Bay Family

Bay Family Photograph
Bay Family Photograph

     George and William Bay were brothers who became leading steamboatmen on the Ohio River. Their parents were Thomas and Elizabeth Bowne Bay. Thomas and Elizabeth married on January 30, 1833. George was their first child and born just two years after they were married. They proceeded to have two other children; a daughter, Sarah, and a son, William.
     George and William began their steamboating business in 1862 when Captain George Bay bought an old steam scow, the Ranger,   which he tried to run it from Ironton to Proctorville. Since the boat traveled no further than the Big Sandy River in two days, he decided to sell his boat to a Mr. Moore for $600.00. He made a $200 profit and from this sale he realized how money could be made in steamboating. In 1864, the brothers built their first boat, the Minnie. They kept this little boat for a few years before they sold it. Next, they built the J. C. Crossley, which was eventually damaged from ice. Scioto was another of their boats which met an accident and sunk. It was later raised, but it was too damaged to continue to use. The Lizzie Johnson was their next boat. It was wrecked and rebuilt as the Rosedale. Their other boats did not fair well either. The City of Ironton was burned. The Minnie Bay sank. A.L. Norton lasted a few years until it was rebuilt as a tow boat. The last boats they built were Louise, Volunteer, Chevalier, Lizzie Bay, H.M. Stanley, and the Greyhound. All totaled the brothers owned and operated forty boats over fifty years. 
     In his personal life, George Bay married Mary Matilda Suiter, daughter of Catherine and Isaac Suiter. They were married on June 9, 1863 and built a home in Proctorville, Ohio. Together they raised eight daughters: Minnie, Katie, Mary, Stella, Lizzie, Ruth and Willie. Their two sons died in infancy. Their homeplace was located where Hall Funeral Home is currently.
     William married Lizzie Lynn Johnson. The new couple built their home at 614 South Sixth Street in Ironton. Their two sons died in infancy.
     Not to be forgotten, their sister, Sarah. Sarah married William G. Smith and ran a ferry service between Guyandotte, West Virginia and Proctorville. Sarah gained notoriety for being the first woman to receive a pilot’s license on the Ohio River. Her children include Hattie, Josephine, Fritz, Virgie, George, and Edward.
     Captain George Bay died on February 6, 1919 in Huntington, West Virginia. His last and largest steamboat carried his remains to Ironton where they were laid to rest in Woodland. His wife, Mary, died the next year on December 9, 1920 of influenza at the age of 75. She buried next to William in Woodland. 
     Captain William Bay died on December 4, 1917 and was buried in Woodland Cemetery. His wife, Lizzie, died on March 21, 1933 at the age of seventy-seven.
     You can find all four graves in section seven of Woodland Cemetery. For information, come to the Phyllis Hamner Room. There is a family file on the Bays as well as a group of books in river boats.