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Montrose, Iowa

  The "Wheel"  

Hartley, Thomas


1880 Federal Census Montrose, Iowa

Thomas Hartley 52

Occupation: Steam engineer

Born: England April 12, 1828

Wife: Anna 43

Died Sept. 12, 1900


Portrait and Biographical Album of Lee County, Iowa”, Chicago, Chapman Brothers, 1887, Page 356:


      THOMAS HARTLEY, of Montrose Township, is head engineer of the Government Guard, or Upper Lock, on the Des Moines Rapids Government Canal, a position requiring the exercise of large experience and a cool head.  Mr. Hartley is considered peculiarly well qualified for this responsible position.  The subject of this biography is the son of George and Elizabeth (Moat) Hartley, natives of Yorkshire, England, where they were married.  They came to America in 1833, proceeding at once to Wheeling, W. Va., where the mother died three years later, in 1836.  George Hartley was a brewer by occupation, and survived his wife thirty-two years, dying in 1868.  They were the parents of eight children—Charles, William, Ann, Moses, Thomas, John, George and Henry.


     Thomas Hartley is the fifth child of his parents’ family, and was born April 12, 1828.  He remained under the parental roof until he arrived at years of manhood, and was united in marriage with Miss Ann Goss.  Mrs. Hartley was born in 1836.  Of their union has been born one child, Charles, who married Miss Mary Mathena, , and is now engaged as a machinist in Burlington, Iowa.


     Thomas Hartley came to the Hawkeye State in 1854 and located in Keokuk.  He had learned the trade of machinist and also that of engineering, in Wheeling, W. Va., in 1847.  He took charge of the Upper Lock as head engineer in 1879, and since that time has thus been continuously engaged.  He occupies a comfortable homestead and enjoys the esteem of his fellow townsmen.  In Politics he affiliates with the Republican party.


Hilton, George


George Hilton 46

Occupation: boat engineer

Born: Pennsylvania

Wife: Rebecca 33

Children: Arvilla 15, Hattie 12, Hita 7, Danial 7, William 2


Lewis, Marcina

1880 Federal Census

Marcina 55

Occupation: steam engineer

Born: N. Y.

Wife: Lucy 53

Children: Carrie 19



McBride, Steve


Chapter 13

C.H. Thomas

Saturday Burlington Post


Out here, among the corn fields of Iowa, I discovered, two old time river men, Steve McBride, formerly of Montrose.


Morris, W. J.


1880 Federal Census

W. J. Morris 55

Occupation: Steam engineer

Born: New York

Wife: Elizabeth 49

Children: , Norwood 22, Minnie 19



Capts. Owen


Owen, Robert

pilot (1889 Lee County Directory)

 Raft Pilot since 1852, married Elizabeth A. Peck in 1856


“A Raft Pilots Log”

Walter Blair


List of Raft-boats, their Masters and owners, 1883

 The “Prescott” owned by Sam Speake and R. S. Owen, Montrose, Iowa


Pg 299

List of Raft-boats in Commission, 1890,
with names of their Masters and Owners,
as published in the Davenport
Democrat, February, 1890

owned by Des Moines Towing Company of Montrose, Iowa.


1880 Federal Census

 R. S. Owen 54

Occupation: river pilot

Born: Indiana

Wife: Eliz 44

Children: Zack 22

From “Portrait and Biographical Album of Lee County, Iowa” 1887, Pages 428 and 431.

  [page 429 is blank and page 430 is a picture of St. Mary’s Church and School, Ft. Madison, Iowa]


“CAPT. ROBERT S. OWEN is one of the pioneer boatmen of the Mississippi, having plied the rapids between Keokuk and Montrose for the last thirty-nine years, and is part owner of the steamboat “Park Bluff,” belonging to the Des Moines Rapids Towing Company, and the steamer “Prescott.”  He also has an interest in other river craft, and among the members of his calling occupies a prominent and enviable position.  He is skillful and popular, and is well and favorably known for miles up and down the river.”


Owen, Ephraim/ Owen Ephriam F.


