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This was what you had to worry about when you traveled on a steamboat in Alabama in the 1840s

(News story from January 29, 1847 reveals William Tannehill’s death.)


Mobile to Tuscaloosa, Alabama

On January 29th, 1847 William Tannehill had transported farm produce to Mobile, Alabama aboard the steamboat “Tuscaloosa” and as the steamer was returning home that evening its boilers exploded.

Several members of the crew and passengers were killed, including William. The incident was reported as follows.

“The steamer “Tuscaloosa” left the wharf at Mobile, Alabama, about 8 o’clock on Thursday evening, January 29, 1847, on her way to Tuscaloosa city, the capital of Alabama; and when she had proceeded ten miles up the river two of her boilers bursted, by which accident a number of her passengers and crew were killed and wounded.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

map of tuscaloosa

The explosion completely tore up the boiler-deck, and shattered the after-part of the boat below deck considerably. Immediately after the explosion , the steamer drifted near the shore and grounded, her stern projecting towards the centre of the river.

A line was made fast on shore, and an attempt was made by pulling in the stern, to effect a landing for the passengers, but the boat was fixed too firmly in the bed of the river to be moved in this manner. The ladies were then lowered by a rope to the lower deck, and from thence were sent ashore in the yawl. All of them escaped unhurt.”

Painting of an explosion on USS Princeton 1843 (Wikipedia)

Painting of explosion Uss Princeton 1843

Reprinted from original article found in The Dallas County (Tx) Pioneer Association – Stories of the Pioneers.  Date and source unknown.  The original story lists the names of those killed.

More about this tragedy came be found at Greene County GenWeb site.

Bestselling novel RIBBON OF LOVE: 2nd edition – A Novel of Colonial America (Tapestry of Love Book 1) is the story of a first family in colonial America who eventually migrated to Alabama. 

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RIBBON OF LOVE: 2nd edition – A Novel of Colonial America (Tapestry of Love Book 1): Book 1 in Tapestry of Love Series

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey



  1. I enjoy reading your stories very much.

  2. JoAnn Donaldson

    Love this history of Alabama

  3. Heather Martin-Wright
  4. Any connection with this man and Tannehill State Park

  5. John Meise

    I have a $20 bill with this date on it in it’s serial number…that’s pretty cool 😀

  6. Zmp Inge’s casket was on that boat back to Tuscaloosa. He was killed in the Mexican war. He was my great great great grandfathers brother

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