Obits and Other Information

Davenport, Iowa

Watching for the ferry


John Bloom

Submitted by Georgeann McClure

If you have ancestors who had river men in their background you are welcome to submit your information
 so they can be recognized on this page. --Cathy Labath

The river is no wider from this side than the other.

Literary Notes 1932  

   The gin rickey was first introduced to a thirsty America by one “Colonel” James Rickey, a suave gambler of the old school who frequented the Mississippi steamboats in the florid days following the Civil War.  Later he went to Washington, and old-timers still remember his bar, the floor of which was a mosaic of $20 gold pieces.  “Colonel” Rickey was a tradition along the Mississippi when Henry Bellaman was a boy, and he has taken this picturesque character as the prototype for Garrison Gracey, gambler, in “The Richest Woman in Town,” a novel which the century company is publishing Feb. 16, Mr. Bellamann is now Dean of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Capt Gordon is Retired As Lock Master
Feb. 11, 1932  

   Capt. John B. Gordon of Moline, Master of the Moline Locks and a friend of Mark twain, was retired on pension today from government work after 48 years of activity on the Mississippi River.  

   For Many years Capt. Gordon had had charge of river packets, and in that capacity he became acquainted with the famous author.  He came to Moline in 1884, and had been master of the Moline Locks since their construction. 

   W.W. Reed of Rock Island has been named successor to Capt. Gordon.


April 10th  

Captain A. E. Duncan  

Captain A. E. Duncan 83, pioneer river man, died in Jane Lamb hospital about 9 o’clock Sunday night of pneumonia, after a brief illness.  

  He was born in New York state near Ogdensburg, Dec. 24, 1849, and came here as a young man to engage in farming.  Later he began his career on the Mississippi river as a laborer and worked himself up first as a pilot then as a captain in the logging industry.  Ambitious and enterprising, he went into the business with a partner and later bought his own boats that plied the upper river from Lake Pepin to the Tri-Cities many years, among them the “Silver Crescent” and the “Nettie Durant” Several years ago Captain Duncan retired because of ill health.  His home was at 2102 Roosevelt Street.  

  Survivors are three daughters, Jeannette, Mrs. Charles Noble of Chicago; Edith, Mrs. Carl Fay of coco Fla.; Miss Ruth Duncan of Chicago; and two brothers, James of Moline, Ill. And William of Clovis Calif.

 Funeral services will be held Wednesday, but the time and place were not announced today.


Frank Gladhill, 62 of 518, Main St, a registered river pilot on the Mississippi during the past 40 years, died at Mercy hospital at 6 o’clock this morning, following an extended illness.

  Born on April 8, 1871, in Fulton Ill. He resided for many years in Albany Ill.  He came to Davenport 14 years ago.  He was associated with the Streckfus steamboat company until he became ill last November.

  Mr. Gladhill was of Methodist faith.  He was a member of the Albany Masonic lodge, A.F. & A. M. No. 566.

  Surviving are two sisters, Mrs. May Jordan of Albany, Ill. And Mrs. Mabel Erwin of Pondcreek Okla; three brothers, Charles Gladhill of Portsmouth, N.M. William Gladhill of Charlotte, Iowa and Arthur Gladhill of Albany, Ill.

  The body was taken to the Horrigan home for funerals, and will be removed Tuesday afternoon to the home of his sister, Mrs. Mary Jordan of Albany.  Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. at the Albany Methodist church.  Burial will be in the Albany Ill., cemetery.

River Pilot, Dies age 67    

 Head of Milan Sand company ill 3 weeks- funeral Tuesday  

   Captain Elmer McCraney, 67 president of the Milan Sand and Gravel company, resident of Davenport during the past 23 years died at his home, 2018 Lillie ave. at 9 a.m. Sunday, following an illness of three weeks’ duration. 

   Born Dec, 31 1866, in Dubuque he moved with his family when a small boy to Winona, Minn.  He was educated in schools there.  

   About 30 years ago he was married in Chicago to Miss Minnie Trombley, who preceded him in death in 1922.  The couple moved to LeClaire, where they resided for seven years.  He became a partner and manager of the Van Sant Navigation company, associated with the ex-governor Van Sant of Minnesota.  This fleet of 12 boats was the last to navigate the river.  

   Mr. McCraney later owned the McCraney Sand and Gravel company and coal mines at Matherville and Coal Valley, Ill.  In 1926 with other associates, he founded the Milan Sand and Gravel company of Milan.  

   Surviving are one daughter, Miss Harriet McCraney at home; and one sister, Mrs. Walter E. Blair, New York City.  

  The body was taken to Hill and Fredricks Mortuary where funeral services will be held Tuesday at 9 a.m.  Burial will e in Glendale cemetery at LeClaire.

P. M’Allister dies; was chef on river Boats  

Had lived in LeClaire Since Marriage here in 1921.  

Patrick J. McAllister 61 a resident of LeClaire for the past 14 years died at his home there at 6 p.m. Tuesday after a years illness.  

   Mr. McAllister was born in Boston Mass.  April 1, 1871.  Doe several years he served as chef on government boats on the Mississippi River.  He was married to Mrs. Ida Underholt on December 8, 1921, in Davenport and he had lived in Le Claire since.  He was a member of the Full Gospel Church.  

   Surviving besides his wife are two step children, Ethel Underholt and Roy Underholt of LeClaire; two sisters Mrs. Margaret Gallon of Los Angeles and Mrs. Katherine O’Leary of Turner Falls, Mass, and two brothers, James and Bernard McAllister, also of Turner Falls.

  The body was removed to the McGinnis funeral home and will be taken to the LeClaire Tabernacle

Thursday morning for funeral services at 2 p.m.  Burial will be in Glendale cemetery, LeClaire.

Retired Boat Captain, 93, Pilots Ellen
Capt. Tansy Hawthorne, LeClaire, Guest of U. S. Engineers

   Captain Joe Morehead “Tansy “ Hawthorne, 93, LeClaire, basked in the Limelight today.

   The old river captain was the guest of the U. S. engineers station in the Clock Tower and was brought to Davenport by the U.S. Ellen, the engineers’ boat, this morning.  He was an honored guest at the Clock Tower and at a dinner served aboard the Ellen at noon.

  In the afternoon the Ellen was taken thru the locks and below the dam, and on the return trip to LeClaire Captain Hawthorne took the wheel, piloting the boat over once familiar rapids now submerged by the lake.  Altho he retired from the river in 1920 after 73 years service, he is given his pilots license each year by the government.

   Captain Hawthorne told the engineers that John D. Rockefeller, who celebrated his 96th birthday Monday, had only three years start on him and that he would live longer.

Moore Rites on Thursday

Old River Captain’s Rites to Be at Home; other funerals.  

Clinton Ia.  May 4- Funeral services for Captain William Moore former river man, will be conducted in the home Thursday at 2:30 o’clock by the Rev. S. V. Williams.  Mr. Moore will be laid to rest in Oakland beside his wife, who died last week.

   Captain Moore was born Dec. 16 1851, in Pennsylvania.  He came to LeClaire as a boy and began his work on the river when he was about 13 years old.  He was captain on various boats including a packet that ran from LeClaire to Dubuque many years;  He had been retired 16 years.  His marriage to Georgianna White of LeClaire was solemnized in Davenport in 1876, and they lived there until 1889, when he came here.

   Captain Moore was a member of DeMolay consistory here,  Kaaba temple, Davenport, and the LeClaire blue lodge of Masons, also the odd fellows lodge of Leclaire

Feb. 11, 1932
River steamer Captain victim of Pneumonia at 64  

John T Whisler, 64, who was pilot on the J. W. Quinlan ferry active in river work on the Mississippi since he was 17 years old died Tuesday afternoon at the Moline City Hospital.  He resided at 525 Twelfth avenue, Rock Island.  Mr. Whisler had been ill of pneumonia since last Thursday.  

