daniel Pollard, master. Messers. Pollard, Dunshee, And Hammitt operated her towing coal along with the IKE HAMMITT. Taken over by the USQMD for Civil War service, she was General Grant's Dispatch boat at Vicksburg and was sent north with the news of the fall of that City. Continued towing Coal after the war and was lost on Feb. 18, 1873 during high water at Pittsburgh. While moored in the Monongahela River below the Smithfield Street bridge, a free-astray loaded coal barge struck and sank her. The OIL VALLEY NO.2 also was struck and sunk but was latter recovered. In the account of this accident in the "Pittsburgh Commercial " of Feb. 18,1873 it is stated that she was named for Victor F. Wilson whose identity I know not.

**For more info on the Wilson, The Ike Hammitt, The Dan Pollard and many other Civil war Era boats.


The Ike Hammett from: Way's Towboat Directory.

Stw tb wh 1860 - 1886 ? b. McKeesport PA., 142 x 24 x 5

Engines 17 1/2's-6ft. stroke. Three boilers. Owned by

Pollard, Dunshee, and Hammett of Pittsburgh who also ran the V. F. Wilson. Towed coal south from Pittsburgh for the Union gunboats and transports during the Civil war and is known to have been up Red River with the Porter expedition in 1864. After the War, she continued towing coal. Although a dispatch from Cairo, ILL. stated on July 5, 1875 that she had been sold to Capt. Ben F. Goodwin. Her pilots on the Ohio River in 1877 where George Clark and Harrison Murray. Dismantled in 1880 and the machinery went to the SALAS P. COE.

The Ploughman { From the Register of U.S. Merchant ships }

Built at Brownsville PA. 1834 / 33 ton's First home port

Pittsburgh PA. Abandoned 1843 { See Kate's Obit. }

The Dan Pollard From: Way's Steam Packet boat directory

Stw p wh b. McKeesport PA. 1857 77 tons. First home port, Wheeling, Snagged and lost at Cairo ILL. 3 Aug.1864

{We at this time know little of this boat,or if Daniel was owner}

The Accounts in " Official Record of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Naval Forces on Western Waters Series 1 volumes 23 ", Say's that the Dan Pollard, Broke down near Cairo Illinois off Island 21. Also listed is an account dated Dec.23, 1862 stating " The Steamer V. F. Wilson has gone to St. Louis to tow down provisions and ice...[ And further in the same letter ].. Mr. Boggs is negotiating for the steamer Pollard and if successful, will send her down with more coal. Another entry shows how the lucky Capt. and crew got to spend Christmas.,dated Dec. 25 1862 " The Pollard leaves this morning with 25,000 bushels of coal " So at this point it is clear that both the Dan Pollard & the V. F. Wilson Were serving at the same time.And that Daniel was not the Captain of the Dan Pollard.

As for the owner of these boats, it was clearly a partnership. " The History of Allegheny Co. Pennsylvania "States that Capt. William Dunshee built the V. F. Wilson and the Ike Hammitt, Clearly a friendly author giving more credit than was due. The Official Record of the Union and Confederate Navies, Says that the Wilson Belonged to the Mississippi Coal Co. All other sources state that the Twin Boats, the Coal Mine and the Marine Way's Where held in a Partnership, with Pollard, Dunshee, And Hammitt being the principles.

The Daily gazette Feb.18/1873 in an article titled the Flood states that the V. F. Wilson was owned by Mr. Dunshee and Mr. N. Pollard. This would be Norval Pollard, son of Daniel, as Daniel had passed on in 1869.

I have also learned since the discovery of this information that the Wilson Was not the only Dispatch boat at Vicksburg, another was the TIGRESS which was Beached there after being holed by canon fire and Abandoned. I include this to illustrate that being a dispatch Runner is a Dangerous job during a battle. The V. F. Wilson and the IKE Hammitt were built as Sister boats alike in every way for the propose of towing a large tow together. This did not prove to be successful so they worked separately. The Ike Hammitt was Involved in a collision with The Gunboat "NEW ERA" When Being escorted by the same, though neither where severely damaged. Both she and the V. F. Wilson were for the most part employed towing coal and mortar barges in the Vicksburg and Red River Campaign.The U.S.Q.D. Record States the Mississippi Coal Co. was paid, $175.00 a day for the charter of the V. F. Wilson.

Family Connection

Daniel's oldest daughter Martha Pollard married a Richard Wilson. Daniel's Youngest Daughter Mary Pollard married W.W. O'Neil Jr. of O'Neil Coal CO. Daniel's Brother in-law's boat yard built the Wilson & many other fast boats of the day. I would say, This was a family enterprise and displayed the unity of this Family.To my knowledge they All Lived In Or Near McKeesport PA. Dates Range from 1819 to 1937 when the last of this group Mary "Molly" O'Neil died. Emma died in the home of her sister Mary, & the funeral was at the home of her aunt Hannah Hammitt. Her Obituary says, " Her Father was a well known River man, and during the war served under General Grant.{NOTE} More accurately under Commander and Fleet Captain A. M. Pennock and Acting Rear Admiral D. D. Porter. Kate's Obituary say's more about Daniel's life than his did. There also may be a connection to the Col. John Neel mentioned in the account of William Dunshee and Daniel Pollard's operating the coal mine near McKeesport PA. Just a guess, but there are also two Neel Women living with Daniel, in the 1850 Census.

Daniel Pollard 1819- 1869 My G. G. Grandfather

Daniel died Sept.10, 1869 of a heart attack. He was 50 years old.

We are for the time being unable to find out who his parent's were or where he was from. Although In the 1860 census and the A. S. I. Mortality listing Gives PA. as place of Origin

Nancy Pangburn 1822-1849 [ Daniel's first wife ]

{ Nancy was Mother of Norval & Martha }

The Pangburn's are of an old and distinguished family, William Pangburn served in the Revolutionary war, as did the Father of his wife Capt. Nathaniel Fitz Randolph, Nancy's father John Pangburn was from Amboy NJ. Her mother Jane Young was from Elizabeth, PA.

Rachel Catherine "Kate" Cox 1829-1903[ Daniel's 2 ND. wife ]

[ Kate was the mother of Ella & Mary ]

Kate's Obituary from the Pittsburgh Gazette April 11'& 12, 1903

Mrs. Rachel K. Pollard

Mrs. Rachel K. Pollard, 74 years old, died suddenly yesterday afternoon at the home of her son in-law Capt. W. W. O'Neil, Jr., in Monitor avenue, Ben Avon. Mrs. Pollard was born at Limetown, near Mononahela City, and had resided in this section all her life. She was a daughter of Capt. Enoch Cox, a Pioneer coal operator on the local rivers. Mrs. Pollard was the Widow of Capt. Daniel Pollard, who was captain of General Grant's flagship before Vicksburg. Capt. Pollard was well known as a river Captain between Pittsburgh and New Orleans, and it was while south that his service and that of his steamer, the V. F. Wilson, were pressed into the service of the Federal government. Shortly after the close of the Civil War Capt. Pollard died.

Two of his steamers the Ploughman and the Gravelrooter, were among the best known boats on the upper and lower Rivers before the War. Mrs. Pollard was one of 13 children, three of whom still survive. They are : Mrs. Emaline Swanger, 85 years old, and Mrs. William Trax, 70 years old' both of Uniontown, and a sister living in Ottawa, ILL.

Mrs. Pollard is survived by two children, Mrs. W. W. O'Neil Jr. with whom she has made her home for the past 12 years in Ben Avon, and Norval Pollard, a resident of McKeesport,and four grandchildren. Mrs. Pollard was a lifelong member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Norval Pollard b. 15 Oct.1847 d.3 Jan.1925 Also A Capt. in early life, listed as half owner of the Wilson 1873. He inherited 1/3 of all Daniel's Coal & steamboat interests, but is said by living family members to have gambled & drank it away.

Ella M. Pollard 1861-1899 Never Married. Died at Mary's Home 19 Dec.1899

Mary Pollard O'Neil 1866-1937

Mary & W.W. O'Neil Jr. seem to have had one child that died at one year old. I do not know if they had any more.

W.W. O'Neil JR. 1861-1903

Also a Steamboat Captain, Died the same year as Kate.Grand son of John and Mary {Robinson} O'Neil, Son Of William Woods O'Neil, Who With his brother John Nixon O'Neil Were Coal Mine owners from Elizabeth, PA. Much is written about them in the early history of Pittsburgh, and can be accessed at that university's Historic Pittsburgh Site http://bigfoot.library.pitt.edu/pittsburgh/search.html#simple

The O'Neils had a far larger operation than did the Pollard's. Some of the boats, belonging to them were:

*"The FRED WILSON" 523 tons,174 long, 30 w. 5' D.

* The FRED WILSON # 2, 301.55 tons.

*The W. W. O'NEIL 778 tons, 201 ft. L.,46 W.,8 D. Walter Lowery, Her Captain of record She was a Giant even for her day. There where several other boats owned by the O'Neil's far too many to mention here. Today there is an O'Neil Blvd. in McKeesport PA.

