Friday, January 3, 2014

Capt. R.Y. Northern of Smithland

Another of my on-going projects centered in Smithland, Kentucky is the collection of information on men connected to the steamboat trade. A great deal of my information comes from newspapers in towns along the Ohio River, sometimes from the columns  that tell of the arrival and departure times of the steamboats. Nestled in other places in these newspapers are little nuggets of info that almost seem to be fillers - until you read them and learn they contain valuable information.  The following article appeared at the bottom of the page in the 8 June 1905 issue of the Crittenden (County) Press. I didn't know much about R.Y. Northern except that he married Davidella Patterson 17 August 1855 in Smithland and both are buried in Love's Chapel Cemetery, Livingston County.  R.Y. died in 1911 and Davidella died in 1901. Below is the article that prompted me to search for more information. 

Veteran Steamboatman
Capt. R.Y. Northern, of Smithland, Ky., is here this week visiting Mr. Paul J. Northern, who is his great-great nephew, says the Sturgis correspondent to the Morganfield Sun. Capt. Northern is a veteran river man, having been a boat captain for over forty years, running from Nashville to New Orleans. He owned and commanded the E. Howard, built at Louisville many years ago. This boat ran during the terrible yellow fever scourge when as many as 400 a day were dying at New Orleans. The captain is 85 years old, but is very entertaining, taking great pleasure in telling of his many and varied experiences during this fearful epidemic. 
He will go from here to visit his sister, Mrs. Yeager, and nephew, T.Y. Northern, of Providence, Ky.  Capt. Northern called on us ... and we found him a very pleasant gentleman, a good conversationalist, with an exceptionally bright memory of the old happy steamboat days.
Capt. Northern knew all the great river men of his day who commanded such magnificent steamers as the Robt. E. Lee, the Belle Lee, the Natchez, Vicksburg, Old Hickory, Emma C. Elliott, John Clilgore and many others. Capt. Northern was commander of the Howard when she collided with the large side-wheel steamer, Swallow, just 40 miles this side of New Orleans. The bow of the Howard plunged through the Swallow's fore deck to her boilers, sinking her instantly with a loss of several lives. The blame of this fearful collision was laid to the Swallow.

The above article was the catalyst for more newspaper research - and it paid off.

Crittenden Press 31 October 1901
Mrs. R.Y. Northern died at her home, "Woodlawn," in Livingston county Wednesday evening, Oct. 23d. The funeral took place at Loves Chapel. Mrs. Northern was the wife of Capt. Northern, one of the wealthiest and most prominent men in Livingston County. She was a Miss Patterson.

Crittenden Press 5 January 1905
Mr. Chas. Leffler of Sanford, Fla. and Mrs. Ida Northern Flanary of this place were married Saturday at the parsonage of the M.E. church of this place. Mr. Leffler is an old Smithland man, was born and raised here but has made his home in Florida for many years. His bride is the daughter of Capt. R.Y. Northern and was the widow of the late E.C. Flanary of Marion, Ky.

Crittenden Press  18 May 1905
Capt. R.Y. Northern moved his household goods to his farm near the Berry ferry last week and will reside there with his son, Mr. Ernest Northern, most of the time.

Paducah Sun 4 December 1905
Capt. Northern of Smithland was in the city yesterday en route to Florida to visit his daughter, Mrs. Charles Leffler, of Tampa. Capt. Northern enjoys the distinction of having brought to Paducah the first locomotive ever seen here. It was about '54 and he brought it from New Orleans on his steamboat.

Crittenden Record-Press 5 October 1916
A telegram was received conveying the news of the death of Mrs. Chas. H. Lefler of Sanford, Fla. at the home of Mrs. H.A. Hodge, her sister whom she was visiting in Dallas, Texas at the time of her death. Her remains will arrive here Thursday and will be buried at the new cemetery after the funeral at the Presbyterian church. Mrs. Lefler was the widow of the late Eb. C. Flanary and was Miss Ida Northern, daughter of Capt. Northern of Livingston county before her first marriage. Her only child, Walker Flanary, killed himself accidentally while hunting at Smithland about 10 years ago.

I am still searching for an obituary for Capt. Northern, who died 31 May 1911 and is buried at Love's Chapel Cemetery.

Published 3 January 2014, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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