Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

Horace Ezra BIXBY, was born in Geneseo, Livingston Co., NY on 8 May 1826. Around the age of 18, he moved to Cincinnati where he worked in a tailor's shop. Soon after he became a clerk on the Cincinnati-Kanawha packet boat "Olivia", and around the age of 23 became a riverboat pilot. Unlike most pilots who held one license, Bixby had 3: for the Missouri River, the Ohio River, and the lower Mississippi River.

In 1857, Horace Bixby met Samuel Clemens (later known as Mark Twain) and agreed to teach him how to pilot a riverboat. Their meeting is chronicled (though somewhat fictionalized) in Twain's "Life On The Mississippi." They remained lifelong friends.

During the Civil War, Bixby fought for the Union side under Commodore Foote. He was pilot on a Mississippi river gun boat fleet for 10 months. His experiences in the Civil War are detailed in an interview in "Mark Twain's Notebooks & Journals" (Notebook 20).

By 1860, Horace had married Susan WEIBLING of New Orleans, and the 2 of them were living in St. Louis, MO. Susan died in 1867. They had no children. The next year Bixby married Mary Elizabeth SHEBLE, daughter of Capt. Edwin A. SHEBLE and Elizabeth M. Sheble. They had 3 children: Edwina BIXBY (born circa 1872), Edwin ("Harry") BIXBY (born circa 1874), and George Mason ("Guy") BIXBY (born 1877).

Horace BIXBY remained a riverboat pilot and captain until the year before his death in 1912 at the age of 86. He is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.

Contributed by: Janet Lundy Richmond, VA