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On the River






Researched and Transcribed by

Sue Rekkas





H. M. Gilchrist built and owned the Jennie Gilchrist.


“H. M. Gilchrist was a man of great industry and push, with pleasant looks and manners, and with such good coal only one and half-miles from the river he soon had the big end of the lucrative steamboat trade.


In order to handle his growing business he had the handsome little steamer “Jennie Gilchrist” built at the LeClaire yard. 


Taylor Williams had put in a railroad from the river up to their mines that served both, and Mr. Gilchrist provided and operated the steamer that did the towing for both the Gilchrist and the Williams mines.”


“I stated that the “Jennie Gilchrist” was a very pretty boat and very popular.  This is true, and well she might be both, for she was named for Mr. Gilchrist’s only daughter, now Mrs. Charles Shuler of Davenport.  A Raft’s Pilot’s Log by Capt. Walter Blair 1929 Arthur H. Clark Company.


The Oakdale Cemetery Co., Davenport, Iowa, Record of Internments for 1900:

Number Name Place of Birth Last residence Age Sex Social State
5003 H. N. (M) Gilchrist US Gilchrist, Ill. 64 years Male M
Date of Death Cause of Death Date of Internment Place of Internment Lot Book Page Name of Undertaker    
1900 June 6 Pneumonia 1900 June 8 Lot 118 7 119 Sec 13 13 Boies Co.  


As shown below, the head stone reads that Mr. Hugh M. Gilchrist was born on April 2, 1831 in Scotland and died at Gilchrist Mercer County, Illinois on May 25, 1896.  However no obit could be found in the Davenport papers to clarify the date of death.









John Gilchrist, the son of the owner H. M. Gilchrist, was a passenger on the Jennie Gilchrist when she lost a cam rod and hit the bridge.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Davenport Democrat, Wednesday Evening, September 13, 1922, page 1.


Acute Illness Ends Life of J. W. Gilchrist, Pioneer Coal and Lumber Merchant



John W. Gilchrist, president of the Alden Coal Co., and known throughout the United States for his activities in the coal and lumber industry, died Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 o’clock at the family home, 1206 East River Street.  Death was caused by acute illness from which Mr. Gilchrist had been suffering for the past two weeks.  Altho he had not been in good health for the past two years, Mr. Gilchrist had attended to his extensive business interests as usual and members of his family were hopeful of a complete recovery until a fortnight ago when he became seriously ill.


Drs. McCarthy and Kornder of Davenport were in attendance in the last illness and about a week ago, Dr. R. T. Woodyatt and Dr. Holmes, specialists, were summoned from Chicago.  Expert medical services were of no avail, however, and death came peacefully last yesterday afternoon.


Born in Scotland.


A native of Scotland but a resident of Davenport since a lad of 14, John W. Gilchrist, was one of the city’s most highly honored and respected citizens.  He was born in Wanlockhead, Scotland, Sept.28, 1857.  Ever since coming to this country he had been identified with the coal and lumber business.  His father, H. M. Gilchrist, who preceded him in the coal and lumber business, was a man of means, who left Caledonia, Scotland, in 1871 and shortly after landing, in America, located in Rapids City, Id.  The town of Gilchrist in Mercer County Ill. was laid out by him and received his name, becoming a place of considerable importance in the coal industry.  Several towns throughout the country bear the family name, having either been laid out by J. W. Gilchrist or received their impetus thru the coal industry furthered by him.


 Married in 1877.


Mr. Gilchrist was married in 1877, Sept. 6, in Rock Island to Miss Caroline Schaechter (Shuler), and to them were born nine children, two of whom preceded their father in death.  They are Mrs. John Ploehm who died in 1914 and John W. Gilchrist, Jr., who died in 1918.  Mrs. Gilchrist passed away in August 1917.  The children who survive are Hugh, Mrs. C. H. Crowe of Davenport, Archibald of Farrington, Ill., Charles of Davenport and the Misses Jean, Caroline and Helen at Home.  One sister, Mrs. Charles Shuler of Davenport also survives.


Mr. Gilchrist was one of the oldest, if not the oldest, coal operators in the state of Illinois.  His business interests extended throughout the entire United States, but were particularly heavy in Illinois and Iowa, where he was looked upon as a pioneer in the coal and lumber industry.  For almost 20 years he has served as a director in the First National bank and the Davenport Savings bank.  He was a member of the First Presbyterian church and fraternally was affiliated with the Masonic lodge of Monroe, Ia.