   Born March 11, 1867, in Como, Ill. He moved with his parents when a small boy to Albany, Ill, where he received his education.  He moved to Rock Island 20 years ago.  

  Capt Whistler was married on Oct. 3, 1893 to Florence Wing in Prairie du Chien Wis.  He was a member of the Albany Masonic lodge.  

He served many years as pilot and captain on river steamers in early days and was one of the old masters and pilots for the Weyerhauser & Denkmann Lumber co. of Rock Island.  

   With the closing of the saw mills here he was in charge of the steamer Denkmann which was used for several years as the pleasure craft of the Weyerhauser and Denkmann families.  In later years he served as pilot on the Davenport-Rock Island ferry on the steamer Minneapolis under the Rock Island engineers office.  

   Surviving are the widow; three daughters, Miss Helen Whisler of Rock Island, Mrs. Paul Rothe of Oakland Calif., and Mrs. Kenneth Tilton of Moline; a son, Arthur Whisler, of Rock Island; three sisters Mrs. Harry Burns and Mrs. Isaac Burns, both of Albany and Mrs. Ora Barnes of Reynolds.  There also are one grandson and one granddaughter.

Capt. George  W. King, River man, dies at 72         


   Officer of Pilots’ Association for 10 years; first job on boat at 16.  

   Capt. George W. King, a river man since 1877 and for ten years secretary-treasurer of the Pilots’ Masters’ and Mates’ Association of Inland Rivers, died of paralysis Monday at his home, 5204 Kensington Avenue.  He was 72 years old.

  The association met at its headquarters in the Merchants-Laclede Building and voted, in resolutions citing his half-century of membership, his character and spirit, to drape its charter in mourning for 30 days.  

  Outstanding among the anecdotes of Capt. King’s years on the river was the story of his building a bulkhead under seven feet of water in the Gen. Abbott, an Army Engineers’ towboat.  On its maiden trip from St. Louis in 1896, the Abbott struck a snag and sank five miles below commerce, Mo. 

  A diver was sent for to investigate the damage. Meantime Capt. King, without diving apparatus, went down and discovered a gash three feet wide and many feet long in the hull.  With a helper to stand on his shoulders and hold him down, the captain, an expert ship carpenter, repaired the hole so that the water could be pumped out and the steamer raised.  When the diver arrived two days after the boat sank, there was nothing for him to do.  

   Capt. King was born in Lima O., and had resided in St. Louis since he was 10 years old.  At 16 he got his first river job as a deck sweeper on a packet boat.  For a time he was employed by the old Mississippi Valley Transportation Co. barge line.  He was pilot of the Dolphin No.3. Of which Capt. John E. Lubben was master, towing railroad ties from Southern forests to St. Louis.  

   In 1893 he entered the engineer service in this district as mate, pilot and captain.  For some years he was chief mate of the Government snag boat Wright.  He served also on the Gen. King retiring in 1923 to take his less physically demanding office in the river men’s organization, he was director of     by the engineers in the flood of 1927 to pilot relief stations under command of Maj. C. Gotwals, among the bayous of Louisiana.             



More Than Half -Century Spent on Father of Waters


Davenport Democrat

Dec.  24, 1939 Pg. 1


 Captain, Walter Atcheson Blair, 83, veteran Mississippi river pilot who had lived to see traffic on the mighty stream wax and wane and revive again, died at 12:35 a.m. today at his home, 2342 East Eleventh street Davenport, after a six weeks illness.

  Born Nov. 17, 1856 at Galena, Ill. One of the historic towns on the Mississippi, he had lived his entire life on or within sight of the river and had become known along its entire navigable length as an able captain, business man, and boat owner.  He was the son of Andrew and Margaret Henry Blair.

  The family moved to Princeton, Ia. in October 1869, and there young Walter began to absorb the spell of the Mississippi of which he afterward wrote at length.

Began in 1878

   After several years experience as a school teacher in Princeton, he took his first job on a Mississippi river boat, the Le Claire Belle as the season opened in March, 1878.  He went back to school teaching for a time, but the fascination of the river had taken hold on him and he returned to steam boating.

  He obtained his pilots license in 1882 and bought his first boat the J.W. Mills in 1883.  The purchase was the beginning of a line of river craft which he owned and operated or piloted during a long career.

  At one time he entered a partnership with Captain Van Sant and they operated seven boats in the rafting business and with four other boats independently owned by Captain Van Sant did a thriving business.

  In 1892, Captain Blair quit the rafting business and organized the Carnival City Packet Co., associating himself with a number of prominent Davenporters.  The company owned nine different boats plying between Davenport, Burlington, Keokuk and Quincy.  Their boats included the “Helen Blair”, “Keokuk” and “Black Hawk” and they handled 125,000 passengers and 15,000 tons of freight annually.

   Coming of the railroads put a crimp in the river business, but Capt. Blair never lost faith in the ultimate recovery of the water traffic.  He believed, and lived to see his belief fulfilled, that the nine foot channel development would bring back the boats.

  Captain Blair was married to Elizabeth Bard at Le Claire Dec. 7, 1882, the same year that he moved to Davenport to make his home.  He was a member of Trinity Lodge No. 208 A.F.7A.M. but became a member of lodge of Le Claire.  He was a member of the First Presbyterian church Davenport.

   Surviving besides the widow are one daughter, Mrs. Hugh T Smith, Philadelphia, Pa., two sons, George, W., Mishawaka, Ind., and Bard B Blair, Tulsa Oklahoma., three sisters, Mrs. R. E. White, Monmouth, Ill., and Mrs. Fred Wyman and Mrs. G. S. Johnson, both of Davenport; two brothers, W. H. Blair, Davenport, and A. L. Blair, Highland Park, Ill., and three grandchildren, Mrs. H. E. Brucklen, Elkhart, W. Blair, Jr. Winfield, Kansas and Fredrick E. Blair, Mishawaka.  A son, Paul died Nov. 2, 1898.

   The body was taken to George McGinnis funeral home.  Services have been tentatively set for Tuesday afternoon the exact time and the place to be determined.  Burial will be in Oakdale cemetery. 

Robert Isherwood

Davenport Democrat

Feb 15, 1898

The funeral of Capt Bob Isherwood, whose death occurred at his home at 10 o’clock Sunday night. Was held there at 2 o’clock Monday afternoon, and largely attended. The boatyards were shut down and the town turned out. The flags were half masted in St. Louis and other places along the river, and there were general expressions of sorrow at the death of the river veteran.

Robert Sherwood born in Maryland in 1835 but till he was 19 years of age he lived at Brownsville Pa. At 19 he shipped on the Ohio river steamer, A. G. Mason as carpenter and came with her the whole round trip to St. Paul, and for two years ran with her between St. Louis and that city. Subsequently he worked as operator on the St. Louis levee. He went on the Canada of the Northern Line, as carpenter, Thence he rose to the place of mate, remaining on the different boats of the line for 13 years, and later became a captain, and commanding the Petrol, the Savannah and the Minnesota.

In 18 he went to work with the Diamond Jo Line, and he stayed in that company’s employ till his death. With the exception of the seasons of 18 and 18 when he was first at Sioux city, as master in command of the Sidney, but he also walked the deck of the Diamond Jo and the Tidal wave. He was one of the Diamond Jo’s most trusted men.

He was married at Le Claire about 1864, to Miss Jennie Henthora. She survives him with two children, Miss Geneva, principal at McGregor, Ia. And Charles, at home, learning the trade of the river, as his father did. A son and daughter are dead. The officials of the Diamond Jo Line attended the Funeral and showed their respect in every way, as well as their regret for Capt. Isherwoods death.

