THE STEAMER UNITED STATES. - The recent agitation of the subject of the formation of a company for constructing and running a line of passenger steamboats from Niagara along the South or American shore of Lake Ontario to this place, in connection with a line to Montreal, has brought out some reminiscences of former enterprises and experience in that respect. The discussion on the subject occurring at Rochester and other lake ports, the old UNITED STATES which was especially an Ogdensburg boat has not had that prominence which her success to her stockholders and popularity with the public entitled her. Built here principally with Ogdensburg capital and managed by Ogdensburg men, it may be interesting to many of your readers to learn to whom they owed the originating and carrying out at that early period so important and successful an enterprise. The following is a list of the original subscribers: David Ford, Geo. N. Seymour, Amos Bacon, Wm. Bacon, John C. Bush, Jacob Arnold, G. W. Kruger, Harvey Church, Jas. Averell, 3d., Edwin Clark, E. A. Graham, P. C. Oakley, J. & S. Clark, one thousand dollars each, and Louis Hasbrouck and D. C. Judson five hundred each, making fifteen thousand dollars for Ogdensburg, Augustus Chapman & Co., Morristown, five hundred dollars, J. T. Trowbridge &c., six thousand five hundred, Gerret Smith and Henry Fitzhugh one thousand each, G. H. McWharter and D. W. Cole five hundred each, making nine thousand five hundred from Oswego, being twenty five thousand dollars in all. The stock on the subscription of J. T.Trowbridge & Co., was issued to D. P. Brewster, Bronson & Crocker, T. S. Morgan, F. P. Carrington, and others of Oswego.
Elias Trowbridge was the first captain, an experienced sailor in the New Haven, Conn., trade to the West Indies. On her return voyage of the first trip up the Lake she was, in a clear, calm day run onto a point at the head of Grand Island of covered boulders known to experienced navigators in these waters as the Sow and Pigs. This point is exposed to the uninterrupted sweep of the length of Lake Ontario, and the excitement here on the intelligence of her situation may be imagined. Fortunately, with three days of calm, they were enabled, with other steamboat assistance to get her off without material injury.
Capt. Trowbridge was soon succeeded by Capt. Van Derwater, whose previous experience had been on the Hudson River Steamers. He was succeeded by Capt. Van Cleve, who had been her clerk from the first, who ran her with great success as to her popularity with the public and profit to her stockholders, until interrupted by seizure for supposed complicity in the Patriot raid upon Canada, at Windmill Point. Leaving here on Monday morning, she touched at all the Canadian ports to Kingston, and all the American ports of the South Shore of Lake Ontario to Niagara, and returned on Saturday, making her time at all points with about the same certainty and regularity that railroad cars now do.
After being released from the seizure by the U.S., she was for a time run under the command of Capt. Jos. Whitney. She passed into the control and ownership of the Oswegoians, whose efforts to compete with her in building the OSWEGO had wholly failed, only enabling her principal owner, a dutchman by the name Brucle, to congratulate himself by saying the second year he had made five thousand dollars by tying her up, which he had lost the year before by running her. The only real competitor the UNITED STATES ever had for public favor and business was the GREAT BRITAIN, owned by Sir John Hamilton and brother, of Kingston commanded by Capt. Whitney, and many were the trials of speed between them between this place and Brockville.
The Ogdensburg stockholders of the UNITED STATES were richly compensated for their enterprise and public spirit in building and running her.
July 29, 1894 (? may be 1874)
Editors Republican and Journal: The article published a few days since has elicited a letter from Capt. Van Cleve, who is yet living, residing at Lewiston in this State, correcting some errors and making some additions, the most material of which relate to himself. He had only been clerk of the boat from the preceding year when he took command of her in 1835; but for ten years previous he had been engaged in the navigation of the Lakes and St. Lawrence river as clerk or captain. He continued in that service down to 1860, and for the whole period of thirty five years never met with an accident or disaster resulting in loss of life or property to the owners of the vessels under his command. The principal error noticed in relation to the UNITED STATES was her leaving Ogdensburg on Sunday evening and returning on Friday, instead of leaving on Monday and returning on Saturday as stated. The name of the owner or principal owner of the Oswego was Birkle instead of "Brucle" as your compositor made it.
August 1874 (? may be 1894 see above)