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 Iowa History

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Missouri Riverboats


Sept. 10, 1857. Vol. I No. 44

"Steamer COL. CROSSMAN, Aug. 29th, 1857".

On the 26th inst. we left our own beautiful City, Bellevue, on board of the magnificent Steamer COL. CROSSMAN. She is a fine staunch new boat, commanded by Col J. Cheever. The COL. CROSSMAN was built at Pittsburg, expressly for the Missouri river trade, and finished last February. She is complete in all her appointments, and her officers, from Captain down to Steward, are gentlemen. In their intercourse with passengers, they are kind and obliging -- and it makes one feel at home to be on board.

We had the pleasure of forming the acquaintance of Maj. Johnson, of the Council Bluffs Daily "Bugle" who is on an exploring expedition down the "Big Muddy". We find him much of a gentleman-- and kind and obliging in his manners -- and a good fellow generally, and the 'notes' which he sounds for the "Bulgle" are of the right sort.

At the mouth of the Platte river, we passed the Steamer OMAHA, sticking fast on a sand-bar. She was loaded down to her guards, and from appearances, had her full complement of passengers. She was bound for Sioux City, and we hope will make a profitable trip -- but, owing to the very low stage of water, she will have a "hard road to travel".

At Kenosha bar, two and a half miles below Rock Bluffs, we found the DAN CONVERSE, high and dry on a sand bar, where she had remained five days, unable to extricate herself from her unpleasant situation. The hands had refused to do their duty and were in mutiny. During the melee, the Engineer struck the Captain on the head with a bar of iron, injuring his head severely, and had it not been for the interference of Maj. Arnold, Indian Agent, who was on board, he would have been murdered. Maj. Arnold and family, together with all the other passengers, left her and came on board of the COL. CROSSMAN.

The Major is as jolly a specimen of human nature, as we ever had the pleasure to be acquainted with. He, with his family, had taken passage on board of the CONVERSE at Omaha, for Kansas City, intending to be absent from his post fifteen days -- the time for which he received leave of absence from his post, and was cooped up in the miserable concern over five days, subsisting on bread and water, and fighting the mosquitoes -- a rather hard operation.

We learn that the Captain of the CONVERSE, is a good natured Pennsylvania dutchman, unacquainted with the river, and having no control over this hands. The Engineer and pilot know nothing about their business and were constantly quarreling.

The boat had been in Sioux City, and meeting with accidents and delays, she had lost over $1800 on the trip. On her return to Omaha, (no boat having arrived for some time) a large number of persons took passage on her, among whom was Maj. Arnold and family. The boat being indebted at Omaha for provisions on her upward trip, she was compelled to pay out all the money received from passengers, before she left the port. The consequence was, the next morning they had nothing to eat, and no money to buy provisions with -- and they purposely run upon the first sand-bar that they could find, in order to get rid of their passengers. No boat coming down to their relief, Major Arnold in the goodness of his heart, proposed to the Capt. that he would go ashore and buy a beef, and thus save all hands from starving -- and actually did lay out for their benefit all the money he had with him, so that he was compelled to borrow to pay his passage on the CROSSMAN. He states that the mate do!
ne his duty, and exerted himself manfully in endeavoring to get off. He also praises the Clerk, Mr. Porter, for his attention and kindness.

Mr. Porter, the clerk, is a healthy, fat, good natured sort of a fellow, who hails from Omaha. For some time past he has been luxuriating upon the grand idea of becoming a Clerk of a Steamer upon the "Big Muddy" -- his rotundity of person, and good homored phiz would no doubt have given him great popularity in that responsible station. So, the gods would have it, the CONVERSE wanted a clerk when she arrived at Omaha. Porter proposed and was accepted -- but alas! how soon were the visions of his glory obscured by the dark clouds of misfortune and adversity. He had scarcely entered upon the arduous duties, when by a single puff of steam, he is landed high and dry upon a sand-bar! "Sic transit gloria mundi." We understand however, that Mr. Porter is an excellent man, and is capable of taking charge as chief clerk, the largest Steamer on the Missouri -- however complicated may be her books.

On the 27th, about 3 o'clock, we landed at White Cloud, Kansas. This city is improving very fast, and already makes a beautiful appearance. Messrs. Shreeve & Macy, formerly of Massillon, Ohio, have located at this place. They are erecting a fine large building in connection with another company, intended for a Hotel and Store. They have also purchased a new steam saw-mill, and have it now in successful operation -- their anticipations of the future are bright and cheering.

You will hear from me again at St. Louis. --R. S. McE.


Collected and Transcribed by WF

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