Scott Co, Iowa USGenWeb Project
A Raft Pilot's Log by Capt. Walter A. Blair
1929-Arthur H. Clark Company
Transcribed by Joan Bard Robinson
Pleasant Rafting with the Good 'Ten Broeck'
The year 1882 was a busy and important for me. Because getting my license
and beginning work on my own boat and helping organize the LeClaire
Navigation Company as told in the preceding chapter, I was entered, passed
and raised to the degree of a Master Mason in Snow Lodge
number forty-four in LeClaire, Iowa, I changed my membership to Trinity
Lodge number two hundred and eight. I have been away from home too much to be
an active member but after forty-five years' experience I hold masonic
teaching and practice in high esteem and consider it a great influence for
good in any community.
Miss Elizabeth Bard and I were married in her home on the evening of
December 7, 1882. At the same time her sister Adelle was married to John H.
It was very cold and the heavy ice running made crossing the river very
difficult and dangerous . Captain and Mrs.Van Sant went up with me in a
carriage in the afternoon and drove back with my plucky bride and me after
midnight with the temperature twenty-six degrees below. The road. frozen hard,
had smooth tracks and we were not long on the way to our cozy, furnished
apartment, with a good hard - coal fire in the base-
In February, 1883, we bought the towboat 'J.W. Mills' of W.J.Young and
company for $7000.00.
We did not have to pay any cash down or spend any money repairing her.
She had been out on the Eagle Point ways and given $2200.00 repairs before
lying up for winter.
Mr.Young now had two fine, large, new boats, the 'Boardman' and
'W.J.Young, Jr.', that would do the bulk of his work. We were to do all his
extra work and let about 0ne-third of the earnings thereon apply on our notes
given for the ' J.W. Mills.'
I took charge of her and started out early. She cleared $4000.00 that
season and $60000.00 in 1884 and $4700.00 in 1885, my last season on her. So
she more than paid for herself in her first and second season.
In February,1886, we bought the 'Ten Broeck' and barge for $8250.00. This
was a great bargain as the 'Ten Broeck' was only six years old/ She was one
of the best in the business. her engines were sixteen and one-half inches in
diameter by fourteen and one-half foot stroke, fitted with new piston packing
and Frisbie balance valves.
She three good boilers and was very easy on fuel.
She had a nice comfortable cabin for her crew and one large guest room.
The 'Ten Broeck' was wide and low, caught very little wind, She was easy
on the stern of the raft and had wonderful power in backing and flanking.
I went on her in the spring of 1886 leaving LeClaire twenty-four hours
after a severe March blizzard that gave us ten inches of snow and a very cold
night to start up river.
During the six seasons I was in charge of the 'Ten Broeck' I had several
good pilots who changed watches with me. Among them I hold John Monroe, John
H.Wooders, George Tromley, Wm. Savage, Alf.Withrow, and Frank LePoint in
grateful recollection for their skillful work, cheerful co-operation and
genial companionship night and day. They were real partners.
When you rouse a man out of his nice berth at 11 P.M. or 3 A.M., night after
night to 'take her' in any part of the river and battle with fog, wind, and
shoal water. you get a good clear line on his disposition all right.
My old friend Henry Whitmore was my chief engineer for the
first season on the 'Ten Broeck' and we enjoyed being together again.
Then James Stedman of LeClaire took charge of the engine room in 1887
and remained with me until we left her at the close of the season in 1891.
Our company now had several boats and had to take care of all the Beef
Slough or West Newton output for the Lansing lumber Company of Lansing Iowa,
David Joyce of Lyons, Iowa, and Fulton, Illinois, Chr. Mueller of
Davenport, besides supplying the Clinton Lumber Company, and W.J.Young
and Company all above what he could handle with his own two boats. We had
rented Wyalusing and Desota bays some other storage places where we would put
rafts not wanted at the mills in safe storage and and where we could get them
out and run them to the mills during low water when the
rafting works were shut down.
Dropping rafts down one or two days run, moving them up in some bay,
taking off our kit and hiking back to Beef Slough for another raft to be
similarly lined up and fitted to run, then taken down to Desota or Lansing
and laid up and stripped was not as desirable as long through trips.
Then when we went after these logs in low water some were aground
on the shore and required consider-
able rolling to get them afloat and placed in the raft again.
This laying up and getting out again cost about two hundred dollars per
raft more than a trip straight through to the mill. Because I had the best
boat and was familiar with all the places we were using for storage, the 'Ten
Broeck' got the bulk of this work, and her earning were cut thereby;
but in the six years I was on her she cleared $ 22,000.00. We had sustained a
cut of ten cents per thousand feet on all logs to Clinton, Lyons and Fulton
since 1885 and this made a big difference in profits.
