BARROWS AND THE BERTRAND
By Sue Rekkas
The Daily Gazette, Wednesday
Morning, March 8, 1865, page 4.
– Our old-settler friend Willard Barrows, Esq., leaves in a
day or two for Virginia City, Idaho, taking along a number
of ladies. The party
goes by river all the way to the headquarters of the
Missouri, and from there only a couple hundred miles of land
We wish him and his fair companions a safe and pleasant
journey, and hope the red men of the plains will allow them
to reach their destination without depriving their craniums
of the hairy appendages that now adorn them—a trifling
operation they very much like to perform whenever they get a
The Daily Gazette, Tuesday
Morning, April 4, 1865, page 4.
Sunk – A telegraphic dispatch dated Omaha, April 3rd,
received yesterday from Willard Barrows, Esq., informs us
that the steamer Bertrand which was on its way to the
headwaters of the Missouri, having on board a large number
of passengers bound for Idaho, among which was quite a
number of Davenporters, is sunk 20 miles above Omaha.
The cargo is a complete loss but the passengers were
all saved, and the Davenport folks are “all well.”
Friend Barrows had better take the old land route.
If he can keep clear of the Indians it is the safest
after all. No
danger of “snags” or “sand bars” on the great “sage-brush”
The Daily Gazette, April 13,
1865, page 4.
The Sinking of
the Steamer Bertrand – Our old friend W. Barrows, Esq.,
returned Tuesday evening from the Missouri River, where he
was wrecked on the steamer Bertrand, on the first day of
April, being bound for Montana, by way of Fort Benton, and
having on board his daughter, Mrs. Millard, and children,
and several other lady passengers, some from this city.
Mr. B. says the Bertrand was snagged about
twenty-five miles from Omaha and sunk in five minutes,
carrying down a cargo of groceries valued at $300,000—which
will be nearly a total loss.
The Bertrand was a new boat, valued at $55,000, and
becomes a total loss.
Most of the effects of the passengers were saved, and
the cargo was generally fully insured.
No blame was attached to the pilot, as the snag was
entirely out of sight.
The disaster took place in the day time, amid
pleasant warm weather.
About one third of the cargo had been taken out in a
damaged condition when Mr. B. left.
There were about forty passengers,
none of whom were lost; and most of them were transferred to
the U.S. Grant, which is bound for Fort Benton.
The scene on board—as described by Mr. B.—at the time
of the accident, was thrilling, many leaping over-board and
swimming to the shore.
One side of the boat rested in twelve feet of water,
and careened over into water twenty feet deep.
One side of the upper deck was above water, from
which the passengers were taken off by small boats.
Mr. B. leaves this evening for St.
Louis to try again.
He had twelve tons freight on board,
insured, and if
not too late in the season, will yet see Idaho as it is.
The Daily Gazette, October
2, 1865, page 3.
Three Thousand Miles up the
BY W. BARROWS, ESQ. DAVENPORT, IOWA.
(From the Boston Review for
The Missouri River, from its constant
changes in its channel and the caving of its banks, carrying
with it trees whose roots soon become fastened in the sands
on the bottom, is a river of snags.
The tops of the trees are soon worn and broken so
that they become pointed, and always lying with the current,
they are elevated in general to the surface.
Sometimes the whole tree becomes submerged and out of
sight. This was
the case with the case with the one that the Bertrand
struck. It was
a submerged log. The
scene on board for a time was very exciting.
Ignorant of the depth of water in which the boat lay,
and the depth to which she might go, all were at a loss what
to do. She soon
struck bottom and commenced to careen over into deep water,
when the chairs, tables and other furniture of the cabin
were thrown to one side; glass ware, crockery, skylight
windows, and glass doors of the cabin were broken as the
croaking, laboring vessel was parting and straining her
timbers in rolling over.
The screams of women and cries of children for a time
passed description, and can be understood only by those who
have experienced such a disaster.
Many jumped overboard and swan for the shore, others
made their way as best they could for the hurricane deck and
pilot house, while others stood in mute despair, speechless
The scene was soon over, and the boat
rested on a ridge of sand in water twelve feet deep and
running off into twenty feet on the starboard side, being
about thirty feet from the shore.
The boat’s yawl was got ready
immediately after she struck; and a line made fast on the
whore, when it returned and commenced taking off the
passengers, who had gathered upon the bow of the boat.
The gang planks were soon floated to the stern, and a
staging made from the guards of the ladies’ cabin to the
shore, when all were taken off in safety, and landed on a
sandy beach, four miles from any inhabitants or shelter.
We were on the west, or Nebraska side
of the river.
The little town of De Soto was some five miles distant.
A runner was sent for teams to convey the passengers
to a place of shelter for the night, while others were soon
engaged in erecting temporary shelter for such as were
obliged to remain.
A few of the ladies and children were
sent off before night, but the greater number of the
passengers remained upon the ground.