From “Portrait and Biographical Album of Lee County, Iowa” 1887, Pages 428 and 431: 

[page 429 is blank and page 430 is a picture of St. Mary’s Church and School, Ft. Madison, Iowa]


“Ephraim F., also a steamboat Captain and pilot on the lower Mississippi, was married in 1867, to Miss Mary Barnett, of Mobile, Ala.; he died in St. Louis on the 18th day of September, 1867, of yellow fever.  He had started from St. Louis in command of the steamer “Bee,” belonging to the Mississippi Valley Transportation Company, made his trip in safety, and was stricken with the plague in Baton Rouge, La., and brought to St. Louis.  His first trip up the river as pilot was to St. Paul in 1854, and he followed the Upper Mississippi as pilot until 1863, when he went below and followed the Lower Mississippi trade for the following two years, then purchased an interest in the steamer “War Eagle,” running her as Captain one year.  He then became employed by the above-named transportation company, and secured a life insurance to the extent of $5,000, which after his death was paid to the widow.”


 Life Story of

Alvin Franklin Stewart

By his granddaughter, Ethel H. Stewart Russell, 1957


“When Grandfather was seventeen years of age he bought his time of his father and Went to visit his cousins in Ohio. In 1842 he moved to Illinois. He was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 20 March 1842. Brigham Young ordained him an Elder and on the 29 of October 1843 he was married by Heber C. Kimball to Camera O. Owen, daughter of Ephraim Owen and Mary M. Kern Owen of Montrose, Iowa, in the Nauvoo Temple. They made their home in Montrose. Her people were also Latter Day Saints and were living at Commerce on the original site of Nauvoo when the Saints moved there. They were pioneer boatmen on the Mississippi River.”


Ephriam Owen died 1839 Montrose, Iowa

Ephriam f Owen died Sept. 18th, 1867 St. Louis


Owen, George


Chapter 28

Burlington Saturday Evening Post

E. H. Thomas


“Any man with average intelligence can start and stop an engine and watch the water gauges, but to be a competent river engineer one must know every part of his machinery and be able to repair it on short notice when out of repair.  The steamboat companies expect this of their men.  The men on the boats at that time were not only engineers, but skillful mechanics, could make their own repairs and save the companies much time and money.  With such men as Spence Bruton, John Parr, Bob Soloman, Lou Jenks, W. H. Pierce and Geo Owen on watch we knew the machinery would be kept in good order and the engines promptly handled at the landings and in close places.  The skill and promptness of the engineer had all to do with handling a boat.  A failure on the part of the engineer to promptly answer the bell signals sent down to him, would get the pilot into serious trouble. These engineers were paid from $100 to $150 per month, and they earned the money.”


 Omen (Owen?), George

1880 Federal Census

George Omen 52

Occupation: river engineer

Wife: Martha  51

Children: Mirtle  16


Owens, William

Chapter 15

E. H. Thomas

Saturday Evening Post


“I do no not know why it was, but as far as my acquaintance went among them, I noticed that the river men were Democrats.  Whenever there was a crowd of us together they had a good working majority. On my run between Davenport and St. Louis I found but three Republican among the pilots.  One of these was Bill Owens of Montrose.  William was not only a republican but a very radical noisy member of the party.  The other fellows nagged him to keep him going and along in the 70’s nicknamed him “Horace Greeley,”  Bill wore an old white overcoat and in some respects resembled the great New York editor, one of the organizers of the republican party”.

