William Lathrop was born in Springfield to a prominent Connecticut River Valley family. His grandfather, the Rev. Joseph Lathrop, served as minister of the First Congregational Church of West Springfield for sixty-three years and dedicated the first bridge to span the Connecticut River. His father, Samuel Lathrop, was an important political figure. William Lathrop’s correspondence to his father, who was serving in Congress at the time, provides a record of the steamboat Barnet’s maiden voyage in 1826.
William Lathrop was born in Springfield to one of the most prominent families of the Connecticut River Valley. His grandfather, the Rev. Joseph Lathrop, who dedicated the first bridge across the river, served as minister of the First Congregational Church of West Springfield for sixty-three years. William Lathrop’s detailed observations, sent by letter to his father serving in Congress, are a lasting record of the maiden voyage of the Steamboat Barnet in 1826. Lathrop followed the Barnet, as it sailed up the Connecticut River, before turning back at Bellows Falls, Vermont, describing the boat’s progress to his father.
The Lathrop Letters between William and his father document the Barnet’s first voyage: