Explosion of the A. N. Johnston


This destructive and fatal accident took place on the Ohio river, about twelve miles above Maysville, Ky., on Wednesday, the 29th day of December, 1847, at 2 o'clock, A. M. The steamer, at the time of the explosion, was in the act of rounding from the shore, having just discharged some passengers on the wharf-boat at Manchester. After the explosion, she was burned to the water's edge. No circumstantial account of the accident is given, except that a great many persons were killed and wounded, and their names, as far as they were known to the officers of the boat, will be found in the list which is here appended. It is to be observed that the gentlemen who made the report were not very exact in stating whether many persons named therein were killed, wounded, or missing ; but it, was understood that when not otherwise designated, the persons named in the list were missing.

Passengers.—Redman, a fiat-boat hand, killed ; S. S. Saunders, of Cincinnati, badly scalded ; J. Kirkpatrick, Massillon, Ohio, scalded ; William Everhart and son, of Pennsylvania, do.; D. Rutledge, of Ohio, do. ; N. Wheat, Baltimore, Md., do.; Samuel Fisher, Warren, O., do. ; Samuel Pilson, Baltimore, do. ; Henry Shane, Cincinnati ; Arthur Foal, Pittsburgh; A. N. Johnson, wife and child, Wheeling, Va. ; G. S. Weatherby, Philadelphia; — Conway, Graham's Station ; Cyrus Rollin, Lebant Falls ; Jacob Schafer, Ohio, scalded ; A . Bailey, Ohio, badly scalded ; Robert Russell, Ohio; John Clancy and John Hardy, Cincinnati ; John Kenline, of Ohio; H. J. Bonner, Hanover, Ind.; C. Hardin, Guyandotte, Va.; John Boyd, Warren, Ohio; William Beard, St. Louis; F. Platter, Ohio ; S. Cunningham, Cumberland, Md. ; J. Swagert, Belle Air, Ohio ; J. Barnett, Dayton, Ohio ; F. McDonald, Pittsburgh ; William Knight, Va. ; John Fowler, Ohio ; William Miller, Cincinnati ; M. R. Hayden and James Wickersham, Pittsburgh ; F. A. Horne, Ohio ; James M. Lissorm, Ohio ; R. Hickson, Cincinnati ; Augustus Marsh, slightly scalded; Henry Ladd and William Ladd, Randolph, Ohio ; John Borum, Clarington, Ohio ; William Parker, Dilley's Bottom, Ohio ; A. Davis, — Captain, O. McTygart, Mr. McCullough, Mr. Lands, and Mr. All, Parkersburg, Va. ; James Bromdon and Edmund Swaggart, Belle Air, Ohio ; John Gilbreath, of Pittsburgh, badly scalded ; Hamilton Barebout, John Williams, James Sprouts, and A. Bacon, Warren, Ohio ; William Allen, Wheeling, Va. ; Anderson Bonum and Benjamin Bonum, Cincinnati; G. Parker, Pittsburgh; C. Weaver, Wheeling, Va. ; James Henderson, Belmont Co., Ohio ; E. J. Pole and J. R. Deary, Athens Co., Ohio. ; P. Flesher, Doddridge Co., Va. ; Jacob Shoewalter, Warren Co., Ohio.

Boat's Crew.—A. Fairchild, Wheeling, first clerk, killed ; Jacob Johnson, second clerk, missing; James Bellsville, carpenter, missing ; John Lyle, second engineer, killed ; Matthew Wilson, first mate, of Pa., leg broken ; James Fennell, bar-keeper, of Cincinnati, slightly scalded ; John Fennell, first steward, do., Alfred Burrows, second steward, do., both badly scalded ; William Dorsey, second pilot, of Wheeling, Va., badly bruised ; Samuel P. Hardin, first cook, missing; porter and barber, both scalded badly ; two men found dead, names unknown.

One of the boilers was blown into a corn-field two hundred yards distant; another boiler was blown a hundred yards further into the same field. There was supposed to be one hundred and sixty passengers on board, of whom from sixty to eighty were killed or missing. Many others were wounded. All the ladies on board, six or seven in number, and four or five children, were saved. The steamer Boone went from Maysville to the scene of the disaster, and brought away thirty-seven of the dead and wounded. Some others were taken to Cincinnati. Many were so badly wounded that there were no hopes of their recovery.

The death of the first clerk was attended by singular circumstances. He was blown to the distance of one hundred yards, and fell on the shore ; he then sprang up, and ran in a phrenzied manner nearly a quarter of a mile to a house, which he entered, and ran under a bed. When taken from thence life was almost extinct, and he expired within a few minutes.
The engineer, just before he died, stated that he had tried the boilers a short time before the explosion, and found a sufficiency of water ; but one of the clerks reports that he heard the engineer complain several times after they left Cincinnati that the pumps did not work well.

The City Council of Maysville assembled on the afternoon of the fatal day, and made an appropriation for the relief of the sufferers.


excerpted from Lloyd's Steamboat Disasters,