JAMES B. EADS
Davenport Daily Gazette, June 18, 1858, page 3.
the Wrong Man.
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:
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.
that the Convention was not aware of my entertaining the views
thus briefly set forth, I deem it my duty to decline the
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
Daily Leader, August 25, 1893.
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was withdrawn and placed in the Mississippi river trade, and the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.”
Democrat, Thursday, March 10, 1887, page 4.
Death of James
Nassau, N. H., March
10.--Captain James B. Eads died here on the 8th inst. Of
Gazette, Friday, March 11, 1887, page 4.
CAPT. JAS. B.
A Distinguished Civil
Something of His History--
Once a Scott County Boy.
following dispatch came on our regular telegraph report last
“Nassau, N. H., March 10.--Captain James B. Eads died here on the 8th
inst., of pneumonia.”
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.
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
Democrat, Friday, March 11, 1887, page 1.
The Career of
Captain Eads in this locality--
History in LeClaire and Davenport--
with the Lamented Captain’s cousin--
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.”
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
“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?”
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.”
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
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.
Democrat, Saturday, March 12, 1887, page 4.
NEWS OF CAPTAIN
A Daughter at
St. Louis Receives a Letter Recounting his Dangerous Illness.
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
Gazette, Friday, March 12, 1887, page 4.
died--His Projects and Success--
Tribute from a
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.
Gazette, Friday, April 1, 1887, page 3.
His Requests --
Dollars Part Not in Hand --
For Whom He
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.
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.
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.