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New York Canal Boat Postal History

 
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Posted 06/06/2021   2:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Linus to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Scanned below, from my postal history collection, is a postal card written to the captain of a canal boat travelling on the Erie Canal. This card shows how they communicated messages and instructions using the post office. The writing is hurried and messy, but this is my best guess of his intent:

Mr. Andrew J. Beach
Captain of Boat Jennie Beach
Care of the Canal Collector in Utica
Utica, Oneida County, New York

Boonville 12th of August, 1878

Mr. Beach,

Look for instructions at the collectors office in West Troy, will leave a letter there for you.

Respectfully yours,
H. S. Webster

Collectors - Please hand this to Beach

Through my research, I have found that canal boats travelled through weightlocks, where the boat was weighed and assessed a toll. Also, there was a charge per passenger on the boat. This postal card was sent to one of these toll collectors at their office, to give to the boat captain when he passed through. Boonville was a town on the Black River Canal, which was a feeder canal to the Erie Canal. The boat was headed east toward Troy, New York. If anyone has any additional information to add about this card, please comment.

Linus





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Posted 06/06/2021   11:18 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Nice research Linus,
painted a nice picture of history.
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Posted 06/07/2021   02:25 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Tolls were abolished in 1883

Contemporaneous :Recreation

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Posted 06/07/2021   08:26 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Linus to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks, Rod, for the kind words. I happen to acquire one small item in my postal history collection and it opens up a whole world of things to read about. I learned that many immigrants to the US used the canal boats to travel west with all their farm tools and possessions at less cost than taking a train. Lots of Germans, Italians, Irish, and Eastern Europeans moved west using the canal boats. The Black River Canal Museum is in Boonville, New York, and the old weighlock in Syracuse, New York is home to the Erie Canal Museum, both places would be interesting to visit someday.

Linus
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Posted 06/07/2021   10:12 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add centerstage98 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
That is a very nice find. It's uncommon to find mail directly linked to the Erie Canal. The canal and boats had no contract with the Post Office Dept. so mail did not regularly travel by canal boat. I have seen one favor cover and the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, PA has a cover and a letter from a traveler on the canal. The Weighlock Building in Syracuse is the last of its kind, has been preserved nicely and is a nice small museum that tells the Erie Canal story.
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Posted 06/07/2021   1:09 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Linus to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you Centerstage98, I was wondering about whether mail was ever carried by canal boat, and I could not verify that it ever was carried.

Here is a map of the Erie Canal and the canal feeder system at the time:





My postal card was postmarked in Boonville, which is located on feeder canal #3, the Black River Canal, just above Rome on the map. The receiving cancel is from Utica on the Erie Canal. The town of Troy is on the far right, where Webster told Beach he would leave a letter for him with "instructions."

Through my research, I have learned that the Beach family name was associated with the Black River Canal. The first Black River Canal Superintendent was Nelson Beach. There was Beach's Bridge and Beach's Landing on the Black River canal, and I have seen canal photographs taken by H M Beach. The Beach family name seems to come up, but I have not yet found any info on Andrew Beach or the canal boat, "Jennie Beach."

Linus
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Posted 06/07/2021   4:18 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Boonville (New York State) is tricky,
does not come up initially with Wiki.

Originally STUEBEN, partitioned to LEYDEN (After Leiden, Holland)
partitioned to BOONVILLE

I went there, as Daniel Boone (and Davy Crockett) were my heroes, when I was a tacker. Thinking they may be connected.
Alas, it was BOONVILLE Missouri.

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Posted 06/07/2021   6:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add centerstage98 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
There is no connection of Daniel Boone to Boonville, NY, though I do not know the origin of the name.

I am not an authority on the canal at all, but by living here in Syracuse you kind of grow up with the lore and info.

Yes, it was used by many immigrants; it also was built primarily by immigrants - particularly Irish labor.

There is a collector, I think he lives in Colorado, who has an exhibit based on the Erie Canal. The exhibit is mostly philatelic items from towns along the canal from canal days, roughly 1825 (when it was finished) through end of 19th century. After the canal was finished it wasn't long before railroads overtook the canal for superiority of transportation, but the canal remained in commercial use into the 20th century. Syracuse, along with other places, grew up thanks to the canal.

Hopefully there will be a stamp in 2025 marking the bicentennial of the canal, which today is primarily used for recreational boat traffic.

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Posted 06/07/2021   10:43 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add RK1468 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Peter Bernstein's (2010) book Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation provides a great history of the canal and its role as the major route to the west until trains come to fore. Very useful in learning about the canal in its historical context as well as the engineering it required.
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Posted 06/07/2021   11:22 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add stampcrow to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'm not sure if the Black River Canal still exists all the way north to Carthage but it does to Booneville. An ole buddy of mine has a camp in Forestport, just southeast of Booneville, we access the camp using the old canal towpath.
The canal comes out of the Forestport Reservoir and heads northwest to Booneville. It doesn't seem to have enough water to float a boat to Booneville let alone all the way to Carthage. It's more like a slow flowing creek that opens up periodically into wide water.

Garret Boone (sp?) is its namesake.
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Edited by stampcrow - 06/07/2021 11:24 pm
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Posted 06/08/2021   04:27 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rod222 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
A polite correction, Stampcrow.
Boonville (No E)

Boonville is a village in Oneida County, New York, United States. The population was 2,072 at the 2010 census. The village is named after Gerrit Boon, an agent of the Holland Land Company. The Village of Boonville is within the Town of Boonville in the northern part of Oneida County, north of Utica. Wikipedia

There is, online, a fascinating letter from a lad that was living on a packet boat (They did carry mail)

Mules (were preferable, smarter than horses) being dragged into the canal etc.

1000 workers lost their life during construction.

The letter (1832)
https://buffalonews.com/news/youngs...f8fc8b3.html

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Edited by rod222 - 06/08/2021 04:33 am
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Posted 06/08/2021   09:20 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Gibby01 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
couldn't resist posting these lyrics, especially after reading the letter.

I've got a mule and her name is Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She's a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
We haul'd some barges in our day
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay
We know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo
Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, yeah we're coming to a town
And you'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal
We'd better look around for a job, old gal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
You can bet your life I'll never part with Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
Get up mule, here comes a lock
We'll make Rome 'bout six o'clock
One more trip and back we'll go
Right back home to Buffalo
Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, we're coming to a town
You'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal
Where would I be if I lost my pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
I'd like to see a mule good as my Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
A friend of mine once got her sore
Now he's got a broken jaw
'Cause she let fly with an iron toe
And kicked him back to Buffalo
Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge 'cause we're coming to a town
You'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal
Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, we're coming to a town
You'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If ya ever made a livin' on the Erie Canal
Low bridge, everybody down*
Low bridge, we're coming to a town*
You'll always know your neighbor*
And you'll always know your pal*
If ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal*
Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, we're coming to a town
Hooo...
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Posted 06/16/2021   8:15 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Gibby01, it is so interesting to see all the lyrics to that song! My dad used to sing that first section, but I never knew there were three more. Thanks for posting!
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