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

Some of the Men Prominent in the Rafting Industry, 1840-1915

   Stephen B. Hanks was born near Hodgensville, Kentucky, October 9, 1821.
His father's only sister, Nancy, later married Thomas Lincoln and became the
mother of Abraham Lincoln.
   After the death of his father and when Stephen was twelve years old, the
family moved up to White County, Illinois, and the mother marrying again,
young Stephen and and a sister, Mary, went to live with a brother
of Mrs. Hanks, named Alfred Slocumb, who moved to Knox County, Illinois,
in 1830 and from there to Albany, Illinois, in 1836.
   He made his home with Alfred Slocumb , doing hard work with little pay,
and having laudable ambition backed by a large, strong frame, good health and
willingness to work, he left Albany in 1841 for the far northern
pineries, where he worked four years cutting and getting out logs and driving
them to the sawmill at Saint Croix falls, and helping raft and run the lumber
to Saint Louis with Sandy McPhail as pilot. In this way he became a pilot
himself. Late in 1843 he helped run two rafts of lumber
that only got to Albany when winter set in. Part was sold there and the rest
stored in Cat Tail Slough.
   In January he went back to Saint Croix falls, mostly by following the ice
covered Mississippi and Saint Croix rivers with a sled and a pair of mules.
   In June of this year,1844, he made his first trip as pilot of a log raft
that floated all the way down from Stillwater, at the head of Lake Saint
Croix to Saint Louis, a good, long seven hundred miles.
   In 1845 he helped cut the logs and get them to the first mill in
Stillwater owned by John McKusick. He helped raft the ,timber from these logs
and ran the raft to Saint Louis where it was sold.
   He was one of the first to run logs and lumber by contract; so much a
string or per thousand feet, finding the crew and paying all  expenses.
   He continued this work running mostly by contract for ten years when he
quit rafting for a time and began piloting steamboats in the Galena and
Minnesota Packet Company between Galena and Saint Paul, first on the
'Dr. Franklin ll,' with Captain D.S. Harris.
   On his first arrival in Saint Paul the only house there was a double log
used as a trading post by Louis Robert. He was a delegate from Stillwater
that aided in locating the old Capitol building. The same committees also
located the old penitentiary in Stillwater.
   Captain Hanks served as pilot on nearly every boat in the Galena and
Minnesota Packet Company's line. He was on the 'Galena' when she had a hard
race from Lake Pepin to Saint Paul and not only won the race but free
wharfage in Saint Paul for that year.
   He was on the 'Galena' when she burned at Red Wing landing July 1,
1858. He was pilot on the 'Alhambra' and reached Albany a few hours after the
tornado had wrecked Comanche, Iowa, and Albany, Illinois,
June 4, 1860. Many were killed in the two towns but Captain Hanks found his
family and relatives uninjured.
   In the summer of 1860 Captain Hanks got off the
fine fast mail packet 'Key City' and left the company he had been with
fourteen years. There had been many changes in the ownership and manage-
ment of the boats of the old Galena and Minnesota Packet Company and
when Mr. Joseph Reynolds or 'Diamond Jo' as he was best known , offered Hanks
ten dollars per day and steady work throughout the season, he accepted the
proposition and went on the 'Ida Fulton,' a stern-wheel boat
that was a good carrier herself and always towed barges during the wheat
season. He was master and pilot of the 'Ida Fulton' most of the time he
worked for 'Diamond Jo,' and it was hard work, as the river was generally
low in the fall when the grain movement was greatest, which meant that the
boat herself and her barges were always loaded to all the water in the rievr
and they were pushed for time.
   Early in 1877 Captain Jenks associated himself with E.W. Durant and R.J.
Wheeler and put the 'Bro. Jonathan' into the new concern styled
'Durant Wheeler and Company,' which had a long and successful career.
(I think he meant Cap. Hanks)
   Captain Hanks did not follow the 'Bro. Jonathan' into the new company.
He engaged early in 1877 with C.Lamb and Sons of Clinton, Iowa, at
$1600.00 per season and went as a captain and pilot of the 'Hartford.'
He continued in their service fifteen tears during which time he worked on
all their fine boats, but mostly on the 'Artemus Lamb.'
   Not only did the Captain hold his job but he held the confidence and
respect of his employers and the crews of the different boats in the Lamb
fleet, and he was held in high esteem by all who knew him.
   He was a large, well built, strong man, full of energy and enterprise, but
mild and gentle in his disposition.
   Turned out as he was at the age of twelve to make his own way in a rough
new country and as he grew older working in the woods in winter and on the
river in summer, he acquired no bad habits. In a day when drinking
and gambling were common; much of the time working and dealing with men who
used liquor, tobacco, and cards, he never cared for either. He did not play
the saint or preacher, but he didn't care for those things, that was the end
of it. Captain Hanks was generous and kind to all, especially his family and
relatives. He retained his mental faculties and pleasant manner until his
death in 1917.


   Captain J.M. Turner still living (1928) and in good health mentally and
physically, began his river life as a cabin boy on the Galena and Minnesota
Pasket Company's side-wheel steamer 'City Bell' with Captain Lodwick in
1853 when he was sixteen old. She was running regularly between Galena and
Saint Paul. He remained on her in 1854 and 1855, and by that time knew the
river on that run.
   In 1850 he was cub pilot on the 'Bill Henderson,' then a mail-boat running
between Galena and Rock Island on alternate days with the steamer
'Jas. Means,' until July, when he went back on the 'City Bell' and  made
eight trips on her when she struck a snag and sank, a total loss, in Coon
   Soon after he fell in with a Mr. LaFrance who brought lumber down the
Chippewa, knew how to handle a floating raft but he needed some one to
show him the channel down the Mississippi. He hired young Turner, then twenty
years old, agreeing to pay him three dollars per day to show him the way.
They made five trips in 1857 and he paid Turner three hundred and
seventy-five dollars in November. Jerry sensibly went back to his home
town, Dubuque, and attended school four months.
   There was a very late opening in the spring of 1858.
   Jerry was at Reads Landing expecting to work again for Mr. LaFrance
but he did not appear.
   Thirty-two steamboats were lying at Reads awaiting the break up of the ice
in Lake Pepin. There were twenty-five saloons running in the village and
they had lively business while they had the crews of all these boats and
their passengers for patrons.
   As LaFrance failed to show up, young Turner made one or more trips,
pulling an oar to get an idea of the river from Keokuk to Saint Louis. Then
he piloted floating rafts for O.H. Ingram if Eau Claire, mostly to Saint
   Paid off there at the end of the season he changed his paper money for
gold, getting $1250.00 in coin.
   He now took an observation trip south on a fine packet; stopped long
enough at Memphis to attend a slave auction which made him a strong
abolitionist and turned him back home.
   His first experience in using a steamboat was for a man named L.H. Ramsey
of LaCrosse who had a
small,single-engine geared, side-wheel boat called 'Johnny Schmoker.'
Well pleased with the experiment he later bought a little boat called the
'W.H. Clark' and used her to run lumber for Porter and Moon, later known as
the Northwestern lumber Company.
   In 1869 this company bought the 'Silas Wright.' Captain Turner then sold
the 'W.H. Clark' and went on the 'Silas Wright' as master and pilot
for eight seasons on salary. This was from 1869 to 1876 inclusive.
   In 1877 and 1878he ran Dells Lumber Company's raft to Hannibal on
   In 1881 and 1882 he was on the 'Golden Gate' running Chipewa Lumber
and Boom Company and Standard Lumber Company and others with the
'Clyde' and 'Pauline' from 1883 to 1893-when they dissolved partnership. They
sold the 'Clyde.' Captain Turner took the 'Pauline' and ran the Empire lumber
for four seasons, from 1890 to 1893. He then sold the 'Pauline' quit
considerably ahead of a hard game. After resting up he started a button
factory in Lansing that is still running after a successful career, with
Captain turner's grandson now in charge.
   Captain Turner was a close manager and a careful, skillful, cautious
pilot. He made good average time and delivered his rafts in excellent
condition when and where they were wanted. I never passed him broken up or
aground or in any other trouble.
   He went on the river alone-had no relatives on the boats to help him. The
pilots were members of the Association and would give him no help
or encouragement
to get his pilot's license; but he got it without their help, proved his
merit by his work and qiot the river with a competency, which he did not lose
when he went ashore but increased it by successful enterprise since.

During this time he he had owned the steamers 'Admiral,'C.W. Cowley,'
'Dan Thayer,' 'Frank,' 'Julia,' 'Mars,' 'Neptune,' 'John H. Douglas,'
'May Libby,' 'St.Croix,' 'Pathfinder,' 'Sam Atlee,' 'Satelite l,'
'Satelitell,' 'Saturn,' 'Saturn ll,' 'Silas Wright,' and 'Zalus Davis,' and
served as master and pilot on many others including the 'Union,' 'Alvira,'
'Buckeye,' 'Chippewa Falls,' 'J.W.Van Sant l,' 'Pearl,' 'G.H.Wilson,'
Lone Star,' 'Mountain Belle,' 'City of Winona,' 'A.J. Whitney,' 'Jas.
Means,' and WymanX.'
   Captain Winans was the first pilot to try to run a raft with a
steamboat.In September,1863, he chartered a little side-wheel geared boat of 
only twenty-nine tons; hitched her into the stern of a lumber raft
at Reads Landing and started for Hannibal.
   He pudently had secured a good bow crew to work the forward end and
he also had men to form a full stern crew if the steamboat failed to handle
her end.
   Owing to the lack of a rig or machine to change or control the position
of the boat behind the raft they soon got in trouble and before going ten
miles, he had the boat go back to Read; his crew shipped up the stern oars
and they proceeded in the usual way to their destination, Hannibal, Missouri.
   But Captain Winan's idea was correct; it only needed working out. The next
year Cyrus Bradley took the same boat, the 'Union,' and successfully
used her behind a raft of logs to Clinton, Iowa, for W.J. Young and Com-pany.
W.J. Young authorized Bradley to charter the 'Union' and was well pleased
with the result and soon bought larger, better boats to use on his own work.
   Captain Bradley soon after built the 'Minnie will,' a side-wheel geared
boat-used her and later built the stern-wheeler 'Mark Bradley.'
   In the meantime Captain Winans secured the 'Union' and used her
successfully in 1867 and 1868; the little side-wheel 'Lone Star' and the
larger 'Buckeye' in 1869. In 1870, when the first real raft-boat built for
the business came out, he chartered her for twenty-five dollars per day and
made a lot of money with her in 1870 and 1871. This boat was the first 'J.W.
Van Sant,' built by J.W. Van Sant and Son at there yard in
   Captain Winans quit the river before i began, probably about 1874, with
considerable money for that day. He built a $40,000.00 hotel in Chippewa
Falls and lost it by fire, with no insurance.
   He then went to California and spent some time on its rivers. He came back
to the Mississippi about 1880 and got into the game bigger than ever
and stayed in to the last; he did a lot of work and cut prices on lumber
contracts; ran some very large rafts and took too many chances; this resulted
in many bad and expensive losses.
   When his skill as a pilot and his energy and his honorable
methods in business he deserved more profit than he got out of it. We
cannot help feeling that more caution mixed in with his operations would have
secured better results.
   Captain Winans made his home for many years at the Merchant hot in Saint
Paul until his death, January 22, 1926.

                        CAPTAIN E.J. LANCASTER
   John Lancaster, as he was known on the river, was born and raised at
LeClaire, Iowa.
   His father, Thomas Lancaster, was a very competent millwright and ship
   John enlisted when only eighteen years old, saw a very active service in
the Civil War, was captured and confined a long time in Andersonville
prison. He only weighed ninety-five pounds when he was released, but picked
up rapidly after he came home, and soon went on the river and learned it
while pulling an oar on a floating raft.
   Towiing by steamboats was then coming in vogue amd Johnny Lancaster
was quick in catching on to the new way and was successful from the start. He
always had employment on good boats like the 'J'C' Chapman l,'
'Mountain Belle,' 'Stillwater,' and 'Eclipse.' He was not only a skillful,
safe,pilot, but a creful, intelligent master who took care of his boat and
had excellent control of his crew.
   his last rafting was on the steamer 'Eclipse' that was owned by Lindsay
and Phelps and the Cable Lumber Company of Davenport. He ran all the logs for
these two sawmill companies from 1885 until they shut down in 1904.
   Thsi expression from Mr. Fred Wyman of the Lindsay  and Phelps Company
certainly is a strong testimonial of their appreciation of Captain
Lancaster's work:                                                         
                     Office of Lindsay and Phelps Company
    (Fred Wyman, George F. Lindsay, C.M. Cochrane, Edwin B. Lindsay)
       501 Citizens Bank Building, Davenport, Iowa, March 13, 1928

   Captain E.J. Lancaster was master and pilot of the steamer 'Eclipse,'
owned  by Lindsay and Phelps Company and the Cable Lumber company.
   This association continued until the Cable mill was destroyed by fire,
when the Lindsay and Phelps Company purchased the interest of the Cable
   During all of rhese years Captain Lancaster had the confidence of his
employers to such an extent, that he was given entire charge of the
steamboats, the 'Eclipse' and the bow-boat 'Everett,' also care  and laying
up of surplus logs in storage harbor.
   He was a man so conscientious, and of such sterling integrity that the
confidence reposed was not misplaced. He was a skillful pilot with unusual
ability in managing his work.
   It was a sad day when the 'Eclipse' was sold, and the relations were
severed after so many years of such close friendship.
                                                             Fred Wyman
   When the rafting business played out, Captain Lancaster made changes
and improvements in the steamer 'Eclipse' and operated her three or four
seasons in packet service; first between Clinton and Davenport and later
between Prairie Du Chien and Dubuque. The packet business not proving
satisfactory, he sol the 'Eclipse' to an Ohio river party and took charge of
the fine little bow-boat 'Marquette,' towing gravel from Meridosia to Moline.
   Captain Lancaster died on May 9, 1914. His son, Harry, succeeded him and
and has been master and pilot of the 'Marquette' ever since.

                             COLONEL E.W. DURANT 

   Edward Durant was prominently connected with the rafting business
almost from the beginning.
   He was born at Roxbury, Massachusetts, April 8,1829. The family moved
first to Cincinnati and then to Sterling, Illinois, and in 1843 to Albany,
   When about eighteen, Captain Stephen Hanks took young Durant with him as
cook and clerk on floating rafts. He soon dropped the cooking part
and gave serious attention to learning the river, made rapid progress and
very soon began piloting rafts himself.
   About 1867 he formed a partnership with another young pilot called Jack
Hanford and they took contracts to run logs and lumber with Stillwater,
Minnesota, as their home port. Always progressive they early began using
boats to shove and handle their rafts. In 1869, they had the side-wheelers
'Julia Hadley' and 'Viola.' Durant also took up the selling of logs and
lumber and no one could beat him at this.
   Jack Hanford was killed by getting caught in the geared machinery of the
'Julia Hadley.'
 Then R.J. Wheeler joined the firm with the fine towboat 'Louisville' and
they bought the 'Robert Semple,' another Ohio river towboat. Then in 1877,
Captain A.T. Jenks entered with the 'Bro.Jonathan' and the style of the firm
was changed to Durant Wheeler and Company.
   The firm had a successful career and extended its business  until 1880 it
had a boat yard where it built several fine raft-boats, including the 'R.J.
W' heeler,'
 'Netta Durant,' 'Daisy,' 'Pauline,' and 'Dispatch.'
   It also had a big interest in South Stillwater Lumber Company, the
Lumbermans National Bank and owned the fine new opera House.
   Captain Durant had excellent ideas about building
boats and had excellent taste in finishing them so they all looked like June
   He gave a lot of time to public affairs, showing a great interest in his
home city and his state; was active in politics and got the title of Colonel in
recognition of his
party service.
   He was an influential member of the Masonic and K. of P. Lodges and also
the Old Settlers Association of the saint Croix Valley. They had one boat
built on the Ohio river, called first 'A.T. Jenks,' later the 'Ed Durant,Jr.'
She had the same power but was not as good a boat in any way as those they
built in their own yard.
   He was a genial, jolly, courteous gentleman of the old school. I knew him
best when he was up in the eighties, ripe and mellow with age, full of fun
and interested in everything.
   He left us December 9, 1918, after a long and pleasant voyage.
                           CAPTAIN JOSEPH BUISSON

   Joseph Buisson was born in Wabasha, Minnesota, February 17, 1846.
His father, a French trader from Canada, was one of the founders of the town
beautifully located  on Wabasha prairie and named after a noted Sioux chief
whose people made their home at the mouth of the Zumbrota river.
   Joseph took more to school and books than his brothers who were fonder of
outdoor sports and hunting, and as he grew  up developed a great fondness for
reading, especially works on history and biography, and was a well informed
   He belonged to several fraternal organizations including Masonry in which
he was a close student and                                              
his life exemplified its teachings. His family were Episcopalians and while
not a member he was an attendant of church, and for many years he was
the faithful Peoples Warden of Grace Memorial Chapel in Wabasha.
   His life work on the river began when he was fifteen years old. When
nineteen he began piloting himself and as he soon demonstrated his skill and
ability in handling rafts and men, he was constantly employed and by the best
companies as long as the business lasted. We recall the excellent work
he did on the  side-wheeler 'Clyde,' then on the side-wheeler 'J.W. Barden,'
running lumber for the Daniel Shaw Company, then on the new stern-wheeler
'Gardie Eastman,' several seasons running logs for Gardiner
Batcheler and wells of Lyons, Iowa; then on the fine large 'C.W. Cowles,'
owned by Fleming Brothers of McGregor and later bought and operated by
the Valley Navigation Company of which Captain Joe was president, and as
master and pilot of the 'Cowles' he ran logs to the Hershey mill and
Muscatine and several others until the finish.
   When rafting played out he operated the 'C.W. Cowles' as a regular packet
between LaCrossse and Dubuque, but realizing little profit in this,
he sold her and went piloting the big packets of the Streckfus Line in the
Saint Louis and Saint Paul trade and remained on them for awhile after they
were converted into exclusion steamers. He gave up this work to take the
position of Deputy United States Marshal at Saint Paul, and while filling it
most acceptably the final summons came to him October 29, 1918, and
he was laid to rest in the town of his birth.
                            CAPTAIN CYPRIAN BUISSON

   There were four of the Buisson boys. Antoine, the second, only made a few
trips on floating rafts, and then went in the Dakotas and took up farming.
The other three, Henry, Joseph and Cyprian, stuck to the rafting game as long
as it lasted, except that Henry enlisted in the Fifth Minnesota Infantry and
served during the Civil War.
   Their grandfather was Lieutenant Duncan Graham who commanded the
small detachment of British troops that with their Indian allies, defeated
the United States force under Colonel Zachary Taylor at the battle of
Credit Island near Davenport on September 5, 1814.
   Lieutenant Graham married an indian wife, probably of the sac tribe, and
their daughter was born on or near Credit Island. Lieutenant Graham's
duties took him to Minnesota for many years and this daughter married
Joseph Buisson, a French Canadian trader, who was an early settler in
   Whether Mrs. Buisson, the mother of these four sons and three daughters,
was a Sac or a Souix, is in doubt, but one thing is sure: she
gad children of whom any mother could be justly proud. They all stood high in
their old home town.
   Cyprian, the third son of Joseph Buisson, was born in Wabasha, Minnesota,
September 25, 1849.
   His youth was spent mostly in learning and playing the games of the young
Sioux who were his chosen companions. He was fond of hunting and
trapping and became very skillful in using a gun  or a canoe and always had
both with him on the 'B.Hershey.'
   Joseph, his next older brother, took more interest in school, but hard as
he tried, he could not keep young Cyp at his studies when condition were
favorable for                                                             
hunting or trapping. He told me Joe gave him many a licking for running away
from school.
   But if Cyp did not learn much in school he leaned a lot outside. Perfectly
at home in the woods, he knew more about animals, birds, fishes, flowers and
plants than anyone I ever had the good fortune to know.
   When only sixteen he began his work on rafts, pulling an oar for David
Craft on a lumber raft to Saint Louis. He quickly learned the river and began
piloting himself. His first practice running a raft was when he and
Jack Walker chartered the little 'Novelty' in the late sixties.
   Then he and his brother Joe went on the 'Clyde' for three seasons.
   In the spring of 1877 he came out as master and pilot of the fine, large,
powerful raft-boat 'B. Hershey,' built at Kahlkes yard at Rock Island for the
Hershey Lumber Company of Muscatine, Iowa.
   For twelve successive seasons he ran their logs from Beef Slough, West
Newton and Stillwater, making a record that nobody could beat.
   Then the Valley Navigation Company was formed by Captain Cyprian, Joe and
a few others. This company bought the 'B.Hershey' of the Hershey Lumber
Company, the 'C.W.Cowley' of Fleming Brothers and the 'Lafayette
Lamb' of C. Lamb and Sons and Cyp remained on the 'Hershey' for eight years
more running logs for Hershey Lumber Company on contract, making twenty years
of service on the one boat, clean, skillful, satisfactory service, all of it.
   Then he wanted a change and going to Dakota he tried farming six years,
but the lure of the river brought him back and he put in a few seasons
rafting, working government boats, had charge of the steamer
'Helen Blair' in the Davenport and Burlington trade, and
wound up his steamboating on the big side-wheeler 'Morning Star' in the
Davenport, Saint Paul and stillwater trade, until the end of the season 1917,
when ill health developed into serious and painful sickness terminating
November 24, 1920.
   He was first married August 18, 1876 to Elizabeth Stone of Wabasha, who
died November 17, 1906. 
   In 1913 he married Lillian Enber of Saint Paul who gave him constant and
loving care through his long illness and survives.
   There were no children by either marriage, but they adopted, raised and
educated three children who needed homes and parents and were fortunate
in having such care and guidance.
   Captain Cyp was a handsome man, very modest and gentle in speech and
action but not afraid of anything or any person. A better pilot or more
pleasant companion one could not find. He was the highest type of gentleman,
whose memory we will always prize.

