Category Archives: Boats

Proctorville Ohio History retold by Capt. Mace


31 May (year not clear on source) IRONTON TRIBUNE

The founding of Proctorville and its growth in the early years is described by Captain Ellis MACE, one of the Ohio river’s most well known riverboat captains. Capt. Mace is a resident of Proctorville. His history of that community was sent to the Tribune.


This place, at one time, was known as Quakers Bottom. Above Thomas street to Jackson Pike was called Grant Town. The Methodist church stands on the corner of State road Seven and Thomas street in Grant Town. Jacob PROCTOR owned some land on the river bank near a farm road where (he) built a small stone house on the river bank. At this time a road ran along the river bank. Later Mr. Proctor built a large brick house east of the store on the river road.  The Proctor family lived in this house for several years. All river men knew this place as Proctor’s landing.

Charley WATERS, with his family, left Maryland and floated down the Ohio river on a flat boat. They landed at the mouth of  Symmes Creek at Flemingsburg, the second town in Lawrence county and Mr. Waters established a home there. After a short time his house was destroyed by fire , Mr. Waters came up to Proctors Landing and he bought Mr. Proctor’s store and house. Mr. Proctor moved to his farm back near the Hill.

Mr. Waters took over the post office. He was replaced by John PARKER, under Groover CLEVELAND. He had got every Democrat here to vote for Cleveland, only one John Parker, and he got the post office (as by source). The brick house now called the Waters home is still in use. Proctorville was laid out in 1878 by T.J.SHIRKEY. Mr. Proctor had made a request that if the town was to be named for him, to call it Proctorville leaving off the positive and his request was granted so Proctorville was laid out and incorporated the same year, 1878.  John Parker, the only Democrat inside the  corporation, was elected the first mayor.

First Proctorville town officials; Mayor, John Parker; clerk, O.E. REC ; Marshal, J.H. LOYD; treasurer A. MAGEE. The six councilman–T.B. FLOWERS, Harvey PRICHARD, Madison FORGEY, J. MacSMITH, R.W. MAGEE, Doctor S.R. RICKETS.

All these men were elected and Proctorville had a government to start with made up of the best citizens.

Proctorville streets from east to wesst, Front, Susan, Elizabeth, State road 7 and Wilgus.

Cross streets-south to north, Jackson, Grant, Thomas, Ferry, Front from Jackson to Thomas, Susan from Thomas to Ferry, Elizabeth from Jackson to Ferry, State road 7 from Jackson to Pine alley, Wilgus from Jackson to Shirkey, Shirkey from State to School Alley, Jackson from Front to Wilgus, Grant from Front to School Alley, Thomas from river bank to Wilgus, Ferry from river bank to State road 7.

Alleys- Leon alley from Grant to Ferry 13 feet wide, School Alley from Jackson to Shirkey, Broad alley from Susan to State 20 feet wide, Pine alley from Front to state.

There were five good stores and a flour mill in the town. D.B. MAUCK & Co. bought everything that the farmer had to sell and they shipped the chickens and eggs to D HOPPE at Cincinnati. The BUSH brothers operated the flour mill which did a big business. They swapped flour and meal to the farmers for grain. Farmers came into Proctorville from miles around to trade.

Henry WATERS bought the Bush brothers out and he moved the mill over on Second street and Fifteenth street but Henry didn’t do any good in Huntington, so he sold the mill to KEISTERS and they ran the mill as Keister Milling Company. There was a bank started in Proctoville . D.B.Mauck had charge.

Doctor REYNOLDS  told me thaat he had some money in the bank, and he asked for a loan and he said thaat Mauck had told him thaat he would loan him the amount that he had in the bank, and no more. So Doc said he checked his money out of that bank and went over to a Huntington bank and got the money that he wanted.

The Proctorville bank was moved over on Third avenue and Twentieth street and now this 20th street bank is one of the best in Huntington, but they loan money.

Bay Bro’s ran packet boats out of Proctorville to Ironton, Portsmouth and Gallipolis. These men owned 32 steam boats in their time. Capt. George BAY lived in Proctorville, Will Bay lived in Ironton. Proctorville had four doctors- no need of anybody being sick.

