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Davenport Democrat and Leader, Monday Nov. 11, 1912, page 3.


     LeClaire has always had fine schools and many men now famous throughout the United States received their early training here.  Among a few mentioned, Ex-Governor S. R. Van Sant of St. Paul….




Daily Gazette, Thursday Morning, Aug. 12, 1869, page 4.




      Business at the boat yard of J. W. Van Sant & Son, at LeClaire, is improving very much.  Some forty men are employed and plenty of work is engaged.  The Diamond Jo has just been thoroughly repaired and will be ready for operations tomorrow.  Steamers Charley Cheaver and J. C. Gault are waiting to be overhauled.  Several barges are also waiting to be repaired as soon as can be done.  Messrs. Van Sant & Son expects to build a steamer entire this fall for which they will furnish everything and fit up throughout.


1870 Federal Census, LeClarie City, County of Scott

Surname Given Name Age Occupation Birth place
Van Sant S. R. 26 Boat Builder Illinois
Van Sant Ruth 22 Keeps House Pa
Van Sant 6/12 - - Iowa




The Daily Gazette, October 3, 1875, page 4.




     At a quarter to 12 o’clock Friday night, the roof of the fine residence of Captain Samuel Van Sant, at LeClaire, was discovered to be on fire.  An alarm was given, and the neighbors turned out, but could do nothing to save the building.  So they carried out most of the furniture, and then saw the interior destroyed by flame.


     The family were absent with the captain, on the river, and nobody had been living in the house for ten days.  There is no way to account for the fire except by saying sparks from a distant steamboat caused it (well nigh impossible), or charging to incendrarism.  The house was worth at least $2,500.  There is insurance to the amount of $600.  About $150 worth of furniture was destroyed, and was not insured.




The Davenport Democrat, Monday, October 4, 1875, page 1.




     Capt Smith informed us this morning, that Capt. Van Sant’s house, which was burned Friday night, was no doubt the work of an incendiary.  The house was a two story frame, and valued at about $2,000.  Some of the furniture was saved.  The family had not been in the premises for over a week, all being on the river.  It was insured for $600, and the loss is stated to be about $2,500, including the furniture.  From indications, the fire was started under the back porch.  It is supposed some enemy of the Captain’s took this mean method of revenge.  The affair will be thoroughly investigated by the Captain.




The Davenport Democrat, Friday, September 5, 1879, page 1.





Accident to the Steamer Silver Wave What It Was and the Consequence

– Excursion Postponed.



    An aggravating and damaging accident happened to the Silver Wave last night.  She “went through herself,” as the steamboatmen say.  She left LeClaire at 7 p.m. with a large party of ladies and gentlemen, for a moonlight excursion to Clinton, and about 9 o’clock a thundering report, followed by a fierce roar, then a crash as if the steamer had been in two, terrified all the passengers, and the terror was not lessened when steam poured out and prevailed all parts of the boat thickly.  Captain Van Sant soon had everybody quiet, however.  It was quickly ascertained that nobody had been hurt.  The larboard cylinder head had been blown away, and the wrist twisted off.  That was all – and it was enough.  Quiet was restored, and the Captain turned the bow homeward to make LeClaire with one engine.  So the music struck up again, dancing was begun again, and the party proceeded to enjoy themselves as if nothing had happened.


     This accident caused much disappointment in Davenport this morning.  The Silver Wave had been engaged by the Bethlehem Sunday School for an excursion to Muscatine today and nearly three hundred tickets had been sold for the trip.  Captain Van Sant was here at 6 o’clock and informed the managers of the school of the accident.  The Silver Wave will be out of commission for four days to one week, and the excursion is postponed to a date to be announced hereafter.



The Davenport Daily Democrat, August, 1882, page 4.




     LeClaire, Aug. 28, 1882.    Usually a boat makes a few excursion trips to the county fair, but at present there are no boats here idle that carry passengers, so it is not likely that any excursions will be made.  Van Sant, with the faithful Silver Wave, has deserted the Republic, probably for pastures new, and in that we lost our best means of seeing the outside world.



Davenport Daily Gazette, Wednesday, November 28, 1883, page 6.


  LECLAIRE, Iowa, Nov. 26, 1883.


     Capt. Sam Van Sant, who has been here for several days past settling up his season’s business, has gone to Moline.  He is always a welcome visitor in LeClaire and will be cordially received, if he ever concludes to remove here again, which not an improbable thing.



Davenport Weekly Republican, Wednesday, February 2, 1898, page 6.





Captain Sam Van Sant Undoubtedly the Next Governor of Minnesota.



His Nomination in the Convention is Conceded and His Hold on the People Will Elect Him.



     If Captain Sam Van Sant is not the next governor of the state of Minnesota a big majority of the people will be disappointed.  The Captain loomed up in Minnesota as a big political factor nearly as soon as he left Davenport to take up his residence in Winona, and his power and political influence have been in the ascendancy ever since.


     The republican state convention of 1896 was where Captain Van Sant did the work of his life and where his influence permeated the whole party.  He not only presided over the deliberations of the convention with the greatest fairness and dignity, but failing by a few votes of the convention as gubernatorial candidate, he threw himself heart and soul into the campaign and toured the state speaking night after night for his successful opponent, now Governor Clough.  This action commended itself to everybody, and showed that the captain was a republican through and through, and a party worker regardless of personal ambition.  At the present time, Wm. Henry Eustis of Minneapolis is the only man capable of running the genial captain a race anywhere near equal, and the chances are all against Mr. Eustis.  The Stillwater Gazette speaks of the captain as follows:


     Van Sant’s greatest strength comes from the fact that he is near to the people.  This fact was amply demonstrated in his anti-convention contest in 1896, a contest which has passed into history as being one of the most stubbornly fought political battles ever known in the state of Minnesota.  No one knows this better than Governor Clough himself, as he would probably testify if called upon to do so, and he would also say that at no time in the fight did he recognize that any one beside Van Sant and himself were in it.


     Tightly assuming, that a man who could put up the fight that Van Sant did against him, must be the choice of a large number of people and recognizing  that the party must put forward a clean, strong candidate in the “off” year, in order to win, he, it is said, is doing what he can to assist his cause.


     Van Sant’s nomination and election will not jeopardize Senator Davis’ chances for re-election in the least; on the contrary if one may judge from the past we would say that with Van Sant as governor Senator Davis would be less liable to opposition from the southwest corner of the capital than with any other man we know of in the gubernatorial chair.


     It is a long time until convention time and great changes may take place, but at this writing the Van Sant colors are way in the lead, with excellent prospects of remaining there.




The Davenport Times, Tuesday, April 15, 1902, page 7.


The Romance of the Old River

By Samuel R. Van Sant, Governor of Minnesota

     Soon a splendid exposition, costing millions of dollars, will celebrate the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase, and a grateful nation will recall the beneficent statesmanship which added a magnificent empire to the Union.  But the full import of this, the wisest act of Thomas Jefferson’s public life will lose its due emphasis to the present generation and to those yet to come.  If we fail to realize—that this master stroke of his political genius was not so much in the mere acquisition of a vast territory thus peacefully annexed as in the fact that it gave to this nation both shores of the greatest waterway of the western continent.


     What would have been the effect on the history of this nation had the western shore of the Father of Waters remained in the hands of an Old World power?  Imagination pauses at the question, and the liveliest speculation can scarce drop to supply this forestalled page of history. That a constant menace to the peace of the republic was wiped out by the statecraft of this far-reaching patriot is certain; that wars and rumors of wars were expunged from the records of our national experience is highly probable. --But this larger phase of the lesson of the coming centennial may be merely suggested, rather than amplified, for the purpose

Gov. Samuel R. Van Sant

of paying a tribute to the character—one might almost say to the personality –of the most individual of American waterways.


