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Davenport Daily Gazette, June 18, 1858, page 3.


Waking up the Wrong Man.


     The National Democrats of St. Louis had a county convention a few days since, and nominated candidates for the Legislature.  Among others, James B. Eads, Esq., proved to be a favorite, and he received a nomination for the lower house, but “respectfully declined” the honor in a communication of which the following is the concluding paragraph:


     “I have always considered the institution of slavery in Missouri a matter which concerned the citizens of this state alone, and have denied the right of any person, party, or power, outside of our own borders, to meddle with it in any way, shape or manner whatever.  *  *  At the same time, I feel earnestly impressed with the importance of relieving our State of an evil which I believe to be cramping the energies of our people and retarding the growth of the Commonwealth, by checking the tide of capital and immigration which our wonderful resources would otherwise secure.


     “Believing that the Convention was not aware of my entertaining the views thus briefly set forth, I deem it my duty to decline the nomination.”


     This poaching upon the demesnes of the Emancipationists is much practiced of late by the Nationals of St. Louis, and the result is that they get pretty frequently snubbed.  A reform in their manners will eventually be the result.










Mr. James  B. Eads





Davenport Daily Leader, August 25, 1893.




     “Later the Campbell, Ead’s master, and the Edward Bates, Johnson master, were built, and ran in this trade awhile.  Afterward the Robert Campbell was withdrawn and placed in the Mississippi river trade, and the Edward Bates blew up and was repaired, but a few years later burned up in one of the big steamboat fires that used to occur at the St. Louis levee sometimes.”




Davenport Democrat, Thursday, March 10, 1887, page 4.


Death of James B. Eads

  Nassau, N. H., March 10.--Captain James B. Eads died here on the 8th inst. Of pneumonia.




The Daily Gazette, Friday, March 11, 1887, page 4.





A Distinguished Civil Engineer--

Something of His History--

Once a Scott County Boy.



       The following dispatch came on our regular telegraph report last evening:

       “Nassau, N. H., March 10.--Captain James B. Eads died here on the 8th inst., of pneumonia.”


      The name of Capt. James B. Eads, civil engineer, is a familiar to the people of this county as that of many men of national repute figuring in its political history or legislative councils.  Probably first brought into general notice from his successful building of the great St. Louis bridge, his after connection with different important engineering enterprises, and only in the late congressional session just closed with the proposed Nicaragua ship railway, a bill for chartering which was before congress--Capt. Eads has for many years been a conspicuous subject for newspaper comment.


     But many people in Davenport and Scott county knew him personally, for from this locality he started out into this world.  He was the son of Col. Eads of LeClaire, and who at one time was a resident of Davenport.  Mr. L. B. Eads, of  this city, is a near relative of Capt. Eads, who left this locality when a young man.  He afterwards was one of the firm of Eads & Nelson, owners of bell-boats on the Mississippi River.  At the beginning of the war he exhibited remarkable energy and ability in government employ on contract, in building and fitting up transportation and war vessels on this river.  Since then his history is of national records.  He was a remarkable man.




The Davenport Democrat, Friday, March 11, 1887, page 1.





The Career of Captain Eads in this locality--

The Family History in LeClaire and Davenport--

Their Property interest Here--

Conversation with the Lamented Captain’s cousin--

Interesting Information.



     The death of the renowned engineer James B. Eads, which was announced in the Democrat last evening, recalls local memories of himself and parents; for his father, Col. Thomas C. Eads, was one of the pioneer settlers of Scott county and a resident of Davenport for years, and James B. himself spent several years of his youth in this locality.  This morning a reporter called upon Mr. D. T. Eads, cousin of the distinguished engineer, for information concerning the career of the family in this locality.  Mr. Eads appeared quite downcast, for the two cousins were warm friends and their correspondence was frequent.  He said, “The last time I saw James, was in Washington five years ago; he had lost his wife not long before.  He asked me all about Davenport and LeClaire, for he had large property interests here once; and referring to the times when his parents lived here, the tears came to his eyes as he said, “I feel as if all my old friends had gone.  I do not care to see Davenport again--everything is so changed.”


      “How did the family come to settle here Mr. Eads?”


     “To grow up with the country--attracted by the beauty of the country and its splendid prospects.  You see James B. was born in Lawenceburg, Ind., on the 23d of May, 1820.  He was of Scottish lineage on his mother’s side and of Welch on his father’s.  His mother was a Buchanan, a descendent of the Clan Campbell of Argyle and from her he inherited much of his ambition, genius, and integrity.  He was a devoted Catholic, and a noble, high-minded woman.  His grand-father was a Marylander born on the eastern shore, and was at one time clerk of the old Fitz Hugh iron works, the first ones established in Maryland at the foot of the Blue Ridge, near Hagerstown.  About 1800 the family emigrated to Lexington, Ky., where




      Col. Thomas O. Eads, was born.  Thomas O. Eads and family




In the fall of 1836, and settled in Parkhurst, now LeClarie--in fact, the first frame house in the village was built by the Colonel.  It is yet standing, or was recently, and was long regarded as one of the land-marks of the place.  This was built in the summer of ‘37, Mr. Eads having bought half of the claim of Eleazer Parkhurst, and the two families laid out the town of Parkhurst, and Mr. Parkhurst was appointed Postmaster.  Not long after the name of the village was changed to Berlin, with Col. Eads as postmaster--serving as such until 1842.  James B. Eads made his home with his parents in LeClarie, except when absent on the river or in St. Louis, for he was a steamboat clerk.  Many residents of the early times here will remember the slender, fair haired youth--Dr. Gamble, Laurel Summer, Hon. James Thorington, knew him.  Edward Russell was well acquainted with him later on.”

  “What was the old Colonel’s business in LeClaire, Mr. Eads?”


     “Now, I have to go back a little.  The Colonel and family arrived in St. Louis about the year ‘30--the steamboat took fire and the family barely escaped with their lives.  The Colonel lost everything--had not a dollar when he escaped to the wharf.  A kind-hearted and wealthy citizen loaned him money to start a small hotel, and cousin James went to selling papers and running errands to help.  The Colonel made money, and taking the advice of friends came up here in ‘36 to make some more.  So at LeClaire he cultivated a forty acre tract, speculated in lands and lots, and did well.  Before James was out of his teens he went to clerking on the river, making his home with his parents in LeClaire. The family




in 1857.  Before that, however, Captain Eads, the son, had invested in real estate in Davenport and in the interior of the county.  He owned considerable property here.  The Eads addition in the western part of the city was laid out by him on the old McGregor farm.  His father built the brick residence on the north-west corner of Brady and Twelfth streets, now owned by J. Rolfe Miller, and lived there eight years.  The Captain’s mother, though died in LeClaire, and was buried in St. Mary’s cemetery in this city--and years after the remains were removed to ST. Louis.  Colonel Eads removed from Davenport to St. Louis in 1865, died there and was buried there--and I presume his son will rest in the same plot.”


    “You were with your cousin a good deal in the course of his life, Mr. Eads!”


    “O, yes--I was with him a long time when he was engaged in the bell boat business in the ‘50’s, the firm being Eads & Nelson.  He was one of the strongest men physically I ever saw.  Uncle Thomas told me that when James was a child his spine was injured, so it was thought he never would amount to anything; but he sent him to a gymnasium, and the tendency to weakness was arrested.  On the bell boats he could lift more than anybody in the crew with two exceptions.”


     “Where did your cousin gain his education, Mr. Eads?”


     “He never went to school much.  He was a self-educated man--made himself the great engineer he was by his own studies and energy.  He possessed a great mind, his memory retained everything, and he mastered any subject he took hold of easily.”


     It was now noon, and the interview ended.  A history of the great engineer’s achievements in his profession would fill a large volume.


The Argyle House in LeClaire, Iowa





The Davenport Democrat, Saturday, March 12, 1887, page 2.