These doctors owned their own homes and Proctorville had a good brass bandled by Colie MAGEE. The last picnic was in R.W. Magee’s orchard in 1888. John LUCAS

riding R.W.Magee’s white horse was marshall of the day. My boy was just four days oldand I carried him out to the front gate to watch the parade pass by. Our schools have always been the best, and two churches that were always well filled until picture shows commenced running on Sundays.These shows are wrong and should not be allowed.

The first ferry was a push boat operated by John PARKER. He pushed the boat across the river with poles in low water. When there was too much water for poles he used oars. HANNONS owned this flat, and later bought a small steam ferry boat named “New Era”.

I have records when the BUFFINGTONS ran a steam ferry across the mouth of Guyan creek and over to the Ohio shore in 1936 before this John Parker operated a push boat. Later the Hannons got the ferry franchise for the Ohio river and they bought a small ferry boat named “New Era.” (repeat as by source). Bill SMITH  bought the “New Era” and ferry franchise from the Hannons. He had the bad luck to lose the “New Era” in the ice. Then Capt. Smith bought a ferry up near Parkersburg named “Lyda Cross” and she was sunk by ice the first winter.Then he bought a small boat from the JENKINS estate.

He fitted he out for a ferry and named her “Whisper.” This name fit for her scape was only a whisper. About this time Captain Smith got the name “Ferry Boat Bill.” In 1891 Captain George Bay contracted with the HOWARDS at Jeffersonville to build a new ferry boat for Proctorville.

This new boat was delivered in 1891.Captain George Bay and George Smith went to Jeffersonville and brought her home.Then “Ferry Boat Bill” had a real ferry boat. She had all the business she could handle. Captain “Ferry boat Bill” died in 1896 and was buried in Ironton. The two boys Ed and George ran the boat for their mother. She died in 1901 and was laid beside her husband in Ironton in 1901.

Capt. Paul THOMAS had married Vergie SMITH and soon they came to Proctorville. Paul, using his wife’s stock in the ferry, joined the two boys on the ferry boat. They got along fine for several years when they disagreed. To settle the dispute the ferry boat and franchise was sold at public auction. Home HOLT and George SMITH  bought all for 32 thousand dollars. Paul Thomas, at once bought half interest in the Twenty-Sixth St. ferry

and, I understand, got a bargain. Finally Ed SMITH bought the other half of the Twenty-Sixth St. ferry. I had sold my tow boat “Sea Lion” to Lew DAVIS, cashier of an Ashland bank. He bought her for Capt. TANNER. I helped my son-in-law in his gas station for a while. Then Capt. Thomas wanted me to pilot his ferry boat on 26th street for a while

I accepted and the first day I worked the collections were bad. I told Paul that we would have to run that boat, we must leave the float with one rig or one passenger, and drive her. He agreed and I did run her. Our business got better. Rigs came up from Chesapeake to cross where the boat was run. They told me that they were in a hurry and Paul’s partner Ed Amith told some of our customers that Capt. Mace would pull the cylinders out of place. He said it was foolish to run a ferry boat so hard he tried to keep the fireman from making the steam that I wanted.

But the fireman, Bert COOPER, was on my side. Paul said, “drive her, Bert make the steam” and I did drive her.

After a few years I told captain Thomas that we would have to have a larger boat. He said we had some money but not enough to build a new boat. Then I advised him to have Dow EATON call a meeting of all Big Orchard men at his home, increase the stock to thirty thousand dollars, sell ten thousand of it to Orchard menand Paul and Ed would still have control. He took my advice. They called the meeting and the next morning after the meeting Captain Thomas jumped farther to get on the ferry than I had ever seen him do before.

He hurried to the pilot house and said “Mace, we are going to build that new ferry boat.” I smiled. He got Charley THACKER and they went out on Greasy Ridge to get a man to saw the lumber. Paul hired a man to draw the plan for the hull, and offered 25 dollars for a name. My name was “Aloya,” meaning good luck. A clerk from the tobacco market sent in “Oweva.” He got the prize. The engines of the “Carrie Brown” were used on the “Oweva.”  This gave her power. Her business ran 250 to 300 dollars every day. Her expense was 45 dollars. She was forced out of business by the bridge that carried  autos for 10 cents. All Huntington ferries had to quit. Her engines are in River Museum at Marietta, Ohio.