ABSTRACT: A collection of letters and diaries of Captain Enos B. Moore. Moore piloted steamboats on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers for 45 years, between 1844-1889.
SCOPE: This collection preserves a turbulent time in US and river history, the years leading up to and through the Civil War. The letters date from 1853 to 1865. The four diaries contain daily entries for years 1859, 1860, 1861, and 1865. Subjects include river trade and commerce, the effect of the war on river industry and Moore’s fellow riverboat captains, struggling banks, and the blockade at Cairo. The collection also includes a typed copy of family history research compiled by Enos’ children, William and Mary Moore, in the mid-20th century titled The Moores of Portsmouth.
EXTENT: 37 letters and several addressed envelopes; four pocket diaries; 26 page typed family history.
HISTORY: Captain Enos B. Moore spent his life piloting steamboats on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. He was born in 1823 to Levi and Amanda Moore. He spent his childhood on a small farm on the banks of the Ohio River, seven miles below Portsmouth. Enos and his three brothers gravitated towards river work. Enos’ daughter Mary Moore wrote in her family memoir, “Enos, who had graduated from the country school, was planning to study law at Delaware College, when a chance flatboat loaded with flour and New Orleans bound, lured him aboard; the other two brothers followed and soon all four were careering on the Mississippi.” The oldest brother William left home first and got a job working out of New Orleans for Captain R.C. Young, who operated several boats on the lower Mississippi. Not long after, William sent for Enos, and later the youngest brother Samuel. Enos’ first job was as a night watchman on the boat. Shortly afterwards he became a licensed pilot. William began chartering and operating boats on the Yazoo River, in Mississippi, and Enos invested in his enterprises. Together they built the steamer Hope, and many of the diary entries in this collection refer to money Enos sent to fund these endeavors.
Enos continued to pilot riverboats for Captain Young until the blockade went up at Cairo in 1861. During this period he captained the R.C. Young, which caught fire in 1855, and later the Champion with Young’s son Duvall as clerk. At the start of the war, Enos and William liquefied their assets, sold the Champion, scuttled their steamer Hope, and reportedly retreated to St. Louis with $80,000 in gold. In 1863 the brothers bought a half interest in the foundry and boiler-yard in Portsmouth Ohio. The following year they bought a fourth interest in the packet Bostonia, and in 1866 bought an additional eighth interest. In subsequent years they bought the other half interest in the foundry and machine works and merged their holdings with other pilots to form the Cincinnati, Portsmouth, Big Sandy & Pomeroy Packet Company. William managed business while Enos and Samuel piloted boats on the river. The Packet Company ran six boats, the Bostonia, Fleetwood, Telegraph, Bonanza, Morning Mail, and steamer Ohio. The side-wheeler Bonanza was the largest boat on the Ohio river at the time. The wooden hull was 265ft in length by 43ft in width, with a depth of 7ft. The ship dominated river traffic around Cincinnati from the time it was built in 1876, until the construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in the early 1890’s. Enos designed the boat and supervised its construction, then captained the vessel until he retired in 1889.
Enos was married in Yazoo City, in 1859, to teacher Maria Pratt, a native of Washington County, New York. Maria died in 1865, leaving behind two daughters, Frances and Mary. In 1873 Enos married Mary E. Switzer of Dayton, Ohio. Their children were Enos, who only lived one day, Ralph, Lucy, Edith, and Will. The names of Enos’ wives, children, and brothers are found throughout the personal correspondence.
ACCESS: This collection can be viewed on-site in the Rare Book and Manuscripts Reading Room. Some of the material may be photocopied, digitally scanned or photographed, subject to condition and other access restrictions. Information on conducting research with the archival collections of the Library, including current building hours and reading room policies, can be found on our Research page. The St. Louis Mercantile Library is located on levels one and two of the Thomas Jefferson Library building on the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ north campus. The letters and family history can be viewed on the UMSL Digital Library as P-084 Captain Enos B. Moore Diaries and Correspondence.
Preferred Citation note: The preferred citation for this collection is "From the collections of the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library at the University of Missouri - St. Louis.”
P-084 Captain Enos B. Moore Correspondence Finding Aid