     The news of the death of Capt. James B. Eads came without any warning; for it had not previously been announced that he was seriously ill, though it was known that he had gone to the Bahama islands for his heath.  Capt. Eads was a noted engineer, and a political factor of more than ordinary prominence.  He was intimately identified for many years with Mississippi river steamboat interests, having made his appearance in St. Louis more than 50 years ago.  At 22 years of age he began boat building, and the business soon expanded to large proportions.  At 35 he submitted to congress a proposition to keep the western rivers open for a term of years and remove all obstructions, and keep the channels free.  At the outbreak of the war Mr. Eads was a conspicuous character, and remained so until the time of his death.  Hr received the contract for building the first seven vessels of the Mississippi gunboat flotilla, a very interesting account of which he contributed to a late number of the Century magazine.  He was the engineer of the great St. Louis bridge, that work firmly establishing his fame.  Although it was not completed and opened until 1874, it had been a favorite project of Mr. Eads’ for nearly 30 years.  As soon as he had completed it he turned his attention to another great scheme, the construction of a system of jetties for increasing the depth of the water at the mouth of the Mississippi river.  His plans for this object when first proposed, were generally scouted by well known engineer, but they were proved eminently successful.  The work which he had done, and much of it in the face of strong public and private opposition, is the best testimonial to the usefulness of his busy life.



Davenport Democrat, Saturday, March 12, 1887, page 4.





A Daughter at St. Louis Receives a Letter Recounting his Dangerous Illness.



      St. Louis, March 11.--Yesterday morning Mrs. James F. Howe, daughter of Captain James B. Eads, received a letter from her sister, Mrs. Haggard, at Nassau, Bahama Islands.  The letter was written March 5, and partially confirmed the report of the death of Mr. Eads.  He was at that time the letter was written dangerously sick.  When he went to the Bahamas he was broken in health from overwork and the worry incident to his efforts to get the government to sanction and aid his ship railway scheme.  Up to the first of the month, he was rapidly regaining his health, but then took cold.  Congestion of the lungs resulted, and last Saturday he was so dangerously ill that Mrs. Hazzard feared he could not recover.  The letter was written hastily to catch the mail steamer, which leaves Nassau for Jacksonville, Fla., every Saturday.  In a postscript added at the last moment she said Mr. Eads was not growing better.  If the worst came, as the crisis would be over in a few days, they would leave Nassau on the next Saturday’s boat for Jacksonville.  Mr. Eads’ strength had been seriously undermined by the strain of last year, and his vitality was too much impaired to stand the acute attack of congestion following the cold.  It will be impossible to learn more definitely until the arrival of the steamer Monticello at Jacksonville on Sunday night or Monday morning.  James R. Howe will leave for Jacksonville tonight, reaching there Sunday morning, and will accompany Mrs. Eads, Mrs. Hazzard and the body back to St. Louis.  The funeral will be in St. Louis, probably on Wednesday of next week.



The Daily Gazette, Friday, March 12, 1887, page 4.





Where he died--His Projects and Success--

Bridge and Jetties--Ship Railway--

Tribute from a Friend.



     The announcement of the death of Capt. James B. Eads, in yesterday’s Gazette, has brought him back as a boy to the recollection of many old Davenporters.  He went to school here with some who are yet living among us, and there are others who met him in later life, in his first struggles as a young man, and who have often met him since when his name and fame had become national.  He did not die in New Hampshire, as telegraphed here, but at Nassau, Bahama Islands, where he had gone for his health before the adjournment of congress.


     Among his many enterprises, and Capt. Eads had his head and hand in not a few that counted up to the millions, those best known to the public by newspaper comment and controversy were the St. Louis bridge, the jetties at the mouth of the Mississippi river, both pronounced successes, and the great shipway railroad, for which he had just succeeded in securing a charter from congress, it we are not mistaken.  This last enterprise, remarkable for it novelty and magnitude, as well as for the great object of its purpose, has not yet been practically commenced, but we do not believe that the death of its projector will materially affect the enterprise, as all his plans are as intimately known to the civil engineer in charge as they were to himself.