SAMUEL HITCHCOCK                  
   In old floating days Sam Hitchcock stood high as an easy, skillful pilot.
   He had rare knowledge of the draft of water at different stages and with
his quiet manner and low voice he had excellent control of his crew.
   When towing rafts came in vogue, Sam soon got the hang of that, and always
had choice positions,
   Ex-governor Van Sant writes me this about him: "Sam Hitchcock took to
steamboat rafting very quickly and was a good handler as well as a good
upstream pilot.
   "In 1874, when I began running rafts on contract, I                
hired Sam Hitchcock for the 'D.A. McDonald,' agreeing to pay him one-third the
net profit after all expenses were paid out of earnings.
   'I have had a good many good pilots in my time but none ever did better
work and I learned much from him about the business that helped me greatly.
At the end of the season I paid him $2650.00 as his share. That
was good pay then for six months' work, but he earned it. He was an
even-tempered, pleasant man to work with. Captain Hitchcock was on the
'Minnesota' with Captain A.R. Young of Stillwater many years.
   " His last work was with me on the 'Last Chance' in 1882 and got off on
account of illness that soon took him off."
  CAPTAIN PAUL KERZ                      
   Captain Paul Kerz was born October 15, 1837, at Nackenheim,
Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany. His father was a mill-owner. At the age of
seventeen, the son left home for America and arrived at Buffalo in the fall
of 1854. From the spring of the following year dates his residence in Galena,
Illinois. On arriving there he engaged in flat-boating with Adam and Stephen
Younkers, but subsequently engaged in the mat business with Jacob Koehler.
After a year at that trade, he returned to boating and in 1862 he with
Stephen Younker and Ben Lambertson of Bellevue, Iowa, bought
the steamer 'Charley Rogers,' which they operated between Bellevue and
Galena until 1868, when they sold it and bought the 'Sterling.'
   In 1870, Captain Kerz began rafting with the 'Sterling.' Two years later
he sold the 'Sterling' to W.J. Young of Clinton and entered the employ of
Young as commander of the 'Sterling' and afterwards of the 'J.W. Mills.'
Later he superintended the building of the 'Douglas Boardman,' at the boat
yards at Eagle Point and became its first commander. Afterward he
superintended the building of the 'W.J. Young, Jr.' and became its commander
in1882 and was its commander at the time of his death, although he claimed
that he was going to retire from the steamboat business that fall. He had
been made commodore of the entire Young fleet
and had absolute charge of the steamboat business of the W.J. Young and
Company, and his recommendations governed all of the appointments of the
officers of the fleet. He died quite suddenly at Galena, December 19, 1893,
while walking home from town.
   Captain Kerz left surviving him his widow, Babbara Kerz, who later died,
September 18, 1925; a daughter, Barbara Heid, still living; and a son, Adam.
The latter followed in the footsteps of his father as a river pilot, and was
with him to the time of his death. He later went with Captain Winans on the
'John H. Douglass' and 'Saturn' and after spending several years on the Yukon
on the 'Julia B.', owned and operated by the Yukon Transportation and Trading
Company, composed principally of Galena residents, he entered the employ of
the United States Government on its fleet of river boats and was employed on
the 'Coal Bluff' when he took sick at Hannibal, Missouri, and after being
brought home at LaCrosse, Wisconsin, died in 1908.
   He was further survived by a son, Philip Kerz, still living at Dixon,
Illinois, and employed by the International Harvester Company, and by his
youngest son, Paul Kerz, an attorney, with offices at 11 South LaSalle
Street, Chicago, formerly City Attorney of Galena. Illinois, and also County
Judge of Jo Davies County, Illinois.
   If there ever was a man who really loved his work it was Captain Paul
Kerz. I never knew any one else who worked so many hours and slept so few,
and no one ever heard him complain of want of sleep or over-work.
   He was thoroughly loyal to his employers, to his family and his church,
and he had the complete confidence of all who knew him.
   Captain Kerz demonstrated the truth of the old saying, "He succeeds best
who is most wedded to his task."
   No story of the rafting business can be told without including John
McCaffrey's part in it.
   At an early age he went on the river with his brother-in-law, George
Tromleu, who was considerably older than himself and already a floating pilot
with established reputation who was running log and lumber on contract.
   Young Jack, as he was called, acted as clerk and pulled an oar in bad
places. He learned the river in a short time and soon got into the game on
his own account.
   I don't know how he learned to handle a steamboat but he was running the
'Clyde,' towing lumber in 1870.
   In 1871, he bought one-half interest in the steamer 'James Means' of Van
Sant and Son and he made a very handsome profit with her and the
'LeClaire Belle' in the next five years. He then sold out and quit the river
for four years. He had received an injury by a fall on a raft which gave him 
a lot of trouble, but by                                            
surgery, good treatment and rest he got well enough to do some more
profitable work on the river and he owned a big interest in several
raft-boats including the 'Last Chance,' 'Pilot,' 'Ten Broeck,; 'Jo Long,'
'Robert Dodds,' 'Helen Shulenberg' and 'Charlotte Boeckeler.'
   About 1895, Captain McCaffrey bought the Diamond Jo Line steamer
'Mary Morton' more to encourage his sons and give them a chance than to carry
out any ambition of his own.
   He also bought a coal mine over on Rock Island river and the little
steamer 'Duke' and barges to bring coal out through the Hennepin canal to
   Captain McCaffrey had two fine properties at Tenth and Brady street in
Davenport. He lived in one and converted the other into an apartment
building, which was always in demand.
   He was located pleasantly and taking life easy. He was a popular member
of the Piute Club and had a bunch of cronies, lawyers and doctors, whose
society he enjoyed. we thought he was anchored here to stay when all at once
he sold out, bought a lot of good rich land cheap on account of the boll
weevil scare, lying on the west side of the Mississippi across from
Vicksburg, and started late in life to improve and develop this land into
good cotton plantations.
   The captain would have made a great success of this venture, but his
health gave out and his busy life came to a sudden ending at the Kellogg
Sanitarium at Battle Creek, Michigan. I tried to get a photo of the captain
taken with the full beard and mustache, as I knew him first, but could not
find one.
                          CAPTAIN ROBERT DODDS

   I started to write something about this man who held high place in the
esteem of his employers, his crew and his fellow pilots, when it came to me
that a man who had been closely associated with Captain Dodds for many years
had written an article published in the saint Louis 'Waterways Journal' about
him soon after his death.
Mr. Harris has kindly furnished me a copy of that letter, describing Captain
Dodds correctly. It is much better than I could have done.

                                                        Chicago, July 27,
   Gentlemen: In your issue of July 25, a five-lined notice tell the world of
the death of Captain Dodds, a retired steamboat officer, who was found dead at
his home on Thursday, July 23rd, and that his death was due to heart failure,
hence sudden.
   The meagre notice conveys but an inadequate idea of the peculiar position
that the late Captain Dodds, held in the army of steamboat men,
for what Edwin Booth was to the stage, Charles Dickens to literature, Darwin
to science or Beecher to theology, Robert Dodds was to the pilot's
profession, holding a distinct and peculiar position.
   It would be somewhat difficult doubtless, to define his true status or
to explain why he held such an honored place in the realm of steamboat
   Captain Robert Dodds, or Bob Dodds, as he was familiarly known, com-
menced his river life as a floating raftsman, and becoming a pilot before he
had reached his majority. A man of pleasing presence, handsome in appearance,
tasty in dress, without being lavish, courteous in manner, pro-
ficient in conversation, and lastly, giving to money no apparent value, and
being a large money earner at a very early stage, he developed eccentricities
of character, if we may use the expression , that established him as a prince
of good fellows.
   Captain Dodds floated rafts for Schulenburg and Boeckeler for a number of
years, and with the advent of the steam boat for the purpose of towing
rafts, he took charge of the Pittsburg towboat, 'Grey Eagle.' After operating
this boat for one or two seasons, she turned over at the foot of Stag Island
upon the first trip in the spring, Captain Dodds          
being at the wheel. This was followed by the purchase of the steamboat
'M/Whitmore,' and was followed in turn by the building of the steamers
'Helen Schulenburg,' 'Charlotte Boeckeler,' and 'Robert Dodds,' over which
fleet the captain as commodore.
   About the year 1888 or 1889, the Schulenburag and Boeckeler Company
disposed of their steamboat interests to Captain John McCaffrey, and for one
season, Captain Dodds commanded one of the steamers, which, however, ended
his active service upon the river.
   It was my privilege to have been associated with the deceased officer from
1874 to 1886 inclusive, during which time, I necessarily learned to know him
intimately, although I could add nothing more in the way of eulogy than has
already been said in the earlier part of this communication.
   Captain Dodds was a magnificent executive officer, one of those few men in
the world who could maintain a degree of equality with those under
his command, and yet retain to the fullest extent their admiration and
esteem. As a commanding officer, he was a strict disciplinarian, exercising
authority, however, with such a warmth of sunshine that men obeyed for the
love of obedience rather than from fear of the consequences.
   Every walk of life is marked by particular exemplifications of the
attributes necessary to reach success, and in the pilot's profession there
was, during the active career of Captain Dodds, no man who possessed more
fully and completely, the high quality required to reach the ends aimed at.
Yours very truly,
                                                       James Henry Harris

                         CAPTAIN J.M. HAWTHORNE

   J.M. Hawthorne was born at Erie, Pennsylvania, November 20, 1839.When he
was eleven years old the family moved to Illinois and later
to LeClaire, Iowa, in 1856.
   Joseph began working on the river when he was eighteen years old as a
cabin boy on the steamer 'War Eagle' of the galena and Minnesota Packet
   He soon left this job to pull an oar on a floating raft with the noted
pilot J.T.R. Lindley, better known as                                 
'Kentuck,' and under his direction young Hawthorne soon learned the river
from Stillwater and Saint Paul to Saint Louis.
   In 1860 he followed the Gold Rush to Pikes Peak but failing to strike a
pay streak, he came back in 1861 and began piloting rafts himself. He was
a keen observer, watching the river closely and learned the drafts of water
at different stages and became what was called an 'easy floater.' He was easy
on the crew and was a favorite pilot because he gave the men no un-
necessary pulling.
   Going back up the river with his crew on the regular packets, he rode much
of the time in the pilot houses, became well acquainted with the pilots and
learned how to steer and handle a steamboat and secured a first
class pilots license in 1872. He has had many reissues, the last in May,
   He bought the side-wheeler 'Viola' of Durant and Hanford soon after
getting his license and he continued running rafts with towboats either for
himself or others as long as business lasted. Since rafting days he has had
various employment mostly on government boats in improvement work.
   He has lived in LeClaire since 1856 except the one year in Colorado and
he holds a certificate from the Grand Lodge of Iowa given to Masons in good
standing who have paid dues for fifty years.
   Captain Hawthorne has never used glasses to read nor has he ever had a
razor on his face.
   He was eighty-eight last November, but is still active and healthy. His
eyes still have the old merry twinkle and he enjoys a joke or a good story
as well as if he was sitting on a bunch of shingles on the corner of a float-
ing raft.
   The subject of this sketch is at the age of eighty-three still enjoying
good health and stands a fair chance of out living all who were engaged with
him in the rafting business and securing the proud distinction of being
the last survivor of the Grand Army of the Republic of which he is a past
   The Captain was thirty-three when at twenty-one I entered his employ-
ment as clerk and watchman on the 'LeClaire Belle in March,1878.
   He took great interest in my work and gave me every encouragement to learn
the river.
   In the spring of 1881 he gave me the chance to invest in a one-sixth
interest in the 'Last Chance' which led a year later to the organization of
the LeClaire Navigation Company, of which he was manager and I was captain
and pilot on its best raft boats.
   We were always glad to have with us for a day, or a trip. He was full of
fun, life and ambition; always encouraging us to do our best. Good work and
good behavior never failed to secure recognition and approval and he was very
kind and charitable to those who failed or went wrong-even when it resulted
in considerable loss to him.
   His acquaintance and sociabilty were not confined to the officer 'up
stairs'. He soon knew everyone on board and was always popular with those on
the lower deck.
   But while friendly and sociable his manner always commanded respect. He
was very active then and as strong as a young lion and 'woe be' to any
foolish person who underestimated his ability to take care of himself in a
   In March, 1881, he moved from LeClaire to reside                 
in Davenport. He came down to the landing while I was sending out the last
load of his household goods that we brought down on the 'Silver Wave.' I had
two green men who persisted in going up to get a drink when they felt like
it, and were beginning to show the effects of three or four such absences in
spite of my warning.
   When Captain Sam came back in the deck room he asked, "What's the matter
here, boys?" Not giving me time to explain they told him what they
were doing and what they were going to do. He grabbed those men, slammed them
together, threw them down, slapped their faces and then made them stand up
and listen while he told them a few things that I am sure they remember.
   As related elsewhere in this volume, the firm, Van Sant and Son of
LeClaire, owa, were pioneers in building real rafts.
   The success of the 'J.W.Van Sant' from their yard in 1870 stimulated
and encouraged others to build similar boats. Some of these were built at
LeClaire. The LeClaire yard soon had plenty of repair work during winter and
early spring, but the decline in the packet business and the absorption
of the old Northern line the Davidsons diverted a large summer repair
business to Davidsons yard at LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
   Captain Van Sant always took a great interest in politics, but never
aspired to official position until he removed to Wininain 1884.
   He was elected to the state legislature and on his third term was chosen
Speaker of the House. While holding this position the appropriations were
made for the new Capitol and during his two terms as governor the present,
splendid building was completed and dedicated, completely finished and
furnished with several thousand dollars left of the appropriation.
   When the captain closed out and sold his raft-boats at the end of the
game he had made more profit than any one else who had been in the business of
rafting only by timely and judicious investments in Minnesota farms, he
greatly increased his competency and can take life easy and enjoy his
mounting years. In his case I cannot use the term 'declining years' for he is
not declining-he is just maturing.
   During our fifty years of association, through storm or sunshine, high
water or low, good luck or bad, in buying boats or selling them, I always
liked to have him with me. I always admired his intelligence and good
judgment, and thoroughly enjoyed his fine, loving companionship. Though
separated now, it is a great satisfaction to know I still have his
and his friendship.
   The governor, as we have learned to call him, and his estimable wife
have made their home for fifteen years in the Leamington hotel in
Minneapolis, but they always spend the winter months in or near Tampa,