I only had one real bad break-up while on the 'Ten Broeck.' This was in
Lake Pepin, with a heavy raft of logs from Stillwater on Lake Saint Croix
for Chr. Mueller of Davenport, late in October. The mate and his crew had
double-boomed it all around the outside and put on extra lines to strengthen
it, but this all counted for nothing when the storm struck us at
daybreak when we were within one and one - half miles of shelter at the
mouth of the Chippewa.
We had to let go and get the 'Ten Broeck' away and out of the lake and our
raft was reduced to single logs with all the bark worn off them.
The bark and our entire kit of lines and poles were thrown up in a windrow on
shore and it was a mean task to disentangle the mass or mess.
I got a regular rafting crew from Beef Slough to help us and in nine days
hard work we had a new raft ready to start and lost only thirty-four
This break-up occurred before we bought the 'Netta Durant.' She was about a
mile behind us and got the same treatment. Her raft for the Clinton Lumber
was in single logs and clear of any bark the same as ours.
My last trip with the noble 'Ten Broeck' was late in the fall of 1891
with a raft for Dimock Gould and Company of Moline from Stillwater to
Lansing Bay where we had orders to lay it up for early spring delivery.
The first half of November was mild, clear and calm, but the river was low.
We knew we would have to split below Prescott and double-trip past
Four Mile island where the United States dredge had made a cut through
the bar wide enough for a half raft.
When we got out of Lake Saint Croix in the morning and below Prescott
we found Captain R.J.Wheeler with the steamer ' Henrietta' and a large
excursion barge, the 'Robert Dodds' and raft in charge of Captain George
Brasser and the 'Menominee' and raft, Captain S.B.Withrow all tied up and
lying quiet. I could see some small boat down below in the cut. So we landed
on the right above the others. I took a skiff and visited the other boats,
and learned that Dan Rice with his little side-wheeled 'Bun Hersey'
and half raft for Red Wing had caught his right hand bow corner on that side
of the cut and then the stern swung over and rested on the sand on
the other side. The captains all thought he would soon get loose and drop
out of our way.
While the day was pleasant I knew how quickly that river could freeze
upwhen it turns cold. and the water low, but I was behind all of them and
could do nothing but wait for an opening.
When I got up the next morning , November 11, and could see no change in
the situation, I took a skiff and went down to the 'Bun Hersey
and took in the situation
On making inquiry of Captain Dan Rice a big, rough-looking chap with
his pants inside, big , high boots, as to what his plans or intentions were,
he told me that was his business not mine. I then went back up to the other
boats and and got the captains together and told them if we waited
on Rice to get out of our way , we would all freeze in here. "Lets go down
together and hold an 'inquiry' over him,' was proposed. we went and Rice at
first was surly and stubborn, but we convinced him he must act at once
and he did as we suggested. He cut off that corner that was aground (about
one hundred and twenty-five logs) and took his raft through, coupled up and
on our way for a good run through Lake Pepin.
We had two days of bad weather but got our rafts safely placed in Landing
bay, hitched in to our fuel barge, and 'fit out' from Lansing at 2 A.M., on
November 10, for LeClaire. It turned cold at dark when we passed Clinton. We
reached LeClaire at 9:30 P.M.; put off surplus stores,
took on coal, paid off the deck crew and cooks and early in the morning of
the seventeenth with the 'Irene D.' hitched in alongside, made for Wapsie
Bay, ten miles up river. Wapsie Slough had frozen over during the night.
We had to break out way in. It was a cold day to 'lay up' and drain
steamboats, but we did it, only stopping for coffee and sandwiches at noon.
We carried our baggage and walked ashore before night over the ice that
had made again since we broke in earlier in the day.
That was my thirty-fifth birthday and a good hard one. By walking two and
one-half miles to Folletts I caught a train to Noels Station. I was very
could not beg, buy or steal anything to eat. Rather than wait four hours
for the night 'accommodation' on the C.M. & St.P. to Davenport, I walked three
and one-half miles to Long Grove where my old chum Ed. Owen was ticket agent
He took me to his house, made fresh coffee and saved my life. Reaching
Davenport, I was too sore and stiff to walk and took a carriage.
