The Library and Archives for the RCD is located in the Adobe Annex, 248 Madison Ave., Yuma, Arizona. The collections are available to researchers on a non-circulating, by appointment only basis. Research Library hours are 10 AM to 4 PM, Tuesday through Friday. The Library is not manned on Saturdays, but can be opened in advance by request. Copies of photographs and photocopies are available for many archives; the cost varies according to what is desired. For more information, call (928) 782-1841.
RCD has approximately 800 books and magazines, 12,602 photographs, 46 photograph albums, 402 maps, 578 oral histories, 795 periodicals, 41 rolls of microfilm, 36 films/videos, approximately 300 linear feet of paper documents, as well as biographical and clip files arranged by subject, and cemetery records for many areas. Some collection highlights include: photographs from 1870 to 1915 portraying businesses, transportation, towns, mining, agriculture, irrigation and individuals; Bureau of Reclamation photograph albums documenting irrigation projects from the turn of the century to the 1950's; a collection of photographs of Agua Caliente Hot Springs (a well known health resort); and aerial photographs from the 1940's and 1950's.
The RCD is always looking for archives to increase the collection and preserve our past. Should you be interested in donating archives, call (928) 782-1841.
Do you have a relative who was in any way involved with the steamboating business on the lower Colorado River? Perhaps they were a captain, a fireman, or chopped wood for the boats. Perhaps they rode as a passenger on one of the steamboats. Maybe they worked on one of the ocean going boats that carried goods and passengers from San Francisco to the Gulf of California, to be transferred to the steamboats. We would like to hear from all of you as we are planning a reunion of steamboat families. Below is a list of names we have been able to find. If you think you might be related, please contact us at Azhistyuma@cybertrails.com. There are many more names that belong on this list, so if you know of one, let us know.
Adams, Samuel, born 20 Oct 1828, Beaver, Beaver Co. PA. Died 15 May 1915, Beaver Falls, PA. Parents Dr. Milo & Cynthia Darragh Adams. Gr-grfr Cpt Benjamin Adams, MA, who was in Revolutionary War. Samuel became a lawyer, went to AZ 1863. Candidate for Congress 1864, 66, 68. Explored Colorado River in 1860s. Involved in creating new steamboat company, the Union Line.
Almona, George, sailor, b. Sandwich Islands, age 30 in 1870 census.
Ames, Samuel, agent at Ehrenberg 8 yrs. Moved to Yuma as agent for William B. Hooper store, 1873.
Anderson, John A., captains steamboat "St. Vallier", then pilot, c. 1906.
Andrade, Guillermo General, 1878 forms Gulf of California Steamship Co. with Blythe to run from Colonia Lerdo, MX to Gulf of San Blas. Buys steamboats "General Rosales" & "General Zaragosa".
Angelow, George, sailor, b. Russia, age 35 in 1870 census.
Babson, John, captains steamboat "St.Vallier" 1900.
Baldwin, Calvin P., engr on "Gila", m. Zelica Train of Stockton, CA at Los Angeles, 4 Oct 1878.
Bermingham, John (may also be Birmingham). Business partner with Alfred Wilcox & Isaac Polhamus
Berry, Thomas J., mate, steamboat, b. TN, age 24 on 1870 census.
Berton, Francis, passenger on steamboat "Cocopah" with Captain Poole, 1878. Writes book, A VOYAGE ON THE COLORADO-1878", about it. Born 4 Feb 1830, Geneva, Switzerland, came to America 1849. Went to Sonoma, Grass Valley, settled in San Francisco. Served as Consul of Switzerland and Consul of Portugal, until death, 1 Apr 1885, San Francisco.
Blythe, Thomas, founder of town of Blythe, CA. 1878, forms Gulf of California Steamship Co. with General Guillermo Andrade.
Borel, Antoine, passenger on "Cocopah", 1878, with Captain Poole. San Francisco capitalist, early gas & electric utilities in Cal.