William Dunshee: 1820-1905 A Coal Merchant and Business man of some stature is undoubtedly the Dunshee refereed to in the V.F. Wilson listing. He is said to have with Daniel operated the first coal Mine on the Monongahela River Across from McKeesport. He is Credited with the first incline road and the first flange wheeled cars in this area as well. Also he is known to have Relieved Daniel as Captain of the V.F. Wilson for a short period during the Red River Expedition. [ Civil War ] Mr. William Dunshee and Daniel where also partners in the Marine Way's on the Monongahela River across from McKeesport PA. Ironically their graves lie within 30 feet of each other.William is also credited with the ownership of the following boats: The Erie, The Foreman, and the Robinson. I have at this time been unable to find confirmation of these boats except at the Historic Pittsburgh site listed above.

Isaac Hammitt: Was Married to the sister of Daniel's 2nd wife Rachel Catherine " Kate " Cox, her name was Hannah {Cox} Hammitt.b July 15,1824 /. Ike, as we believe he was called, was the son of Isaac Hammitt and Mary [Augustine] Hammitt. Isaac Sr. was a shipwright who had served an 11 year apprenticeship at Philadelphia, before moving to Allegheny CO. Isaac Jr., was part owner in the boat building yard, with Hammitt, Milliken & Chrissinger. Purchased from Capt. Benjamin Coursin in McKeesport where the, Dan Pollard, The V. F. Wilson, and the Ike Hammitt, where built. It is stated in the, History of Allegheny CO. "That Many of the fastest Steamers on the western waters where built there. The ALVIN ADAMS said to be the fastest steamboat that ever left New Orleans, was lunched from this yard. It appears That Isaac held an interest in the Twin Boats with Daniel & Mr. Dunshee.

Victor F. Wilson : The only Victor Wilson I have been able to find is an Executive of the United States Steel Co. his age however leads me to believe he was just a young boy at the time of the building of the V. F. Wilson. Perhaps he had a father of the same name further research may shed some light on this Name.the O'Neals however named their boat after a Fred Wilson so perhaps there is a family connection there that will come to light at a later date.

Richard Wilson Married " Matilda [ Martha ] Pollard b.1845

I have learned of a daughter of Richard and Martha Wilson's, one Nannie Wilson who was mentioned in Daniel's Will as the Recipient of $ 100.00 to be given her in her 21st. year.

" The Next Generations "

Following the Pollard name We then come to :


Norval followed in his fathers path at first but for some

Reason left the Rivers to become a paperhanger & Decorator. I believe it may have been because of the Demise of the Wilson in 1873. Later he would work at the shipping department of the tube works at McKeesport, PA. He Married Annie DeWalt b.1853 d.14 Oct. 1907, Norval was a member of the Free Masons Lodge # 375 from 1869 to 1877, on May 14, was suspended, [no reason given]

Norval Worked at the Tube Works until he suffered a mild stroke, just a few months before his death in 1925. His Gravestone is incorrectly dated 1922. Norval and a friend of Daniel's, William E. Harrison are named as executors of Daniel's will, There may also be a family connection through a Margaret Long who was living in Daniel's home 1860 census and of course the family plot is co-owned by Daniel and Mr. Harrison.

They Had The Following Children:

1. Bentely Clark Pollard b. July 1873 d. 16 June 1931

2. William D. Pollard b. abt 1874 d. 1880

3. Norval M. Pollard "Dick" b.25 Jan.1875 d.30 Oct. 1956

4. Martha Jane Pollard b. Dec. 1877 d. 31 Dec.1943

5. Daniel Pollard b. abt. 1880 d. Sept. 5, 1891

6. Harry Pollard b.25 March 1884 d. 20 Jan 1957

7. Herbert Spencer Pollard b. 11 Dec. 1893 d. 19 March 1950

Note. Daniel Pollard [ died of a Baseball accident at age 11]

*They lived in the family home on Walnut Street in McKeesport.

Annie Died suddenly one day as she was going about her daily routine, of an apparent stroke. She was 54. My Grandfather Herbert Sr. was just 13 years old at the time. I am not quite sure how it came about but shortly after Annie's death, Norval Sr. went to live with his daughter & her husband, Mr. & Mrs. Harry C.Cornell at 3417 Auburn Street McKeesport. Herbert stayed at first with his brother Norval M. (Dick) and his wife, but that apparently didn't work out. He then moved into his sister's. At about this same time, 1907 Norval Sr. began working at the tube works.


