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 C&O Canal Association

Family Histories

Bloss family portrait 1908
Bloss family portrait from 1908
Stories of the families that lived along the C&O Canal and made it work. William Bauman drew upon personal recollections and public records to prepare these documents.

Resources listed below are available in PDF format.



"A Short Julius C. Apple Family History", written in October 2010, concerns a family with many connections to transportation in the Potomac River valley. Julius C. Apple, who died in 1977 at the age of 86, was the son and grandson of C&O Canal lockkeepers. He himself was a B&O Railroad engineer, as was his eldest son. The history is illustrated by multiple photographs and maps.

"Bloss Family History" discusses a family that settled along the canal in the North Branch area, Locks 73-75. Census records, newspaper accounts, and family photographs help trace the story of a family whose members included three lock keepers in the 1870s and 1880s. The document was revised in January 2015.

"Bowles Family History" tells the story of the family whose house has now become the Hancock visitor center for the park. The 51-page document was revised in May 2015.

"George Clark Family History" – George Clark was a resident of Cumberland in the early 1800s. Two of his sons became builders of canal boats. This 36-page document was created in March 2015.

"Abraham Derr Family History" – During the 1870s Emanuel Derr, a descendent of Abraham, was both a lock tender at Lock 38 and captain of the canal boat Willie & Annie. This 12-page document was created in March 2015.

"Fernsner Family History" traces the story of a family from the Four Locks area. Samuel Fernsner owned a general store at Lock 48. Lewis Fernsner owned and operated canal boatsin the 1870s and 1880s. The document was written in January 2015.

"Higgins Donegan Family History" is intertwined with the history of the canal in the Little Orleans area. Joseph Higgins was supervisor of the last 50 miles of the canal in the early 20th century. The 43-page document was written in November 2010. The file size is 5 MB.

"Emanuel Hine Family History" tells the story of a C&O canal boat owner and operator who died in 1924 at the age of 80. Recorded in January 2011, the history includes extensive information concerning family members, and is illustrated by several photographs.

"Kerfoot Family History" includes the life of Thomas Kerfoot, who took the job as lock keeper for Lock 40 and raised 10 children in that small lockhouse. Further research may yield information about the family's operation of canal boats. The 34-page document was updated in November 2014.

"Knode Family History" – The story of this Washington County family is intertwined with the canal. George W. Knode owned and captained a boat on the canal during the 1870s. His brother David captained another boat. His brother Jacob also worked as a boatman. The 50-page document was created in September 2014.

"Henry Korns Family History"–  Jesse and Henry Korns were canal boat builders and very active in the affairs of Cumberland. The 40-page document was written in September 2012 and includes information pulled from the census and other public records. Also available is a compliation of J&H Korns canal boat mortgages, 1851 - 1870.

"Patrick Little Family History" discusses another family that figures prominently in the history of Hancock and the canal. The 46-page document was written in November 2011. The file size is 6 MB.

"Patrick McKaig Family History" tells the story of a Cumberland family that operated canal boats during the 1850, 1860s, and 1870s. One member of the famil was a secessionist sttate senator at the outbreak of the Civil War.

"Manning Family History" describes the life and family of George Irving Manning (1895-1964), who was a boat captain on the C&O Canal. This history was written in January 2011, but is a work in progress that includes blanks to indicate where more data is needed. Family members and others who may have that information are invited to contact the author.

"Abraham Miller Family History" – This family lived in Falling Water, WV, not far downstream from Williamsport. Descendents included Benjamin Miller, who captained canal boats in the 1870s. The 27-page document was revised in May 2015.

"George and Anna Miller Family History" – This 56-page document traces the five generations of the Miller family that was involved in the lumber business in Williamsport. The family lumber business was located on the berm side of the canal near Conococheague Aqueduct from 1879 to 1917.

"Moore-Stone Family History"–  John Moore and John G. Stone were both involved in the early days of the canal. In 1892 their two families were joined in marriage. Moore was awarded construction contracts in 1830s. He became a lock keeper and later a respected boat captain. Stone was also involved in the construction of the canal and became superintendent of the 4th Division when it opened in 1839. Stone was appointed General Superintendent and Engineer for the entire canal in 1858.

"Mouse Family History"–  Members of the Mouse family owned and captained canal boats between 1864 and 1880. Family members continued to live in Washington County after the canal closure in 1924.

Big Pool Bridge and Stop Gate
Children aboard a canal boat,
under the watchful eyes of their mother
Source: Western Maryland Regional Library - www.whilbr.org

"Riley Family History" provides information on the family associated with Lock 24 and Seneca Aqueduct during the final years of canal operations. This history was written in October 2009. The 13-page document includes several photographs. The file size is 5 MB.

"Levi Shaw Family History" –  Levi Shaw was the lock-keeper at Guard Lock No. 4 in 1839. He bought his own canal boat in 1862. Two sons also owned canal boars. Members of the family worked on the canal into the 1900s.

"Silver Family History" traces the story of a family which lived the in the Two Locks area (Locks 45 and 46) upstream from Williamsport. Family members were involved in building or repairing canal boats. This history was written in December 2011. The 19-page document includes several photographs.

"John Henry Sipes Family History" provides information about the lock keeper at Lock 21 in the early 1900s and his descendents. The document is 16 pages long.

"Richard Sorrell Family History" tells the story of a Virginia family. Richard Sorrell and Robert Sorrell operate boats on the canal in the 1870s.

"George Spates Family History" provids information about the family of George W. Spates, who was a superintendent of the Monocacy Division from 1862 to 1869 and then resumed farming in the Poolesville - Edward's Ferry region.

"Spong Family History" concentrates on the branches of the Spong family living along the C&O Canal, primarily in Sharpsburg and at Lock No. 8, Montgomery County, Md. Members of the family operated canal boats from the 1860s until 1916, when a tragic accident killed two of the family's children. The family saga also includes a murder-suicide near Sharpsburg in 1912.

"Sterling Family History" traces the story of a family from the Four Locks area whose members were involved with the C&O Canal from 1860 until closure in 1924. One member owned and operated canal boats. Another served as a lock tender

"Swain Family History" provides information on John F. Swain, Sr. (1820-1893) and his descendants. The family's many connections to the C&O Canal included long-time occupancy of the lockhouse at Lock 21 (Swain's Lock). The history, which was written in January 2011, includes numerous photographs. The file size is 6 MB.

"H. T. Weld Family History" –Henry T. Weld immigrated to America in 1838. After the canal reached Cumberland in 1850, Weld became a boat builder and coal broker. The file size is 13 MB.

"Yates Family History" gives background on the family that originally the brick home which has become the Hancock Visitor Center for the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The 14-page document was written in August 2011 and includes several maps showing the family holdings in the Hancock area. The file size is 8 MB.

"John Young Family History " follows the family of John Young, a Cumberland entrepreneur who began building canal boats as soon as the canal reached that town in 1850. His sons later took over the operation of the boatyard. The 71-page document was prepared in April 2012.


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