Researcher Sue Rekkas

Capt. Phillips

Muscatine Journal March 7, 1895

Capt. John Phillips, whose name was notorious in the early days of our city, died at Lettsville on Thursday, 25th. He was about sixty years of age. Capt. Phillips came to Muscatine (then Bloomington) from Burlington in 1843 with an old steam ferry boat, and having a charter for the ferry he ran it a number of years in a manner unsatisfactory to the citizens, causing a great deal of trouble and strife. Phillips was charged with nearly every crime in the catalogue, but he was shrewd and wary and always succeeded in escaping conviction in the numerous suits brought against him. On the morning of May 23rd, 1849, a German named “Old Nick”, was found dead near the old ferry house w3hich still stand on the opposite side of the river and which was then the dwelling of Phillips. His death was attributed by Phillips to a mob from the city, who he said, attacked his house during the night, and killed “Old Nick” in mistake for himself; but, on the other hand,, the murder was charged on Phillips in order to get the unfortunate man out of the way as a witness against him. The mystery has never been cleared up. The same cloud of uncertainty hangs over other unlawful acts attributed to Phillips and his associates, such as burning of houses, bridges, & in order to avenge himself on those who opposed his claim to the ferry franchise. About 1850 Phillips removed to Rock Island, and our citizens saw and heard but little of him for ten years. He then returned to this city and pursued a comparatively peaceable and quiet life, devoting his time mainly to obtaining soldiers pensions and picking up business as an attorney. On the 31st of October, 1868, he came again prominently before the public as a party in an affray with Jap. Hampton on the ferry boat, in which he shot Hampton, who narrowly escaped death. For this Phillips stood trial but was acquitted.

As we commanded to say nothing but good of the dead, we will say that the deceased was Plausible and pleasing to all he desired to win. He had a good share of natural talent, and under other circumstances might have been a man of much useful influence.




Whose Death Occurred at Buffalo

This Morning







The long life of Captain W. L. Clark of Buffalo, Ia. Which had spanned the period that separates the Scott county of today from the period when Black Hawk and his braves were more numerous here than the few hardy pioneers who had made this one of the very outposts of civilization, ended at his home in Buffalo this morning, when, he expired at 11:10 a. m.

Captain Clark, whose interesting career was reviewed in Wednesdays Democrat will long be remembered here as one who towered among the county’s oldest settlers, by reason of his experience, his memories, and the long life that was so unique in so many ways.

The family came to rock Island in 1828, when Captain Clark was a boy of 6 years. They crossed the river to their long-time Iowa home at Buffalo in 1833, the deceased then being 12 years old. Ever since, he has been intimately connected with the state which was formed years after he came and which was truly virgin soil when the name of Clark was first connected with it.

His Davenport friends will regret that they are to see the captain no more. His visits here from Buffalo were periods of friendly reunion and reminiscences which grew increasingly pleasant as time ripened friendships and removed farther into the vista the times of which the captain talked so interestingly.

Four children, nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren survive him. The children are Mrs. Emma M. Harrison of Buffalo, Mrs. Charles F. Elmes of Chicago, Mrs. William L. Orrick of Omaha, and Charles C. Clark of St. Louis. They were with him at the last, having come back to the old home some weeks ago on receiving word of the father’s critical illness.

Capt Morehouse
Buffalo Iowa

*Le Grand Morehouse—died around 1890; owned and captained the Lady Franklin during the 1854 Grand Excursion; in her reporting Catherine Sedgwick praised Morehouse for his courtesy; The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts has in its collection an engraved silver pitcher dedicated to Morehouse from the passengers. Another cup is owned by his ggrandaughter Mrs. Vernon Willes 806 W 3rd st in Muscatine, Iowa.

*D. B. Morehouse—1807-1869; set a record with a time of 6 days and 15 hours on the steamboat Iowa in 1840 for the round trip between Galena and St. Louis, a record which stood until 1845; captained the Galena during the 1854 Grand Excursion; passengers passed a resolution to obtain an appropriate gift of thanks for the captain and pilot; retired in Galena.


Capt. Dick Morehouse died on the 19th inst. at the residence of LeGrande Morehouse in Muscatine County, Iowa, 16 miles below Davenport, aged 62 years. He had been a steamboatman for 25 years in the St. Louis and New Orleans trade.

Wednesday, 22 April 1868
Rock Island Daily Union

Capt. Dick Morehouse, one of the pioneer steamboatmen on the upper Mississippi, died on the 20th at his farm in Buffalo Township, Scott county, Iowa, aged 66 years.

Davenport Democrat
June 24, 1913
Pg. 15

Man Drowns While Steamer Leaves
Roustabout Falls Off St. Paul Early this Morning-Boat departs

While a roustabout, name unknown, was struggling in the waters of the Mississippi near the Rock Island landing point about 3 o’clock this morning, the steamer St. Paul, from which the man fell into the river, backed out into the current without making the least effort to save him, according to a rumor circulated over the tri-cities today.

The man according to the hearsay, was standing on the deck, near the stern of the boat, when the huge steamer started out. Evidently he was not prepared for the movement of the boat, as he lost his balance and stumbled over a coil of rope, being precipitated into the water. Reports are that absolutely no effort was made to save the man struggling in the water, but that the second officer contrary to this, shouted: back up; let him go.” the boat continued on its way down the river to Muscatine.

R. J. Fullerton, the local agent for the Streckfus lines, when interviewed this morning stated that a man had fallen from the boat, but very little was known of him.

Late this afternoon the name of the victim was ascertained to be Arthur Schultz. He is 19 years old and his home is given as La Cross Wis.

The Streckfus people state “the man became entangled in a coil of rope and in that was thrown overboard.”

James Pemberton

James Pemberton who used to wield the hoe in ineffectual campaigns against the ragweed, purslane, and other pests of the editoral garden on Prospect Hill, is now the fireman on the steamer Helen Blair, and seems to be able to hold the steam at 140 pounds without difficulty. --River News, Burlington Saturday Evening Post, 11/25/1911

Who Will Handle the Rafts on the River This Season.
Rafting the Only Branch of Steamboating that Preserves Part of its Pristine Vigor--
About LeClaire Rivermen

     The river man has always been an object of romantic interest to the people who live along the banks of the Mississippi so says the editor of the Davenport Republican. It was so in the old days when Mark Twain with his imagination fired by the thought of becoming a wheelman ran away from his home at Hannibal and passed the various gradations till he was a master pilot, the highest eminence to which a human being could aspire. At that time Father of Waters was crowded with crafts of all descriptions from flat boats to palatial packets. Rafts extended in an almost unbroken line from St. Anthony's falls to the Louisiana delta.  The river was the only avenue of commerce and no one dreamed that supremacy would be snatched from it and given to the new fangled railroads. The successful river man was an aristocrat. His opinion on the question of the day was listened to with eager interest by all shore dwellers and accepted without question.
     There has been a change but it has not been in the interest of the poetry that there is in life. The common place locomotive has usurped the place of the picturesque steamer that glided grandly up and down the current and wakened sleepy villages to bustling activity by its sonorous landing whistle. Steamboating has declined. The pace was too rapid for it. Not even Leimke, the St. Louis sign writer, can infuse life into the vanishing system. But there are millions who regret the passing of that which was their childhood's delight and around which their dearest ambitions were entered.
     Only one part of the old Mississippi fleet survives in anything like its old vigor. It is the raft boat. Not as numerous as formerly they still do a heavy business from year to year and keep up as far as possible the traditions that attach to the career of a steamboat man. The broad bosom of the great stream would be lonely indeed if it were not for the thirty or forty crafts of this kind that ply the river.
     If one wishes to learn something of Mississippi life past or present he ought by all means to go to the pretty town of LeClaire in the upper part of the county. That is the home of captains and pilots in a greater degree than any other river town, not excepting St. Louis. Situated at the head of the rapids, where it was necessary that skillful pilots should be early in its history it became the seat of a steamboat aristocracy which still possesses a potent influence in the social affairs of the community.
     The justice of the peace, the wealthy farmers and substantial shopkeepers are dwarfed into insignificance when a river man with a romantic career steps down the gang plank. When Capt. Ike Wasson laid in ambush for Capt. Walter Hunter and struck him shortly after midnight one night last fall, the event marked an epoch in the history of the village. It was the subject of gossip from Stillwater to Hannibal and occurrences of minor importance are referred to as being before or after the encounter.
     It is to the credit of the true river man, who was bred in the business and whose father was a raftsman before him in the days of "floating" that he is jealous of his reputation for manliness and courage, generous to a fault, and full of those feelings of true chivalry towards the sex which has always been his marked characteristic.
     Skill in the handling of rafts has not declined with the amount of business done. Only last year Capt. Robert H. Tromley made the fastest trip on record from Rock Island to Stillwater and return and with his palatial steamer "F.C. A. Denkmann" took the largest raft down the river that has ever been recorded. All the other LeClaire captains and pilots are top-notchers in their professions, including Mr. Lachmund, who can not be surpassed in her skillful handling of the Robert Dodge.
     Captains have been assigned to their raft boats all along the river and Friday the interesting list was made public.
Raft Boats              Captains
F.C.A. Denkman...R.H. Tromley
Weyerhaueser...Geo. W. Reed
Rutledge...Billy Whistler
Eclipse...John Lancaster
Mayflower...Ike Spinsby
Kit Carson...Peter O'Rourke
Kate Keene...Robt. McCall
Ten Broeck...Bob Mitchell
Vivian...John Whistler
Wanderer...Henry Fuller
Chauncey Lamb..."Happy" Day
Robert Dodge...Mrs. Lachmund
Pauline...Bill Kratka
Inverness...John O'Connor
Mountain Belle...Andy Lambert
Bart E. Linehan...Bill Dubler
Van Sant...Geo. Tromley, Jr.
Glenmont...Bill York
Musser...Steve Witherow
Frontenac...Henry Slocum
Lafayette Lamb...Geo. Carpenter
Ben Hershey...C. Buisson
C.W. Cowles...Joe Buisson
Will Davis...Ralph Wheeler
R.J. Wheeler...Will Davis
Isaac Stanlee...Walter Hunter
Ravenna...Charlie Davison
Clyde...John Hoy
     Two small raft boats now being built at Rock Island are not yet assigned and the Volunteer being remodeled to a packet at LeClaire, is still to be given a master.

--- Unknown Newspaper and Date

From The Burlington Saturday Evening Post March 1912

Chapter 28 of
Captain E. H. Thomas papers

 I regret to announce the death of Capt Frank Wild, which occurred March 3rd at his home in Albany, Ills., at the age of 73 years. All old time river men will remember the genial Frank Wild and regret to hear of his death. I have not seen him for 30 years, yet I knew him well, and remember him as an active, genteel young man, away back in the 60’s. he went on the boats at an early age and last year completed his 50th year as a steamboat pilot. He was a good pilot, loved the business, and stayed with it to the end. My remembrance is that the family at one time lived at St. Francisville, Mo. And from there moved to Quincy, Ills., where Frank was born. He leaves a wife and daughter to mourn his loss, and the sympathy of all of Frank’s old time friends and associates will be extended to them in their bereavement.

The Davenport Democrat
July 15, 1902

Dog loves Ferry





There is a little white and yellow terrier who is just now occupying most of the attention of the men on the T. J. Robinson ferry boat. The pup in question is not very ferocious nor is he very bright. He is just an ordinary dog with all his feet and ears and eyes and an ordinary dog’s bark at strange dogs and inborn enmity for felines.

But he is different from other dogs in that he has a perfect mania for riding on the ferry boat. The whistle of the incoming boat is sweeter music to his ears than a call to dinner or roast beef with dog biscuit on the side. He would rather sit by the edge of the boat and listen to the chug of the paddle than chase a dozen cats up smooth barked trees. He is happy only when he is crossing the river.

But the mate as the boys have named the-pup is not-always a welcome visitor on the boat. Captain Robinson says he does not object to the pup encroaching on his hospitality occasionally, but that he knows a good thing when he sees it. And that he also knows when he has too much of a good thing and the Mate has had a habit of getting in other peoples way. He was not exactly welcome and occasionally takes an unexpected bath in the hope that a douse in the cold water may wash away his fad for ferrying. But it has no appreciable effect. His mania is dyed-deeper than his skin and it is the Mate that is going to ride on every conceivable occasion. One day the boys thought they would try to cure him for good or drown him in the effort. So they waited until they were well to the middle of the river and then pitched him overboard. The little fellow gazed after the fast receding boat in a sort of bedazzled way and then swam for the Davenport shore. When the boat returned to the Davenport pier the first passenger to board the boat was a very wet and bedraggled little yellow and white terrier. He did not stop for explanations of apologetics but made a bee line for the boiler room and it was a full hour before he reappeared for inspection. Then he was as fresh and clean and dry as though he were prima donnas pet instead of a levee roustabout.

From that time on the Mate was treated with more respect. He commanded respect and when it is thought best to give him a ducking the ducking comes immediately after the boat leaves shore, so there will not be too long a swim ahead.

The mate is generally recognized as a movable fixture with the boat. That is, he misses an occasional trip, but when he does it is because he is out on a foraging expedition for dinner or because he is on the sunny side of the pier drying from a recent unexpected bath. He aims to be there on schedule time right along and so far is doing admirable well, considering the fact that he is only a dog.

--from book  "Rivermen Muscatine, Iowa" compiled by Georgeann Mcclure

--from book  "Rivermen Muscatine, Iowa" compiled by Georgeann Mcclure

Capt. Leroy Dodge
Buffalo, Iowa


Muscatine Journal
Spring 1858


The river is rising at this point

Ben Campbell---This fine steamer, one of the Rock Island Packets, came down on her trip last night, looking like a new boat. She has been completely remodeled and much improved since last year. Capt. Dodge-- the veteran steam boatman of these waters and “a gentleman and a scholar” withal--is still in command. The former gallant crew is also aboard. Mr. Miller at the desk with his usually bland and gentlemanly manner, while Charley Asmossen “tends to the shore.” Mr. West, the steward of last year, mixes up the ‘chicken fixings” and other good things in the pantry. Success to the “Ben” say we!

In this connection, we take pleasure in noting the fact that Mr. Edwin Porter, who has been acting for some time past as book-keeper at the Ogilvie House, has been appointed ticket agent of the packet company in Muscatine. The company is particularly fortunate in selecting Mr. P. for this responsible office. M. Block, as heretofore, acts as ticket agent for the company.

Muscatine Journal


River News

The Packets--Capt. Le Roy Dodge has resigned command of the “Ben Campbell”, and is succeeded by Capt. Geo. A. Myers, formerly of the St. Louis and New Orleans trade, who, we understand, has purchased an interest in the company. While we in common with the public regret parting with Capt. Dodge in the capacity in which he has so long been known, we are pleased to learn that he is to continue President of the company and to take general supervision of its affairs. For more than twenty years he has been engaged as a river man on these waters, enduring the hardships incident in such a life with a fortitude and patience largely met with, and which have secured to him the esteem and respect of all with whom he has become acquainted. His successor, Capt. Myers, comes suiting us highly recommended, and we doubt not will continue to make “The Ben” a general favorite with the public. Mr. A. L. Miller continues to serve in the clerks office.

--from book  "Rivermen Muscatine, Iowa" compiled by Georgeann Mcclure

Went down.

The Steamer W. J. Young Sinks

Last Night Near Buffalo.


River News

The W. J. Young Goes Down

Muscatine Journal
Oct. 13, 1896

Passengers at the wharf last evening who awaited the arrival of the splendid little steamer W. J. Young were disappointed and were either obliged to forego their contemplated passage south or take the cars. Her scheduled time of arrival at this port is 8:30 p.m. on her downward trip, and it is infrequently that she fails to show up unless detained on delayed on account of some, unaccountable accident. While the officers at this station were marveling on account of the boats non-arrival they were astonished at receiving a telephone message which stated that the stately craft, while on her way to Burlington under command of Capt. Walter A. Blair, had struck a submerged snag and gone to the bottom of the river, opposite Buffalo, about 8:30 o’clock. She sank in three and one-half feet of water. The damage to her cargo reported to be light. Nobody was hurt but all were badly frightened. The hole in her hull measures about twelve inches square, which is to be wondered at considering the fact that she has lately come from the ways of the Rock Island boat yard, where her hull was given a coat of iron plates which were intended to fit her for contact with the ice flow of the coming cold weather.

