Ferry to Suspend Operations 


The ferryboat Margaret J. will make its last trip next Saturday [October 17, 1931] at 5:00 p.m. it was announced today by officials of the Kentucky & Indiana ferry company.  Operation of a ferry carrying vehicles between Madison and Milton is to be discontinued.

Unused tickets held by patrons of the ferry will be redeemed at the office of the company at the Milton Bank. The boat has been sold but is to be used in local towing service, an official with the ferry company said today.

With the discontinuance of the K. & I. ferry company goes one of the oldest business concerns in this community.  In reviewing the ferry business between this city and Milton the history of the company dates back to 1807 when the firm of King & Brindley operated a treadmill boat, the power for which was generated by a horse in a pen on the boat.

The first steam ferry was purchased by King & Brindley and was named the Prairie Bird.  This boat was purchased by John M. Abbott who built a steam ferry, the Union, which was operated for many years in the trade.  The Union was in operation during the Civil War, and during that time was taken from Abbott and used just below the city as a gunboat to keep Morgan and his forces from fording the river.

The Union operated in opposition to the Prairie Bird for a time.  The Union at that time had a charter from only one state and could charge ferriage only one way, the service being given free the other way.

During the several weeks period that the Union was being used as a gunboat, a hand flat, manned by four oarsmen, was used in the ferry trade.  The Union was later sold to a firm in St. Louis and the Belle of Milton, a 125-foot craft bought in New Albany and was operated in its place until the winter of 1872 when the Belle of Milton was wrecked in the ice.

Interest in the ferry then descended to J. C. Abbott, a son of John Abbott.  Then came the steam ferry, J. C. Abbott, which was built in 1873. Mr. Abbott also built the John M. Abbott, which was used as a relief to the J. C. Abbott.  The J. C. Abbott was operated in the trade until the steamer Trimble was launched in the year 1895. Mr. Walter Abbott, brother of J. C. Abbott, served as pilot on the Trimble for about twenty years of the Trimble's thirty years of service. 

The Margaret J., powered by an oil burning motor, was built at the local ferry landing a few years ago and has been operated with a barge since that time.


from the Madison Courier, October 15, 1931