The crew of the boat were soon at work removing
freight from the wreck, out of which the walls of rooms
twenty foot square were soon made and covered with
Carpets and furniture of the boat were brought on shore, and
bedding from the state rooms, some stoves set up, and the
people made comfortable for the night.
The cook house being on the boiler
deck was not submerged, and its stove and fixtures soon
erected on shore and in full operation.
There were ample boat-stores saved, and a good supper
was smoking upon our dining table before the sun set.
No goods stored on the boiler deck or
in the ladies’ cabin were wet, except such as rolled off
when the boat careened; but the freight on the main deck,
and in the hold of the vessel, about two hundred and fifty
tons, mostly groceries, was nearly a total loss.
The boat valued at forty thousand dollars, was
partially insured; and the freight generally.
All were turned over to the Underwriters on
Insurance, who must have loss two hundred and fifty
In about five days, the steamer U. S.
Grant, belonging to the same company which owned the
Bertrand, came along, and all who could, and desired, were
reshipped on her for Fort Benton, with such of their effects
as were saved from our unfortunate boat.
She became a perfect wreck.
We returned to Omaha with the ladies
and children in our charge, where they remained with friends
until we returned to St. Louis, purchased another stock of
goods, and shipped them on the steamer Roanoke, with nearly
the same officers and crew that were on the Bertrand.
She left St. Louis on the 2nd of May, and
on the 13th we all took passage again at Omaha
for Fort Benton.
On this boat we have some thirty
passengers, with a freight of about two hundred and fifty
We passed the wreck of the Bertrand
this afternoon, May 14th, and also the wreck of
the steamer Cora, snagged five days since, and a total loss;
though no lives were sacrificed.
We passed the wreck of another
steamer today, the 15th, the E. O. Stanard,
snagged yesterday and took off some of the passengers, of
which she had about forty.
Also passed the R. P. Converse with shaft broken,
thirty days out from St. Louis, bound for the Mountains.
These boats were all bound for Fort Benton with heavy
freights and passengers.
Boats sunk, in Missouri generally become a total
loss, as they fill so quick with sand that it is impossible
to raise them.
We are now in the worse portion of
the Missouri River for navigation.
From Omaha to Sioux City, or to the mouth of the Big
Sioux River, a distance of some two hundred miles, the river
spreads over a large extent of country, varying in width
from a quarter to a mile in width, and from one to twenty
miles between its main bluffs.
It is heavily timbered, its channel narrow and full
of snags. When
once above this section we are comparatively safe from snags
and the scenery on its banks grows more interesting.
This is the Headstone of Willard
Barrows in Oakdale Memorial Gardens, Davenport, Iowa.
His wife, Anne was a founder of the cemetery.
His death occurred
on Sunday, January, 5th, 1868 from heart disease.
1860 Federal Census
State of Iowa County of Scott
City of Davenport
History of Iowa from the Earliest
Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, Volume 4.
Iowa Biography – Notable Men & Women
of the State, page 14.
WILLARD BARROWS was one of the first
Government surveyors of the public lands of Iowa.
He was born at Munson, Massachusetts, in 1806
(September 25th) and received a good education.
In 1832 he was employed in surveying the lands of the
Choctaw Purchase and later the swamp lands of the Yazoo
River. In 1837
he came to Iowa and was employed in the first surveys of the
“Black Hawk Purchase,” along the Wapsipinicon River.
In 1838 he located with his family at the new town of
Rockingham on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River, five
miles below Rock Island.
In 1840 he surveyed the islands in the Mississippi
between the Rock River and Quincy.
In 1853 he made a careful examination of northern
Iowa and published an excellent map of the State, with
It was by far the best map of Iowa that had been made
and was adopted as the official map of the State, when
published in 1854.
Mr. Barrows was an extensive traveler over the
American continent and an accomplished writer.
He was the author of the first history of Scott
County, which was published in the old Annals of Iowa.
The Daily Gazette, Monday
Morning, January 6, 1868, page 4.
Barrows – at his
residence in this city, January 5th, at 2 o’clock
p.m. Willard Barrows aged 51 years.
Funeral services at Presbyterian Church this Monday
afternoon at 2 o’clock.
Friends of the family are invited to attend.
The Daily Gazette, Monday
Morning, January 6, 1868, page 4.
Settler” gone—It becomes our painful duty this morning
to chronicle the death of another old settler, William
(Willard) Barrows, Esq., one of our most respected citizens,
who departed this life yesterday, after a lingering and
This event had been looked for by his friends for
some time past; he was reported to be in a dying condition
as we went to press last Saturday morning.
His malady was heart disease.
The deceased was too well known and appreciated by
our citizens for any words of ours to add to the estimation
in which he was justly held.
Daily Gazette, Monday
Morning, January 6, 1868, page 4.