Research by relative Patricia W. Grudzinski


Page 10 & 11

Wm. Owens


I was born in Knox Co. Indiana in 1816 and in 1839 I immigrated to then Territory of Iowa traveling through the state of Illinois a part of the time on foot, with rifle on my shoulder and knapsack on my back so you see carpet baggers were in vogue then as well as now. Illinois was almost a wilderness then, her broad prairies and her rich bottom lands had been scarcely touched by the plow-shares of the husbandman, a rude log cabin could be occasionally seen marking the spot, where some brave Pioneer had pitched his tent. I reached Lee County Iowa late in the fall of 1839, took up my residence in Montrose township. I found the people, what few there were greatly excited over a dispute which had arisen between the territory of Iowa and Missouri with regard to the boundary between them and the matter had been called to the field of war. A neighbor of mine raised a company placed himself at its head as captain, and marched to the field of carnage but in a very short time he returned, badly wounded, having been shot in the neck, and his command generally very much demoralized not long after the news reached us, not on the wires, but by weekly mail, that the olive branch of peace waved over the bloody chasm, upon arriving here, I worked my trade, a house carpenter, then engaged in building and repairing boats, and piloting over the Rapids, this business I followed for several years, sold out and went upon the river, as a steam boat pilot, which I have followed ever since in all something over twenty (20) years running from St. Louis to all points above as far North as St. Paul. In looking around me I find but very few of my old settler friends still survive, death and removals have thinned their ranks so much that but few are left. I look back with many pleasing reflections over the past thirty years of my residence in old Lee County, not however entirely unmixed with bitterness. In my moments of meditation I often think of the great changed which has taken place in our country, its rapid increase in population, wealth, improvements, civilization and refinement, and ask myself the question, if our advancement should be as rapid in the next quarter of a century as it has been in the past, what a grand and glorious state we will have. Upon my arrival in this county, hostilities with the Sac and Fox Indians had ceased, the triumph of our arms at the battle of Bad AX and the capture of Black Hawk, the distinguished chief of those tribes had occurred. Fort Des Moines, where Montrose now stands, had been evacuated - leaving the old barracks still standing - but occupied by citizens. I saw occasionally moving bands of Indiana passing about this county, and one occasion, I met old Keokuk, with a few of his braves quietly smoking his pipe in his tent, surrounded by his wives and pap-pooses. I have nothing more at present to say. Pardon me for being so tedious. My residence is still in Montrose at which place I shall always take pleasure in meeting my old settlers friends, and giving them a cordial shake of the hand. Montrose, Lee County, Iowa Aug. 1, 1873. (Died at Montrose Iowa Sept. 30, 1876. Rachael, his wife, died at Montrose Oct. 25, 1884)

Personal note: William married his first wife Lucinda Galland in Edgar Co. Illinois June 5, 1837. Their first child, Isaac, named after her father, no doubt) was born June 7, 1838.

So when William made this trip to Iowa, it was apparently with a wife and child---which he did not mention. He also states that he "sold" out his business. So who really knows what happened???? Haven't been able to find the location of their final resting place. I am told one cemetery was flooded years ago and destroyed.

Written by Patricia Grudzinski


About all I can add about William is that he was somewhat a colorful character. In an article a story told by William for the Old Settlers Association in 1873, he states that he immigrated to the Territory of Iowa in 1839, walking across the state of Illinois on foot. His trade was a house carpenter but he also built and repaired boats and later became a steamboat pilot. Family lore from another descendant say's his grandmother, Marietta Shumate, William's daughter, would never let the family have a deck of cards in the house. This was because William Owen's was supposed to have gambled his steam boat and lost it in a poker game. It was a sore spot in the family.


Capts. Patton

Patton, C. H.


Chapter XXXXI 

 Saturday Evening Post 

 E. H. Thomas



Capt. Charles H. Patton, Steamboat Engineer.


Capt. C. H. Patton


A veteran Steamboat engineer, Capt Charles H. Patten was born on June 20, 1841,on a farm adjacent to Sackett’s Harbor, Jefferson County, New York.  With His Parents he came to Iowa at an early day.  His father, Capt. H. M. Patten, was successively watchman, Carpenter and captain of Mississippi and Des Moines rivers steamers. Charles H. Patten became cabin boy when eleven years of age, and a year later was serving in this capacity on the Badger State’ when that steamer floundered on The Ottumwa rapids of the Des Moines River in 1853.  Edward Stewart, now Traveling salesman for the Fort Madison Plow company, was pilot on the “Badger State.”  Capt. Chas. H. Patten is one of The veterans of the river. Until recent years he was in active service in the Engine room.  His reminiscence would Fill a book, and all he has written has Been of decided interest.  He is now A guard at the power plant of the State Institution at Fort Madison


Patton, Dee

“A Raft Pilots Log”

Walter Blair

Pg. 283

List of Chief Engineers of the Rafters

Dee Patton …Montrose, Iowa


1880 Federal Census

 F. D. Patton 28

Occupation: steam engineer

Born: Iowa

Wife: Emily 27

Children: Minnie 5, Elsie 3, May 1


Patton, H. M.

Father of Charles Patton

Occupation: Captain


E. H Thomas

Chapter 31

Burlington Saturday Evening Post


Capt. H. M. Patten, was successively watchman,

Carpenter and captain of Mississippi and

Des Moines rivers steamers. 