Burke, A.F., purser on steamboat "Cocopah", 1878.
Busby, Erven E., Chicago businessman, invests in Mexican-California Navigation Co. 1901.
Caldwell, H.J., of Los Angeles, organizes Needles Navigation Co., with D.W. Tungate. Buys boat "Hercules". Operates 1907-08.
Carmack, Henry, sailor, b. Sandwich Islands, age 22 on 1870 census.
Chaleco (Indian), measured river bottom depth from bow of boat with Polhamus as captain.
Chandler, Richard D., San Francisco coal dealer, part owner of Colorado Steam Navigation Co., 1869-77.
Colsin, David T., sailor, b. ME, age 38 in 1870 census.
Colson, D.J., mate on schooner "Victoria".
Connor, Daniel, steamboat engineer, b. PA, age 38 in 1870 census. Owned mines in Yuma area, 1879.
Cook, Frank, captain of steamer "Hercules" for Needles Navigation Co. Runs between Topock & Parker, AZ.
Coonradt, A.R., secretary of Mexican-Colorado Navigation Company. Becomes captain of steamboat "St. Vallier", c. 1907.
Daugherty, W.H., captain of gov. transport brig "Laura".
Dillon, Joseph, U.S. inspector of boilers (in Yuma for inspection).
Douglas, George M., commands coastal steamship "Idaho" in 1877. Also commands "Montana".
Dow, John B., steamboat agent, b. ME, age 30 in 1860 census. Arr. Yuma 1856, postmaster 1857-58. On Board of Supervisors 1866-67. Moves to Portland, ME 1871, dies there 28 May 1874.
Downey, Thomas, ship carpenter, b. New Brunswick, Canada, age 28 in 1870 census. Marries Mercedes Mendoza Wilson (age 40, b. MX) 20 Mar 1892 (says he is born Ireland). Has son George, b. 1883, Yuma, and Rudolph & Prudencio. Also owned mines in Yuma area, 1879.
Driscoll (no first name known) commands schooner "Capacity", 1852.
Eastman, C.A., captains "General Rosales" from mouth of Colorado River to Colonia Lerdo, MX.
Eldredge, K.C., secretary Pacific & Colorado Steam Navigation Co., 1865-66.
Emery, Murl, river man of early 1900s; son of E.H. Emery who worked on the "Cochan". Last known to live at Nelson, via Searchlight.
Fannie, Robert L., ship cook, b. NY, age 35 in 1870 census.
Finlay, A.J. (Andrew Julius) or Findlay or Findley) agent at Yuma. Born Denmark c. 1849. Age 20, goes to NYC, mercantile business. In Yuma by 1871. Marries Mrs. Rosaria or Rosaura Santollos de Cannett, 13 Jul 1873, Yuma. Mayor in 1870s, County Treasurer, and Deputy U.S. Revenue Collector. Daughter born 29 Jan 1879. Becomes gen. Sup. of Guatemala Central RR, then agt for Cal. & Oregon RR. 1887, commercial agt of Ventura Div. Dies age 42, 1891, has 8 children, oldest age 21.
Fisher, P.M., agent at Ehrenberg, AZ.
Forrest, George, sailor, b. Sandwich Islands, age 35 in 1870 census.
Forrester, F.L., president of Mexican-Colorado Navigation Co. In 1902, forms Colorado River Transportation Company. Builds steamboat "Searchlight".
Friant, Frank, about 1900, builds "Retta" for pleasure excursions.
Gandolfo, John, b. Italy. Married Beatrice Imperial 23 Jun 1879. Arr. Yuma 1876. Children, Victoria, John Jr., Luciano, Henry, Albert, Stephen, Frank, Enrique. Yuma businessman. Purchased an interest in steamboat "Cochan" with Thornton, 1904-09.
Godfrey, Joseph, captain of steamboat "Mohave". Nephew to Isaac Polhamus. Born Greenbush, NY, 1857, d. 1928. Marries Adelaide C. Roods, 8 Sep 1879. Children: Isaac, Agnes, Joseph Jr., Lila, William, Arthur, Amento. 1800, obtains captainís papers to captain the "Colorado". Leaves steamboating 1885, stays in Yuma.