As soon as the extent of the damage was learned the Hattie Darling, a small steamer which was spending the night at the Rock Island shore, was telephoned, and went to the scene of the accident with the intention of assisting in pumping out the disabled steamer. The Carrier, another steamer of almost the Young’s size, which is owned by Captain Blair and runs for some time in the Davenport-Burlington trade, was telegraphed for. She is at Keokuk and will take the cargo of the Young to southern destinations. An unfortunate circumstance connected with the accident is the fact that the Young carried the largest freight manifest she has carried for the past eight weeks. Her passengers numbered about twenty, were taken ashore in boats and provided with rail transportation to their destinations from Buffalo.

It is expected that the sunken steamer will have been raised some time today when the extent of the damage will be more fully ascertained.

Latest reports from the scene of sinking say that the Young was raised at noon to-day and started for the dry docks at Rock Island, where she will be repaired. The cargo escaped damage entirely. The accident was caused by the boat striking a stone rather than a snag, as stated above.

--from book  "Rivermen Muscatine, Iowa" compiled by Georgeann Mcclure

Muscatine Journal
Aug. 18, 1889

A Disgraceful Affair.

Davenport sent one of its wild ex-
cursion parties to this city yesterday
on the Golden Gate, on reaching
Muscatine a free-for-all fight ensued,
and later on when the boat took out
several parties from here two other
brawls followed, resulting in several
black eyes. The scenes enacted on the
boat were disgraceful. Beer was sold
as soon as the boat left the landing,
Marshall Hartman having forbid the
sale while laying at the levee. This is
one of the beauties of (?) of Sunday excur-
sions and the management of the
Golden Gate deserve to be censored for
allowing such conduct on the boat.

--from book  "Rivermen Muscatine, Iowa" compiled by Georgeann Mcclure

The Dubuque Sunk.

The Beautiful Passenger Steamer Goes to
The Bottom at Winona City, Having
Struck the Bridge


The Contractors Will Have to Sustain a Damage of $1,000 to
$1,500 as a Result of that Gale Last Night…Infirmary
Of Osteopathy Established…Engineers on
The Ground

Muscatine Journal
July 20, 1898


She strikes bridge at Winona and goes to the bottom

The palatial steamer Dubuque, belonging to the Diamond Jo Line, bound south and due in Muscatine at 10 o’clock this morning, did not arrive and all because she collided with the bridge at Winona Monday evening and settled in five feet of water. In passing through the C & N.W. draw bridge during a heavy wind and thunder storm, she got beyond the pilot’s control and struck the support of the bridge with a terrible crash, which shocked and aroused the passengers. The boat was soon bustling with frightened men and hysterical women. It was seen at once the boat was sinking rapidly. Pumps were put to work but had no effect. Every effort was then made to guide the boat to shallow water, which was accomplished after a hard struggle. The water where the boat was drifting helpless for awhile was twenty-five feet deep.

It was found the hull had a hole stove in it twenty feet long and two feet wide. All the wood -work on the port side was completely wrecked. She had aboard about fifty passengers, mostly for St. Louis. All escaped without injury. The boat will be temporarily repaired and taken to the ways at Dubuque.

As the Dubuque’s hull is six feet, the accident is not regarded as of a serious nature. And freight on the lower deck will scarcely be dampened. From present indications, the big packet will be out in a few days and will hardly miss more than a round trip to St. Louis.

The Dubuque was originally known as the Pittsburgh. She was a sister ship of the present Diamond Joe steamer Sidney and was built for the Ohio river trade. Some fifteen years ago the twin packets were bought by the Diamond Jo Line and installed on the Upper Mississippi. Both were stern wheel boats and larger than any on the river, and they quickly supplanted the steamers the Diamond Jo company then had and were the queens of the fleet until the merging of the Jo Line and St. Louis and St. Paul Packet company. The Dubuque, then the Pittsburgh, was caught in the terrific St. Louis cyclone of two years ago last May and all her upper works were, blown away. The winter before she had been provided with a new hull, and after the cyclone she was towed to Dubuque and rebuilt, so that when she came out a little over a year ago she was essentially a new boat. She is apparently hoo-dooed for only a few weeks ago she busted a flue out of St. Louis, one of her rousters dying from the scalding received. Her dimensions were 260 feet long by 40 feet beam, and she was worth $50,000. The Dubuque was in command of Capt. James Boland . 


The Davenport Leader says the Young had a well-filled cabin Sunday evening on her short trip to Muscatine, many Davenporters taking advantage of the same and coming for the trip. It says: “It was delightful upon the river, too. There was a good breeze from the southwest, and as the boat went on it became stiffer and cooler. The heat of the day vanished. It was delightfully cool. Captain Blair seemed to know just how to make everybody feel comfortable, and they were comfortable. There was music aboard in quantities. The boat reached Muscatine at about 6:30 o’clock and started on the return trip at 7. Supper was served upon the boat and nearly everybody availed themselves of the opportunity. It was a good supper, too. The return home was more delightful still. Sixty miles on the bosom of the Mississippi, surrounded with music, song and friends. Eight hours of delightful breezes which waft away the heat of the day, cools the blood and gives repose.”

Last evenings storm struck the W. J. Young just after, she passed through the Keithsburg bridge, upward bound. She kept on her course as though there was no storm. The wind blew down the river and the waves were high, but there was no rolling or rocking of the boat. She is a staunch craft with Machinery and Capt. Blair says he feels safe on her in a storm as he would in any dwelling.

The Quincy passed up this morning with 100 passengers on board.

The St. Paul will be up Sunday to take the place of the Dubuque.

The captain of the Quincy reports that the storm did no damage to the boat, although it blew a very strong gale down the river.

The river forecast for to-day indicates no change above Davenport and below Dubuque.

The stage of the river stands at 3 feet 9 inches, a fall of three inches during the last 24 hours.

Dubuque Telegraph: This afternoon word was received that the boat had been raised and was on her way to Dubuque with all her passengers aboard. She will be put on the Eagle Point ways for repairs.

--from book  "Rivermen Muscatine, Iowa" compiled by Georgeann Mcclure

Burlington Saturday Evening Post

The stern wheel Steamer Lansing was owned by Rambo & Son of Le Claire. She made daily trips to Davenport, leaving Le Claire in the morning and returning in the evening. I was in Le Claire and there met Robert Smith, a pilot, with whom I had a slight acquaintance. I am not sure, but I think he was the son-in-law of the elder Rambo. I was going down the river and he told me that he was to take the Sterling to Davenport on the following day for the Rambo’s, and invited me to ride with him. I accepted the invitation and told him I would be on hand next morning at 7:30. I was stopping at a hotel near the river and just opposite the steamboat landing. I was up next morning in ample time, but the hotel-keeper was late with breakfast. Myself and two other men missed the boat. We crossed the river to take the train, and there learned that the Lansing had exploded one of her boilers while lying at the town of Hampton. The Lansing left Le Claire that morning with 10 or 12 passengers. When Smith landed her at Hampton the wind was hard on the shore. When ready to leave there the wind held her to the bank, and she would not back out. A spar was set at the stern of the boat to sparn out and the passengers were all back there assisting in the work. Smith was at the wheel in the pilot house and the clerk in his office. The Lansing had two boilers, and while the sparring was going on the shore, the boiler exploded, going high in the air. Smith and the clerk, whose name, I think, was Vandyke , were killed. Van Dyke’s body was blown across the river, where it drifted across the river to the shore. Pilot Smith was blown in the opposite direction-out into the town. The shore at Hampton was flat, and the wind had driven the side of the boat upon it, and it was said that the explosion was caused, not by steam pressure, but from a lack of water in the shore boiler. The hull of the boat laying on an incline, forced all the water out of one boiler and into the other.

