Biography of Capt. Benjamin W. Morse
Sagadahoc County, Maine Biographies





Benjamin Wyman Morse. - No man has been better known on the Kennebec River than Capt. B. W. Morse. While still young he went with his father Wyman Morse in the memorable side wheel steamer Bellingham, a very early tow boat on the river, proved himself very capable and trustworthy, and, upon the death of his father, succeeded to the command of the boat when eighteen years of age, subsequently having command of newer and larger side wheel boats, one of which was the Ellen Morse, the first beam engine side wheeler built on the river. Then followed the era of screw propellers, the first of which on the Kennebec was the Fearless, with Captain Morse in command. The towage business increasing, Captain Morse was instrumental in forming the Knickerbocker Steam Towage Company, by act of the Legislature, in which he successively occupied the positions of treasurer, superintendent, and finally president of the company, holding that office till his death.

From the tow boat business Captain Morse extended his enterprises to coastwise navigation. Besides owning "pieces" in many vessels he built in his ship yard, after 1879, seventeen of the largest class of coastwise vessels, and purchased schooners from other builders so that he managed the largest coastwise fleet belonging to any one port.

Commencing in the winter of 1876 the Morse Company was among the first to undertake the enterprise of cutting and storing ice on the upper Kennebec and shipping it to southern cities, extending the business to Boothbay and the Hudson River. His vessels were largely employed in the transportation of ice with return cargoes of coal for northern ports, and, of later years, using barges also for colliers, purchasing small sized ships and converting them into barges. Since his death this same line of business has been continued by his successors, Morse & Co.

Capt. B. W. Morse was born in Bath, April 1, 1825, and was a grandson of Jonathan Morse, of Phipsburg, and married Miss Anna E. J. Rodhird, who was born in Bath, April 10, 1830. They were married, in New York, July 19, 1853, by the Rev. E. H. Chapin. Their children are: Jennie Rodbird Morse and Charles Wyman Morse. Captain Morse died May 30, 1887, and was interred in Oak Grove Cemetery, where a magnificent granite monument has been erected to his memory by his family, representing an oak broken off twenty feet from the ground, a very fitting memorial of his strength of character and life. He enjoyed, to a high degree, his home where he had a library of rare books, of which he was a constant reader, He always led an upright and exemplary life, dealing squarely in every phase of his business transactions.

From:
History of Bath and Environs,
Sagadahoc County, Maine.
1607-1894
BY: Parker McCobb Reed
Lakeside Press, Printers
Portland, Maine, 1894


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