Beautifully engraved certificate from the Old Colony Steamboat Company issued prior to 1891. This historic document was printed by J.M. Whitmore - Boston and has an ornate border around it with a vignette of the Steamboat " Old Colony". This item is hand signed by the Company's President, Charles F. Choate, and Treasurer, John M. Washburn and is over 114 years old.
The Old Colony Steamboat Company was chartered in April 1874 to operate freight and passenger steamers between Narragansett Bay and New York, N.Y. While controlled by the Old Colony Railroad, it operated independently. When the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad leased the Old Colony Railroad in 1893 it gained control of the steamboat company. In 1905 the New Haven Railroad's New England Navigation Company purchased the Old Colony Steamboat Company. Charles F. Choate was involed with other companies including the FALL RIVER, WARREN AND PROVIDENCE RAILROAD COMPANY as a Director and the OLD COLONY RAILROAD COMPANY as a Director. He was the nephew of Rufus Choate 1799-1859 American lawyer and leading trial lawyer of his day. Rufus was born in Essex, Massachusetts and a famous orator and leader of New England bar and a U.S. congressman from Massachusetts 1831-34 and U.S. Senator 1841-45. Charles' brother was Joseph Hodges Choate (1832-1917) who was a U.S. lawyer and diplomat, born in Salem, Massachusetts and Ambassador to United Kingdom 1899-1905 and delegate 1907 to Hague International Peace Conference. He was in charge of prosecuting the Tweed Ring. John M. Washburn was also the Treasurer for the OLD COLONY RAILROAD COMPANY and the FALL RIVER, WARREN AND PROVIDENCE RAILROAD COMPANY.
Boston, Newport & New York Steamboat Co. was sold to the Narragansett Steamboat Co. forming the Fall River Line in 1869 under Jim Fisk Jay Gould became President in 1872 Gould did not share his predecessor's fascination with steamboats and sold the Fall River Line to the Old Colony Railroad in 1874. This created the Old Colony Steamboat Company. The members of the Board included Silas Pierce, Jr., Boston; Benj. Finch, Newport; T. J. Borden, C. P. Stickney, Fall River; Albert Terrill, Weymouth; Oliver Ames, Easton; Wm. Borden, New York. (1874) J. P. Morgan of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad arranged to lease the Old Colony RR and its steamboat company in 1893. The New Haven's maritime operation at this time was called the Marine District. The New England Navigation Co. was set up by the NYNH&H to manage all of its Steamship subsidiaries. On December 10, 1904, the properties of the New Haven Line, Bridgeport Line, Norwich Line (in existence since 1860), Block Island Line and Providence Line were transferred to the New England Navigation Company.