They Had the following 8 Children

1. Sara J. Pollard b. abt. 1904 Married a Watson

2. Anna Pollard b. abt. 1908

3. Norval F. Pollard b 1909 d.1947 Head stone reads " Husband & Father "

4. Daniel Pollard b. 1913 d. 1939 [ died at age 26 ]

5. Jeanie I. Pollard b. 25 Nov. 1917

6. Bentley C.Pollard Jr. b. Nov 13, 1925 McKeesport PA.

Died Nov. 1980 Lubbock TX. Had a son named Norval same city

7. Frank Trich POLLARD b. Nov. 13, 1925 McKeesport, PA

8. Jessie M. Pollard Living McKeesport, PA. [ May, 2000 ]

Note: In Bentley's Obituary It states that a Sara J. Watson and a granddaughter Sara Louise Watson survive him. It also lists the rest of his children and his wife Jennie as survivors. We have since come in contact with a Mary [?] Who says Eliza Jane Trich and her grand mother where sisters. She has informed us that Sara Pollard Watson was married 3 times and had a son named Jimmy who she is in contact with.We have since made contact with Mr. James Shiflet of NJ. And he is contributing to our family search.We have been further informed by Norval Pollard of TX. that Jessie [Pollard] Lacy is still living and in McKeesport PA. [ April 29,2000 ]. Jennie's grandfather John Trich built a small steamer named The "CALM"


Norval"s nick name was Dick. Where that came from is anybody's guess. Our living Aunt who knew him says she always thought his middle name was Richard. It is not known if they ever had any children. None are listed as surviving on Norval's obituary.

Norval Lived at 1819 Converse St. and was a member of Titus Lodge Knights of Pythias and the Optimists Club. An Avid baseball player, Amateur Boxer, All around sports Fan.

* Note: Twice married first wife's name was Susan, Attended my mother & fathers wedding.


They Had 5 Children

1. Charles H. Cornell b.abt.1902

2. Norval Pollard Cornell b.abt.1904

3. Ruth Cornell b.abt. 1905 m. Howard G. Grim

4. Anna C.Cornell b.abt. 1907 m. Lee Sunderland

5. Dorothy M.Cornell b.abt.1913 m. V. P. McLaughlin


Harry as far as I can tell never married.

His obituary lists no wife and no surviving children.

He does seem to have inherited or purchased the family home on Walnut St. ? Perhaps A living relative could shed some light on Harry.It is stated in his Obituary that he lived to be 72 years of Age.

Herbert S. Pollard Sr. Married Clara Regensburger

Clara was born 11 Dec.1904 daughter of Gustave Regensburger & Mary Hof. The Ceremony took place at Wellsbury, West Virginia on Oct. 22, 1922.She died in Pittsburgh in 1982. They had the following children.

1. Helen Louise Pollard b. 23 Nov. 1923 m. Oscar Brvenik

2. Herbert Spencer Pollard Jr. b. 14 Dec.1928 d.18 April 1989

Married Mary Isabel Mitchell


Oscar A veteran of the 8th airforce in WW11, under the GI bill

returned to school and became an Analytical Chemist. He Worked with the team that Developed the reactor for the first American Nuclear Submarine, the Nautilus.

They Had The following Children.

1. Richard Brvenik b. 1952 Nick name " Dick "

2. Carol Ann Brvenik b. 1954


They Had the following children

1. Linda Ann Pollard b.1949 d. 1987? { m. Kirby Wilcox }

2. Daniel Spencer Pollard b.1950 { m. Sandra Heist}?

3. Catherine Mary Pollard b.1951 {m.Artie Schille

4. Richard Thomas Pollard b.1952 {twice m. Valerie Cleland 2nd }

5. Jean Louise Pollard b.1954 { m. Gordon McIvor

6. Christine Francis Pollard b.1968 { Twice m. Mark Andison }

*Note Their are other children to Mary Pollard as well as Herbert

Pollard that are not of this Family group.

So this is "Your Name"

It came from your father,
It was all he had to give.
So it's yours to use and cherish.
As long as you may live.
If you lose the watch he gave you,
It can always be replaced.
But a black mark on your name, Son,
Can never be erased.
It was clean the day you took it,
and a worthy name to bear.
When I got it from my father,
There was no dishonor there.
So Make sure you guard it wisely, after all is said & done,
You'll be glad the name is spotless, When you give it to your Son.

- Author Unknown

"Research currently in progress
1. We have sent away for the Obituary of Nannie Wilson she is listed as a grand daughter of Daniel's in his Will. also of a Martha Wilson & Richard Wilson not sure if we have the right ones.
2. A Bible Record containing Pollard's, Long's and Harrison's may be connected ????
3. Two more court records, Actions began over Daniel's Will. The research is as always, ongoing.

Written by Richard T. Pollard
contact Richard by Email

Webmaster's Note: This site invites steamboat family histories. If you would like to post your steamboat research here, please contact us: contact info.. Our first serious report is from Richard T. Pollard. Richard Pollard has also posted a family geneology at this address: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~ricksgenealogy/boat_pa.htm and he is working on a book. Pollard Family History Website Click here for: Pollard Genealogy and History Book