[APG Public List] Inspector and Collector of Revenue in the District and Port of Massac

Terry Reigel terry at reigelridge.com
Fri Jun 11 17:11:02 MDT 2010

I've recently found record in the Senate Executive Journal that an ancestor, "Gideon D. Cobb, of Indiana" was nominated in Dec. 1805 to the post of "Inspector and Collector and Inspector of Revenue for the district and port of Massac." This raises several questions which I've been unable to find answers to, and I hope listers might have some information or suggestions for sources:

1. What was a "Inspector and Collector and Inspector of Revenue" at that time? I find the term used in several places, but mostly in that Journal, about that time, and mostly associated with a "district and port." The term port suggests it covers customs duties or the like, but the term district suggests it might cover other types of levies not associated with customs. The "Fact Sheets: Taxes" on the Treasury Department website mentions federal duties and other taxes, then notes that when Jefferson was elected in 1802 that "direct taxes" were eliminated and "for the next 10 years there were no internal taxes other than excises," though I've been unable to find which excises survived. So was this position responsible for collecting any duties dues on river traffic (because this was an inland location) and whatever there were excise taxes at that time?

2. Where was the "district and port of Massac"? Fort Massac, on the Ohio River in present-day Metropolis, Illinois, was originally established by the French, and clearly existed in 1805, but I histories of the area that I've found, and conversation with the historian at the town library, turn up no reference to it being a recognized port. The town of Metropolis wasn't even established until several decades later. Perhaps the emphasis was really on the "district" part, and it covered an area of northwestern Kentucky and southern Indiana Territory, including what later became Illinois? This makes more sense in view of the following.

3. The least important, and perhaps most unknowable, is why was he described as "of Indiana"? He moved from Vermont to Eddyville, Kentucky, in 1800, and by all evidence he promptly established himself in that town as a tavern owner, trader and merchant, and political leader, and lived there the rest of his life. Eddyville is some 45 miles up the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers from the site of Ft. Massac, and while not far from Indiana territory, clearly was never in it. Perhaps this was just an administrative slip, based on Ft. Massac being in Indiana Territory at the time?

Any information or clues appreciated.

Terry Reigel

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