Sunday, October 9, 2016

Getting from Here to There in the 1890s

Sarah Eva Howe writes in her scrapbooks about various trips in the 1880s to the early 1900s. She traveled from Carrollton, Kentucky, to Cincinnati to visit relatives and to Louisville to visit friends. Her family went to events in nearby communities of Ghent, Vevay, Madison, and Worthville. Her father and uncles traveled to New York to select stock for the family's department store.

How did they get to those places? Clippings and comments in Sarah's scrapbooks tell the stories.
This scrapbook item, a montage of transportation options, illustrates how Sarah's family traveled.
  • Boats – from small rowboats and ferries to large steamships – carried people and goods across rivers, lakes, and oceans. 
  • A railroad bridge crossing the Ohio River from Worthville, Kentucky, was completed before 1870, and train travel was apparently commonplace in the entire area before 1880.
  • The omnibus (barely visible behind the trees near the lower right corner) was an enclosed, horse-drawn coach that could accommodate groups of people. The March 6, 1871 issue of Louisville's Courier-Journal  reported: “An omnibus line is to commence its daily trips this morning from Carrollton to Worthville.” That explains how Carrolltonians got to Worthville to catch the train! Stagecoaches were still in use as well. From a web site's clipping dated October 1872 (no newspaper named): “The Carrollton Station Stage is doing a thriving business, so is the Worthville Stage, and they are both well conducted. Travel from here, to the cities, is now almost entirely by the Short Line R R. The river is so low that there is no telling at what time the Mail-boats will be along. For instance: the Ben Franklin left Cincinnati, last Saturday evening, and did not reach here until Monday morning.”
  • That contraption on the hillside at the top of the montage is an incline. There was at least one incline in Cincinnati, known as "The City of Seven Hills." Sarah commented about riding it – probably when she traveled by riverboat and needed to get from the river up to the Price Hill area where her Cost grandparents lived. She saved this postcard in a scrapbook.

The horse and buggy was a popular mode of transportation for centuries and was still commonplace through the early 1900s. Sarah remembered cousins coming to visit by horse and buggy, using heated stones on the floor of the buggy in the winter to keep their feet warm.

Aunt Sallie and Uncle Mack [Sarah Varena "Sallie Howe and Herman M. "Mack" Froman] and their children made frequent trips to see us, and go shopping, from their farm home above Ghent. With their staid family horse it was an hour & a half [time?]. I remember how in cold weather we used to heat bricks for their feet to put in the bottom of the buggy.

What did people do in those days when they needed to get a horse and buggy across the river? This ferry could do the job. Note the commentary above the drawing: "All the Hazards of an Ocean Voyage." I suppose the most important part for the ferryman was keeping the horse calm!

Sarah noted that this ferry operated between Carrollton and Prestonville (both in Kentucky), so these passengers (note their tense body language and apprehensive expressions on their faces) were crossing the Kentucky River just south of where it meets the Ohio.

A previous post includes a postcard image and Sarah's comments about Heath's Ferry, which took passengers across the Ohio from the foot of Carrollton's Main Street.

As you know from the post on October 2, bicycles became popular modes of short-distance transportation in Carrollton – and everywhere else – in the late 1890s. That was about the time the town's residents started hearing about the "horseless carriage." The first image of an automobile in the scrapbooks was this one, an 1898 Stanley Steamer. Sarah wrote no date or source of the newspaper clipping. While Morris Oglesbee could have been a local man, the "Wide World Photo" credit line implies that the photo and article could have originated anywhere.

 Later in the scrapbook, Sarah pasted the next image and reminisced about the first time she saw a car.
I never saw a car till 1901, I believe, but of course we began to hear of them, talk of them and even to sing of them ("My Merry Oldsmobile") before that. But I remember the feather boa era like the one the girl is wearing at right.

The song "In My Merry Oldsmobile" was written and first recorded circa 1905, so Sarah's recollection of singing the song prior to 1901 may be a little off. It's fun to listen to the song recorded in 1909.

In 1910, cars were becoming popular enough that the state decided to tax them. Five people in or near Carrollton registered automobiles with the Commonwealth of Kentucky from June 14, 1910, through June 1911. As listed on the Northern Kentucky Views web site, those car owners were Oscar G. Kipping, E.A. Wood, Ida B. Fentress, someone named Schuerman, (probably Henry Berg Schuerman, husband of Sarah's cousin Ruth Louise Howe) and A.W. Shirley. The site lists what kind of car each person had, the horsepower of each car, and the amount of tax paid.
The same web site offers these and other Carrollton-related transportation tidbits:
  • “The stage from Carrollton to Worthville, in connection with the Short-line railroad, now runs only when there are passengers.” Courier-Journal, April 17, 1871
  • As reported in the New York Times, the first phone call ever made from a train occurred along the Carrollton and Worthville Railroad in 1906.
  • Timetable for the L&N Railroad, 1879, listing Liberty (Sanders), Eagle, Worthville, and Carrollton.
The site is a treasure trove of information and images about transportation in north and north-central Kentucky during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

1 comment:

kirstin miller said...

Enjoyable article and thanks for the photos.