I did not expect to go back on the 'Ten Broeck' and though going home I
left her as 'a tried and faithful friend' that had carried me and our raft
through many, many storms, fogs, shallow waters and crooked places
One night going up the river on the 'Ten Broeck' with our fuel barge in
tow and changing watch at eleven o'clock above Apple river I said to Frank
LePoint who had just taken her (as pilot), "Frank, I think I see red and
green lights up there near the mouth the Maquoketa (river). In this moonlight
the lights don't show very well, but I think he has a raft of him; I guess
I'll wait and see who it is."
In a few minutes Frank's keen Sioux indian eyes caught the situation
and he said," Why that man he's tied up. Now why you 'spose tie up a raf' on
such a night like dis. It mus' be Brasser (Captain George Brasser)/
He like dat landing." Sure enough ! When we got up closer, by four short
blasts from her whistle calling for help we recognized the raft-boat 'Robert
Dodds' of whicj George Brasser was master. Running in closer I
called to ask what he wanted and could see the trouble before he answered: "
Ho Cap ! This dam fellar wit' his tie raf' run into me since I'm landed here
and can't move my boat- he's swung in across the Robert
Dodd's wheel. I want you to pull him out of dis." There was a big bass voice
moving across on the tie raft ( from the Wisconsin river) whom I judged
was the pilot ( a 'floater') and at my suggestion he made fast to his raft
the end of a good line our mate threw out to him.
The we slowly and carefully pulled him out of his predicament and swung
him well into the channel and let him go, and we proceeded up river.
Six weeks later we landed at the office in Beef Slough to get our raft
assignment. The 'Robert Dodd' was landed there also and when I met Captain
Brasser he had a merry twinkle in his mild blue eyes. After thanking me for
thr little service that night six weeks ago, he said," I have good joke to
tell you on my own self. On my las' trip down my engineers say those biler
(boilers) need a clesn out; so I tie up in same place I was that night you
see us there. Well, sir, I was woke up along 'bout midnight and when I step
out my room what you tink I see? Well my frien' there was another raf' in
same shape like de one you pull out wit
your boat dat I hail you in."
" Yas sir, and when I see big feller walkin' towar's my boat I see was de
same pilot; so I call out, I say my frien' aint dis river wide enough so
you can get by me sometime when I'm clear over one side? An here's where
de fun is on me. So soon I spik like dat he stop right where he was and in
dat big voice he'es got he say, 'Gawd-A-Mighty ! Are you here yit?"
Once I had an Irish woman get a pretty good one on me.
We had lost a young chap on our last homeward trip with the "Stillwater
Crescent.' He was the cook's helper, against which we had warned him several
The cook and clerk took his clothes and money due him to his mother and
gave a full report of his loss.
I did not go to see her then, but offered a reward and notified the
fishermen to be on the lookout when the ice went out in spring. I came down
from LeClaire one day late in March and learned that Mike's body
had been found and would be buried the next day. I drove over to see her,
and with a rain coat and small cap on with my five feet seven inches
in height in that outfit my appearance was not impressive.
I found the poor woman in tears. She had been telling a neighbor woman
all about it and was naturally agitated, but when I gave her some money,
saying, it was to enable her to make a good showing at the funeral, she wiped
her eyes and a funny smile broke over her face when she said, "Well
of all things ! Are ye Captain Blair?" Well before God now I never would have
"Why not, I said; don't look like I run a steamboat?"
She pit her hand up to her cheek and with laughing eyes said; "Well ye
must know back on the 'ould sod' where I was born, it was a busy seapirt
town. When I was a young girl in me teens I knew the captains of all the boats
AND THEY WERE ALL LARGE, FINE - LOOKIN' MIN."
And one early spring day while the usual repair work kept me busy getting
the many things needed from up town while waiting at Ripley and Second street
for a Rockingham car, I had my arms full of packages and a
small coil of three-eighths Manila rope over my head and one shoulder.
An old German approaching said," Cap, I don't like to see you with rope
like that. By Golly that's the size most of them use!"
" Don't worry" I replied/ "You never heard of an Irishman hanging
"No? No that's true." he shot at me. " They don't have to - the sheriff
The Green Tree Hotel
In the lively days of the rafting business, in addition to its coal yard,
foundry and machine shop, boat stores and rapids boats and rapids pilots,
LeClaire had a unique feature known as 'The Green Tree Hotel,' a splendid elm
whose spreading branches provided shade in sunshine and a shield in storm to
many a cook, firemen or deckhand after he had had his little fling, and could
find welcome and rest under the green tree until a berth appeared.
