Reminiscences of James Washington Seay, The Last of the Appomattox River Batteaumen.
This book was published by the Historic Petersburg Foundation and the Virginia Canals & Navigations Society.
When white-water rivers were the super highways of commerce, when homes and cities faced the river because that’s where the action was, men in wooden batteaux poled their way, carrying down tobacco, flour, iron, and the products of the interior to the coastal cities, and brought back pianos, porcelain and other articles of civilization from all over the world.
For twelve years, Jim Seay was a batteauman, poling his boat down the Appomattox River and through its canals to the canal basin in Petersburg. When the canal closed, Seay did not abandon his batteaux, but put it in the river at Matoaca and built a cabin on it and used it as a ferry boat to carry passengers back and forth between Matoaca and Ferndale Park until a bridge was built there.
The stories in this book are in Jim’s own words from taped interviews and interviews with others who took pleasure in knowing him.