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On the River






Researched and Transcribed by

Sue Rekkas



What Happened After the Jennie Gilchrist.


The rebuilt Jennie Gilchrist in 1885 at LeClarie, Iowa

“The Jennie was raised, repaired and had a long and useful career after the accident”

A Raft Pilot’s Log by Capt. Walter A. Blair   1929 Arthur H. Clark Company





She originally had one boiler and the engines that came out of the “Danville.”  After the wreck she was fitted out with two boilers and the engines out of the “Evansville.”  After refitting she was a powerful little tow boat, according to Captain Walter A. Blair.  She changed hands a number of times, Captain “Jack” McCaffrey owning and running her for a time.  On March 25, 1894, she again was sunk at Quincy, Ills.  She was raised and sold south, and went to Paducah, Ky., where she engaged in job towing for five or six years on the Ohio, Tennessee and Mississippi rivers.  She was also on the Missouri for a short time.  Finally she went hard aground at Island No. 21, near Hickman, Ky.  As the water raised in July 1900 it washed the sand from under either end and she broke her back for a total loss.— “Steamboats and Steamboatmen of the Upper Mississippi” by George B. Merrick  The Saturday Evening Post of Burlington, Iowa, August 19, 1916.


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Davenport Democrat, Thursday, October 18, 1883, page 1.



Clara Bates, colored, was the widow of Geo. Sidney, who went down with the Jennie Gilchrist.  She afterward married Dan Bates, who works in Davenport now.  Dan always treated his wife well, but Mrs. Clara had a spat with her husband this morning, and did all the spatting herself, and after Dan had gone, took a dose of Rough on Rats about 9 a.m., and became sick pretty quickly.  She took the dose from a spoon and is said not very much of the deadly compound, which has become a favorite means of attempted and successful suicide in this vicinity of late, upon further investigation, it seemed her father had been cross toward her; and when her husband came home last night, the father told him his wife was not much good, and the woman said that she would kill herself, which she proceeded to attempt this morning, the boy, Jon, seeing her take the drug.  Dr Eveter administered emetics, and as yet may--that the woman is very sick and it may terminate fatality.


The Daily Argus, October 18, 1883.




A dose of “Rough on Rats” came near sending Mrs. Clara Bates to the other world on Thursday morning, and only for the quick and successful attendance of Dr. G. L. Eyster, her object—suicide—would have been accomplished.  The lady is the wife of John Bates, who returned home from Missouri last Wednesday morning.  She resides with her father, Mr. Louis Martin, in South  Rock Island, who it is said, has reproved her several times for some act or other.  When Mr. Bates arrived home, Martin complained to him, which caused the woman to take the terrible dose.


Dr. Eyster visited his patient this morning, and reported her as doing nicely.  She appeared to be glad that she had to been sent to the “happy hunting grounds,” and will be likely to let “Rough on Rats” alone in the future.





William Heidenreich was the watchman on the Jennie Gilchrist when the boat lost a cam rod and struck the bridge on October 27, 1881.  He claimed that he did not know his duty included watching over the passengers to get them safely off the boat.


1880 Census          State of Iowa    Scott County     LeClaire

Surname Name Relationship Age Occupation
Kaltenbracker Charles Head 52 Machinist
Kaltenbracker Alvena Wife 40 Housekeeping
Kaltenbracker Charles Son 12 At school
Kaltenbracker Harry Son 08 At school
Heidenreick William Other 18 Apprentice
Harker William Other 17 Apprentice
White Oliver P. Other 44 Rapid Pilot


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Davenport Democrat, Wednesday, October 17,1883, page 1.




The steamer Nellie, Captain Whitney which has been engaged in these waters through the summer in government and city service, passed down early this morning with a barge in tow, and having French & Co.’s circus on board.  The company consists of some twenty-five people and five horses and carry a tent that allows covering for an audience of 600 to 800 people.  The circus exhibited at LeClaire yesterday, and shows at Keithsburg today.  They proceed south, and spend the winter in showing at small places on every stream which can be navigated by the Nellie.


Davenport Democrat, Thursday, November 15, 1883, page 1.




A fireman named William Heitenreight (Heidenreich), on the steamer Nellie, which went down the river with French’s circus, was drowned near Cape Girardean in the 27th ult.  He has relatives in Davenport and $2,000 in one of the Davenport savings banks.  His home was LeClaire.


Davenport Democrat, Thursday, November 19, 1883, page 1.




Our readers will recollect the announcement of the death of a young man named George Schliedwein (Heidenreich), who lived in LeClaire, and was drowned off the steamer Nellie, below Cape Girardeau, as she was en route south with Robert’s circus.  It occurred last month.  Mr. Charles Seims, at the request of the mother of the deceased and other relatives in this city, has been to Cape Girardean to investigate the matter.  He found that the body had been recovered, and that a coroner’s request had been held--and the jury returned a verdict that “the deceased came to his death after a knock on the head, which rendered him senseless, so that he could be thrown overboard and drowned.”  Mr. Seims identified the remains when they were shown him, through a scar on the hand and a scar on the right caused by a gun-shot wound.  The remains were brought to Davenport, and the funeral took place today.  There is no doubt that the deceased was murdered for money.  He was saving of his wages, and carried sums about his person.  He had $2,000 or more in savings in a savings bank in Davenport.



1829 -- 1873



1835 -- 1867



1841 -- 1910



1826 --1883



1862 -- 1883



1864 -- 1903


see transcription below

City Sexton Report

To the honorable Mayor Aldman of the City of Davenport Moat November is burial of the City Cemetery (5 persons)


Given Name

















" 1



54 Jahr

" "

" " "

Novb 02

clock 11 P. M



" 2



52 Jahr

" "

" " "

Novb 04

clock 2 P. M.



" 3



31 Jahr

14 Mt

02 day

Novb 06

clock 3 P. M


Plot 156

" 4



62 Jahr

09 Mt

12 day

Novb 18

clock4 P. M.


Plot 293

" 5



21 Jahr

08 Mt

" " "

Novb 29

clock 4 P. M.

Cape Giradeau

Plot 183


Davenport Town December 5th 1883

John Basmas

City Sexton


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The Davenport Democrat, July 15, 1885, page1.










The old river pilot, De Los (Dana) Dorrance, died suddenly in his bed, at the home of his brother Durbin in LeClaire at three o’clock this morning.  He was about town last evening, apparently as well as ever, and went to bed without complaint of ailment.  At quarter to 8 o’clock the other inmates of the house were aroused by his groans, and his sister-in-law went to his room to find him senseless with apoplexy or heart disease.  A Doctor was summoned, but Dorrance died in a few minutes after his arrival.

De Los Dorrance was fifty-two years of age--came to LeClaire when he was a child, and has had his home there ever since.  He has been a pilot on the upper Mississippi for more than thirty years-- and a portion of that period was in the wheel-house of the large packets.  He was master and pilot of the steamer Jennie Gilchrist, in ‘82, (October 27, 1881) when she met with the disaster by the breaking down of her machinery, floating back against a pier of the government bridge with barge, and sinking below the city, nine persons losing their lives.  After that Mr. Dorrance had little to do with river traffic.  He was a single man--divorced from his wife 10 years since. He was a brother of De Forest Dorrance, the rapids pilot, and of Durbin Dorrance, pilot of the Bebstock.










Photo by Robert Jones

See also “Dan (De Los) Dorrance, Peter Smith, and The Erring Wife”



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1880 Census Scott County Town of Princeton

Surname Given Name Age Occupation
Hire James 25 River Pilot
Hire Emma 25 Keeping House


1900 Census Clinton County Lyons Township Clinton City

Surname Given Name Relationship Birthdate Age Occupation
Hire James Head Sept 1855 44 Steanboat Pilot
Hire Mary Wife May 1861 39 -


~~~ *** ~~~


The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Monday, April 1, 1907, page 12.





Well known Riverman Sent To Independence for Treatment.



Dubuque County Wants Scott County to Pay His Expenses at the Hospital



James A. Hire, of Princeton, formerly one of the best known river pilots on the Mississippi, has been found insane by the commissioners of insanity at Dubuque, and has been sent to the asylum at Independence for treatment.  The information came to Scott county this morning in a letter to County Auditor Edward C. Collins from the clerk of the Dubuque county district court.  The letter stated that it was understood that Mr. Hire has a place of residence in Princeton, and if so Scott county would be expected to assume the charge.


Pilot Hire has of late years been in charge of the wheel on government boats.  It is said that for some time his habits have been peculiar and the information charging him with insanity was filed by a government official lasts week, the commitment resulting.


Jim Hire was the second pilot on the Jennie Gilchrist when it lost a cam rod and it struck the Government Bridge and sank in 1881.  He was also a pilot on the Ravenna when it sank in 1902 due to a cyclone.


~~~ *** ~~~




1880 Census Town of Princeton, Scott County, Iowa

Suurname Given Name Age Occupation
Maines Patrick 32 Mechanical Engineer
Maines Nancy 25 Keeping House
Maines William 6 Going to school


From “History of Davenport and Scott County” Vol. II by Harry E. Downer-S. . Clarke Publishing Co. 1910 Chicago.


“…P. M. Maines, was a native of Pennsylvania and when a young man went to Kentucky, being employed as a steamboat engineer during his residence there.  In 1875 he came to Iowa and after one year spent in Clinton, removed to LeClaire, Scott county, where he later coming to Davenport, where he continued as a steamboat engineer until his death in February, 1909.  He was well known river man, having a wide acquaintance from St. Paul to New Orleans, being on the river in the palmy and exciting days of steam boating when the Mississippi was the principal means of travel from north to south and the vessels which plied its waters were well termed floating palaces.  He married Nannie E. Gray, a native of Virginia.”


Patrick Maines was the engineer on the Jennie Gilchrist when it struck the Government bridge in 1881 and 9 lives were lost.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Monday, February 8, 1909, page 9.







  The death of Patrick M. Maines occurred this morning at his home, 726 West Sixteenth street, Mr. Maines was almost 63 years of age having been born on July 30, 1846, in Green county, Pa.  He came to Scott county in 1873 and was employed as a steamboat engineer for many years.  He is survived by his son, Wm. R. Maines.

  The funeral will be held Wednesday afternoon at 2 o’clock from the home and will be private.  It is requested that no flowers be sent.  The remains will be incinerated at the crematorium.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Daily Times, Monday, February 8, 1909, page 6.








Has Piled River For Past Thirty Years And Was Well Known Among Steamboat Men.



This morning at 2 o’clock at the home of his son, W. R. Maines, 726 West Sixteenth street, Patrick R. Maines, one of the old residents of Scott county and also one of the old time river men, passed away after an illness that extended over a year.  During the past twelve months he has been ill but his sickness was never considered as being serious until within the past four or five weeks.  Saturday afternoon he was down town for a short time and when he returned home he felt fatigued.  From that time he grew worse until the end came gracefully this morning.


Mr. Maines was a native of Green county, Pennsylvania, having been born there, July 30, 1846.  He remained in his native home only a short time coming west when a youth.  He first went to Kentucky where he remained a short time before moving to Scott county.  He has been a resident of this county for over 35 years.  During his residence here he has followed a steamboat life being an engineer on several of the larger packets plying between St. Paul and New Orleans.  Besides a host of friends he leaves only one son, W. R. Maines, to survive him.


The funeral will take place from the home Wednesday afternoon at 2 o’clock and will be private.  It is requested that no flowers be sent.  The body will be incinerated a the Davenport crematorium.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Thursday, Feb. 11, 1909, page 9.





The Maines Funeral.


 The funeral of Patrick M. Maines was held at 2 o’clock Wednesday afternoon from the home, 716 West Sixteenth street.  A. G. Sampson spoke at the house and Fred Naeve at the crematorium, where the body was incinerated.  The pall-bearers were Ambrose Clayton, J. N. Boy, J. G. Emmendorfer, C. F. Schroeder, Otto Gruenau and Louis Feld.


~~~ *** ~~~


The Daily Times, Thursday, February 11, 1909, page 7.





Maines Funeral


The funeral of the late Patrick M. Maines was held yesterday afternoon at 2 o’clock, from the home of his son, W. R. Maines, 726 West Sixteenth street, A. W. Sampson spoke at the home and Fred Naeve officiated at the Davenport crematorium, where the body was incinerated.  The pall bearers were Ambrose C. Clayton, J. N. Boy, J. G. Emmendorfer, C. F. Schroeder, Otto Gruenau and Lewis Feld.





Collected and transcribed by

 Sue Rekkas


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