Capts. Ruby



The Ruby’s lived upriver in Buffalo, Iowa in the winter and downriver in Montrose each summer when their steamboats were used for weekly service. For more on the Ruby’s go to celticcousins.com and look for Ruby Scrapbook.


Ruby, E. Jerome 


born in New York 1830, pilot of the Moline, died Rock Island Ill. Taken by the marshal of transportation and forced to sail down  thru rebel lines during the civil war.              


Ruby, Oscar Mills

Was a cub pilot and part of the great excursion. He and Homer often piloted together. Buried in Buffalo Iowa.


Ruby, Homer Sheldon (Shell) 

Piloted boats like the Tishomingo, Sidney, Diamond Jo, Keithsburg and New Boston.


Ruby, Perry

son of Oscar Mills Ruby, born in Montrose, was captain of the Wake Robin. Died in Keokuk, Iowa.


Schroeder, Henry, pilot

1880 Federal Census

Henry Schroeder 44

Occupation: steamboatman

Born: Germany

Wife: Annie 36

Children: Annie 13, Jennie 11, Clarence 7, Henry 4

Died: 12, November 1914


From Descendant of George Best, Terrie Cooper-Piper

 Sarah E. Best b 1844 d 1925 sister of steamboatmen George and James Best married Henry C. Schrader/Schroeder 1/4/1860 in Lee County, Iowa.


Capts Speake


Speake, Charles

1880 Federal Census

Charles Speake 31

Born: Iowa

Occupation: river pilot

Wife: Eliz 25

Child: Ida 3

Died Mt. Pleasant 1895


Speake, Sam

Chapter 13

Burlington Saturday Evening Post

E. H. Thomas


“The late Capt R. S. Owen and Sam Speake, as good rapids pilots as ever piloted a boat down over the rapids, told the writer the name of some that participated in getting the Mechanic Rock from the channel to the Iowa shore to with; Hugh White, Wm. Gore, Thos. McIntosh, Wm. Adams of Galland (then it was called Nashville), the two Brierly brothers, Col Snodley and other names that I have forgotten.  Hon. J. B. Kiel, Mayor of Montrose, had taken several views of Mechanic Rock, but his supply is exhausted now, but will print some more as soon as he recovers from his sickness, so he writes me.  I endeavored to get some for you to mail with this, and will have to abide my time until Mr. Kiel is able to get around.”


 1880 Federal Census Montrose Iowa

 Sam Speake 45

Born: Ky 1834

Occupation: River pilot

Wife: Susan 22

Child: Annie 6

Died: Montrose 1900

1868 Married: Minerva Delisle




December 12- Capt. Samuel Speak departed this life at his home in Montrose Saturday, December 10, 1904, from partial paralysis. He was a native of Kentucky, born near Louisville October 29, 1834. He was  a successful river pilot and plied the waters of the Mississippi for about fifty  years, he being the oldest raft pilot known in this vicinity. Captain Speak was a kind and obliging neighbor and friend, was always

ready to alleviate the sufferings of others. He leaves to mourn his demise two daughters, Mrs. Wm. Worthington of Lincoln, Neb., and Mrs. John Reed of this city, one sister, Mrs. Russell Holmes of Fort Madison, the only surviving member of the immediate family.   Rev. W. E. Fisher officiated.   The interment was made in the Montrose cemetery Monday afternoon.
Quite a number of the relatives of Capt. Speak from Keokuk and the middle lock attended the funeral Monday afternoon.
Fort Madison Iowa Dec. 12, 1904

*Mrs. Wm Worthington:  she was Minerva's daughter. She was still alive when Mrs. .John Reed died because she attended the funeral in  Montrose.

Dear Robert

I have a lot information from the Keokuk records and elsewhere for Charles Gillespie, not as much on Samuel.  My interest in Samuel Speake was his first wife Minerva Delisle, the daughter of John B Delisle who was also a riverboatman.  John Delisle married Hester Rebecca Gillespie, the older sister of Charles.  Rebecca is my wife's second-great grandmother.

God Bless you,
Scott Schurwan


I see where you are going with this information.  The Gillespies, Deliles and Speakes were evidently all in the riverboat business as evidenced by the census records.  Charles Gillespie died about 1915 in Denver Co. and there was an extensive obit for him in the Keokuk paper.  I found no such obit for John Delile who died either in Keokuk or St. Louis sometime before 1870.

