Collected and transcribed
by Sue Rekkas
Van Sant Ruth Hall
“It must be distinctly understood that this article goes double for
it would be an impossibility to dissociate the Captain and his wife
in reliving in memory those days of old.
As she stands by him now in the evening of an eventful, busy life,
so she stood by him in the dark days of adversity, when the sun
seemed to have set and the clouds had no silver lining; she never
lost faith in the Captain’s star and by her courageous solicitation
and her kindly comradeship she smoothed many a rough spot in his
pathway and spurred on his flagging zeal until success finally
crowned their efforts.”-- A. D. Summers. “Sketch of Capt. S. R.
Van Sant from cabin boy to governor a long, honorable and
successful career as a boat owner and operator on the Upper
Mississippi.”--Saturday Evening Post Burlington Iowa Sept. 2,
Davenport Democrat and Leader, Sunday Morning, April 29, 1928, page
THE VAN SANTS
One of Scott County’s pioneers was honored in a simple ceremony in
the little cemetery at LeClarie Friday, when Mrs. Samuel Van Sant
was laid to rest beside the parents who brought her as a child to
this neighborhood nearly 80 years ago. In the interim she had grown
up to womanhood in LeClaire, had transferred her home to Minnesota
where for a time she presided over the executive mansion, and now
comes back to the familiar scenes of her childhood to sleep the long
Governor Van Sant has filed some notable roles since he lived
here—has been commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic,
and governor of Minnesota. It stirs the memories of Scott County
folks to have him return on the sorrowful mission that engages their
sympathies and evokes the tributes of those who knew the good woman
who has shared his fortune thru the years.
Island Daily Union, Wednesday, Dec 9, 1868.
Samuel R. Van Sant married Miss Ruth Hall on December 7th
at LeClaire, Scott County, Iowa at the residence of the bride’s
Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 23, 1928, page 12.
RE-UNION OF FORMER LECLAIRE NEIGHBORS HELD ON OLD
One of the Florida reunions of recent date in which this community
and especially LeClaire people will be interested, was the happy
little gathering held on the old Mississippi river steamboat the
“Harry Dreese,” now turned—as its days of river-navigation have long
since passed—into a hotel at the dock near the Lafayette bridge in
the Hillsboro River, Tampa, Fla.
The reunion brought together former Davenport and LeClaire people,
neighbors and old friends of their youthful days in informal motor
parties, little dinners and picnic gatherings during the winter
sojourn in Florida. Mrs. Mary A. Doughty formerly of Davenport, who
resides with her daughter Mrs. Alice DeArmand Shively in Tampa, was
hostess on the recent occasion and guests included ex-Governor and
Mrs. Sam Van Sant of Minneapolis, formerly of LeClaire and
Davenport, Mr. and Mrs. McKenna and son Neal of Minneapolis, and
Mrs. Genevieve Bartlette Finley of St. Louis also a former LeClaire
resident and a school-girl friend of Mrs. Shively. Dinner was
served and there was later bridge enjoyed in the sun parlor where
guests could hear the million dollar band from Plant Park, across
The party was rather unique for it was the first time in many
years that these former Iowa people,--
families were all associated with the old river life of the lumber
milling and rafter days—had been together on a boat. In their
youthful days all were frequent “trippers” on the old rafters in
which Mrs. Shively’s and Mrs. Finley’s fathers and ex-Governor Van
Sant were interested.
Mrs. Finley has been the guest of Mrs. Shively for an extended
visit of the winter, and the Van Sants and McKennas always spend
their winters in the south.
Writing to old friends here Mrs. Shively confesses to missing them
all sadly, but that she is getting daily more in love with her
Florida home and surroundings, and is beginning “to think the
mockingbird’s song is prettier than the dear old robin’s that used
to nest in my lovely oaks at 409 East Fifteenth Street. It has such
a variety of notes that are almost plain as
words—“pretty’—“pert-pert-pert”—“here-here-here”—“sweet” and many
others—and then “the odor of the orange blossoms!”
all stirs one with a tremendous hankering to go right out and take
to the broad highway to the Southland.
But one has a feeling that this popular former Davenporter will come
to re-consider her straying of affections from Robin Redbreast of
her Davenport garden, and we just hope she will be tormented and
teased and intrigued with the thought of spring in her old Iowa home
town and will get to longing:--with apologies to Robert Browning—“Oh
to be in Iowa now that April’s there.”
Davenport Democrat, April 24, 1928, page 2.
SANT SUMMONED AT MINNEAPOLIS
of LeClaire and Wife of Ex-Governor of Minnesota.
Word was received here today of the death in Minneapolis of Mrs.
Ruth Van Sant, wife of Samuel R. Van Sant, ex-governor of Minnesota.
The family home of the Van Sants was for many years in LeClaire,
Ia., where Capt. Van Sant was engaged in steamboating and lumbering
on the Mississippi. Mrs. Van Sant was formerly Miss Ruth Hall of
Burial will take place at 3 p.m. Friday in LeClaire.
Daily Times, Wednesday, April 25, 1928, page 6.
FUNERAL WILL BE HELD IN LECLAIRE FRIDAY
Funeral services for Mrs. Ruth Van Sant, former LeClarie resident
and wife of ex-Gov. Samuel R. Van Sant of Minnesota, who died Monday
at her home in Minneapolis, will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the
McGinnis Chapel in LeClaire. The body will arrive in LeClaire at 5
a.m. Friday and will be taken directly to the chapel. Burial will
be in Glendale cemetery.
Sant, who was formerly Miss Ruth Hall, spent the early years of her
life in LeClaire. Her marriage there to Samuel R. Van Sant united
two pioneer families. The Van Sant family was prominently
identified with steamboat traffic there for many years.
and Mrs. Van Sant made their most recent visit to their old home on
Memorial Day, 1926, when Mr. Van Sant delivered an address as a
feature of the LeClaire memorial program.
and Mrs. Nicholas G. Van Sant of Sterling arrived in LeClaire
yesterday and will remain until after the funeral.
Davenport Democrat and Leader, Wednesday Evening, April 25, 1928,
HOLD FUNERAL MRS. VAN SANT AT LECLAIRE, IA
Wife of Former Governor of Minnesota to be Buried
The body of Mrs. Ruth Van Sant, wife of the former governor of
Minnesota, will arrive in LeClaire Friday morning. Funeral services
will be held from the McGinnis chapel at LeClarie at 2 p.m. Burial
will be made in Glendale cemetery. She died in Minneapolis Monday
after a lingering illness.
Mrs. Van Sant who was Miss Ruth Hall, before her marriage was the
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. V. F. Hall, a pioneer LeClaire family. She
was about 79 years of age.
Her husband, Sam R. Van Sant, is a Civil War veteran and is Past
Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Following the war he
became engaged in the rafting business with Capt. W. A. Blair.
The couple were married at LeClaire about 1870. In 1893 they moved
to Winona, Minn., where Mr. Van Sant was elected to the general
assembly of the state and was speaker of the house for two terms.
He was later elected governor for two terms after which he and his
son became engaged in the farm mortgage business. He retired three
Surviving is one son, Grant Van Sant.
Davenport Democrat and Leader, Sunday Morning, April 29, 1928, page
MANY FRIENDS AT FUNERAL OF MRS. VAN SANT
Wife of Ex-Governor of Minnesota Is Buried in
Mrs. Samuel Van Sant, wife of ex-Governor S. R. Van Sant, of
Minnesota, was buried Friday afternoon in Glendale Cemetery,
LeClaire, beside her parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Hall, pioneer
residents in the vicinity.
A group of friends many who had known her for more than three
quarters of a century, attended the services which were held at the
McGinnis chapel at 2 p.m. with the Rev. M. D. Rayly of the Sterling
Methodist Church officiating. He delivered a brief eulogy touching
on her early life and her service to the community as one of its
earliest educators, and also on her later career as the wife of the
Governor of Minnesota.
Pallbearers were James Pollock, Arthur Dawley, Harry Gualt, and R.
Photo by Bob Jones
Ex-Governor Van Sant was accompanied by his brother and
sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Van Sant of Sterling, Ill.