This grand old elm stands in the public landing, given by Antoine LeClaire
to the town when it was laid out and named for him nearly a hundred years
On any warm summer night it sheltered 'the makins' of several raft-boat
crews, and it didn't take long to get them either. No baggage to arrange,
no bills to pay- just get up, put on the hat and follow.
The steamer 'Jennie Gilchrist' seems to guard them while they sleep.
She is busy every day towing barges of coal from the mines at Rapid City
and ties up close to the green tree every night.
Coal was discovered in Happy Hollow near Hampton, Illinois, in 1869, by
Thomas Tagg and William Barth. The next year, 1870, these same men, Tagg and
Barth, discovered a vein of coal at Rapids City and Taylor Williams opened a
mine and delivered coal in 1871.
Mr. H.M. Gilchrist from Wanlockhead, Scotland, and his son, John, worked
this mine about two years
when they got hold of a vein of even better coal near by and opened
'Wanlockhead Mines' in 1874.
H.M. Gilchrist was a man of great industry and push, with pleasant looks
and manners. and with such good coal only one and one-half miles from the
river he soon had the big end of the lucrative steamboat trade.
In order to handle his growing business he had the handsome little
steamer 'Jennie Gilchrist' built at the LeClaire yard. Taylor Williams had
put in a railroad from the river up to their mines that served both, and
Mr. Gilchrist provided and operated the steamer that did the towing for both
the Gilchrist and the Williams mines.
The Williams mine was opened in 1871 and operated until closd in 1884.
The Gilchrist mine was opened in 1874 and worked out and closed in 1882.
I stated that the 'Jennie Gilchrist' was a very pretty boat and very
popular. This is true, and well she might be both, for she was named for
Mr. Gilchrist's only daughter, now Mrs. Charles Shuler of Davenport
In writing on the green tree I recall a night in 1897 when on the 'Ten
Broeck, we landed at LeClaire for fuel, and awaited daylight before
proceeding down over the rapids. It was after midnight and everything was
closed up but two saloons.
I wanted a cook and was told that Hayden was the only one in town, and I
could find him under the green tree. I looked over the bunch under the tree
and not finding Hayden I wakened a fireman and asked
where Hayden was. He said he was sitting down close by the water's edge an
I soon found him sitting there bareheaded and barefooted. By his husky
voice I knew he was still drinking; so I left him there. I learned a few
days later that soon after daylight he went up to the saloon in the basement
under the drug store and asked the proprietor, "John, what kind of whiskey
was that I drank last night?" 'Why? What did it do to you?"
"It made me go down to the river; sit down, take off my shoes and hat and
gently put them afloat. Then I took a stick and pushed them out where
they caught the current and I guess they are down to Hampton by this time. I
thought I was launching a lot of barges. Wan't that a great note."
Only a few months ago I had a letter from a lady in Inglewood, California,
asking for information about the green tree. This lady is gathering material
for a history of noted trees and she says the green tree
of LeClaire, Iowa, is one of the few trees that have places in the Hall of
Fame in Washington, District of Columbia.
It has grown considerably since raftsmen used it for a summer hotel. Its
trunk is now (1928) thirteen feet in circumference five feet from the ground,
and its very thick top has a spread of ninety feet east and west and
ninety-three feet north and south.
The townspeople take very good care of it and it is in excellent health;
and in summer nights when all else is still and only a slight warm breeze
causes a murmur in its dense foliage, I can easily imagine it whisper the
lines of my friend, Robert Rexdale's old refrain; 'When the Mississippi
was the Great Highway,' and how I wished it could talk and tell about some of
the splendid boats that had landed and often laid close to it
over night to run the rapids in the morning early before the wind came up.
Of the lovely 'Grey Eagle' in her bright spring suit like a bride in white
with Captain Smith Harris so pleased and proud of her, on the roof as she
backed out on that early spring morning in 1861,going swiftly to her death on
the old Rock Island bridge.
And then of the 'Favorite' that brought the Sioux captives to Camp Mc-
Clellan after the massacre of New Ulm, Minnesota, in 1863. Captain Abe
'Hutchinson had two hundred and seventy-eight braves, sixteen squaws and two
children to guard, feed and protect from the fury of the whites when he
landed close to the tree for a rapids pilot.
Or of the fast ' Gem City,' three hundred feet long, that came out new
in the spring of 1881 and made seven round trips between Saint Louis and
saint Paul in the first seven weeks; was full of people every trip and
cleared her cost in her six months' run. Campbell Hunt and Hiram Beedle, Jr.
were her pilots and steered her by hand as steam steering gear
had not been introduced on the Mississippi then, but she did have a search
light, the first on the upper river.