Sawmills and their Owners

   I can only tell about those in operation at different points along the
upper Mississippi while I was in the rafting business. There were many small
and a few large mills on the Saint Croix, Chippewa and Black rivers that sent
out an immense quantity of rafted lumber to be taken to the many down river
yards; but I had no line on their activities; and as the office of
surveyor-general of logs and lumber in Wisconsinwas abolished four years ago,
I am unable to get at the records to compute the output of these mills, that
supplied the yards of
   Knapp, Stoutand Company at Dubuque, Fort Madison and Saint Louis.
   P.J. Seippel Lumber Company at Dubuque.
   Rhodes Brothers at Savanna.
   Daniel Stanchfield at Davenport.
   S.G. Stein and Company at Muscatine.
   Gilbert-Hedge and Company at Burlington
   Rand Lumber Company at Burlington and Keokuk.
   A.S.Meridiam and Comapy at Quincy.
   John L. Cruikshank at Hannibal.
   LaCrosse Lumber Company at Louisiana.
   LaCrosse Lumber Company at Clarksville.
   Shulenburg and Boeckeler at Saint Louis.
   Eau Claire Lumber Company at Saint Louis.
   Methudy and Meyer at Saint Louis, and others.
A large part of the lumber to these yards was hauled out,
piled and seasoned and then shipped west to build homes, barns
and fences in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas.

                           STILLWATER, MINNESOTA
   The big Shulenburg and Boeckeler mill later owned by Isaac Staples, E.L.
Hospes and Samuel Atlee and finally owned by George H. Atwood who
cut forty-eight million feet of lumber a season.
   Hersey Bean and Brown mill; which in 1882  came under the management of
George H. Atwood.
   The Saint Croix Lumber Company.
   The Eastside Lumber Company(Bronson and Folsom mill).
   South Stillwater mill (Durant and Wheeler and David Tozer).
   Hershey Lumber Company mill.
   R.W. and A.R. Turnbull mill at lakeland.
   The Eclipse Sawmill Company at South Stillwater.
   The Fall and McCoy mill at Lakeland.
   Teh Musser-Sauntry mill.

                    Hudson, Wisconsin(Mouth of Willow River)
   The Purington mill, built 1850. Destroyed by fire. It was replaced in
1883 by a modern mill owned by the Hudson Lumber Company, that cut
700,000,000 feet and sent the last raft down river in 1915.
   Olds and Lord mill-later owned by Gillespie and Harper.
                                 Prescott, Wisconsin
   The John Dudley mill.
                                Red Wing, Minnesota
   The Red Wing Mills Company, The Charles Betcher mill.
                           Winona, Minnesota (Four large mills)
   Youmans Bros. and Hodgins-1856-1898.
   Laird Norton and Company started in 1857.
   Winona Lumber Company started in 1881.
   The Empire Lumber Company started in 1887.
                    LaCrosse, Wisconsin(at mouth of Black river)
   C.L. Clomans mill.
   John Pauls mill.
   N.B. Holways mill.
   Sawyer and Austins mill.
   G.B. Trows mill.
   P.S. Davidson Lumber Company mill.
   McDonald Brothers mill.
                                   Lansing, Iowa
   Lansing Lumber Company, John Robson of Winona , principal owner and
                               McGregor, Iowa
   W. and J. Fleming mill, c.W. Cowles, manager.
                            Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin
   Stauer and Daubenberger mill.
                             Guttenburg, Iowa
   Zimmerman and Ives mill.
                               Dubuque, Iowa
   Knapp, Stout and Company's mill.
   Ingram, Kennedy and Day, later Standard Lumber company.
   M.H. Moore's mill.
                               Bellevue, Iowa
   Dorchester and Huey's mill.