     No stream in the world is richer in associations, in picturesquencess, in all that is near, familiar and beloved to those who have been as its children, than the mighty Mississippi; and as one of those who have followed it faithfully for almost half a century, I count myself happy to be assigned the task of recalling something of the “Old River Days.”


     It is impossible to review the life of the river, when its traffic was at the height of its prosperity, without a touch of sentiment; and as one who came of a nation and a long family line of boat-builders and navigators, who was born on the shore of the Mississippi, and, in the language of its people, was “marked for the river,” I cannot pretend to speak of this majestic stream and the stirring and picturesque life which it supported without an attachment which is one of the strongest sentiments of my being.  And I am sure that thousands who have been and are now associated with its shifting fortunes have not escaped a similar feeling.  Especially must this be strong in all whose childhood associations are linked with the ever-changing drama of adventure, commence, war, prosperity and misfortune which have ebbed and flowed in ceaseless and ever-shifting variety in the process of its industrial evolution.


Stirring incidents of Early Days


     Never can I forget the first impressions of my first trip on the mighty bosom of the Mississippi; how the famous Dan Wright, an ideal pilot of the old days, called me into the wheelhouse of the James Lyon, allowed me to grasp the smooth handles of the wheel, and pull the cords that released the melodious bellow of the great whistle, and sounded like the chimes of the signal bells.  Only the man who has had a kindred experience can understand what is implied by the term “Life on the River.”  On the same initial trip I was introduced to another and rougher phase of boating on the Mississippi—one which will be recalled by all who took passage in the days before the railroads had diminished the volume of its traffic.


     Suddenly, as I hung about my hero of the pilot house, a shout went up, and the burly mate struck out with his fists and felled a common hand to the ground to the deck.  Instantly there was a gleam of knives, a flourish of clubs and the deck was dashed with blood.  But, as was usually the case, the big mate came off victorious and the mutinous hands were put ashore at the first wood yard at which the boat stopped for fuel.


    What the Mississippi has done for the development of the Northwest is pointedly suggested by another recollection of that trip in 1857.  The cargo of the James Lyon was shelled corn in sacks, not for seeding, but for consumption by the pioneer settlers.  Then there was scarcely an acre of corn grown in the Territory which is now the state of Minnesota.  Shortly before, Governor Ramsey had had the hardihood to contend that the climate of his commonwealth was not too severe for the cultivation of corn; later, boats brought cargoes for seeding; and today Minnesota is the greatest “bread and butter state” of the Union, for it is sometimes said that we raise the wheat to feed the world, and when made into bread we can furnish the best butter, and enough to spread it all.  Last year we produced 31,500,000 bushels of corn alone.


     Still another incident on the first trip of the first boat that we constructed for the rafting business, the J. W. Van Sant, Mr. Frederick Weyerhaeuser was a passenger.  The raft was for his mill, and he was anxious to see the departure tried.  The success was complete.  At that time Mr. Weyhaeuser was a young man.  Since then his industrial genius has developed the greatest lumber interest of the Northwest, and he has won for himself the title of “Lumber King.”  The magnitude to which this commerce has grown is suggested by the fact that one individual fleet has carried annually two hundred million feet of lumber down the river to enrich and up build the territory tributary to the Mississippi.  In a single trip one boat has towed a sufficient tonnage of lumber to load to the limit a railroad train two miles in length.  It is scarcely saying too much to assert that the total down river tonnage of lumber fleets any day in the moving season is sufficient to stall the traffic of all the competing railroad traffic of all the competing railroad from boats to rafts, and amounts to 500,000,000 annually.


     This marvelous development is due to the steamboat, and few, if any, achievements of my life afford me more personal satisfaction that the fact that I built and operated the first steamboat of large power for this particular branch of river traffic.