Gorman, George B., captain of "Nina Tilden" in 1864. Veteran of the Sacramento & Fraser Rivers.
Gorson, Henry, sailor on "Mohave", b. TX, age 25 in 1870 census.
Grow, Artemus, steamboat engineer, b. MA, age 30 in 1870 census.
Guthrie, James (Captain), U.S. inspector of hulls 1909 (in Yuma for inspection).
Hall, C.S., launches and captains "Iola" from 1906-08 at Needles, CA
Hall, F.W. brother of C.S. Hall. Builds gas side-wheel "Hercules" in 1906.
Hardy, William Harrison, floats supplies by barge from Hardyville to Callville 1865.
Hartshorne, Benjamin, b.7 May 1826, Highlands, Monmouth Co., NJ, son of Robert Hartshorn. Went to CA before 1850. Involved in ferry and steamboat business at Yuma from 1850 through at least 1869. President of Colorado Steam Navigation Co. Was in Yuma 1864, working as agent. Believed to have lived in San Francisco much of the time.
Hauket, John, steamboat fireman, b. Prussia, age 33 in 1870 census.
Hawley, F.L., of Needles, CA, organizes Colorado River Transportation Co., 1902. Builds and captains steamboat "Searchilight".
Hawthorne, Charles Dudley, gov. geologist, passenger on "Mohave" 1883.
Healy, John, captain on "Cocopah", 1878. 1881, listed as ship builder overhauling "Gila".
Henry, Samuel, steamboat engineer, b. PA, age 27 in 1870 census.
Hooper, Charles, foreman of the company shop at Sacramento; 1878 came to Colorado River to overhaul "Gila".
Horn, S., captain of "Cocopah", c. 1873.
Hutt, William, buys "Retta" in 1905, with F.C. Robie.
Ives, Joseph C., takes steamboat "Explorer" up Colorado River to determine head of navigation.
Jackson (no first name known), engineer on "General Jessup" 1854, killed in boiler explosion.
Jaeger, L.J.F., contracts with Yuma Indians to cut wood for steamboats
Johnson, Frank, ship carpenter on "Mohave", b. MA, age 48 in 1870 census.
Johnson, George Alonzo, b. 16 Aug 1824, Palatine Bridge, Montgomery Co., NY. Married Estefana Alvarado 4 Jun 1859 at San Diego, CA. Children: George, Alonzo Jr., Tomacita, and Agnes. Comes to the Colorado River in 1852. Starts a steamboat company, "George A. Johnson", then starts the Colorado Steam Navigation Co. with other partners. For years, buys, builds, and captains a number of steamboats on the Colorado. Sells company, retires to CA 1877. Died 27 Nov 1903, San Diego, CA.
Johnston, Alexander D., captains steamboat for Colorado Steam Navigation Company from 1860s through 1871. In 1860 census, steamboat carpenter, age 30, b. MA. 1870 census, steamboat captain, age 40. Marries Anna Hastings, 20 Oct 1890. She is born in AZ. Guard at Territorial Prison 1885. Dies at his home on Gila Street, Yuma, 21 Oct 1890. Born c. 1830.
Lamar, Charles P., barber in Needles, CA, buys and runs "Aztec" 1901-06, with brother William.
Lamar, William F. (see Charles P. Lamar) Also a barber in Needles, CA.
Lastro (or Lastre), Juan, 1878, works putting zinc on deck of "Gila". Marries Trinidad Arvizo 7 Mar 1874, at Yuma.
Loring, Dan D., seaman, b. VA, age 35 in 1860 census.
Levy, Isaac, employed 1873.
Macy, Oscar, of L.A., arr. Yuma 1880, became clerk on "Gila"
Mannie, Emmet N., steamboat engineer, b. NY, age 32 in 1870 census.
