Steamboat Era Museum Oral History Project

  • Collection DOI:
    Principal Investigator:
    Carrie Kline, Michael Kline
  • These interviews were recorded with residents of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula of Virginia during 2003 who knew much about the history of steamboating in the region. Included were many now no longer living, who worked on the boats and wharves, those who rode them as passengers and crew, and those who shipped produce and manufactured items or ordered goods for delivery. At the time, copies of the recordings were provided to the Steamboat Era Museum in Irvington, Virginia for use in various educational programs.

    To browse this collection and others, please visit the Berea College Special Collections & Archives: https://bereaarchives.libraryhost.com/

Interviewee Collection Sort descending Description Interviewer Date of Interview Location of Interview Affiliation
Captain Arthur C. “Bill” Johnson Steamboat Era Museum Oral History Project

Captain Arthur C. “Bill” Johnson (1927-2016) piloted international ships through the Chesapeake waters. He easily named the lighthouses he passed regularly along the Potomac River. Johnson spoke with great respect for the pilots of the passenger steamers with whom he exchanged light and whistle signals passing in narrow stretches of water. He outlined the terminology of steamships and spoke with high regard for the statuesque passenger boats around which local economies were based.

Carrie Kline, Michael Kline Irvington, VA Talking Across the Lines, Berea College Special Collections & Archives
Mariam W. Haynie Steamboat Era Museum Oral History Project

The first part of Mrs. Olivia Mariam Williams Haynie's (1917-2006) interview is spent in bitter recollection of the atrocities committed by the Yankees during the Civil War, tales of great incivility passed down from her grandparents who witnessed affairs firsthand. From here Miriam Haynie takes listeners from her Reedville home to and through the Baltimore. Steamboats occasioned close relations between the Northern Neck and this cosmopolitan city.

Carrie Kline, Michael Kline Unknown Talking Across the Lines, Berea College Special Collections & Archives
Charles J. "Chuck" Harney Steamboat Era Museum Oral History Project

Charles J. "Chuck" Harney (1922-2004). At the time of the interview he had been retired to Lancaster County fifteen years. He said he had videotaped over 150 interviews with local people on boats, in homes and shops, in fields and marshes throughout the region.

Carrie Kline, Michael Kline Unknown Talking Across the Lines, Berea College Special Collections & Archives
Mary Louise Morgan Steamboat Era Museum Oral History Project

At 100 years old Mrs. Morgan, with the help of her son, legislator Harvey Morgan, recalled her honeymoon voyage aboard a side-wheeler in the 1920s. The Morgan family has operated a pharmacy in Gloucester Court House for generations. 

Carrie Kline, Michael Kline Gloucester, VA Talking Across the Lines, Berea College Special Collections & Archives
Charles R. Winstead Steamboat Era Museum Oral History Project

Charles R. Winstead, Age 88 (1915-2008). Captain Winstead spent most of his working life aboard a menhaden (type of fish) fishing boat. A powerful and articulate seaman, Winstead elucidates the inner workings of a steam-powered fishing vessel, including singing an example of the chanteys he led as a crew member to draw in the nets. Winstead, the first African-American in the region to acquire a pilot and captain’s license, rode passenger steamboats on several occasions during his younger days.

Carrie Kline, Michael Kline Unknown Talking Across the Lines, Berea College Special Collections & Archives
Robert Stewart Edwards Steamboat Era Museum Oral History Project

Interview with Robert Stewart Edwards

Carrie Kline, Michael Kline Hudgins, VA Talking Across the Lines, Berea College Special Collections & Archives
Clarence Benjamin "Buck" Rowe Steamboat Era Museum Oral History Project

Clarence Benjamin "Buck" Rowe (1921-2005). Interviewed by Carrie & Michael Kline with Dianne Jordan for the Steamboat Era Museum; 11/3/03. At the time of the interview Mr. Rowe was keeping a store at Bena in the Guinea community of lower Gloucester County. The store was established by his father in 1920, at the height of the steamboat era. His vivid memories brought to life details of nearby wharves where he went twice weekly as a young boy with a wagon and team to pick up deliveries for the store. 

Carrie Kline, Michael Kline, Dianne Jordan Guinea, VA Talking Across the Lines, Berea College Special Collections & Archives
Ruby Lee Norris Steamboat Era Museum Oral History Project

Rubie Lee Norris (1916-2012). Then still living in a pre-Civil War house built by her great uncle near Topping on the Rappahannock River, Norris remembered riding the steamers to college in Fredericksburg and told vivid stories of clerking in her father’s store, which was supplied by steamers. 

Carrie Kline, Michael Kline Unknown Talking Across the Lines, Berea College Special Collections & Archives
Edwin Veolo Hutt Steamboat Era Museum Oral History Project

Edwin Veola Hutt (1918-2009)

By the age of fourteen, Hutt was running the family cannery, helping out on the farm and boxing eggs in the post office located in his father’s general store. Hutt donated to the Museum several cannery tokens that were used in place of cash to pay his workers through the World War Two era.

Carrie Kline, Michael Kline Newland, VA Talking Across the Lines, Berea College Special Collections & Archives
Thomas A. Williams Steamboat Era Museum Oral History Project

Thomas A. Williams (1925-2006). Son of an innovative Menhaden fishing boat captain, Williams provided an inventory of steamboat landings and lighthouses. He described the wide range of goods delivered to and from Northumberland County by steamers. 

Carrie Kline Unknown Talking Across the Lines