Charles Delile the son of John B. (Delisle or Delile) was also a river boat pilot.  His parents died when he was young and I believe he was raised by his uncles Charles and/or Albert Gillespie.  Maybe these two emails will give you some clues to persue his career further than I did.  He died in Rock Island, Illinois in 1923 I believe.  His obit in the Rock Island newspaper was extensive. (Scott Schurwan researcher married to descendant)


Speake, Valentine


Born: 1810 at: Married: at Washington Co., KY

Occupation: river man

Died: 1880 Montrose

Father: Basil Speake

Mother: Elizabeth Kenneth

Wife: Elizabeth GREENWELL


Christina Speake, m. William West

Nancy Eliz Speake m. Wesley Ferguson

Capt. Samuel Speake m. Minerva Delisle

Charles Carlton Speake m. Nancy Skinner

Mary Speake

Henerietta Speake m. Rupell Holmes


 Speake, Valentine


Valentine Speake was born in 1810 in Washington County, Kentucky, the son of Basil and Elizabeth (Greenwell) Speake. The 1850 and 1870 US Census of Montrose, Lee Co., Iowa listed him as a “rapids river pilot”. He Married Elizabeth Greenwell on 1 October 1830 in Springfield, Kentucky. They had seven children, four in Kentucky, one in Illinois, and two in Lee County Iowa. He died at Montrose, Lee County, Iowa during the first half of 1876 and is buried in Montrose Cemetery. The 1865 Iowa Gazetteer listed Valentine as a lumber dealer in Lee County. His sons Samuel L. and Charles Carlton, and son-in-law William West (husband of Christina Speake) were also river pilots.



Speake, Capt. Samuel L.


Samuel L. Speake was born 29 October 1834 in Marion County, Kentucky, the son of Valentine and Elizabeth (Greenwell) Speake. The 1870, 1880 and 1900 US Censuses of Montrose, Lee County, Iowa listed him as a steamboat river rapids pilot. He married Minerva M. Delisle on 27 November 1860 in Lee County, Iowa. They had three children. He remarried about 1880. One source listed his second wife’s name as Sarah SuAnn Ellen Rosetta Skinner. (She was listed as “Susan” in the 1880 Census.) Samuel died 10 December 1904 in Montrose and is buried there.


'Prescott' at Mechanic's Rock

17 September 1891


 (Zip Owens (front), Sam Speaks (in boiler room doorway) from the collection of the Putnam Museum, Davenport, Iowa

(another copy of this photo gives names and dates)


The 'Park Bluff'

(From the collection of the Putnam Museum, Davenport, Iowa.)


 The following is from “Portrait and Biographical Album of Lee County, Iowa;” Chicago: Chapman Bros., 1887:


     "Capt. Samuel Speake, a resident of Nauvoo, but making his home mostly in Montrose Village, is one of the most skillful pilots of the Mississippi River, and has traversed the "Father of Waters" since 1854.  At that time he entered upon his responsible duties as pilot through the rapids between Montrose and Keokuk (Iowa), and four years later was placed in charge of a valuable raft which he floated from Stillwater to St. Louis.  He worked for four months in the pineries of Minnesota, and was on the St. Croix Lake with Joseph Hall, the commander of a raft from Stillwater to New Boston Bay, where they were obliged to lay up on account of high water.  In the year 1881 he purchased a one-third interest with R.S. Owen and others, in the packet steamers "Prescott" and "Park Bluff".  The "Prescott" is one of the finest steamers on the Father of Waters, and Capt. Speake is considered one of the foremost pilots now following the rapids.  He has been a thorough business man, owns property in Montrose and Nauvoo, and is a general favorite among river men, and among his fellow-citizens when he is on terra firma.


     "Capt. Speake is a native of Marion Co., KY., and the date of his birth was Oct. 29, 1829 (editor note: Lee Co. census says 1934, and that agrees with him being 70 years old when he died).   When he was a lad of six years, his parents moved from KY to Illinois, and he received a very limited education in the schools of the Prairie State, where he attended one week.  He was a bright and ambitious boy, however, keenly observant of what was going on around him and made the most of his opportunities.  At the early age of eleven years he started out for himself and decided on his future course, which was to follow the river.  He was first engaged as cabin boy, and climbed up, step by step, to his present responsible position.