McAfee, Louis, engineer on "Mohave", b. PA, age 42 in 1870 census.
McCoy (first name not known), purser on steamboat "Mohave", 1883.
McDevitt, Peter, steamboat watchman. Drowns in Colorado, 3 Feb 1873, approx. age 30-35, b. Philadelphia.
McDonough, A.M., captains "Newbern" 1871; then captains "Montana".
Meeden, Claus V., b. Holstein, m. Margarita Oviedo, adopted dau. of Isaac Polhamus 8 Jun 1878. Married Anna Maria Leland (age 33, b. PA) 22 Dec 1891, Yuma. She d. 4 Sep 1913, Yuma; from Philadelphia. He came to river 1869, worked on river 10 yrs, quit 1879. Sup. Of Territorial Prison 1880-83, Yuma Co. Supervisor 1886-92. Dies Nov 1913. Sons Charles, Fred, Barney.
Mellon, John Alexander, born 24 Feb 1842, Digby, Nova Scotia, Canada, although he also claimed birth in New Brunswick. Parents descendants of Puritan colonists of MA who returned there shortly after his birth, but later removed to Concord, NH. Claimed to have run away from home at age 9 & sailed the world. Married Maria Jesus Ariza at Arizona City (Yuma) 11 Jun 1868. Children: Deborah (Mrs. Wilbur C. Rice) and 4 other children who died in infancy. Married second wife, Grace Thorpe of Detroit, Michigan, 22 Jun 1886, at Santa Cruz, CA. Arrived on the Colorado River 1864 on schooner "Victoria Runyon", went to work for Colorado Steam Navigation Co. Spent some 40 years on the river. Died 1924, Coronado, CA. 1870 census, b. New Brunswick, steamboat pilot, age 28. Wife Mary J., age 27, from Sonora.
Mendez, Joaquin, captains "St. Vallier" 1901 for Smith. Former barge captain for Polhamus & Mellon.
Metzger, William, captain of "Montana".
Muzzy, H.S., head engr & machinist for Polhamus. Arr. CA 1851-52; came to Colorado to install machinery in "Gila". Chief engineer on steamboat "Gila", 1886. Was married and had daughter, Miss C. Williams. Married Trinidad Mejia 7 Apr 1883, Yuma. Constancia Williams was witness to marriage.
Neahr, David, Dec 1854, engineer on "General Jessup" for Johnson. Later builds stamp mill near Picacho Mine. Born NY, steamboat engineer, age 35 in 1860 cenus. Age 32 on Ft Yuma side, same census. Died 26 Mar 1884, Yuma. Married Maria Epsas or Hupchauss, at Yuma. Children, James Freedom, William Freeson, Harry Freeman, Charles Freeborn, Frank Freecome, Major Freeling, Freeland, Mary Fida, Fanny Freida, Patrick Freechild.
Nelson, Charles, mate on steamboat, b. Prussia, age 35 in 1870 census.
Nelson, Oscar, sailor, b. Norway, age 29 in 1870 census.
Newbolt, Thomas, sailor, b. Sandwich Islands, age 35 in 1870 census.
Norton, George, b. CA. Nortonís Landing; relocates Silver Dist. Placers 1878. Marries Carmen Martinez Schreider 30 Mar 1892; he is 49, she is 40, b. AZ.
Norton, Edward, former California Supreme Court judge, becomes partner in California Steam Navigation Company in 1869.
Overman, Charles Carroll, sent to Colorado 1864 by Trueworthy with steamboat "Esmeralda" and barge Victoria. Sets "Victoria" as store ship at mouth of river. Constructs barge "Black Crook". In 1870 census, captain of "Mohave", b. VA, age 32. Falls on boat, goes to S.F. for treatment 1878. Dies of cancer 8 Jan 1879, S.F. Said to be from VA.
Owens, Henry, built "Cocopah" 1859 at mouth of Colorado. Visits Yuma 1879.