The Vast Influence of the River


     In the inland sections of the country an impression prevails today that the Mississippi is now no longer an active factor in the world of transportation, that its traffic days are only a recollection, and that the great stream has no claim upon the gratitude of the people of the Northwest on the score of present benefits. This delusion will be keenly resented by all who are loyally jealous of the reputation of the great river.


     True it is that it’s through passenger traffic has been almost completely absorbed by the railroads.  On the other hand, the volume of its freight carrying, especially in lumber and coal, is still very large, as the facts I have already cited will indicate.  But of far greater moment is its value as a conservator of freight rates, it acts as a perpetual and unalterable check upon the greed of railroad systems—and will continue so to act for all time to come.


     With the completion of the Isthmian canal a new era of prosperity will be assured to the river.  A mighty volume of traffic will suddenly be turned southward and the activities of the Mississippi will be multiplied in a manner now hardly to be realized.  This great governmental enterprise should, for this reason, command the heartiest support of every dweller in the valley of the Father of Waters, and of all in the vast Northwestern empire tributary to it.


     It is by no means to be admitted, however, that passenger traffic is wholly a dead letter on the Mississippi.  On the contrary, it is still considerable, although radically changed in character.  All along its course the river is oiled by “short-line packets,” which make daily and profitable trips between cities not far distant from each other.  The lines from Davenport to Burlington and from Keokuk to Quincy are examples of this traffic, which will certainly increase with the passage of time.


     Another recent development is the excursion business, which is also destined to increase.  The boats devoted to these lines of the carrying trade are modern and slightly, some of them costing fifty thousand dollars each.


     No review of the old days on the Mississippi is complete without reference to the famous races in which the fast steamboats indulged—a practice which has found appropriate embodiment in the literature as well as the history of the West.  How strong was the racing spirit in the old-time river masters is best illustrated by an incident which will ever remain vivid in my recollection.


     As captain and part owner of the D. A. McDonald I had shown the proper river spirit by trials of speed with all comers, and these efforts to maintain the reputation of our boat had reached the ears of my partner, Mr. Musser, a conservative man, much older than myself.  He had given serious admonition against the folly and danger of racing, and had exacted a promise that I would not again indulge in the practice.  Immediately after I had given this pledge, however, he accompanied me on an up-river trip.


    We were in a deep and broad channel when one of the fastest boats of the day hove in sight of our stern and was rapidly overhauling us.


    The strain on my self-control was great and I could hardly restrain myself from putting on more speed, when my partner suddenly appeared at my side, his eyes blazing with the fire of contest.


     “Sammy,” he exclaimed excitedly, clapping me on the shoulder—“Sammy, throw in more coal and wood—Throw in all you want, and I’ll pay for it!” But don’t let that boat pass you.”


     Strife for speed records was not always or indeed generally inspired purely by racing sentiment.  The first boat of the season to get in at the port of destination received her wharfage free and was sure of a rich cargo, and the fastest boats were invariably in favor with the public.


     Among the boats which held high places in the galaxy of racers were the War Eagle, the Hawkeye State and the Gem City.


     In the golden days of the river it was not uncommon for a good boat to clear fifty or sixty thousand dollars in a season, and one or two of them brought their owners as high as one hundred thousand dollars a year.  A single trip in some instances yielded ten thousand dollars.


     The Gem City, commanded by Captain Davidson, deserves an especial place in river history as being the first boat to carry an electric light on the waters.  Electricity has been an important factor in lessening the rate of river freightage by doing away with the necessity of trying up at night.  This is especially true of towboats.


Some Famous Pilots of the Past


     Of the famous pilots of the old days volumes might be written.  They were a distinct class of marked individuality, with the common characteristics of great courage, decision and sense of locality.  Their handling of boats and knowledge of the river were so marvelous as to seem intuitive, almost super-national, to the lay mind.  It is a mistake, however, to suppose that in the essentials of their craft they were superior to pilots of the present day.  This common supposition no doubt arises from the fact that the old veterans were in the lime-light of publicity and that their successors are comparatively unobserved.  Now the pilots of the rafting boats receive the highest wages, their maximum compensation being in the neighborhood of two hundred and fifty dollars a month.