And then perhaps it would tell me about the great Streckfus and Jo. Long
steamboat light in 1896, when there were four fast boats in the
Davenport and Clinton trade, each making a round trip a day, and carrying
passengers for twenty-five cents one way or both.
The "Jo.Long' owned by Captain J.N.Long, the rapids pilot, and the
'Winona,' owned by Captain John Streckfus, left Davenport together every
morning and left Clinton at 3 P.M. on the return trip to Davenport.
The 'Douglas Boardman,' chartered by Captain Long and the 'Verne Swain,'
owned by Captain Streckfus, left Clinton every morning and left Davenport at
3 P.M. on the return trip to Clinton.
The 'Verne Swain' had been alone in the trade since she came out new
in 1880. She was fast and was kept on time like a train and was very popular.
There was no railroad or interurban connecting Davenport and
Clinton then. The 'Verne' was a great convenience for travelers , shoppers,
and those riding only for pleasure or recreation. Captain John Streckfus
had been her sole owner since 1889 and he kept her up in excellent condition
and built up a nice trade.
When Captain Long invaded his trade he (Streckfus) bought the new
'Winona,' another fast boat, and the fight soon became warm. Friends of
the contestants in both terminals and all the intermediate towns were
greatly interested; but feeling was roused to a higher pitch in LeClaire than
anywhere else. Jo. Long was a LeClaire man and the 'Jo. Long' was LeClaire
boat, and LeClaire boys and girls were on hand every day, forenoon and
afternoon to greet and cheer their favorites when they made hurried landings
often side by each.
Many heated discussions regarding the boats and their owners took place
under the green tree during those long, hot summer days as the fight went
on and thousands took the twenty-five cent rides every day.
But one afternoon in August the 'Verne' was alone when she landed at
LeClaire. The 'Boardman,' on which Captain Long was piloting, did not show up
til nearly dark and then Captain Long was not on her. In an angry discussion
on the Davenport Levee that day James Osborn, long-time agent
for the Diamond Jo Line, the Streckfus boats and the White Collar and other
lines, Captain long stabbed Mr. Osborn with the pocket knife he had in his
hand, and was arrested.
This unfortunate affair soon ended the steamboat fight in favor of the
'Verne Swain' and 'Winona' which took good care of the trade until the
railroad and interurban were built.
The fact that with all the racing up and down every day, running the
rapids up and down in kinds of weather and with the crews and passengers
often greatly excited, there was no accident to any of the boats, surely
means there was a lot of good steamboating done on both sides.
And I'd like to hear it tell about the great fight between Commodore
Davidson and the old established Northern Line in the Saint Louis and Saint
Paul trade when it was cheaper to travel on these fine boats than to stay at
home. Five large side-wheel steamers came out new in April, 1870. The
'Red Wing' had the year 1870 in bright red letters beautifully shaded on
the center of her wheel house above her name.
She replaced the once famous but old and dismantled 'Sucker State'
and handsome Captain Wm.P. Hight and his excellent crew which included
Charlie Manning and Billy Wood, pilot, 'Judge' Brady, clerk, and Moses Muller,
mate, that had made the old boat so popular and profitable, came out on the
new and larger 'Red Wing.'
And the 'Lake Superior,' successor to the 'Key City,' was a handsome boat,
considerably larger than the old boat but lacking her speed. Every stateroom
door in her long cabin had a landscape in oil showing some beauty spot on the
Upper river. She was in charge of Captain Jones L> Worden and several of his
crew from the old boat.
The 'Belle of LaCrosse,' 'Alec Mitchell,' and 'Northwestern,' that came in
1870 for the Whit Collar or Davidson Line, were large, fine boats and the
'Northwestern' with larger engines than any of the others, was a very fast
These five boats with the 'Phil Sheridan' and 'Milwaukee' of Davidson and
the 'Minnesota,' 'Minneapolis,' 'Dubuque,' 'Muscatine and 'Davenport'
of Northern Line gave an excellent daily service between Saint louis and
Saint Paul, and there was no more racing and fighting.
The compromise and consolidation however gave the Davidsons control
and they kept it. If the boats made any profit they got it.
The Northern Line put into the consolidation fourteen good side-wheel
and five stern-wheel steamers, all in good condition, with forty oak model
barges and $60,000.00 balance in the Boatmens Bank in Saint Louis.