Lyons, Iowa                           
   Gardiner, Batcheler and Welles mill No. l.
   Gardiner, Batcheler and Welles mill No. ll
   Lyons Lumber Company mill.
   David Joyce's mill.
                                   Fulton, Illinois
   David Joyce- The old Langfors and Hall mill.
                                    Clinton, Iowa
   Clinton Lumber Company.
   W.J. Young ans Company, the Upper mill.
   C. Lamb and Sons, The Stone mill.
   C. Lamb and Sons, the brick mill.
   W.J. Young and Company, The Big mill/
   C. Lamb and Sons, the Riverside mill.
   C. Lamb and Sons, Riverside mill, lower.
                                 Camanche, Iowa
   W.R. Anthony, successor to Anthony and McClosky.
                               Fort Byron, Illinois
   Fred S. Gates mill.
                                 LeClaire, Iowa
   J.W. Strobeen, the old Van Sant and Zebley mill.
                                  Moline, Illinois
   Dimock,Gould and Company, originally a water power mill and manufact-
   ed tubs, pails, washboards, etc.
   The J.S. Keator and Sons mill, started in 1859.
                                 Rock Island, Illinois
   Mills on Sylvan Water Slough between the water works and the C.R.I. and P.
station, owned and operated                                    

from 1878 by the Rock Island Lumber Company, in which Weyerhauser and
Denkmann held the controlling interest. Previous to 1878 the style of the
operating firm was Anawalt, Denkmann and Company.
   Mill of Weyerhauser and Denkmann at the lower end of Rock Island. In
1857 the firm of Mead, Smith and Marsh operating this mill got in Financial
trouble and the mill was shut down. Mr. Fred Weyerhauser, who was in their
employ took hold of the property and operated it on his own account. When the
affairs of Smith, Mead and Marsh were finally closed up the mill was offered
dor sale. In 1860 Mr Weyerhauser and his brother-in-
law, Mr. F.C.A. Denkmann, bought the mill for $3000.00. They operated
it continuously and very successfully until the log supply was exhausted. They
made extensions and improvements increasing its output until it was known as
one of the 'big mills' sawing over forty million feet annually.
                               Davenport, Iowa
   The Lindsay and Phelps mill at Stubbs' Eddy was erected in 2864. It had
the advantage of an excellent place to land and hold their rafts  in the
Eddy. This mill had a long and very prosperous run with the same ownership
and when it had to close for want of more logs to saw, it was dismantled, and
the lumber yard cleared off and generously given to the city for what has
become the landing feature of East Davenport, Lindsay Park.
   In 1868 L.C. Dessaint built a sawmill just above the water works. It was
later owned by Price and Hornsby. In 1874 George W. Cable bought it and later
organized the Cable Lumber Company which operated the mill until the supply
of logs was exhausted.                                          

   The Renwick mill, built in 1854, operated by Renwick and Son, later by
Renwick, Shaw and Crossett and last by Weyerhauser and Denkmann. Was an
extremely hard place to land and hold logs as the water was not deep but very
   In 1849 Strong Burnett built a saw and planing mill at foot of Scott
street, later operated by Denkmann and Schricker, then by Schricker and
Mueller and after 1883 by Chr. Mueller and his sons, later incorporated as
the Mueller Lumber Company, still a going business.
   In 1849, A Mr. Howard built a mill about warren street, later owned by
French and Cannon and then by French and Davies. It was later operated by
Paige and Dixon and under the management of Mr. E.W. Dixon. Its
career was interupted by the financial complications arising from the suicide
of Mr. S.B. Paige of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, who killed himself in his room in
the Burtis House one Sunday afternoon in March, 1883. After the tangled
affairs of Paige and Dixon had been cleared away, a new company called the
Davenport Lumber Company took hold of the old mill and started
sawing in1887. S.J. Keator was president and Henry Jager was Manager.
They pushed the business with vigor and success until their log supply gave
out and the mill closed for good in 1891.
   "Mueller Lumber Company's new mill" at Cooks Point. The old mill at Scott
Street burned in 1901. The larger, modern mill was erected in 1902
and continued sawing until the logs gave out in 1907.
   As Stated elsewhere, our company took care of all Mueller logs where
rafted and supplied the old mill from March, 1887, until it burned in 1901,
and we supplied every raft cut at the new mill during its prosperous run.
   We never had a difficulty of any kind or any unpleasant experience with
this company during the twenty-one years we handled their logs which ran
about fifteen million feet annually. Our work for them amounted to

Muscatine, Iowa
   The Muscatine Lumber Company mill, burned in 1886.
   The Heshey Lumber Company mill, started by Jacob Hershey in 1852,
was in control of Benjamin Hershey until his death and continued sawing
to the last of the logs. My first contract, when I got charge of the steamer
'Last Chance' in 1882, was to run ten million feet of logs from Beef Slough
to this mill.
   The Musser lumber Company had a large mill that sawed about forty-five
million feet annually. Richard Musser, Peter Musseer and P.M. Musser were all
fine men. I was clerk on one of the Van Sant and Musser raft-boats for three
seasons and did occasional work for them later. Their mill was built in 1870
and it was vigorously operated every season. The Van Sant and Musser boats
earned over a million dollars towing for the Musser Lumber Company.
                               Burlington, Iowa
   The Harmar Manufacturing Company mill.
   The Burlington Lumber Company had a big mill that had a long, steady and
prosperous career.
                              Fort Madison, Iowa
   S. and J.C. Atlee mill ran steadily until the last. The old mill is still
there and the business is carried on handling southern and western stock.
                                  Keokuk, Iowa
   The Taber Lumber Company built a new mill when the old one burned
and continued sawing after nearly all others had quit. Captain Taber, who
had been in command of steamers in the Saint Louis and new Orleans trade,
one of which was the famous 'Ruth,' was fatally injured by an automobile
only a few years ago. The mill has been dismantled but the business has been
carried on by his sons, Ben and Carroll Taber.
                                 Canton, Missouri
   The Canton Sawmill Company had a medium sized mill.
                                 Quincy, Illinois
   The Quincy Sawmill Company had a mill up in the bay.
                                Hannibal, Missouri
   The Hannibal Sawmill Compnay had a good mill.
                               Saint Louis, Missouri
   Shulenburg and Boeckeler mill.
   Knapp, Stout and Company mill.
   Hill-Lemmon and Company mill.
   H.S. Parker and Company mull.
   C.F. Leibke mill.