Papan (or Papar), first name not known. Yuma Indian, deck hand on "Gila", d. 1891 on "Gila" of heart disease. Son of old Papan, famous upriver trapper (may be Leonard Papar, listed as old mountaineer, b. Canada).
Patridge (first name unknown), master of schooner "Victoria" 1893.
Phillips (first name unknown) engineer on first "Uncle Sam" voyage with Turnbull, 1852.
Pierson, William H., captains schooner "Isabel", 1865, takes it into what becomes Port Isabel, MX, with supplies to be loaded onto steamboats.
Polhamus, Isaac, b. NY 1828, died Yuma, AZ, 1922. Married Sacramento Sambrano (b. 1847, MX). Steamboat captain on Colorado. Had been on Hudson & Sacramento Rivers. Children: Elizabeth, Thomas, Agnes, Georgiana, Albert, Mary, Isaac, Charles, Jennie, and James. Isaac worked for George Johnson on the river, then bought the company and named it Colorado Steam Navigation Co. Spent more years on the Colorado than anyone else and was respected for his knowledge and ability.
Poole, William, map shows Poole's Landing on New River, Baja,1860s
&70s. He has a sulfur mine in Cocopah Mountains, behind the landing.
Is in Yuma in 1860s. In 1870 census, mate on "Mohave", b. Scotland, age 27. In 1878, captains steamboat "Cocopah", wife & baby on board also. After 1877, in Oakland, CA area, cap. Of C.P.R.R. ferry boat.
Quam, C.E., mate on "Esmeralda", drowned 1893.
Robie, F.C., of Needles, buys "Retta" with William Hutt, 1905. Freight between Mellen & Bill Williams Fork, AZ.
Robie, Gertie, christens "Searchlight" 1902.
Robinson, David C., steamboat captain, b. MD, age 35 in 1860 census. Age 30 on Ft Yuma side, same census. Also was ship carpenter.
Rogers, Robert T., captains "Esmeralda" 1866.
Rosas, Antonio, pilot, 1904. Lived at Clip Landing.
Sam, Ching Fou, ship steward, b.Canton, China, age 25 in 1870 census.
Sam, William, cook on steamboat "Mohave", b. Peking, China, age 35 in 1870 cenus. Proprietor Colorado Hotel, Yuma, 1882.
Shall, Pete, 1878, doing overhaul on "Cocopah".
Shaw, Peter, ship carpenter, b. PA, age 55 in 1870 census.
Smith, Alphonso B, starts Mexican-Colorado Navigation Co. 1901. Builds "San Jorge" for use in Gulf of California. Buys "Retta", paddle wheel steam launch. Purchases "St. Vallier" in 1901, travels between Yuma & Needles, CA. Sells to partners 1904.
Smith, Charles M., brother of Alphonso. Captains "Retta", taking freight to Ehrenberg, AZ and Picacho, CA. Captain of "St. Vallier" until 1905, then becomes a rancher. Marries Daisy B. Bush, 10 Jun 1908. He is 49, b. OR; she is age 35, b. KS.
Smith, J.L., captain, 1885.
Spalding, F.D., builds gas launch at Needles, CA, 1901.
Spear, Edwin, ship carpenter, b. ME, age 50 in 1870 census. Died 1880, Yuma.
Spear, Uncle, 1878, doing overhaul on "Cocopah".
Stacy, E.E., of Yuma, 1891 launches "Electric Spark", gas powered; freight up to Castle Dome Landing. Captains second "Electric" 1892, to Ehrenberg, AZ to Old Lerdo Landing, MX Builds "Aztec" in 1893. Bought out 1895 by Polhamus & Mellon.
Stacy, O.T., of Yuma (see E.E. Stacy).
Summerhayes, John Wyer, b. 1835, Nantucket Island, traveled as mil. officer on Colorado River boats between 1874-78, with wife Martha Dunham Summerhayes, b. 1844, Nantucket Island. She wrote a book called "Vanished Arizona" on their AZ experiences. Children: Harry, b. 1875, Ft. Apache, AZ and Katharine b. 1879. John died 1911 and Martha 1926.