They never got any dividends after the consolidations and were glad to
give up their stock to escape the assessments that were levied against them
While these twelve fine boats were running in the seventies, they
maintained quite a regular schedule - thus when the boat from Saint Louis
would come round the bend about 4 P.M. to land at the green tree, the smoke
of the other coming from Saint Paul was usually in sight. John Smith
of LeClaire and Andrew Coleman of Davenport were their rapidspilots. With
these regular packets to take care of first, they caught many outside trips,
as there were numerous freight steamers running without schedule; and some
towboats from the Ohio and Lower Mississippi towing ice to Saint Louis.
Smith and Coleman had the cream of the work.
The old tree must feel lonely these quiet nights when it recalls some of
those busy nights in the seventies or eighties when two or three rafters, a
big ice towboat like the ' E.M. Norton,' 'Beaver' or 'Jack Frost,' and a big
freighter with three barges of grain were all coaling and getting on
provisions, ice and other supplies at the LeClaire Landing within a block of
the green tree that saw them all come and all go.
It has a quiet but steady companion for company now, since Captain J.D.
Barnes of LeClaire placed a cut stone marker on the Public Landing
close to the tree in memory of an old playmate who was born only two miles
away. Captain Joe Barnes is a veteran of the Civil war. He and David Carr of
Davenport are the only survivors of the crew that made the first and only
rafting trip made by the little steamer 'LeClaire' of LeClaire, Iowa, in
Captain Barnes was very proud of his old playmate who gained distinction
as a hunter, scout and showman; well known and highly honored on both sides
of the Atlantic.
The stone bears this inscription:
COLONEL WILLIAM F. CODY
By His Friend and
On the north side of the tree is a large cannon pointing out over the river.
Through the effort of Mr. F.P. Schworm of LeClaire and the influence
of George M. Curtis of Clinton who then represented the district in congress,
this cannon was given by the war department to John R. Buckman
post G.A.R. Before the post disbanded a few years ago it gave this cannon
to the town of LeClaire and it rests under the shadow of the green tree as
lasting memorial to her veterans of the civil war.
FORT ARMSTRONG; On the extreme western end of the Rock Island
is an accurate replica of the old block house which was a feature of old
Fort Armstrong, built in 1816 and abandoned in 1836.
This replica was erected through the efforts of the local chapter of the
They got the description and measurements of the original from records
in the war department at Washington.
They also secured the old abutment of the first railroad bridge to cross
the Mississippi river and the commandant of the arsenal gave generous aid
in restoring and marking it.
ABUTMENTS OF OLD BRIDGES; It stands about fifty rods up-stream
(N.E.) from the present government draw bridge. This abutment carried the
south end of the old wooden bridge built in 1855 for the Chicago, Rock Island
and Pacific Railway. It was the bridge on which the steamer
'Effie Afton' and 'Grey Eagle' were wrecked.
Hannah Caldwell Chapter D.A.R. of Davenport recently
placed a marker and bronze tablet on the Iowa abutment of this same old
CAMP McCLELLAN; The same chapter also placed a boulder with a bronze
tablet at the east end of Lindsay park to mark the landing and
entrance to Camp McClellan which was a very busy rendezvous camp and hospital
for Iowa troops during the Civil war. This marker is close to the
river at the upper end of the Stubb's Eddy-East Davenport, and is just in
sight from the upper deck of passing steamers.
CAMPBELLS ISLAND: On the channel side of Campbells Island, just half way
between Davenport and LeClaire, may be seen the fine monument mark-
ing the Battle of Campbell Island fought on July 19,1814.
An expedition sent from Saint Louis, Missouri, in three keel-boats,
commanded by Lieutenant John Campbell, to relieve our garrison at Fort
Shelby, was attacked at this point and badly defeated by Black Hawk and
his Sac and Fox warriors.
The strong west wind carried the keel-boats on the flat shore. The Indians
had the advantage and killed ten regular, four rangers, one woman and one
child. One keel-boat was burned. The defeated expedition went back down river
in the other two keel-boats.
This monument was erected by the state of Illinois, through the persistent
efforts of the late William A. Meese of Moline, Illinois, who did
so much excellent work in diggiing a lot of interesting local history.
During the years I was doing so much work on the rapids, I asked all
the regular rapids pilots and any one else that seemed acquainted with the
locality, how the island got the name; but i never learned anything about it
until my friend Meese sent me a copy of 'The Battle of Campbell Island' by
William A. Meese of Moline, Illinois-1904.
The island was named for Lieutenant John Campbell who commanded the
United States troops.
JULIAN DUBUQUE; On the river end of a high bluff two mikes below the city
named after him, is a large high stone tower which encloses and
marks tomb of Julian Dubuque.