Complete List of Raft Pilots, 1840-1913

   The following facts about raftsmen and rafting and the complete list of
all pilots engaged in the work in any part of the period from 1840 to 1913 are
taken from an article in the Davenport 'Democrat' and republished in the
'Waterways Journal', December, 1913. {The list was very carefully made up and
I had many to help me. If we have missed any one, we have not been reminded
of it since. In January,1928, I only can count thirty of the list above.}
   The towboats are sunken and dismantled and disintegrated hulks, the bones
of many being the relics of an almost forgotten industry are strewn
along the shores of the river. A few- and what a few they are- are working
as sand-boats and towboats and general river craft.
   The great rafting traffic on the big river, in its infancy in 1841, slowly
matured year by year, growing larger with each succeeding yearly cycle until
in the 1880, the river traffic of rafts was reckoned one of the largest and
most profitable industries in the United States.
   Then came the decline. Later in the eighties the rafts coming down the
Mississippi began to fall off in numbers, the towboats plying up and down the
river to be fewer and fewer and gradually but surely the business dwindled.
The falling off of the river traffic has continued until the present year
when during the entire season, but three rafts went down.
                            Towed by 'Ottumwa Belle'
   These three reminders of the old days were towed through by the 'Ottumwa
Belle,' the only survivor of the great fleet of ninety raft-boats
that were in the business on the crest of the wave in 1880. The season of
1914 will see the end of the rafting business, when the 'Ottumwa Belle'
will take three rafts through, the last three rafts ever destined to go down
the river, and the knell of the once great traffic will be rung. The 'Ottumwa
Belle' is owned by S. & J.C., Atlee of Fort Madison. The master of the
'Belle' is Walter Hunter, one of the few remaining raft pilots.
   And the masters, pilots and crews who manned the big fleet. Of the army of
pilots, numbering over two hundred and fifty, who were the guardians of the
fleet in  their trips up and down the river thirty years ago, but
seventy-three are known to be living. There may be other survivors, but they
are not known to Captain W.A. Blair, who has compiled
the complete list of those who were engaged in piloting in the early days.
   Of the seventy-three members of the profession, for it was indeed a
profession, several have retained high places politically, others have
abandoned the river and taken up a less romantic vocation, and still others
have drifted to other navigable rivers to continue their chosen work.
                               Old River Men Meet
   Prominent among the one-time raft-boat pilots is Colonel E.W. Durant,
who is perhaps one of the most noted members of the body. Colonel Durant, who
was once Lieutenant-governor of Minnesota and twice served
his state  as state senator, at the age of eighty-four years is, hale,
healthy and happy.
   He is an ardent follower of Isaac Walton and likes nothing better than
sunning himself with a fishline in hand. He is also a great story=teller.
   On a trip of the 'Morning Star' in 1912 from Davenport to Saint Paul, I
had Colonel Durant and Captain S.B. Hanks as my guests and I greatly
enjoed their company and their reminiscences and they aided me in completing
and checking  up the list of raft pilots which I had prepared with the help
of Captains Cyprian and Joseph Buisson and John Monroe.
Captain hanks piloted his alst raft June,1844. His death occurred in August,
1917, at the age of ninety-four.

                                 Three in Ols Guard
   Three pilots, S.E. Lancaster of LeClaire, Iowa, O.J. Newcomb of Pepin,
Wisconsin, and Morrel Looney, of LaCrosse are still following their chosen
profession on the Yukon river in Alaska during the summer months. Others well
known are Peter Kirns of Saint Louis, who for years was engaged in that
business in Saint Louis.
   John McCaffrey, another of the old-time pilots, is a planter in Louisiana.
Captain McCaffrey is a teller of wonderfully interesting stories of the old
river and raft-running and is not at a loss for listeners.
   Joseph and Cyprian Buisson, two of the pioneers, are still piloting on the

Mississippi. Cyprian was master of the steamer 'Helen Blair' last year and
Joseph Buisson piloted the 'St. Paul' during the past season.
   Three of the living river pilots are located in Clinton. Joseph Duley is
the present time engaged in the unromantic calling of liveryman, but secretly
his thoughts turn to his first love and enters the sand and gravel
business "to get the river smell," he says. O.P. McMahon and A.E. Duncan,
also of Clinton, have retired from business with a comfortable fortune, The
latter two were designers and builders of the steamer 'Silver Crescent.'

Rapids Pilots who Handled Rafts over The Upper, or Rock Island
                    Rapids, in the Order of their service from  1840-1915

           Philip Suiter
           John Suiter,son of Philip
           William Suiter, son of Philip
           Jacob Suiter, son of Philip
           John Suiter, son of John
           Zach Suiter, son of John
           Harvey Goldsmith
           Silas Lancaster
           William Rambo
           DeForest Dorrance
           J.W. Rambo, son of William
           Oliver P. White
           J.N. Long
           Dana Dorrance
           Durbin Dorrance
           Orrin Smith
   All in this list have made "the last crossing" except Orrin Smith who is
still in active service as master and pilot of the towboat 'Lone Star,' owned
by the Builders Sand and Gravel Company of Davenport.
   Orrin Smith is a son of John Smith who did long and excellent service
\in piloting the large and heavily loaded packet steamers during the busy
years from 1860 to 1885 when they carried full cargoes of freight and
passengers. John Smith had a rare combination of nerve, caution and skill,
with ambition and energy to use his gifts, and his work was high class.
masters and owners had confidence in his judgment and his skill. He was
a 'sure shot' if there ever was one and Orrin is just like him. He is the
youngest and last Rapids pilot to run rafts over the Rock Island rapids.
His work has been equal to the best done by any of those older and with more
   All these rapid pilots lived in LeClaire and all of them died there except
Joseph N. Long who left his old home town many years ago, went to the
Columbia river, and died, we think, in Portland, Oregon; and Orrin smith is
living in the fine old home where he was born.
   J.W. Rambo was born in Rapids City, Illinois, August 27, 1844, and was
only ten days old when the family moved over to LeClaire where he lived until
his death, January 30, 1925.
   Captain Rambo was master to Snow lodge, A.F, an A.M., 1879-1883 inclusive
and was elected Mayor of LeClaire, 1886-1887-1889 and 1892. His wife and only
daughter, Mrs. B.J. Metzger (Nellie), survive him.

Rapids Pilots who ran Rafts over the Lower, or Des Moines, Rapids


          William West, lived at Priced creek.
          Valentine Speak, died at Montrose, 1880.
          R.S. Owen, died at Montrose, 1898.
          J.P. Barber, died at Montrose, 1915.
          Sam Speak, died at Montrose, 1900.
          Charles Speak, died at Mt. Pleasant, 1895.
          Sam Williams, died in California, 1878.
          Cha. H. Farris, living in Montrose, well and active at seventy-
   When the old canal was finished in 1878, the work of the Rapids pilots
was greatly reduced, as rafts could be put through the canal in less time and
with less expense and damage in extreme low water than working them over
   Then in 1913, when the Keokuk dam was completed, there was no more work
for the Rapids pilots on any craft between Montrose and Keokuk.
   Captain Charles Farris made the last trip as a Rapids pilot, taking the
big 'Morning star' down and back on a special sight-seeing trip when the dam
was completed and the old Rapids submerged nearly all the way up. There were
three locks in the old canal, each eighty feet wide and three hundred feet
   During the busy year of rafting, Captain Joseph Farris was in charge of
the Guard lock, at the upper end, at the village of Galland.
   Nicholas McKenzie was in charge of the middle lock. He was the father of
Captain Hugh McKenzie and grandfather of Louis McKenzie, now in the crew that
operates the big single lock that passes vessels from Lake Keokuk
to the river level below or contrariwise,
   John Carpenter had charge of the Lower or Keokuk lock and Major M.
Meigs was in charge of the entire canal dry docks and machine shop.
   Major Meigs and John Carpenter are now(1928) living quiet, retired,
but healthy and happy lives in Keokuk.

Palo Alto County, Iowa USGenWeb Project Scott County, Iowa USGenWeb Project Celtic Cousins A Little Bit of Ireland The Irish in Iowa Joynt/Joint Family Chronicles Other Family Ties