  - Davenport Republican
July 17. 1902 Page 5

Davenport Republican
Dec. 13, 1901

List of Masters for the Year  

Glenmont                    Hiram Brayel                                Rutledge                W. Whistler
                         R.H. Tromley                                Kate Keen             J. Connors
            George Winans                             E. Douglas             I. Millison
Chancy Lamb
            A.O. Day                                     Jessie B                W. Quinn
Thomas Duncan                            Gazelle                   E. Root
Artemus Gates
           John Lund                                     Brockmann            P. Gerlich
Robert Dodds
             John Pearson                                Kendal                   W. Whistler
Ben Hershey             
S. Witherow                                 Pathfinder               E. Winans
C.W. Cowles              
Joseph Buisson                             Sattelite                 T. Galliger
W. Dubler                                    Mountain Belle    A. Lambert
Kit Carson                 
G. Nichols
Ravenna                      J. Hoyt
Clyde                           I Newcomb
                        William Weir
            H. Slocomb
Lizzie Gardner           
A. Short
            C. Roman
            J. Young
                        H. Pollock
Augusta                       O. Thompson
Lone Star
                   C.W. Schricker
Lydia Van Sant          G. Tromley Sr.
J. Bork
Isaac Spinsby
W. Whistler
Kate Keen                 
J. Connors
E. Douglas                 
I. Millison
Jessie B                     
W. Quinn

 DiamonD Jo Reynolds

Started his riverboat career in Quad cities  

Roustabout Song  

I rousted on the Rob Roy, I rousted on the Lee,
 I rousted on the Belle La Cross, she got away with me. 
The Libby is a good boat, and so am the Lee,
but the Old Diamond Jo, She’s too much for me. 
Get on board, get on board, we’s goin’ up the river, get on board…

From Capt F. A. Whitney 1923 Burlington Saturday Evening Post




        In order to avoid confusion Reynolds adopted a trade mark to be used in marking and shipping his bales of furs, a very simple one consisting of the letters JO enclosed by four short straight lines , joined in the shape of a diamond, and one which anyone could make and anyone would could read--“Diamond JO,” Later, when he began buying wheat, he had all his sacks marked--“STOLEN FROM DIAMON JO.”  As he never sold any sacks, he and his agents and employees could and did claim all sacks bearing his trade mark.  From “Diamond Jo was For Many Years The Most Picturesque Figure On The Mississippi,”  written by Walter Blair .




Davenport Democrat
August 3, 1896  

His Coffin Built Within his Hearing as he Lay Dying-His Checkered Life-How he got His Nickname-His Pet Mine Brought a Fortune.  

   No name, says the Philadelphia Times, is more familiar to the miner west, and few more so to the capitalist than that of Diamond Jo Reynolds.  All sorts of stories have been circulated about his life, how he got his name, and when and where he died.  Some are true, others fiction.  We were all gathered about the board of a miner’s table, at Cripple Creek, Colo., when the following narratives were told by Dr. Sydney R. Bartlett, the mine expert, who had been a roommate at Harvard with Blake Reynolds, the only son of the famous “Jo.”

   The doctor was also an expert in the employ of Reynolds and played an important and gruesome part of the time of the old mans death.  Colorado mines and ores were discussed, and then the conversation turned on Arizona, when the “Congress” mine was spoken of, and with it its former owner Diamond JO.  “He was the sharpest man on a bargain and withal the most generous man I’ve ever “known”, said the doctor.  “He had lame-hip disease, which was brought on when he was a boy.  It illustrated the stuff he was made of.  He had a jack knife, and in drinking at an air hole in the ice it fell through.  Reynolds went to his home, got an ax and chopped a hole in the ice large enough to admit his body. And dove in, rescued his knife and caught a cold, resulting in a disease which lamed him for life.  He told me,”  continued the doctor,  “that he started at 18 years of age with $25 with which he bought a $45 heifer, leaving him $20 in debt,  and from that time up to his dying day he had never been out of debt, despite the fact he left $7,000,0000.

  “The true story of his getting the name of Diamond Jo was in this wise:  Jo Davidson owned a number of steamboats plying on the upper Mississippi, while Jo Reynolds owned boats’ running south on the river to New Orleans.  Both lines were known as the “Jo Steamers,” and all bales and goods were marked via Jo line.  The confounding of the two resulted in Reynolds drawing a diamond around the Jo on all goods shipped, and thereafter he was Diamond Jo, and in no way did the appellation come from the fact that he had a fondness for wearing the precious stone.

   “As a plunger the old man has had few equals.  One of his greatest was the Del Pasco mine, in Arizona, but its turning out badly only strengthened his determination to secure a world beater, and it was about this time he set his heart on the “Congress” mine, which even today is one of Arizona’s greatest producers.  He paid $39,000 for the property and it was 65 miles from Prescott and any railroad.  It was here the old man died.  I went out to make an examination of the property for Reynolds, and handled assays and the requisition department of the place, and they were lively days out there.  The story of  Reynold’s death has not been reported correctly, so I’ll tell you the facts.

    “ It was in February, 1890, and the rains were on.  Outside of the mill we had a little shanty, a bunk house, and there we all slept.  Never shall I forget that February night.  Jo had been complaining for several days, though he was up and about the mine and mill each day.  One afternoon he was taken down suddenly, and I undressed him and put him to bed in one of my own night gowns.  Toward evening he grew worse, and the storm outside was fearful.  About 6 o’clock I knew he was dying.  His desperate efforts to breathe were frightful.  His head was on my shoulder.  Then it was the thought struck me to get his body to Prescott, for we had no ice, and it was a mighty bad road, covering 65 miles, and a start must be made at midnight, if the one train daily out of Prescott was to be caught.

   About 9 o’clock I ordered the mill carpenter to come to the bunk house, and whispered for him to knock some boards together for a coffin, and in a few minutes, above the blowing outside, I could hear the nails being driven home in poor old Jo’s coffin, and he not dead yet.  It was pretty tough, I assure you, and that night made things seem worse.  About midnight he died, and by 1 o’clock in the morning we had the body in the crude coffin, on one of the wagons, and its relay of six mules and its Mexican drivers, and the start for Prescott was made.  It took the outfit just 24 hours to make the trip, and was we caught the one train out of Prescott.  It was a sad  ending of a great man and a terrible journey.”

   “And what became of the mine?” asked one of the men at the table.

   “It was sold that July,” said the doctor, “for $1,500,000.”   

CAN BE FOUND IN   Rivermen Davenport, Iowa” compiled by Georgeann McClure  






Gate City
May 29, 1891

Along the river
Items washed ashore by the Mississippi’s waves

River water is again quite muddy. It is expected that the packet Gem City wilL pass down to-day.

The only packet passing this port yesterday was the Mary Morton, which left for down river points in the Keokuk and St. Louis trade at 7 o’clock in the morning.


The following is a complete list of the officers of the steamers of the Diamond Jo line for the season:

Mary Morton- Master, L. H. Cubberly; first clerk, Ed. Phillips; second clerk, Ed. F. Fay; pilots, H. E. Beadle and Jule Calhoun; second engineer, Dan Dawley; mate, Jesse Irwin steward, Wm. Hickman.

Pittsburgh-Master, John Killeen; first clerk, M. P. Fulton; second clerk, Geo. M. Miles; pilots, S. J. Dolson and L. P. Williams; first engineer, Henry Rice; mate, John Boland; Steward, Thos. Reardon.