     When, however, the river was in its full glory, the “crack” pilots who ranked with Scribe Harris, Smith Harris, Orrin Smith, the brothers Ludwig, Ed. West and my other boyhood hero, Dan Wright, received from four hundred to five hundred dollars a month, and lived the lives of nabobs.  Many of them vied with the owners and masters of the boats, and some of them graduated from the wheel-house into the captain’s cabin.  In the main, however, a pilot lived exclusively in the atmosphere of his craft; he thought piloting, talked piloting, breathed piloting, and knew no other element of existence.


     Of the terrible disasters which attended river navigation on the Mississippi history has made abundant record.  Certainly one of the most dramatic incidents which took place on the river was the picturesque rout of the Indians by Captain Throckmorton, in the Black Hawk war.


     After the engagement of Bad-Ax, when the warriors were swarming on the river between the shore and Battle Island, a little below La Crosse, this captain drove his steamboat into their fleet of canoes, the huge paddle of his wheel crushing their frail craft, and creating greater havoc among them than the guns of the enemy.


     The fierce engagements of the civil war which took place on the river and along its shores may be left to history, with observation that the outcome of that long and bitter struggle might have been far different had it not been for this great waterway and the facilities which it afforded to the army and navy of the North.


     The first steamboat to thread the Mississippi to its upper waters was the famous old Virginia, which accomplished this significant feat in 1823, or 16 years after Fulton had astonished the world with his invention.—Reprinted from the Saturday Evening Post of Philadelphia, Copyright, 1902, by the Cutis Publishing Co.




Davenport Daily Republican, May 3, 1902, page 7.




     The steamer Musser got into trouble Monday evening at Wabasha and its raft was broken up. Governor Van Sant, who owns the boat, was notified and the first train into Wabasha brought Minnesota’s chief executive.  The strenuous Samuel R., laid aside the cares of a great state, forgot all about the railroad merger, and throwing off his coat and vest went out onto the end of a dam and helped two of the boat hands in their task of catching logs.  He spent four hours at such strenuous labor and was not visibly fatigued when he gave up the pike.




The Daily Times, Tuesday, 1903, July 24 page 7.








He Was Born at Rock Island and the Correspondence to the Chicago Paper Becomes Interesting



     Governor Van Sant is made the subject of William E. Curtis’ letter in the Chicago Record-Herald this morning.  Curtis says under a St. Paul date:


     “Samuel Van Sant, governor of Minnesota, and the champion ‘trust-buster,’ is a typical American, although of Dutch stock, like another typical American whom he admires.  Like that other typical American, he keeps as near the people as possible and his Republicanism is of the stalwart and robust variety.  He believes in the people, and is willing to follow them, although he conceals a good deal of leadership in a skillful way.  Governor Van Sant is proud of his state; he is proud of his party; he is proud of his administration; he is proud of his accomplishments, and he is proud of himself, with a worthy sort of pride that one cannot help but admire.  Nor does he conceal his satisfaction at the reforms he has affected since he was elected chief magistrate of Minnesota.  When he wanted to be governor he told the people so, and they elected him, and then they gave him a second term on their own account.  Both they and he are ambitious and hopeful of higher honors.


     “Governor Van Sant is a self made man, although he owns a good deal to his friends; but if he wasn’t the man he is he would not have had the friends.  His home is in Winona; he is a boatman on the Mississippi River by trade, and has made a fortune in that business.  If you will make a voyage up or down the Father of Waters you will see the name ‘Van Sant’ upon a lot of boats, most of them shoving rafts of logs and lumber.  They run between the big logging towns on the branches of the Mississippi river to Dubuque and Burlington; and often to St. Louis, and then, they come puffing and snorting northward again against the current.  Some seasons he handled as many as 200,000,000 feet of logs.  He has 300 boatmen on his pay roll, and although he has employed thousands of them from time to time, he has never had the slightest trouble or dispute, and every boatman on the Mississippi River is his friend.


     “Boating and preaching run in the Van Sant family.  The Governor’s great grandfather was a boat builder down in New Jersey and fitted out ships for the patriots in the War of the Revolution.  His grandfather was a soldier in the war of 1812, a shipbuilder and a minister of the Methodist Church, and his six sons split on those professions.  Five of them entered the pulpit and the sixth, John W., came west in 1837 and started a yard for building and repairing boats on the Mississippi River at LeClaire, Ia. where he died on his ninety-first birthday, after living to see his son inaugurated governor of Minnesota.


     “Governor Van Sant was born at Rock Island, served though the war, never missed a battle, never was sick and never was wounded.  After the war was over he tried to get an education and entered Knox College, at Galesburg, Ill.; but his money gave out and he had to work at his father’s trade, which he followed until he became superintendent of the shipyard.  Later he and his father raised money enough to buy out the yard, and have since prospered in their business.


     “Twice was Captain Van Sant sent to the Minnesota legislature from a Democratic district, and his second term was elected speaker of the lower house without an opposing vote.  Then, he became a candidate for governor, and since his inauguration has distinguished himself in various ways.  His fight against the consolidation of the Minnesota railways has made him a national reputation in which he takes great satisfaction.  He is a practical ‘trust-buster’ and doesn’t confine himself to passing resolutions, writing messages and making bluffs.  But the ‘busting’ of the great ‘merger’ was not the only incident in Van Sant’s administration worth talking about.”




The Saturday Evening Post of Burlington, Iowa, July 11, 1914, page 2




       The Minnesota State capitol grounds at St. Paul are embellished with heroic statues of men of that commonwealth that were eminent in war and peace.  That wonderfully fine and magnificent capital building was constructed under the administration of Gov. Van Sant, who is still a vigorous man with much further activity and usefulness before him, and who is one of the big financial and real estate operators in St. Paul.  The State Capitol cost over four millions, and Gov. Van Sant had part of the appropriation left, to be covered back to the treasury, when the grand edifice stood completed and ready for occupancy.  Here certainly is a record of prudent and faithful administration of public affairs that stands unique and without a parallel.  Almost anywhere else there would have been a deficit of millions.


     Capt. Van Sant is an old riverman and is still interested in the boats being a large stockholder in both the Carnival City Packet Company and the Northern Steamboat Company.


The Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 10, 1922, page 13.


      Governor Van Sant has a beautiful residence at Valrico, in the heart of the orange country, which he calls “Anchorage,” taken in reminiscent of the old river days when “Captain” Van Sant, as he was then known, spent a great part of his time on the Mississippi.  An anchor, as he explains, played an important part in his early life, and so he and his wife are anchored in the sunny clime of Florida for the rest of their winters.




The Daily Times, Saturday, October 3, 1936, page 1.


Ex-Gov. Van Sant Dead at Age of 92.



Van Sant’s Life A Story of River, Politics, G. A. R.



Was Long Associated With Capt. W. A. Blair of Davenport



      ATTICA, Ind., Oct. 3 – (Associated Press) – S. R. Van Sant, 92, former governor of Minnesota, died here early this morning from acute dilation of the heart.


      Mr. Van Sant, traveling by automobile to Green Cove, Fla., became ill and stopped at a local hotel.  A nurse, Edna Danielson, was accompanying him.


      Born in Rock Island, Ill. Mr. Van Sant was governor of Minnesota from 1901 to 1906 and was grand commander of the G. A. R. in 1909 and 1910.


     It was said burial will be in LeClaire, Ia.


     Ex. Gov. Van Sant’s early life was a saga of the river.  With his father, J. W. Van Sant, one of the earliest employees of the Weyerhaeuser & Denkmann interests, he began the building and operating of raft boats on the river when that business was at its height.


     They bought the huge rafts down the river that kept flourishing mills in the tri-cities, Muscatine, Clinton and elsewhere humming.


     In 1871, they began the building of river craft at a boat yards in LeClaire.  For a time they were associated with the Musser Lumber Co. of Muscatine.  Van Sant was a pilot and steamboat master himself.


Associate of Blair


     Mr. Van Sant’s death brought sorrow to Capt. W. A. Blair, pioneer river man of Davenport.  In 1882, Van Sant and Capt. Blair became associated with a business venture which continued until 1923.  They operated well-known river boats, the Carnival City Packet Co. and the Northern Steamboat Co., the Northern Star, Silver Crescent and other boats are recorded in the river’s history.


     In 1880, Mr. Van Sant went to Winona, Minn., then gaining fame as an up-river lumber center, and before long he was into politics.  He was always a staunch Republican.  He went to the legislature, became speaker of the house and finally governor.  He became interested in banking in St. Paul.


War Veteran


     At the age of 16, Governor Van Sant had enlisted in the Union army in Rock Island and served three years.  He became a leader in the Grand Army of the Republic and was its national commander-in-chief in 1909-1910.


     After the war he was a student at Knox College for two years and in 1904 was awarded a L.L.D degree from Cornell College, and the following year Augustana College conferred the same degree upon him.


     He was married to Miss Ruth Hall of LeClarie, Ia., Dec. 7, 1868, and she preceded him in death April 24, 1928.


      Governor Van Sant was a frequent visitor in the tri-cities and in LeClaire for Memorial Day, 1930, and in September of that year visited the Kahlke boat yards and exchanged reminiscences with Fred A. Kahlke.  He also spoke before the Rock Island Old Settlers at Watch Tower state park.  He was scheduled to speak in LeClaire on Memorial Day, 1935, but was unable to be present.




The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Sunday Morning, October 4, 1936, page 18.





Native of Rock Island and Former G. A. R. Commander—Burial Here



     Samuel R. Van Sant, former Governor of Minnesota and a native of Rock Island, died early Saturday morning in Attica, Ind., at the age of 92.  Death was the result of acute dilation of the heart.


     Traveling by automobile to Green Cove, Fla., he became suddenly ill and stopped at an Attica hotel.  He was accompanied by Edna Danielson, a nurse.


     Mr. Van Sant was governor of Minnesota during the years 1901 to 1906 and was commander in chief of the G. A. R. in 1903 and 1910.


       Enlisted in Rock Island.


     Governor Van Sant enlisted in the Union army at Rock Island at the age of 16 years, served three years without being wounded and returned to Rock Island, even then too young to cast a vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1864.  He was always a staunch Republican.


     Following in the footsteps of his father, J. W. Van Sant, a former employee of the Weyerhaeuser and Denkmann lumber mills, he was known as a builder and operator of rafting boats which hauled huge shipments of logs on the Mississippi River.


      In 1871 Governor Van Sant and his father started building raft boats in LeClaire, operating several of them, and later joining with the Musser Lumber Company of Muscatine.


     Later in 1882 the governor and Captain Walter A. Blair, 2342 East Eleventh Street, Davenport, formed a partnership in boat building which lasted until 1923, long after Van Sant Had left the community.


     About 1880 Mr. Van Sant moved to Winona, Minn., where he became interested in politics.  He was elected to the Minnesota Legislature for several terms and served as governor of the state from 1901 until 1906.


     Visiting the scenes of his youth in 1930, Governor Van Sant spent several days in Rock Island, viewing the Kahike boat yards where he reminisced river experiences with Fred A. Kahike.  He took part in the Memorial Day exercises in LeClaire in 1930 and in September of the same year addressed the Rock Island County Old Settlers Association at the Black Hawk State Park.


     His most recent visit was in Moline on May 28 of this year when he attended the annual reunion of Co. A. of the Ninth Illinois Cavalry of the Civil war.  He was one of five surviving members of the company present.




The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Monday Evening, October 5, 1936, page 15.


The Van Sant Funeral.


  Funeral services for Governor Samuel Van Sant, 92, who died Saturday in Attica, Ind., from heart disease, will be held in Minneapolis Tuesday after which the body will be sent to LeClaire, Ia., for burial.




The Daily Times, October 7, 1936, page 2




     Military funeral services for S. R. Van Sant, former Governor of Minnesota and past grand commander of the G. A. R. who died Saturday in Attica, Ind., were held at 9:15 a.m. today at Glendale Cemetery, LeClaire.  The Rev. Miss Edna Watson officiated, while members of the Buffalo Bill post of the American Legion had charge of the services.


    The guard of honor consisted of Roy H. Suiter, C. C. Brown, Paul Brown, William Hollman, Frank Clark, Ed Suiter and James J. Ryan.


     Members of the firing squad who fired a salute as taps were sounded were Sergt. F. R. Gray, T. A. Kwasigroch, C. G. Stewart, V. F. Chapin, T. R. Walker, C. B. McAdams, E. W. Adamison, C. L. Mear and L. M. Derwiter.


     Pallbearers were J. A. Hanley, T. B. Stone, H. D. Gault, W. J. Laycock, J. A. Meyer, Charles Shuler, Sr., C. C. Thompson and W. A. Blair.


    Among the relatives from out of the city who attended the services were the deceased’s son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Grant Van Sant of Green Cold Springs, Fla.; his brother and sister-in-law, Mrs. N. G. Van Sant of Sterling, Ill.; his grandson, Grant Van Sant, Jr., of Kansas City, Mo.; a niece Miss Grace Hall of Dubuque; his housekeeper, Miss Edna Danielson of Minneapolis, Minn., and Thomas Gainey of Moline, who was in the Governor’s company in the Civil War.


Photo by Bob Jones




The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Wednesday Evening, October 7, 1936, page 11.





     Burial services for former Governor S. R. Van Sant of Minnesota, were held with full military honors at the Glendale Cemetery in LeClaire at 9:15 a.m. today with Miss Edna Watson, pastor of the LeClaire Gospel Tabernacle officiating.


     Buffalo Bill Post No. 347 of the LeClaire American Legion, attended the services in a body and composed the escort of honor, consisting of Roy H. Suiter, commander, C. C Brown, William Hollman, Frank Clark, Paul Brown, Ed Suiter and James Ryan, Spanish American War veteran.


     A firing squad from the Rock Island Arsenal, with Sergeant F. R. Gray in charge, fired a salute at the gravesite.  The firing squad was composed of T. A. Kwasigroch, C. G. Stewart, V. F. Chapin, T. R. Walker, C. B. McAdams, E. W. Adamison, C. L. Mear and L. M. Detwiler.


     Bearers were J. A. Hanley, T. B. Stone, H. P. Gault, W. J. Laycock, J. A. Meyer, Charles Shuler, Sr., C. C. Thompson and

W. A. Blair.


    Relatives from out of the city who attended the services were his son, Grant Van Sant and Mrs. Van Sant, Sr., Green Cold Springs Fla; his brother, N. G. and Mrs. Van Sant, of Sterling, Ill.; a grandson, Grant Van Sant and Mrs. Van Sant, Jr., of Kansas City; his niece, Miss Grace Hall, Dubuque, Ia.


     Also attending were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Gainey, and Miss Edna Danielson of Minneapolis.  Miss Danielson, nurse of the former governor, was accompanying him at the time of his death 

Samuel Van Sant house in LeClaire, Iowa as it stands today.




Collected and Transcribed by

Sue Rekkas

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