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Riverboat Men of Dubuque, Iowa

~ Researched, compiled and transcribed by Georgeann McClure and Sue Rekkas

Deggendorf-Dolson Farley- Parker Ryder- Specht Tibbals- Webb Wellington-Young

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The History of Dubuque County, Iowa Containing a History of the County…page 871


H. L. RYDER, Superintendent of the Diamond Jo Boat Store, Nos. 1 and 2 Levee, Dubuque; is a native of Ohio, and was born in Cincinnati, Jan. 19, 1840; he grew up and was a licensed pilot when only 18 years of age, and was one of youngest pilots on the river. After the war broke out, he enlisted and served in the 1st Wis. Heavy Artillery, and was in several battles. Mr. Ryder has been on the river since 1858, since 1877, he has been Superintendent of the Diamond Jo Boat Store; he holds the office of Alderman of East Dubuque; he has lived there since 1873. He married Miss Sophia Plourde, from Benton, Wis., Sept. 29, 1869; they have two children - Mattie and Gertrude.


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The History of Dubuque County, Iowa Containing a History of the County, page 877


JOHN G. SCOTT, steamboat inspector; residence, 78 Center Place, Dubuque; is a native of Washington Co., Penn., and was born Sept. 14, 1830; he grew up to a manhood and came West in 1856, and went on the river as engineer for the Minnesota Packet Company; he remained with this company seven years; during the war, he entered the naval service, and served as chief engineer of the Mississippi squadron, until the close of the war, in 1865, when he again went on the river; he held the position of chief engineer of the "Diamond Jo" nine years, from 1869 to 1878; in July 1878 he was appointed steamboat inspector, and since then has occupied that position; this inspection district embraces more territory than any other district in the United States. In December, 1857 Mr. Scott was united in marriage to Miss Anna Delaney, from Pittsburgh; they have three children - Frank, Stella and Kittie.


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Dubuque Daily Herald, January 8, 1897, page 8


The Other Shore


Death of Samuel S. Scott Yesterday Afternoon

….I then ran the little steamer Great Western the summer of 1839 and other boats later on.


In the spring of 1844 I moved to White Oak Springs and went to mining, which I continued till fall, when I entered forty acres of land, upon which I lived for eight years, except that during the summers of 1852 and 1853, I was mate on the steamer Enterprise, running between Galena, Ill. and Portage, Wis.  During one trip we continued on up to the dells of the Wisconsin River, which, from the rapid current of the stream, the Indians had appropriately named the “wild rushing river.”


..”As already stated, I have tilled every position on a steamboat—first in 1830 on the Great Western, and last in 1870, on the tow-boats, rafters and packets.  When I first went up and down the great Father of Waters there were no towns between St. Louis and St. Paul.  A cluster of log cabins would constitute a landing, as we called them, and they were few and far between.  What is now the city of Burlington had, when  I first saw it, two or three log cabins and was known as Flint Hills, where Keokuk had half dozen cabins, and I recollect that it was at Keokuk I first saw Indians in 1831, and they were genuine ones—drunk, dirty and quarreling.

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The History of Dubuque County, Iowa 1880, page 976


EDWARD SPECHT, Sec. 8; P. O. Sherrill's Mount; born Dec. 26, 1836, in Dubuque; he own 120 acres of land, and is engaged in running the ferry in connection with his brother Werner. Their father bought these premises and ferry in about 1850, and it has since been known as Specht's Ferry; he also owned about 1,300 acres of land, which has been divided since his death among his family; Mrs. Specht retains the ferry and stand; he died Oct. 24, 1866, in his 58th year. The buildings on these premises are valued at about $5, 000, and the steam ferry is valued at about $3, 000. He married Louisa Felthouse in March, 1864; she was born at Sherrill's Mount; they have three children - Emma, Frank and Albert. Attends the Presbyterian Church; Republican in politics.


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Portrait And Biographical Record of Dubuque, James and Clayton Counties.. page 146

JOHN SPECHT Jr., the youngest of the children of John and Johanna Specht, was born in Peru Township, March 15, 1851, and was united in marriage with Miss Ida May Roberts, of Dubuque, Iowa, on November 1, 1883. To them have been born two children, Sarah, Alline, and John. Mrs. Specht is the daughter of Henry and Anna (Bonham) Roberts, the former born in Iowa, and the latter in Illinois; they were the parents of seven children. The parents were of Scotch and Welsh ancestry. The father is dead, and the mother lives in Tacoma, Wash. Mr. Specht left the parental roof when he had reached his majority, and having purchased a boat engaged in business for himself until 1891, when he sold the boat and became pilot and captain of his mother's boat, the "Teal," which runs between Specht's Ferry, Potosia, and Dubuque. He resides in Dubuque and is the owner of one hundred and seventy-five acres of choice farm land and other real estate.


~ Ferry Boats on the Upper Mississippi River by Capt. Fred. A. Bill, Saturday Evening Post, July 12, 1924, Burlington Iowa.

~ Transcribed by Georgeann McClure


In the early 70’s the name was changed to Specht’s Ferry and John Specht brought out a serviceable ferry known as the James McMurray in 1872.


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 The History of Dubuque County 1880, page 976


WERNER SPECHT, farmer and ferryman, Sec. 8; P. O. Sherrill's Mount; born April 19, 1843, in Peru Township; his parents came to Dubuque Co. in 1835, and soon after entered about 1,300 acres of land, and established Specht's Ferry; he holds a license as engineer of pilot, and acts in either capacity' he has been running on the river since 1852, at first on a flatboat, afterward on a horse-boat, and now on the steam ferry. He enlisted in 1864 in Co. E, 5th I.V.C., and served to the end of the war; participated in the battle of Nashville under Gen. Thomas, lasting four days, also battles of Pulaski, Tenn., Spring Hill, Ala., Selma, Ala., Columbus, Ga. and others; was mustered out at Nashville, Tenn., and received an honorable discharge at Clinton, Iowa. He married Miss J. Albright Dec. 31, 1873; she was born in Peru Township; they have two children - Hiram and Hattie. Methodist; Republican.



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