Funeral Thursday.


Funeral services will be held Thursday afternoon at 2:30 from the home, 1206 East River Street.  Rev L.R. Coffman of the First Presbyterian church will officiate and burial will be made in Oakdale cemetery.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Daily Times, Wednesday, September 13, 1922, page 1.





Prominent Coal and Lumber Man Is Summoned At His Home



J. W. Gilchrist, prominent for years in the lumber and coal business, died at his residence in Davenport, 1206 East River Street. At 6:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon following an illness which covered a period of two years.  While he had been ailing for a long time, his illness did not take a serious turn until two weeks ago when Drs. Woodyatt and Bayard Holmes of Chicago were called into consultation with the local physicians who attended him, Drs. D. J. McCarthy and L. H. Korder.  He had seemed somewhat improved for the past few days and death came suddenly.  Mr. Gilchrist was in his sixty-fifth year.  Almost up to the time of his death he maintained an active interest in his numerous business affiliations, a business which had ramifications in every state in the union.


A pioneer coal operator in the state of Illinois, Mr. Gilchrist received his start in the coal and lumber industry with his father, the late H. M Gilchrist, who came to America from Scotland in 1871 accompanied by his son, J. W. Gilchrist and his daughter, now Mrs. Charles Shuler.  Mr. Gilchrist was first interested in an anthracitic coal mine in Pennsylvania and later came to Rapids City, Ill.  At least three towns have been named after Mr. Gilchrist, senior, although one in Mercer County, Illinois, a mining center for a time was moved later.


Mr. Gilchrist learned the coal and lumber business when but youth in Scotland.  His father realized the importance of a complete confidence and trust in his son and instructed him in all the rudiments of the business.  By this early training he was able to carry on the work so ably begun by his father and his business grew and grew until he had interests in every state of the union.  After residing in Monroe, Jasper County, Iowa for some time, Mr. Gilchrist came to Davenport in 1899 where he had since lived.


He was born in Wanlockhead, Scotland, on September 22, 1857, and came to America when 14 years of age.  His marriage to Miss Caroline Schaechter took place in Rock Island on September 4, 1877.  To this union nine children were born, seven of whom survive.  Mrs. Gilchrist preceded her husband in death in August 1917, and one daughter, Mrs. John Ploehn died in 1914, and one son, John W. Gilchrist, Jr., died in January, 1918.


Bank Affiations


  Mr. Gilchrist had been a director of the First National bank and the Davenport Savings bank for a period of over 20 years.  He was president of the Alden Coal Co. of Davenport at the time of his death.  The decedent was a member of the First Presbyterian church here, and he held membership in the Masonic lodge of Monroe, Ia.  He was probably the oldest coal operator in the state of Illinois, and had been in the business continuously since 1872.


Keen and sound in his business judgments and a believer in the square deal in his relations with his fellow men, Mr. Gilchrist brought to his American business enterprises many variable traits characteristic of his Scotch ancestry.


He leaves to mourn his loss his sister, Mrs. Charles Shuler of Davenport: three sons, Arch Gilchrist, of Farmington, Ill., Hugh and Charles of Davenport; four daughters, Mrs. C. H. Crowe, Jean, Caroline and Helen Gilchrist, all of Davenport.


The funeral services will be held tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 o’clock at the late residence, when Dr. L. M. Coffman, pastor of the First Presbyterian church will officiate.  Interment will be in Oakdale cemetery.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Thursday Evening, September 14, 1922, page 13.





The Gilchrist Funeral.


The funeral of J. W. Gilchrist was held at 2:30 this afternoon at the residence, 1206 East River street, where Dr. LeRoy Coffman officiated.  Burial was made in Oakdale cemetery.


At the services held at the home, a male trio consisting of Rollo Rilling, Watler Voss and Harry Maher, accompanied at the piano by Kenneth Bailey, sang hymns.


Honorary pall bearers were E. B. Hayward, A. F. Dawson, John F. Dow, Charles L. Fassnacht, Thomas R. Martin, P. H. Donnelly, C. F. Alden and Smith Blackman.


Active Pallbearers were A. M. Pinkerton, George T. Baker, Carl Richter, Otto Hill, Homer H. Harris, C. D. Hayward, W. J. Spencer and J. L. Green.