Notice to Old
Settlers – The members of the Pioneer Settler’s
Association are requested to assemble at the residence of
the late Willard Barrows, Esq., at 1 o’clock p.m., this
Monday, January 6th to attend the funeral of our
By order of the President,
D.P. McKown, Sec’y.
Daily Gazette, Tuesday
Morning, January 7, 1868, page 4.
The funeral services of the late
Willard Barrows. Esq., were held in the Presbyterian Church,
at 2 o’clock, yesterday afternoon.
The building was well filled; very many of our oldest
settlers were to be seen scattered here and there throughout
The funeral sermon was delivered by Rev. S. McAndrews,
basing his remarks on Job six, 25, and 27:
know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall
stand at the latter day upon the earth:
And though, after my skin, worms destroy this body,
yet in my flesh I shall see God:
Whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall
behold, and not another;
though my reins be consumed within me.
After the sermon a short address was
delivered by Elder Challen, of the Christian Church, in
which he gave a brief review of the life of the deceased.
At the close of his remarks, he read a favorite hymn
of Mr. B., which he had desired to have used at his funeral;
accordingly it was sung by the choir, and after the closing
prayer the corpse was borne out by the following gentlemen
Dr. Barrows, Judge Wm. L. Cook, C. C. Alvord, D. P.
McKown, John Owens, Isaac Glaspell, Samuel Little and
Nathaniel Squires –“Old Settlers”—which organization was out
in large numbers, and took especial charge of the funeral.
The following sketch of his life we
condense, in part from Davenport – Past and Present:
Barrows, was born in Monson, Mass, in 1806, and
passed most of his youth in New England.
Previous to his choosing his life profession,
that of a civil engineer, he labored several years
very successfully as a teacher at Elizabethtown,
1835 he was introduced to his profession by a
government contract to finish the surveys of the
Choctaw Purchase in Mississippi, an exhibition
fraught with many interesting and often dangerous
After completing his work he proceeded to ST.
Louis intending to return east via the lakes.
On the up river trip in the spring of 1837 he
fell in with Col. George Davenport and Mr. Duncan
Campbell Eldridge, who tried to persuade him to
He landed here and went on an exploration to
the Cedar River, scarcely known at that time to the
In the fall of that year he was engaged upon
the first surveys of Iowa, continuing the work
though the following winter, during which time he
was on the Wapsipinicon River.
In the spring of 1838 he returned to his home
in New Jersey where he had left his wife.
Two years afterwards we find him engaged in
farming in addition to being Justice of the Peace,
Post Master and Notary Public.
The surveys were resumed in 1843 and he was
sent into the Kickapoo country, north of the
Wisconsin River, where his party narrowly escaped
From 1845 to 1850 he was almost constantly
engaged on government and county surveys in Iowa.
In 1850 he took advantage of the general
dullness of business to make a long desired visit to
the Plains and the Rocky Mountains.
His experience, on this trip, full of
hardship and danger, were given our citizens in a
series of brilliant articles published in the
After remaining some time in
California Mr. B. returned home in 1851 via Central
America and Cuba, stopping a while in the latter
During the year 1854 he published “Barrows’
New Map of Iowa, with Note.” Issued from the house
of Doolittle & Munson, Cincinnati, Ohio.
This was at the time a very important work:
copies of it were ordered by the Legislature for
each of its members and for each of the officers of
1859 he wrote a very excellent historical sketch of
our country, since which he has been known as the
“Historian of Scott County.”
Having within a few years past gone into
banking business and established a branch in
Virginia City, he has spent considerable time
visiting the gold-bearing regions of the Rocky
For three years past he had not been much
away from the city—his health having become
THE OLD SETTLERS.
A large number of the pioneer
Settlers of Scott County having assembled at the residence
of the late Willard Barrows, Esq., January 6th,
1868, for the purpose of paying the last tribute of respect
to his memory, the Hon. James Thorington offered the
following preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously
It has pleased Almighty God again to visit our
number, and take from our midst one of the earliest
of our pioneer settlers, and a well beloved
companion, Willard Barrows, Esq., it becomes us,
therefore, to properly express ourselves on the
occasion of this sad and solemn bereavement, and
show such mark of respect and esteem as is due on
such occasions: therefore.
That in the death of Willard Barrows, we feel
that we have lost one of our most genial and whole
souled members. His place will be missed at our
annual meetings, in the Community and at the social
board; his going forth from among us forever, will
indeed, make us realize the fact that we are fast
hastening to the “undiscovered country from whose
Bourne no traveler returns.”
Willard Barrows loved the Old Settlers and
probably was the first to give us a “distinct
identify (?)” as “Old Settlers.”
He was the historian of Scott County.
We therefore cherish his memory.
sincerely condole with his widow and family in their
lose, and that we will attend the funeral in a body.
That the officers cause these resolutions and
preamble to be signed and published in the Gazette
and Democrat of this city, and that a copy be
furnished the family of the deceased.
D. P. McKown,