Transcribed by Anne (Bowden) Allen from Henry Buxton’s column for the Bangor Daily News.
Feb. 22, 1937
FIRST OHIO STEAMBOAT MAN
“In 1816, John Brooks constructed the first steamboat ever built in Cincinnati–the first to operate on the Ohio river. He became a wealthy man and invested most of his money in Cincinnati real estate. Later Nicholas Longworth, grandfather of the late Congressman Nicholas Longworth, who married Alice Roosevelt, laid claim to this real estate. There followed a series of law suits which extended over a period of years. Finally Longworth won and John Brooks became a ruined man. He died in 1822.
“James Brooks, a son of John Brooks, a native of Orrington, migrated to New Albany in Indiana, established a grocery store, and later was the organizer and president of the first railroad from the Ohio river to the Great Lakes. This transportation line was known as the New Albany and Salem railroad, and to accomplish its construction it was necessary to build a road 228 miles long through a country which had not yet entirely emerged from the conditions of pioneer life. But this indomitable man succeeded beyond the wildest expectations of his more sanguine backers.
“When the Civil War broke out, James Brooks was appointed by Secretary of War Stanton, as quartermaster general of the western federal army and the gunboats on the Mississippi river. He purchased the old Mississippi river flat floats and supervised their conversion into the Yankee gunboats which were a big factor in demolishing the Confederate forts on the Mississippi. Under the direction of James Brooks supplies were accumulated at Louisville for the use of General Sherman in his historic march to the sea. At one time during the war, James Brooks loaned the Federal government $240,000 from his private fortune. He was later reimbursed.”
In tomorrow’s column Mr. Brooks will tell the story of the ancient pottery in the Bangor district. This is a story which should appeal to many of the old timers who can remember when tinware was practically non-existent and the utensils such as milk pans, jugs and pitchers were made from Penobscot river clay.