     "Nov. 27, 1860, Capt. Speake was united in marriage with Miss Minerva M. DeLisle, and of this union there are three children:  Lucia A. who married William Worthington, of Lincoln, Neb.; Annie E and Frank; the latter is a bright little boy of eight years."


Speake, Charles Carlton


Charles Carlton Speake was born 5 October 1847 in Montrose, Lee County, Iowa, the son of Valentine and Elizabeth (Greenwell) Speake. He married Nancy Catherine Elizabeth Skinner on 5 November 1874 in Montrose, Lee County. The 1870, 1880 and 1900 US Censuses of Montrose list him as a steamboat pilot. Charles Carlton died 5 November 1901 in Montrose and is buried with his wife in Montrose Cemetery.


West, William


William West was born between 1803 and 1820 (various sources give different dates and ages). He married Christina Speake on 11 August 1849 in Lee County, Iowa. They had nine children, all born in Iowa. The 1880 US Census of Jackson Twp., Lee County, Iowa lists his occupation as riverboat pilot. He died 26 November 1902 in Lee County and is buried in Oakland Cemetery, Keokuk.


Source: Lee Co., IA GenWeb Project, Articles From MONTROSE, IOWA JOURNAL, Transcribed by Connie (Dobson) Putthoff



28 Nov 1902


“WEST, William died at his home in Price’s Creek, Wednesday. He bore the distinction of being the oldest man in Keokuk. He came in the early days. Married in Montrose, 12 August 1850, leaves nine children, 24 grandchildren.”


Stewart, Edward



Stiner, Thomas


1880 Federal Census Montrose Iowa

Stiner, Thomas

Occupation: steam engineer

Born: Ohio


Capts. West


West, Harrison

pilot (1889 Lee County Directory)


1880 Federal Census Montrose Iowa

 West Harrison 52

Occupation: riverman

Born: Ohio

Wife: Milison 49

Children: Emma 19, Etta 17


West William, rapids pilot (1889 Lee County Directory)




Some Companies in the Jacob Gates Wagon Train did not report a roster list so the list of the Jacob Gates Wagon Train is not complete. William West and family are not listed in this company or any of the companies coming to Utah, but they were on the ship International with the Crossland family. Research indicates that William West and his family stayed and lived in Keokuk, Iowa.


Montrose Journal

Nov. 28, 1902


WEST, William died at his home in Price’s Creek, Wednesday. He bore the distinction of being the oldest man in Keokuk. He came in the early days. Married in Montrose, 12 August 1850 leaves nine children, 24 grandchildren.


Wife: William West: Christina Speake


Capts. White


White, James


Born: Sept 26, 1802

Adams County Vermont

Wife:  Laurancy Barber

Children: Sarah, Nancy, Elizabeth, Alexander, William, Mary, Capt Hugh L White, Lurancy, Polly


Capt. James White Established Montrose in 1854



White, Hugh


Father: Capt. James White


Chapter 13

E.H. Thomas

Burlington Saturday Evening Post


The steamboat Mechanic was a sidewheel boat single engine, which was the prevailing construction of steamboats at that time, 1830, and owned by Capt. Hugh L. White and others.  Capt. White was an uncle of Capt. J. W. Campbell, who was cub pilot on the boat learning the river.  It was just after dark when the boat sank, but was raised and taken to St. Louis for repairs.  The winter followed the sinking of the boat Capt White whose home was just below Nauvoo, Ills. Got several men interested with him to join in while the river was at low tide and hauled the rock to the Iowa shore which was done by prying the rock from its embedment and putting log chains around it hitching on sixteen yokes of oxen pulling the rock to near the bank, they could not get any nearer, the bank being so steep there was only two yokes of oxen that could get a foot hold- and ever since then that rock has been called “Mechanic Rock,” The pilots had it for a gauge to tell how much water was in the channel over the rapids, and the writer remembers that when a boat would land at Montrose on the down stream trip the pilot would stop ashore and inquire from some of the pilots that lived in Montrose how far Mechanic Rock was out of water, until after low water of 1863 and 1864, when the upper Mississippi river pilots association had two indicators erected; one at Montrose and the other at Keokuk.


