Captains Louis and Philomène Daniels House

“The Capts. Louis and Philomene Daniels House is a historic house at 50 Macdonough Drive in Vergennes, Vermont. Built in 1868, this vernacular waterfront house was home to Philomene Daniels, believed to be the first woman to be given a steamship captain’s license. She, her husband Louis, and their two sons operated the Daniels Boat Line, providing freight and passenger service between Vergennes and Westport, New York. Their house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.[1]

The Daniels House stands northwest of downtown Vergennes, on the north side of Macdonough Drive opposite Macdonough Park and the Vergennes city dock. The house is a modest vernacular 1+1⁄2-story wood-frame structure. It is L-shaped, with a front-facing gabled main block, an ell extending to the west, and a shed-roof section extending across the rear. A shed-roof porch extends across the front, and there are entrances in both the front of the ell and the side of the main block. The interior retains original flooring and trim elements.[2]

Philomene Daniels was a native of Quebec whose family moved to Vergennes in the 1850s. In 1862 she married Louis Daniels, a native of Panton who was also of French-Canadian extraction. In 1869 he began working aboard the Water Lily, a small steamboat which he purchased in 1880. By 1877 he had acquired both pilot and engineering licenses for operating the ship, which carried freight and passengers down Otter Creek to Lake Champlain and across to Westport, New York. The couple’s two sons began assisting their father in the operation of the service, and Philomene also joined the family business. Seeking to become “as good a pilot as any man”, she secured a pilot’s license in 1887, a feat which garnered international headlines. The family eventually acquired or built three more steamships, which plied the lake until 1916, when other forms of transport rendered it unprofitable.[2]”-

More about Philomène Daniels:

“Philomène Austin “Captain Phil” Daniels (September 14, 1843 – October 29, 1929) was a Canadian-born steamboat captain in Vermont. She was the first American woman to be licensed as a pilot and master for steamboat navigation.[1]

Of Basque descent, she was born Philomène Ostiguy dit Domingue in Saint-Mathias, Quebec. She moved to Vergennes with her family during the 1850s. In 1862, she married Louis Daniels, Jr., who was also of French-Canadian descent. Daniels and her husband owned and operated the Daniels Boat Line on Lake Champlain and Otter Creek. They began operating with one vessel, the Water Lily, and eventually expanded their operation to four vessels. Daniels was licensed in April 1877 and began working as a steamboat pilot. After her husband died in 1903, she continued to operate the business until she married Charles E. M. Caisse, a Canadian-born Vermont blacksmith. Around that time, she turned the boat line, which continued to operate until 1916, over to her son Fred and daughter-in-law Helen Lavigne.[1][2][3]

In 1883, Daniels reported a sighting of a floating object thought to be Champ, a lake monster supposedly resident in Lake Champlain. According to Daniels, the object passed underneath the boat, resurfaced and subsequently disappeared.[4]

Her second husband died in 1916. She continued to live in Vergennes with her son Fred until her death from bronchial pneumonia at the age of 96.[1]

Her former home, known as the Capts. Louis and Philomene Daniels House, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]”-

The Captains Louis & Philomène Daniels House in Vergennes, Vermont.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: