Most families that operated early ferries lived near the river. A traveler just needed to "holler" when he arrived at the river's edge and a ferryman or family member would come and "carry" the traveler and his wagon across on a flat raft made of sawed lumber. In the 1840s and 1850s the ferryman poled the raft and propelled it at a diagonal or "ferry glide." Later, a cable across the river was used to hold and guide the ferry. A fee was charged per person, horse, or wagon.
Known ferry landings on the Black River, going north from Jacksonport ferry, were: Whismant (log ferry), Elgin, Byrds Point (log ferry), Lockhart, Mouth of Strawberry, Partee, Whitlow, Gibson, Powhatan, and Black Rock.
Unless the ferry was privately owned, the operator was required by law to be licensed and bonded by the county courts, with service fees set by the courts.
Dozens of ferries operated on the White River, from Talbot's Ferry above Crooked Creek in the north, to DesArc Ferry in the south. Many of these landings became steamboat stops and served as ports where cargo could be transferred from steamers to smaller water craft and then transported to destinations on the tributaries of the White, or to wagons that carried goods into settlements.
Return to Homepage