Withrow, Mordacai


Mary Elizabeth "Emma" Withrow was born about September 2, 1824 in OH and died June 19, 1910 in Ozark, Christian Co., MO. She married Thomas H "Tom" Brierly on May 23, 1841 in Hancock Co., IL. He was born about 1822 in OH and died before 1880 in MO. Mary is buried at the City of Ozark Cemetery in Christian Co.Mo. Tom Brierly was a famous riverboat Captain.


.As you can see from the 1850 census record Thomas' brother in law, Mordecai Withrow, was also a "river man". Modecai was also from the Montrose area. He may have died before 1860.Federal Census of Ward 5, St Louis, St Louis Co., MO:


HH#1304, August 26, 1850 Census:

Thomas H Brierly 28 m Ohio Steam Boat Pilot

Elizabeth 25 f Ohio

Evaline 7 f Iowa

Pauline 5 f Iowa

Thomas 2 m Missouri

Mordiea Withrow 23 m Ohio Steam Boat pilot

Silvey 17 f Ohio


Thomas and family appear to move back and forth across Missouri from census to census. I suspect that they may have had homes both in Saint Louis and Saint Joseph when Thomas was a Steamboat owner.

Federal Census of Marion Township, Buchanan Co.,


MO:HH#1664, October 8, 1860 Census:

Thos Brierly 38 m Ohio Farmer

Elizabeth 36 f Ohio

Eveline 17 f Ohio

Pauline 15 f Ohio

Thomas 13 m Missouri

S D Wilkerson [Withrow] 26 m Ohio (Steven  B Withrow)

Federal Census of Ward 6, St Louis, St Louis Co.,


MO:HH#1304, June 2, 1870:

Capt. Thomas H Brierly 48 m Ohio Cotton Planter

Maria E 47 f Ohio Keeps House

Eva 26 f Iowa

Pauline 23 f Iowa

Thomas H Jun. 21 m Missouri Striker on St. Boat

Jennie Donnelly 24 f Canada Dress Maker

Laura A. Crooks 12 f Missouri


Hope that I have been of some help, David Lewis


S. B. Withrow


“A Raft Pilots Log Book” Walter Blair

List of Raft-boats, their Masters
 and owners, 1883




Menominie..............................................Stephen Withrow


Davenport Republican
Dec. 13, 1901

List of Boats and Masters
 Ben Hershey ……………………………………S. Withrow



Withrow, T. C.




Williams S. A. ,

(Sam) pilot (1889 Lee County Directory)


  “A Raft Pilots Log”

Walter Blair


“Rapids Pilots who ran Rafts over the Lower, or Des Moines, Rapids”

William West, lived at Priced creek.
Valentine Speak, died at Montrose, 1880.
R.S. Owen, died at Montrose, 1898.
J.P. Barber, died at Montrose, 1915.
Sam Speak, died at Montrose, 1900.
Charles Speak, died at Mt. Pleasant, 1895.
Sam Williams, died in California, 1878.
Cha. H. Farris, living in Montrose, well and active at seventy-eight.
When the old canal was finished in 1878, the work of the Rapids pilots was greatly reduced, as rafts could be put through the canal in less time and with less expense and damage in extreme low water than working them over outside.

Then in 1913, when the Keokuk dam was completed, there was no more work for the Rapids pilots on any craft between Montrose and Keokuk.


Captain Charles Farris made the last trip as a Rapids pilot, taking the big 'Morning star' down and back on a special sight-seeing trip when the dam was completed and the old Rapids submerged nearly all the way up. There were three locks in the old canal, each eighty feet wide and three hundred feet long.

During the busy year of rafting, Captain Joseph Farris was in charge of the Guard lock, at the upper end, at the village of Galland.

   Nicholas McKenzie was in charge of the middle lock. He was the father of Captain Hugh McKenzie and grandfather of Louis McKenzie, now in the crew that operates the big single lock that passes vessels from Lake Keokuk to the river level below or contrariwise.

   John Carpenter had charge of the Lower or Keokuk lock and Major M. Meigs was in charge of the entire canal dry docks and machine shop.

   Major Meigs and John Carpenter are now(1928) living quiet, retired, but healthy and happy lives in Keokuk.

Capt. James Harris of Burlington, can point out the exact spot where lies the buried treasure.  Pig lead, ready for the market needs no smelting.  Harris is probably the only surviving member of the party that sailed up to Eagle Island on the lead expedition 50 or 60 years ago.


Collected and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure


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