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The Van Sants

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, 1916.  




The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Sunday Morning, April 29, 1928, page 28.



      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 sleep.


     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.




Rock 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 father.




The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 23, 1928, page 12.





     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 river.


     The party was rather unique for it was the first time in many years that these former Iowa people,--

Whose 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!”


    This 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.





A Native 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 LeClaire.


     Burial will take place at 3 p.m. Friday in LeClaire.




The Daily Times, Wednesday, April 25, 1928, page 6.





     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.


  Mrs. Van 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.

  Ex-Governor 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.

  Attorney and Mrs. Nicholas G. Van Sant of Sterling arrived in LeClaire yesterday and will remain until after the funeral.




The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Wednesday Evening, April 25, 1928, page 19.





Wife of Former Governor of Minnesota to be Buried Friday.



     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 years ago.


     Surviving is one son, Grant Van Sant.




The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Sunday Morning, April 29, 1928, page 18.





Wife of Ex-Governor of Minnesota Is Buried in LeClaire Cemetery.


     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. W. Besse.


 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.



Collected and Transcribed by

Sue Rekkas

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