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This is  list of some of the books, articles and manuscripts I read while researching the Steamboats and Sternwheelers.  Most would be available at the Vancouver Genealogical Society, the Historical Society, the  Main Vancouver Library, The Columbian, a Vancouver Newspaper. the Oregon Historical Society and the Maritime Museum in Portland Oregon.


We visited most of the Libraries and Genealogical Societies all the way from Portland to Seattle, the Museum and Library in Astoria, Oregon, the Maritime Museum here in Portland and the Oregon Historical Society. All were a treasure trove of information about the early Steamboat History.


History of Linn County, Oregon; Author: Charles Oluf Olsen; Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Oregon (1941)


Vancouver Area Chronology by Carl Landerholm, staff reporter for the Columbian, a Vancouver, Washington, Newspaper


Highways ended the era of the Riverman; The Columbian, Ted Van Arsdol; staff reporter for the Columbian; (Ted Van Arsdol, is retired from the Columbian newspaper and the author and editor of several books on Northwest history including Northwest Bastion: The U.S. Army Barracks at Vancouver, 1849-1916. He lives in Vancouver, Washington.)


Up Two Rivers by Steamer


They Came to Six Rivers


Steamboat Era on the Columbia River  by Darrell H. Bliss


Woodland History Committee, History of the Woodland Community, 1850-1858, unpublished material.


Cayuse to Cadillac, Carl Landerholm, unpublished article

So many on the island were connected with the boats and the river trade. I decided to do a separate post with little snippets of who, what and where. All of these stories will be found in the bio's. Thought I would sort them out and print them for those who are mainly interested in the riverboat history.

William Cooper, first husband of Ellen Munroe Flett was a Riverboat Captain.


Harriet Thomas (dtr of Benjamin Thomas) married William Gren/Green on 29 September 1861 in Washington County, Oregon (Columbia County Marriage Records, pg 2, GFO). . William made barrels for the fisherman on the Columbia River. Her second husband was Eben Robert Crie. He was a boat builder.


James Copeland was part owner of the “Lucea Mason” and the “Dewdrop” along with Captain Isaac Thomas, Captain John Henry Bonser and other members of the Farmers Transportation group, which was originally the Lewis & Lake River Transportation Company of Pekin.


Copeland, Knox, Ham Thomas families.These families lived near each other on Sauvie Island, some moved to Clark County, Washington together and some lived near each other in Portland, Oregon. They all worked together on the steamboats and river business.


Titus H. Taylor was one of many “boatmen” in early Sauvie Island history. Born in Vermont on 19 December 1831, he passed away on 11 January 1893 in Columbia County, Oregon. He is buried beside his wife in the Masonic Cemetery in St. Helens, Oregon.


Steven Decatur Bonser bought the steamer “Eagle” for $2,300. He was the owner and master for two years (Lockley interview). According to Maritime records the “Eagle” was the first steamer to come up the south fork of the Lewis River to LaCenter. I don’t know if Stephen’s “Eagle” is the same boat. Stephen became the pilot of the steamer “Ohio” during 1866, later he piloted the “Carrie Norton” and the “Lena” (family records and the Lockley stories at GFO).


James Halstead Bonser was a steamboat captain on the Lewis River in Washington, and the Fraser and Skeena Rivers in British Columbia. His sons worked with him.


James Dart Like many other early settlers was also involved in the river traffic and steamboats. He married twice. His first wife was Lucy Bonser, daughter of Stephen and Mahala Bonser (see page 12). They were the parents of two children; Marie, wife of Dr. Hicks Fenton and John Henry Dart, a steamboat Captain. John Henry was known as “Captain Jack.” He married Itol Daugherty. She was the niece of Van DeLashmutt, Mayor of Portland. Capt Jack met Itol when her mother was working as a cook on one of the riverboats.


James Lawrence Reeder was born on August 31. James was the first in his family to be a riverboat man. He started with the Shaver Transportation Company where he advanced from deck hand to Captain. His sons followed in his footsteps.


Captain Tom Reeder was a well known river pilot serving 50 years on the river. John Henry Bonser was a well known steamboat captain, working on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers in Oregon, the Lewis River in Washington and the Fraser and Skeena Rivers in British Columbia. The last few years of his career were spent working for the Hudson Bay Company. (Dryden) In the 1887 City Directory for Portland,Oregon, (GFO, OHS, CL) he is listed as captain of the steamer, “Isabel,” and living at the comer of 6th and Mill. This location is only a block or two away from the homes of George Ham and Isaac Ham.


Lewis Bonser worked on Steamboats and in the census he is listed as an engineer (Information on Lewis and his father was found in Knapp Mortuary Funeral Records). At one time, early in his career he worked on Caples ferry (RKT).


Ewell W., seventh child of James and Hannah Bonser, was born on August 1st. He is listed on the 1870 census for Columbia County. In later years he worked with his father on steamboats as an engineer.


Minerva (dtr of James Bonser) married Hezekiah Caples. She was only 16 at the time. Hezekiah and other members of the Caples family were involved in the river traffic and the steamboats. The sons of Hez and Minerva all worked on the steamboats.


The baby, Hannah, was adopted by Edward Slocum and Sarah R. Patterson, a relative on the Burt/Halstead side of the family. This family lived in Vancouver, Washington. Edward Slocum was a well known pilot on the Columbia River.


Thomas Albert Bonser drowned on March 7th of 1880. He was a fireman on the steamer “Latona.” Thomas fell overboard and drowned while loading hay. He is buried at St. Helens, Or in the Masonic Cemetery (Knapp Mortuary Records).


Hezekiah and Minerva Caples were prominent citizens in the St. Helens area. Hez, as he was known, fought in the Indian Wars, served on the Board of Commissioners for Columbia county, was active in the river traffic and had a large dairy farm. He owned and operated steamboats with S. H. Butts, Captain Isaac Thomas, James Copeland and the Bonsers. He was owner and Captain of the Mitlico and founded a shipyard in Columbia City. Eventually this family moved up the Lewis river. Eventually his sons followed him in the steamboat business. Hany was a Chief Engineer, Ralph a Captain and Hugh an Engineer.


During the 1880's Alexander (son of Clinton Boner) joined his relatives and worked on the riverboats until 1900 when he returned to his farm to raise championship cattle.


There is a James Whitcomb who was a famous Steamboat Captain in Oregon and Washington. He was pari of a large family that was involved in the steamboat business.

This James was born in Ohio in 1845 and came across with his family in 1847. A Whitcomb was in the John Bonser (another steamboat captain from Ohio) wagon train in 1847 along with Henderson Luelling. A biography of Lot Whitcomb states that he came to Oregon in 1847 with Henderson Luelling.

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