Sidney- Master, F. E. Buchheit; first clerk, Ceph Gregg, second clerk, C. A. Norris; pilots, Mills Ruby and Sheldon Ruby; first engineer, Charles Monahan; second engineer, Thomas Burnett; mate, Frank McCleary; steward, H. G. Hill.

Gem City- Master, G. W. Jenks; first clerk, John F. Fay; second clerk, L. J. Hudson; pilots, Dug Roberts and Charlie Martin; first engineer, A. F. Beemene; second engineer, William Kay; mate, R. Costello; steward, William Blank.


MANY OF THE Diamond Jo men came from Scott County    

Original crew of “Diamond Jo” boat  

included Capt. Ben Congar, with Andrew Coleman, Davenport and H. S. Ruby of Buffalo as pilots, John Carlisle and George Dodge, clerks Moses Mullen, Davenport, mate and Los Record and Henry Alford of Davenport, Stewards.  

“Diamond Jo” agents  

Davenport……….James Osborn

Rock Island………Geo. Lamont

Dubuque………… Fred A. Bill

Muscatine……….. W. G. Block

Gen Freight……… E. M. Dickey

                                                                                   Burlington……       Wm. Penrose  

Diamond Jo’s agent Capt. Fred A. Bill  

Fred A. Bill  

   Capt. Fred Adelbert Bill, was born August 12, 1850 he was the son of Epaphras, (E. C.) Bill  and Betsy O. Davis.

  Epaphras built steamboats in Hartsgrove, Ohio around the time that the Ohio and Erie canal opened.

  Fred Bill began his career as a riverman in 1868 on his fathers tug boat the “Buckeye“.   By 1872 He was the clerk of the “Dakota” and well on his steamboat career.  .

   1860 he became a clerk with the Diamond Jo Line where he continued his riverboat career until his retirement in 1916.  For a time he was the Steamboat agent for the Diamond Jo Line in several cities including Davenport, Iowa.

   He died in Feb. 9, 1936 in St. Paul Minnesota, Ramsey County.   

AUTHOR: Bill, Fred A. (Fred Adelbert), 1850-1936.
TITLE: Early steamboating on the Red River [microform] / by Captain Fred A. Bill.
PUBLISH INFO: [Bismarck : State Historical Society of North Dakota, 1942]

Davenport Democrat and Leader June 1, 1936

Page 15


Lone Star Skipper Sights corpse of Missing credit Manager

Less than three days after he leaped to his death in the Mississippi river, the body of W. J. Dunker, 53, 717 west Eighth street, credit manager of the Crescent Electric supply Co. as found floating in the river across from Credit Island. The body was found by Charles White captain of the Lone Star of the builders Sand & Gravel Co. fleet.

White reported finding of the body to the headquarters of the lock and dam crew in the clock tower. An inquest will be held at 7 tonight in the Hodgson and Hoban mortuary to which the body was taken and from which it will be transferred this afternoon to the Runge mortuary.

Dunker who had been head of the Crescents credit department for three years, left a note with his coat and hat on the ground near the sea wall east of the roller dam Friday afternoon. In the note he indicated fear of losing his mind because of financial worries. His widow and four children survive.

Jim Bludso from Davenport Iowa this is his famous poem:


Well no, I can’t tell whar he lives,
Because he don’t live you see,
Least ways, he’s got out of the habit
Of livin, like you and me,
Where have you been for the last three year
That you haven’t heard folks tell
How Jimmy Bludso passed in his chocks
The night of the Prairie Belle?

He weren’t no saint, them engineers
Is all pretty much alike
One wife in Natchez under the hill
And another one here, in Pike:
A keerless man in his talk was Jim,
And an awkward hand in a row, 
Bill he never flunked, and he never lied,-
I reckon he never knowed how.

And this was all the religion he had-
To treat his engine well:
Never be passed on the river
To mind the pilot’s bell;
And if ever the Prairie Belle took fire,
A thousand times he swore,
He’d held her nozzle agin the bank
Till the last soul got ashore.

All boats had their day on the Mississip.
And her day came at last,-
The Movastor was a better boat,
But the Belle she wouldn’t be passed.
And so she came tearin along that night-
The oldest craft on the line
With a nigger squat on her safety valve
And her furnace crammed, rosin and pine.

The fire bust out as she cleared the bar,
And burnt a hole in the night,
And quick as a flash she turned and made
For that willer-bank on the right
There was runnin and cursin, but Jim yelled Out
Over all the infernal roar
I’ll hold her nozzle agin the bank
Till the last galoots ashore.”
Through the hot, black breath of the burnin Boat
Jim Bludso’s voice was heard,
And they all had trust in his cussedness,
And knowed he would keep his word
And, sure’s you‘re born, they all got off
Afore the smokestacks fell-
And Bludso’s ghost went up alone
In the smoke of the Prairie Bell.

He weren’t no saint-but at jedgment
I’d run my chance with Jim
Longside of some pious gentlemen
That wouldn’t shook hands with him.
He seen his duty, a dead sure thing-
And went for it there and then,
And Christ ain’t a going to be too hard
On a man that died for men.

 Davenport Republican August 11, 1901:

                                        CAPT WILL BLEDSOE SUED FOR $25,000 FOR BREACH OF PROMISE

Miss Nina Moore, Who Went to Klondike With Matrimonial Intentions to find the

Former Davenporter Married to an Actress, Asks Big Damages


 Miss Nina Moore, the young California girl who journey thousands of miles to the Klondike to wed Capt. Will Bledsoe of this city, only to find him married to an actress, has filed suit in the court at Dawson asking for $25,000 damages according to reports has a good chance of winning her suit.  It is said that Capt. Bledsoe, though a young man has been given the command of the steamer Susie, and by speculating in claims and in following the river has made quite a fortune.  He is expected to return to Davenport next summer.

  It is hoped by Capt. Bledsoe’s that when he gets where he can tell his side of the story it will sound very different.  The Seattle Times of Aug. 8 tells of Miss Moore’s return as follows:

  Among the returning passengers from the North on the steamship Humbolt today was Miss Nina Moore, who went to Dawson last year, according to public repute, to marry Captain Bledsoe, who is said to have made a fortune navigating vessels on the Yukon .  She went North under promise of marriage to Captain Bledsoe, but reached the Klondike metropolis to find him the husband of another woman.  Several days before his promised wife from California reached Dawson the fickle captain was wedded to a variety actress who was performing in a Dawson theatre.

Miss Moore made the trip from San Francisco to Dawson , nearly 3,000 miles, alone.  She had worked the previous summer for a large lumber company at Nome , as stenographer, and there met the captain.  A passing acquaintance soon ripened into a better understanding and the captain proposed to the pretty stenographer.  She accepted him and they formally announced their engagement of marriage.

  Finally duty called Captain Bledsoe up the Yukon , where he took charge of the large river steamer Susie, one of the most handsome craft on the Yukon river, Miss Moore returned to her home in San Francisco .  The lovers, though parted, wrote regularly and by their letter it was arranged that Miss Moore should make the trip alone to Dawson , where she should wed the captain.  Securing her trousseau she started and after considerable difficulty reached the Klondike metropolis.  There she found her promised husband with another bride.

   Miss Moore was indignant and made up her mind to immediately return to her California home.  She did not have enough money, however, and bravely went to work as matron of the Dawson jail.  In that manner she secured quite a sum of money, enough to pay her fare to the outside.  In the meantime Miss Moore started suit for breach of promise against the rich captain upon the advice of friends.  That suit is still pending in the Dawson courts.  She asked for $25,000 for the broken promise and every indication points ultimately to a favorable verdict. Says one Dawson report.

  Miss Moore spent the day at a local hotel, and this evening will take the train for home.  