In 'A History of the People of Iowas,' pages thirty-six, thirty-seven and
sixty-seven, Cyrenus Cole tells us that Dubuque was the most picturesque
figure in the early history of Iowa. He was a well educated French-Canadian
from Quebec. In 1785, when twenty-three years of age, he crossed the
Mississippi and made friends with the Fox indians under Kettle Chief and
secured their title to a tract of land with twenty-one miles front-ageon the
river and extending back nine miles. He proceeded to develop the lead mines
in his tract and built a smelting furnace at the mouth of
Catfish creek just above where the tomb stands. He opened up a big trade
with the indians and miners and by 1800 was about the best customer
Saint Louis merchants had in the upper country.
Doing a large business over a large territory he made many losses and at
the time of his death in March, 1810, all his lands were mortgaged to
Chouteau of Saint Louis.
When the United states courts invalidated Dubuque's title from the Fox
chief, and Caronedelet the Spanish Governor-general at Saint Louis, Chouteau
was a big loser of all his advances to keep Dubuque going.
FATHER JAMES MARQUETTE; In recent years the people of Prairie
Du Chien, Wisconsin, with some help from C.M.& St.P.Railroad created a
monument of Marquette, who with Joliet crossed over from Green Bay to the
Wisconsin river in 1673 and descended in its rapid current to its junction
with the Mississippi and on down that stream to the mouth of the
Arkansas river. It is near the little federal cemetery and not far from the
ruins of Fort Crawford,
OLD FORT MADISON; Close by the railroad tracks running parallel with
the river (and close by it) in the Upper end of Fort Madison, Iowa, there
stands a rather odd looking monument of stone with this inscription:
Jean Espy Chapter
DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
ON THE SITE OF
OLD FORT MADISON
Evacuated and Burned
By Its Garrison 01813
Through the kindness of Mr. F.A. Amborn of Fort Madison, I secured
the following information from the official write-up in the Fort Madison
'Where the city of Fort Madison , Lee County, Iowa, now is, once stood
a fort with three block houses. The historic fort was close to the
Mississippi river and about one third of a mile from the present Iowa state
penitentiary. When it was built in 1808, the country round about was a
wilderness. Through the forest and up then river the indians spread news that
the government was erecting a fort within their territory, and they consulted
together to destroy it. Attack after attack was made on the little garrison
until in 1813 the soldiers set fire to the fort and made their escape through
the tunnel or covered passageway to then river. The fire left only this
tunnel to then river and a tall stone chimney mark the location of Fort
'This chimney was reproduced by the Jean Espy chapter of D.A.R. at
their expense and stands on the same spot as the original chimney.
CHIEF KEOKUK; In Rand Park, Keokuk, Iowa, near the edge of the steep
bluff, facing the lake, is a large bronze statue of Keokuk the noted chief of
the Sacs and the Foxes.
This handsome monument was erected by popular subscription through the
efforts of Keokuk chapter of the D.A.R. It was unveiled October,22,
The inscription on the front (river) side reads:
born at Rock Island,1878
Died April, 1848
In 1887, Keokuk's remains and the marble slab which marked their location
in Franklin County, Kansas, were brought to the city of his name and given
suitable location here. On one side of the base is a bronze tablet
placed there by the ladies of the D.A.R. in memory of the pioneer who entered
Iowa through the 'gate city' traveling on what was then known as the
beginning of the 'mormon trail.'
They crossed the prairie as of old
The pilgrims crossed the sea
To make the west as the east
The homestead of the free
The above inscription of this conspicuous monument came from Captain
Hugh McKenzie of Keokuk, who made a special trip out to Rand park on a cold
morning, to get the facts to help make my record complete.
I take this opportunity to thank him for his kind, intelligent interest in
I hope those who read this chapter with any interest will watch for all
these markers and monuments which aim to link the present with the vanishing
past, in passing by them.
WARSAW, ILLINOIS-FORT EDWARDS; There is a tall stone shaft on the high
bluff point at the upper end of Warsaw, Illinois.
From our former agent in Warsaw, Mr. W.J. Clippert, I secured these facts.
This shaft of Bedford stone, fifty-four feet in height, was erected by the
state and some local subscriptions in September, 1914, to commemorate
the establishment of Fort Edwards, built by Major Zachary Taylor and the
third United states infantry in September, 1814.
From this bluff, directly across from the mouth of the Des Moines river
and only four miles from the foot of the lower rapids, the movement of
indians, going to, or returning from their hunting grounds, could be easily
watched and local traders protected.