Jane Renion Gilchrist Shuler was the daughter of H. M. Gilchrist who named the Jennie Gilchrist after her.


The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Wednesday Evening, October 10, 1934, page 9.


Dies Suddenly


  Mrs. Jane Renion Gilchrist Shuler, 75, 1516 East River drive, prominent Davenporter, died very suddenly at the home of her son-in-law and daughter, Dr. and Mrs. P. A. Bendixen, 204 Prospect terrace, at 10:30 a.m., today.  She had just completed a telephone call during her morning visit when she suffered a stroke of apoplexy, collapsed, and died.  Altho she had been in ill health for some time, death was sudden.

  Born on June 10, 1859, in Wanlockhead, Scotland, she came to America with her father, the late H. M. Gilchrist, first settling in Pennsylvania.  The family later came to Rapids City, Ill.  She was married in Rock Island on Oct. 25, 1877, to Charles Shuler, former (unreadable).  The couple made their home in Rapids City until 1885, when they moved to Gilchrist, Ill. A mining town named after her father, residing there until 1898, when they came to Davenport.  Mr. and Mrs. Shuler observed their golden wedding anniversary in 1927.

  Mrs. Shuler was of Presbyterian faith.

  Surviving besides her husband, are three sons, Hugh M. and John D., Des Moines, and Charles, Davenport: three daughters, Mrs. William Rendleman and Mrs. P. A. Bendixen, both of Davenport, and Mrs. J. Reed, Lane, St. Louis; and eight grandchildren.

  The body was taken to Hill & Fredericks mortuary.  Funeral arrangements will be made later.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Daily Times, Wednesday, October 10, 1934, page 1.


Mrs. Chas. Shuler, Sr., Dies Suddenly While Phoning Friend; Apoplexy Is Cause



Mrs. Charles Shuler, Sr., 1516 East River Drive, prominent Davenport woman, died suddenly at 10:30 a.m. today at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Dr. and Mrs. P. A. Bendixen, 204 Prospect Terrace.  Death was due to a stroke of apoplexy, Mrs. Shuler being stricken while talking over the phone to a friend.  She was 75 years old.


Mrs. Shuler, although in failing health for some time, was in good spirits when she arrived at the Bendixen home and her death was entirely unexpected.


The body was removed to the Hill & Fredericks mortuary pending funeral arrangements.  Her son, Charles Shuler, jr., is at present on a hunting trip in Canada and had not been located today.


Mrs. Shuler, who was a daughter of the late H. M. Gilchrist, had been a resident of Davenport for 35 years.  Her husband, Charles Shuler, Sr. is a former Davenport banker and for many years has been prominent here.


Born in Scotland June 10, 1859, she came to this country when seven years of age.  She resided at Dunsmore, Pa., and for a short time in Rapids City, Ill.  Her marriage to Mr. Shuler took place on Oct. 25, 1877 in Rock Island.  Mr. and Mrs. Shuler observed their golden wedding anniversary in 1927.  Her maiden name was Gilchrist.


After her marriage she resided for some years at Rapids City, Ill. And Gilchrist, Ill., a mining town named after her father.  In 1899, Mr. and Mrs. Shuler came to Davenport, where they had since made their home.


Surviving besides her husband are six children, Mrs. William H. Rendleman, Mrs. P. A. Bendixen, Mrs. J. Reed Lane, Charles Shuler, jr. and Hugh and John Shuler.   Eight grandchildren also survive.


Her daughter, Mrs. Lane, formerly of Davenport, who is now a resident of St. Louis, arrived here last evening for a visit.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Thursday Evening, October 11, 1934, page 11.




Funeral services for Mrs. Charles Shuler Sr., 1516 River Drive, who died suddenly Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. while making a morning call at the home of her son-in-law and daughter, Dr. and Mrs. P. A. Bendixen, 201 Prospect terrace, will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Hill & Fredericks chapel.  Burial will be in Oakdale cemetery.


The Rev. Edward Williams, pastor of the Broadway Presbyterian church, Rock Island, will officiate.

Charles Shuler, Jr., who has been on a hunting trip in Canada, was located, and will arrive here Friday morning.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Friday Evening, October 12, 1934, page





Funeral services for Mrs. Jane Renton Gilchrist Shuler, 75, wife of Charles Shuler, prominent Davenport business man, who died suddenly, Wednesday morning while making a morning call at the home of her son-in-law and daughter, Dr. and Mrs. P. A. Bendixen, 204 Prospect terrace, were held at 2:30 p.m. today at Hill & Fredericks chapel.  Burial was in Oakdale cemetery.


The Rev. Edward Williams, pastor of the Broadway Presbyterian church, Rock Island, officiated.  The chapel and mortuary were more than filled to capacity.


Bearers were three sons, John, Hugh, and Charles Shuler, Davenport, and three sons-in-law, Dr. William Rendleman, Dr. P. A. Bendixen and J. Reed Lane.







Charles Shuler married H. M. Gilchrist’s only daughter, Jane.  He was mentioned in the articles helping with some of the recovery effort.


Charles Shuler



The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Friday Evening, May 28, 1948 page 1.


Charles Shuler, One of Last Who Helped Build Davenport To Commercial Center, Dies



  Charles Shuler, 92, coal mines operator, lumberman, banker and one of the last remaining business leaders from the group who built Davenport from a small city to an important commercial center in the years between 1900 and the 1929 depression, died at the home of his son-in-law and daughter, Dr. and Mrs. W. H. Rendleman, 1516 East River street, at *:30 p.m. Thursday following an illness of about 10 day’s duration.

  The body was removed to the Hill & Frederick mortuary where funeral services will be held in the mortuary chapel at 3 p.m. Saturday.  Internment in Oakdale cemetery will be private.

  While he had not been active in civic or business affairs for about a score of years, Mr. Shuler is remembered by older residents of the community as one of the able, hard working, and public spirited Davenports of his period of active life.  His kindly nature and democratic manner made him the friend of all.




Charles Shuler was born in Rock Island on April 5, 1856, being the son of David and Mary Schaechter, the name being changed to Shuler.  While he was still an infant the family moved to Rapids City, Ill., where he received his early education.


As a boy he worked in the saw mills at Rock Island and later in the coal mines at Rapids City.  He developed an interest in mining and worked in mines there until he moved to Gilchrist, Ill., about 1885.


He was married to Miss Jane Renton Gilchrist in Rock Island on Oct. 25, 1877.  She was a member of the family owning coal mines at Gilchrist, and a few years later he went there to manage those properties.  His wife died in 1934.


In 1896 the Shulers moved to Davenport, and Mr. Shuler was engaged for a time in selling the output of the Gilchrist mines and at the same time spending some time there supervising mining operations.




He found time, too, to take an interest in other business activities.  He became a director of the old Davenport Savings Bank, and later president and chairman of the board of the Iowa National Bank.  When that bank merged with the American Savings Bank & Trust Co. he was a member of the board until its closing.  He was also president of the Federal Surety Co. and interested in many local business enterprises.


He was active in the Chamber of Commerce, and was chairman of the building committees for both the Lend-A-Hand club building and the Hotel Blackhawk.  During World War I he headed several Liberty Loan drives.


In addition to his activities as a coal operator and banker, he became interested in a number of lumber companies.


Surviving are two daughters, Mrs. W. H. Rendleman, with whom he made his home, and Mrs. J. Reed Lane, Corona DelMar, Calif., three sons, Hugh M. and John D. Shuler, both of Des Moines and Charles Shuler Jr., of Davenport; 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.  Another daughter, Mrs. Elspeth


Bendixen, died in 1944.  Mr. Shuler was himself the oldest and last surviving of five children of his parents.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Daily Times, Friday, ay 28, 1948, page 1.


Chas. Shuler, Former Banker, Civic and Business Leader, Dies at 92; Funeral Saturday.



One-Time Head of Old Iowa National  Succumbs to Short Illness



Charles Shuler, 92, retired banker and lumber and coal mining executive of prominence, died at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the home of his daughter Mrs. William H. Rendleman, 1516 East River street.  Death followed an illness of about 10 days.


Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday in the chapel of Hill & Fredericks mortuary where the body was taken.  Burial in Oakdale cemetery will be private.


Mr. Shuler was one of the few remaining Davenporters who occupied a prominent position in the city’s history during the period prior to the business depression that began in 1929.


Coming to Davenport in 1896 from Gilchrist Ill., where he operated the Empire Coal Co. mines, he assumed a leading position in the community’s business life which he held for many years.  For a time he was a director of the old Davenport Savings Bank, and in June, 1911, became president of the former Iowa National bank.  Later he took the chairmanship of the board, which position he held when the Iowa National bank was merged with the former American Commercial & Savings bank.  He remained a member of the board of the merged institution until it closed.