     The writer of this knew Capt. Eads intimately, first making his acquaintance just forty years ago, at Cario, Ill., where Eads often stopped with his bell boat for wrecking vessels.  As commander of a bell-boat he acquired his title of captain.


     In long, long after years, old acquaintance was renewed, and we always found him, after he had achieved success, the same Jim Eads as of old, to an old-time friend, whatever he might be to those he now only knew in business, as agents or accessories to his projects, or opposes.  With all his brain capacity, this would have accomplished but little, had it not been backed by his wonderful working powers.  There was no rest for himself or those under him.  He died of pneumonia, when those who best knew him thought he would kill himself by overwork.




The Daily Gazette, Friday, April 1, 1887, page 3.





His Requests --

The Million Dollars Part Not in Hand --

For Whom He Provides.



      So many of our old citizens having been personally acquainted with the late Capt. Jas. B. Eads, and many remembering him in his boyhood in this vicinity, they will be interested in the manner in which the great engineer disposed of his property by will.  This will was presented for probate March 30, at the Surrogate’s court in New York, although his home was St. Louis.  His bequests, when not made to immediate relatives, are principally to those with whom he had been associated in several enterprises, and probably to some of whom he was under obligations for advances at one period.  The million dollars found due from the government, to which he alludes, is not quite so sure to his heirs as the more practical real estate.  It is in the future.  When the government made its payments to Capt. Eads for the jetties, one million dollars were reserved as a kind of security up to a ten years period, of the jetties being kept by him in good condition during the interval.  The claim will doubtless prove good--but how long equally good claims lie in the Dickens chancery court of our congress.  A New York dispatch of the 30th ultr thus alludes to the will bequests.


      After directing that all his just debts be paid, he bequeaths to his wife and five daughters, Mrs. Genevieve Ubsdell, Mrs. Adelaide E. Hazzard, Mrs. Eliza E. Howe, Mrs. Estell McHenry, and Mrs. Martha S. Switzer, equal portions upon all the profits upon the payments to be made by the United States government for maintaining the jetty channel at the mouth of the Mississippi, after deducting one-twentieth part for Mrs. Ward, of Atlanta, Ga., widow of G. W. R. Bailey.  Out of the first half of the million dollars to be paid him by the United States for maintaining the jetties he bequests $45,000 to James Andrews of Allegheny City, Pa., and $10,000 to the widow of W. Milnor Roberts; also one half of $25,000 to Mrs. Wanl, nee Bailey.  He bequests to the widow of his former partner, William S. Nelson of St. Louis, $10,000 and interest out of the first $500,000 to be paid by the United States when due.  Besides his compensation for services on the work at the jetties, J. A. Ubsdell, son-in-law of the deceased, is given $10,000 to be paid out of the first half-million, and a like amount out of the second half.  To James F. Howe, E. M. Henry and Edward M. Switzer, other sons-in-law, are given each $10,000, and interest out of the half million held by the government, one half of the principal to be paid by the government out of each half million.  The wife and two daughters, Eliza E. Howe and Martha S. Switzer, are bequeathed three-quarters of the remainder of the $1,000,000 as paid by the government to be equally divided.  The balance of the million, with interest, is bequeathed to his three daughters--Genevieve Ubsdell, Adelaide Hazzard, and Estell McHenry, to be equally divided.


     Five thousand dollars each is given to Adelaide Hazzard and to Mrs. Eliza De Lavaul of Paris, a “kinswoman;” to a cousin, Mrs. Eliza Dillion, “10,000”; to a sister-in-law, Mrs. Susan Stephens, $5,000; to a cousin, Fanny O. B. Miller, $500 annually during her life.  His real estate is to be divided equally between his wife and Mrs. Howe and Mrs. Switzer.  James F. How and Estell Henry are appointed executors and trustees, with permission to associate with them Messrs. Switzer and Ubsdell.  Letters testamentary were issued to the executors and the will probate.



Collected and Transcribed by

Sue Rekkas

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