The first proposal to bring steamboats to North Carolina was made by John Stevens of Hoboken, NJ, in 1812. Stevens was building engines, but was blocked by a monopoly in New York by Robert Fulton. The NC legislature approved the proposal and gave Stevens a 20-year monopoly.
However, the legislation required that Stevens must have two boatx operating
in the state by 1814 or the monopoly would lapse. Stevens failed to meet
this requirement and the legislature
refused to give him an extension.
In 1817, Joseph Seawell of Fayetteville petitioned the legislature for a monopoly on the Cape Fear River between Fayetteville and Wilmington, citing that he had started construction on a boat (the Henrietta). While the legislature failed to act that year, it did pass a bill in 1818 giving Seawell a 7-year monopoly.
The Newbern & Norfolk Steamboat Company was incorporated in 1817 and started operations in January 1818. The firm purchased the steamer Norfolk for North Carolina. The ship arrived in Newbern on April 10th.
That same year (1818), a Norfolk merchant bought the Sea Horse to provide transportation of carago. Also, two North Carolina built steamers, the Prometheus and the Henrietta, began their first voyages on the Cape Fear River.
In 1822, Seawell and his associates formalized their partnership by incorporating the Cape Fear Steam Boat Company.
After the 7-year monopoly ended, Seawell, Horatio G. Nelson, Doyle O'Hanlon (Wilmington ship builder) and Captain Benjamin Rush incorporated The Henrietta Steam Boat Company in 1827. By the early 1830s, the company was half-owned by Rush and Samuel F. Nelson. The two partners feuded throughout the first half of 1832, leading to John Crusoe being named president and agent for the company in July 1832, with Rush apparently retaining half ownership. By the early 1840s, the owners were John H. Hall, Constant Johnson and Captain Benjamin Rush. The firm was re-chartered in 1846/47 by John Hall, Benjamin Rush and heirs of Constant Johnson.
In 1827, The Cotton Plant Steamboat Company was chartered. The company had built the Cotton Plant steamer in 1826.
Other steamboat companies included:
Roanoke Steamboat Company, incorporated in 1827
Cape Fear and Western Steam Boat Company of North Carolina (Jan. 3, 1839); Fayetteville; Duncan G. MacRae.
The Merchants Steamboat Company of Fayetteville (1846-47), for freighting; John Waddill, Edmund J. Lilly, Thomas S. Lutterloh.
Cape Fear Steamboat Company (1849); James McGary.
Cape Fear and Deep River Company (1850/1851); John David, James Banks, A.J. DeRosset Jr., Z. Latimer.
Dibble Steamboat Company (1850/1851); C.B., James H. and John Dibble.
Bladen Steamboat Company (1852); George and Duncan Cromartie, David Lewis, James Baker, James M. White, William S. Renaldi, James J. McKee and H.H. Robinson.
Wilmington and Smithville (now Southport) Steamboat Company (1855); A.H. Von Bokkelin, Owen Holmen, Robert H. Cowan, S.L. Freemont and Gaston Meares.
Wilmington Steam Tug Company (1855); Miles Costin, James Cassidy and Edward Kidder.
The Frank and Jerry Line (-1854-), owned by Jerry & Frank Roberts, with steamers Southerner and North State.
The Cape Fear Line (-1854-), with steamers Flora McDonald and Chatham.
The Banks Line (-1854-), with steamer Brothers.
The Lutterloh Line (-1854-), with steamers Fanny Lutterloh and Rowan.
The Express Line (-1854-), with steamers Evergreen and Eliza.
Express Steamboat Company (-1883-), Wilmington to Fayetteville with steamers D. Murchison and Wave.
Cape Fear & People's Steamboat Company (-1883-); Wilmington & Fayetteville route with steamers Gov. Worth, A. P. Hurt, North Star and Bladen; Wilmington & Point Caswell with steamer John Dawson; Wilmington & Smithville with steamers Passport and Minnehaha.
Lists of Steam Boats
Plying Rivers & Sounds in
Steamboat List 1812-1849
Steamboat List 1850-1860
Steamboat List 1861-1880
Steamboat List 1881-1899
19th Century Steamboats