   Capt. Andrew Coleman  Born August 11, 1828 - Died April 20, 1895   
Died at the wheel of the steamer
Artemus Lamb, April 20, 1895

The Davenport Daily Times: Saturday Evening

April 20, 1895  


He Suddenly expires in the Pilot House of the Artimus Lamb While Guiding the Boat Over the Rapids-A Pioneer Pilot and Citizen

   Andrew Coleman, one of the veteran pilots on the upper Mississippi and who had a wide acquaintance among river men generally, dropped dead in the pilot house of the Artimus Lamb this morning.  The lamb reached Rock Island from St. Louis last evening point with several barges in tow to and was on her way to a northern  port to get a cargo of lumber.  Mr. Coleman was taken aboard at Rock Island to guide the boat over the rapids and the start was made from there about 9 0’clock, when the steamer reached a point near the Moline chair about an hour later, Mr. Coleman suddenly sank to the floor in an unconscious condition. Capt. Skemp, of the Lamb, and the regular wheelman were in the pilot house at the time and instantly rushed to his assistance. They were unable to render him any aid, however, as death had come as peaceful as it was sudden. The barges were anchored and the boat returned to rock Island with the remains.

   The sudden death of Andrew Coleman will be a shock to his numerous friends in this city and vicinity where he had lived nearly all his life.  He was the son of Capt. Coleman, who settled in Rockingham in the 30’s when that town was a more thriving village than was the town of Davenport, Capt. Coleman had been engaged in steam boating on the Ohio and operated the old Caleb Cope on the Mississippi after his arrival here.

   With his two brothers, Andrew Coleman entered the river business at an early age and after having been engaged on different boats in the Davenport and lower river trade entered the employ of the old Northern Packet Line.  He was one of the leading pilots with this line and ran between St Louis and St. Paul .  When fifteen years ago. Mr. Coleman became a rapids pilot, and since that time has continued to guide packets and towboats over the rapids between Davenport and Le Claire.  His career on the river covered a period of forty years and it is said that the upper river was as open book to him. 

  He is survived by his wife and eight children, five of whom are grown.  Three sons William, James and George, reside in this city and another, John, is a resident of O’Brien county.  Three brothers also survive him-J.H. S. who resides near Gilbert, James and Egbert, who is engaged in the mining business in Nevada .  The deceased was sixty-seven years of age.

Davenport Democrat
June 24, 1913




She declares missing Jewels
to Be Prenuptial Gift---
Denies in Court  

 Alice Tenney, housekeeper for the late Captain Whitney. Veteran riverman, admits possession of $300 worth of jewelry formerly in the possession of the dead man and which have disappeared since his death, to friends, it is alleged, but denies knowledge of them in court.  

   According to the story told by authority which cannot be questioned , Mrs. Tenney told a friend following the discovery of the loss of the diamonds, that she had them.  The housekeeper is reported to have said that the old man presented them to her before he died at a time when they were expecting to be married.  

Mrs. Tenney says that Captain Whitney wished her to marry him for some time before his end and that the jewels were a gift to his affianced bride.  It is declared that the housekeeper has the jewels, which consist, of a diamond scarf pin and earrings in her possession now. 

Denies Knowledge in Court  

   In court, however where she has been arraigned by the Whitney heirs on a charge of grand larceny, Mrs. Tenney strenuously denies any knowledge of the present whereabouts of the valuable trinkets.  The hearing was started yesterday morning in Justice Mauckers court and is still in progress. 

Further developments are expected at any time, although there is much questioning among friends of the family as to the validity of the claim of the housekeeper to the precious stones.  It is known that the veteran pilot was quite fond of his housekeeper, but it is not generally known that matrimony was considered.



                                                                                               Walter Blair


Davenport Leader
June 30, 1898  

Yesterday afternoon the Steamer W. J. Young Jr. made her second trip to Muscatine in the Afternoon and returned in the evening.  She tool along a flattering list of passengers.  One of the features of the trip was an interesting race, between her and the steamer J. W. Van Sant. The two steamers backed out of Muscatine at the same time as did the consort of the latter boat, which is used as a bow boat.  The boats came alongside as they passed under the high bridge. From that moment the race was on in earnest.  The Van Sant was caught by the suction of the Young and the two boats drew together, their guards touching.  Neither could get away from the other.  The excitement was intense.  For five miles they held together, then by a shrewd maneuver on the part of Capt. Blair, who was at the wheel himself, he succeeded in getting clear and distanced his plucky adversary. 

  If Capt. Blair will promise a treat of this kind every week these trips will be wonderfully popular.  They are popular as they are.



Additional Information from Men Who Knew

Sinking of Stmr. Le Claire
She was Built in Le Claire in 1872
and owned by George Williams
of Keokuk for doing contracting Work.  

CENTERVILLE   Iowa June 19

Editor Post; In 1879 Capt. A. J. Whitney and Capt. Vincent Peel brought the little raftng steamboat Le Claire to use as a tender for a dredging fleet for government work on the upper Mississippi river between Quincy and Dubuque .  In September of 1879 they were doing some work at Keithsburg and one evening they left Keithsburg for Rock Island with the Le Claire, Capt Peel master, Shell Ruby pilot.  F. A. Whitney engineer, and a crew of four men.  About 11 o’clock at night a landing was made at Muscatine for supplies and then we started on up the river.  When a few miles above fairport we met the steamer victory with the old Colossal’s hull loaded with grain on the way to St. Louis .  The victory had this barge hipped well forward and in attempting to pass the victory the Le Claire ran across the bow of the barge and it having a model or sharp bow, cut the Le Claire in two just back of the boiler and she sank at once in 23 feet of water.  The crew were all saved by getting on the victory’s barge and were taken back to Muscatine where they could be sent by rail to Rock Island .  The Le Claire was raised and towed to Kalkes boat Yard at Rock Island where a new hull was built for her machinery and boiler and the spring of 1880 she came out as the steamer A. J. Whitney.  The old Le Claire hull was broken up in the boat yard which ended the career of what was once a very popular and successful little tow boat.

Yours Truly F. A. Whitney.



Lon Bryson  


Chapter XIII



E. H. Thomas

Saturday Evening Post

   All old timers well remember the commanding figure of Capt. Bryson as he stood upon the roof telling the pilot to come ahead on the star board wheel, and hold the steamer up to the shore.  He is one of the few surviving captains and is now postmaster at Davenport , Iowa .


The Daily Times
April 4,
Pg. 6

Body Arrives and is Buried This Afternoon  
Pioneer resident of Davenport Devoted Himself to Work of Academy of Science.  

  The body of Captain W. P. Hall, who died at his home in Rapids City Ill. , Saturday morning at 9 o’clock, arrived in davenport over the Milwaukee road today at 12:20 noon and was interred in Oakdale cemetery.  At the short service at the grave Dr. H. O. Rowlands officiated.  The pallbearers were Captain Lon Bryson, C. E. Harrison, Dr. C. H. Preston, Captain John McCaffrey, Captain James Osborn, and one of Captain Hall’s Rapids City friends.

  The news of Captain Hall’s death came as a shock to his many friends in Davenport .  Until six years ago he had lived in the city since 1836, and after removed to Rapids City he was a frequent visitor in Davenport .  He was born in July of the year 1822, and at the age of fourteen came west with his parents.  Dr. and Mrs. James Hall and eight brothers and sisters and settled in Davenport .  He counted all the old residents of davenport and especially the veteran rivermen among his friends.

  Captain Hall was one of the most interesting and picturesque characters in this section.  After his retirement from an active life on the river he devoted himself to the work of the Academy of Science .  With a skill of his won construction he sailed from the head waters of the Mississippi river to its mouth and up and down its branches, collecting Indian relics, and to this labors the rare Indian collection of the academy is largely due.  The skill is now itself one of the curios on exhibition at the academy.  In his trips he visited great numbers of farmers along the river, in search of relics, and became widely known as the “man in the boat.”

   Captain Hall is survived by two brothers Byron Hall and C. M. Hall of Davenport, and by two sisters, Mrs. Sarah Le Claire of Davenport and Mrs. Annette Wallace of Missouri, and by three children, two sons and a daughter.

  Funeral services were held early this morning at Rapids City .

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