After Fort Armstrong and Fort Crawford were built, Fort Edwards was not
needed and in 1824 it was abandoned.
GENERAL GEORGE ROGERS CLARK; On a high projecting point of one of the
bluffs in Riverside park at the north end of Quincy, Illinois, there
stands a noble statue of general George Rogers Clark of Llouiville, Kentucky;
erected by the state of Illinois to honor the memory of this remarkable man
whose services, suffering and sacrifices during the revolutionary, added to
the union that vast territory lying between the Ohio river, the Great Lakes,
the Mississippi river and the Allegheny mountains.
Five great stated, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin must look
back to Clark's victories at Kaskaskia and Vincennes for their titles. No
American of his day had such influence over the indians. They both feared and
trusted him. He could punish them or treat with them when others failed. They
had great respect for the 'big chief of the long knives.'
This statue represents him as looking out over the bay and across the
river and into the great west that was explored later by his brothers
William and Merriwether Lewis to be added to the Union as 'the Louisian
MARK TWAIN: Close to the edge of the high bluff and about four hundred
yards above the Wabash Railway bridge stands an heroic statue of
Mark Twain in Riverside park, Hannibal, Missouri.
The inscription tells us that it was erected by the state of Missouri in
This fine statue in Mark's boyhood hometown is in plain view of passing
At the head of main street in Hannibal where it runs up against the same
bluff are beautiful bronze statues of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry
Finn, recently presented to city (May 27, 1926) by Mr. and Mrs. George A.
Mahan and their son, Dulany Mahan.
I know of no other monument erected to purely literary characters,
The old home of Mark Twain is only three blocks away, and is kept open to
Mark Twain was a humorist and a pilot. He was not a prophet; hence he was
honored in his own country.
ALIJAH LOVEJOY: The most pretentious monument along the river is that of
Alijah Lovejoy memorial in Alton, Illinois. This granite column ninety-
three feet in height,
rising from an ample base, is surrounded by a bronze statue of Victory,
seventeen feet high, weighing 8700 pounds.
The cost of this memorial was thirty thousand dollars, of which the state
of Illinois paid five-sixths and patriotic citizens of Alton the remainder.
There is a medallion of Lovejoy on the south front and below it the
ELIJAH P. LOVEJOY
Editor of Alton Observer,
Albion, Maine, November 8, 1802
Alton, Illinois, November 7, 1837
A Martyr to Liberty
I have sworn Eternal opposition to slavery and
by the blessing of God, I will never go back.
Look up in 'Americana' the whole story of the tragedy on which this
beautiful memorial is founded.
Lovejoy was killed, his press thrown in the river and the building burned
by a mob, on account of his articles denouncing slavery and showing its
When the Mississippi was the Great Highway
I'm a guest on shore with you gents tonight,
Where the smoke is thick and the wine is bright.
But my thoughts go back to the long ago,
And the river that sings to the sea below !
I'll tell you the story as best I can,
For I'm only a weather worn river man.
But the world was sweet and its joy were real,
To the men who stood at the steering wheel;
And I've never forgot how it used to be,
In the good old days that are gone for me.
For the pulse beat fast and the heart was gay
When the Mississippi was the great highway !
Ah! those were the days when the red blood ran
In the fevered veins of a river man,
And these were the days when your honor, sah,
Meant more than it does in the days that bare !
If a slur was cast on a woman's name,
or the lie was past in a poker game,
It was knife to knife in the morning sun,
And a new-made grave for the weaker one.
I carry the mark of a bowie here,
In a long, red scar near the larboard ear,
For we fought together at the break of day,
When the Mississippi was the great highway !
If I sigh sometimes for the vanished years,
And my eyes grow dim with the mist of tears,
It is not because of the changing ways,
And its not regret for the river days !
But I miss the ones who have gone to sleep,
Where the hills dip down to the waters deep,
And I mourn a friend who in life was rare-
Old Davy Tip who is anchored there.
They were true to me as the stars are true,
And their smiles like sunshine sifted through,
To brighten the gloom of a stormy day,
When the Mississippi was the great highway !
So I dream tonight o'er my pipe and glass-
A dream of the boats as they used to pass;
The song of the river's in everything,
as the whistle blows for the bridge to swing !
I can see the lights as we're drifting down-
The lights of home in the sleeping town,
And I miss the crew that will sail no more,
As I miss the face of a girl on shore.
But I pledge them all in the sparkling wine,
As memory singth of auld lang syne,
And I drink to years ere the head was gray,
When the Mississippi was the great highway.
Rock Island, Ill.
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