Taylor, Samuel, purser on "Gila" and "Mohave", 1885-56.
Tching, William, steamboat cook, b. China, age 26 in 1860 census.
Thompson, Thomas, sailor on "Mohave", b. Sandwich Islands, age 25 in 1870 census.
Thorne, Stephen, arrives 1864 with Overman & Mellon to work for Trueworthy. Then works for Polhamus in late 60s. In 1870 census, steamboat captain, b. NY, age 27. Still working for Polhamus in 1877. Father Charles Thorne, steamboat captain in CA.
Thornton, Joe, purchases interest in "Cochan" with Gandolfo, 1904-09.
Thurlow, George Moody, sailor, b. ME, age 32 in 1870 census. Born Rockland, Knox Co., ME, 22 Sep 1839. Obit says he went on sailing ships age at age 14. Moved to San Francisco. Came to Yuma 1868, became fireman, then captain on steamboats. First Sup. of Az Territorial Prison, on Board of Supervisors, j.p., school trustee. Marries Aurora Santollo 17 Nov 1872. 1884, running saloon. Dies 1 Nov 1904, Yuma. Had at least one son who died before him.
Tilden, Alphonzo F., managing director of Philadelphia Silver & Copper Mining Co. (mines in Eldorado Canyon & Freeman District opposite Bill Williams Fork) Puts "Nina Tilden" on the Colorado. 1864-65.
Trask (first name unknown), cap. of "Esmeralda", 1893.
Trueworthy, Thomas, starts new steamboat line on Colorado River in 1864, with boat "Esmeralda". Left the river in 1867.
Tungate, D.W., of Los Angeles, starts Needles Navigation Co., c. 1907 with H.J. Caldwell; buys "Hercules".
Turnbull, James, from Benicia, CA. 1852-53, operates "Uncle Sam" to supply Ft. Yuma using "Uncle Sam". Later gives up Col River bus. Goes to Mazatlan & runs stern wheel for years.
Tuttle, Edward Deen, agent for Col. Steam Nav. Co., b. NY, age 36 in 1870 census. Wife Marietta, from NY, age 23.
Twogood, William, Chicago businessman, invests in Mexican-Colorado Navigation Co. Becomes president of the company, succeeding Alphonso Smith.
Vice, Martin, San Francisco, builds "Nina Tilden", 1864.
Wellington, George, steamboat employee, leaves Yuma after 1877, goes to Stockton, CA as steamboat engr.
Whitney, John, ship watchman, b. MA, age 45 in 1870 census.
Wicking, Elias, sailor, b. Sandwich Islands, age 34 in 1870 census.
Wilburn, J.C., Captain, 1865, buys barges "El Dorado", "Vegas", "Colorado", to bring driftwood up from Cottonwood Island. Poled barges up Colorado to mouth of Virgin River to bring down salt for mills. In 1870, becomes interested in mining.
Wilcox, Alfred H., 1850, Captains "Invincible" for George Horatio Derby to Gulf of California. In 1852, captains "Sierra Nevada" to Gulf to supply Ft Yuma. In 1852, partners with Hartshorne & Johnson to operate "General Jessup". Settles in San Diego, opens bank. In 1869, as partner, incorporates Colorado Steam
Navigation Co. When the Colorado Steam Navigation Co. is sold, he keeps the "Newbern" and forms the "California & Mexican Steamship" line, trading from San Francisco to La Paz, Mazatlan, Guaymas. Marries Maria Arguello, daughter of Santiago Arguello of La Punta Rancho. Her sister is Refugio Arguello, who marries William Couts.
Williams, Ben F., in charge at Port Isabel, 1874.
Wilson, Sam, launches "Bessie May" (gas), hauling freight in 1906 to Ehrenberg.
Wright & Lawrence Mining Co., launches gas sternwheeler in 1903
to supply their mines.
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