Born April 5, 1856, in Rock Island, he moved with his family to Rapids when a young boy.  His parents were David and Mary Schaechter, who came here from Germany.  The family name was later changed to Shuler.


He received his education in the schools of Rapids City, and as a young man worked in the coal mines there, since depleted, and in a saw mill in Rock Island. 


Oct. 25, 1877, he married Jane Renton Gilchrist, who came to this country from Scotland with her family at the age of seven.  Mr. Shuler continued to work in the mines at Rapids City for a time after his marriage, but moved with his wife and family in 1885 to Gilchrist, Ill., where he managed the mines of the Empire Coal Co., Gilchrist family holdings.  Mrs. Shuler died in 1934.


After moving to Davenport he headed an organization selling coal produced by the mines at               

Gilchrist, and divided his time between here and the mines.  He found time also to engage in Lumber interests, and gradually worked into the banking field.


Marked always by a genial and affable nature, he made friends readily, and displayed a keen and vigorous interest in the city’s development.  He was active in the chamber of commerce, and took a prominent part in many commercial activities, including the presidency for a number of years    of the former Federal Surety Co.  Many other local ventures also claimed his attention.


During the First World War his sense of civic responsibility was manifested by his chairmanship of Liberty Loans drives.  It was shown also, by the fact the he served as chairman of the building committees when the Lend-A-Hand club building and Hotel Blackhawk were erected.


Before his retirement he was a member of the Davenport Outing Club, County club and Arsenal golf club.  He had no particular hobbies, devoting his time to his business interests and his family.


Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Rendleman, with whom he made his home, and Mrs. Reed Lane, Del Mar, Calif.; three sons, Hugh M. and John D., both of Des Moines, and Charles Shuler, Jr., Davenport; 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.  A daughter, Mrs. P. A. Bendixen, widow of the late Dr. P. A. Bendixen died in 1944.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Davenport and Leader, Sunday Morning, May 30, 1948, page 8.





In a chapel filled with mourners and banked with floral offerings, services were held Saturday afternoon for Charles Shuler, 92 year-old retired banker and civic leader.


The Rev. James R. Uhlinger, pastor of St. John’s Methodist church, officiated at the services, held at 3 p.m. in the Hill & Fredericks chapel.

Pointing out that Mr. Shuler’s 92 years spanned virtually the entire history of Davenport, the Rev. Mr.

Uhlinger declared that his “vitality and aggressive interest in the business world reflected the constructive progress and growth which the city has enjoyed.”


“Altho he discharged important responsibilities in his business life, he never forgot or neglected his family and a wide circle of friends among all classes, “he said.


Bearers were Hugh Shuler, John Shuler, Summer Macomber, Charles Shuler, Jr., Charles Bendixen and Dr. Hugh Rendleman.  Private burial services were held in Oakdale cemetery.






The Davenport Democrat and Leader Company, Thursday Evening, November 4, 1926, page 4.


“The Account in the Democrat goes on to give the thrilling experiences of several of the survivors among whom were John Schuecler (Shuler), who is still living.  Mr. Schueler is the brother of John (Charles) Shuler, of Davenport.  He is now living in Des Moines.  At the time of the crash he was collecting fares in the little cabin.  He climbed out over the transom and swam to the Illinois shore in safety.


1910 Census   State of Iowa    Polk County   City of Des Moines

Shuler John Head 45 coal miner operator
Shuler Alice S Wife 45 none  
Shuler Charles Son 12 none  
Shuler Marie A. Daughter 4 none  
Lack Elsie Servant 14 domestic private family


1920 Census   State of Iowa    Polk County   Des Moines City 1st Ward   2nd prescient

Shuler John Head 56 Operator Coal Mine
Shuler Alice Wife 56 none  
Shuler Charles Son 21 none  
Shuler Marie Daughter 13 none  


The 1925 census lists the parents of John Shuler as father David Shuler and mother Mary Horce or Home.  Charles Shuler’s obit states his parents are David and Mary.  This proves that this John Shuler is the brother of Charles and was the clerk on the Jennie Gilchrist.


Polk Des Moines City Directory for 1933 lists John Shuler and wife Alice’s home address as 547 35th street.


Iowa cemetery Records, page 718, state that John Shuler died in 1937 and is buried in the Masonic cemetery.  



Collected and transcribed by

 Sue Rekkas


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