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On the River


Muscatine, Iowa



Part II

photos by McClure

Mississippi Queen going under the Muscatine Bridge and out the other side.

Muscatine Iowa

compiled and copyrighted in a book by
Georgeann McClure
 Charles Curtis
Source: Portrait and Biographical Album, Muscatine County, Iowa, 1889, page 372
Charles A. Curtis

“ In the spring of 1873 he engaged in log driving on the Upper Mississippi River, and during the summer worked on a raft-boat, having his headquarters at La Crosse, Wis.  In the fall of 1873 he shipped on the steamer " Mountain Belle," and made a trip to New Orleans, but spent the succeeding winter in Memphis, Tenn. Returning to La Crosse in the spring, he again engaged in rafting, but left the river about the 24th of May, and returned to Wilton, where he has since been engaged in carpentering and building, and for three and a half years of the time has been in the employ of the Chicago, Rock Island Railroad Company, for which he worked at bridge building and general carpenter work.”

Andrew Davidson

Capt Andrew Davidson
Muscatine Journal
April 7, 1908
Was 96 years of age and one of city’s Best Known Men--Prominent In Methodist Church

Andrew Davidson 96 years of age for many years one of the most prominent citizens of Muscatine, passed away at 8 o’clock Saturday evening at the family residence 408 West Third street, old age coupled with an accident suffered nearly eight weeks ago being the cause. 

Appointed a deacon in the Methodist church in 1867, or two years after coming to Muscatine, he has been a central figure in that institution for more than 40 years, and has been  prominently identified with every plan and progress enjoyed by the church.  His name and deeds have been connected with practically every bit of history made and perhaps no man was so generally beloved by the membership of an institution as was Father Davidson of that church.

Sincere and earnest in every undertaking with absolute faith in his fellow men he was endeared to every one, and it is safe to assert no man, while Mr. Davidson was in his prime, was better known in Muscatine. In business the same high ideals were ever maintained, and perhaps the highest compliment that may be paid to his life, is to repeat the words of one who had known him for many ears, which follow: “He led an almost perfect life, is either in his home, or in business, it was one worthy indeed of emulation.” Probably more

thoughtful of others than of himself, it is not surprising that gloom is cast over the membership of the First Methodist church, and every other church in this vicinity, in which Father Davidson always took a great interest.  To a perfect life and a spotless character tribute must indeed be paid.

Andrew Davidson came to Muscatine in April 1865, and shortly after engaged in the boot and shoe business.  In the building now occupied by the George Clapp hardware store.  Later he disposed of that business and for many years operated the “Ida May” as a ferry boat between Muscatine and the Illinois shore.  About 25 years ago, however, he sold out to J.A. Eaton, and since that time has done little in the way of business aside from looking after his farm on Muscatine Island.  In February, 1908, Mr. Davidson fractured his hip as a result of a fall, but prior to that time, notwithstanding his advanced age, he was physically equal to many several years his junior.  However, the injury to his hip never fully recovered and he has not been able to get around with nay degree of comfort since the accident.  Since his fall eight weeks ago he has been confined to his bed, and for the past week his condition has been most critical.

Andrew Davidson was born in Adams County, Ohio, October, 1812, and removed to Cincinnati when about 16 years  of age, where he learned the tanners trade.  For a time he operated a tan yard at Portsmouth Ohio, coming from there to Muscatine in April 1865, he became a member of the Methodist church in August 1832 was given a license to exortain April, 1849, and to preach in 1859.  On September 22, 1867, he was ordained a deacon of the Methodist church by bishop Jaynes at Iowa City.  He was made a member of the official board of the Methodist church in 1866, and at the last session of the board wad made an honorary member, an honor rarely conferred.

   Mr. Davidson was married three times, his first marriage occurring May 21, 1833, when he married Louisa Meeks.  Four children were born to them, two of whom survive, they being Sarah Roach, of Muscatine, and Leroy Davidson, of Davenport.  His second marriage took place in May, 1841, and four children were also born to this union three of whom survive.  They are Margaret Cole, of Portsmouth Ohio, Jacob, of Bonneville, and Joseph T. of Ft. Moultria, South Carolina. His second wife died November 25, 1859 and on October 3, 1860 he was united in marriage to Rachael Wilton, one child, Ella R. Davidson, of this city being born to them.  Besides his wife and children he is survived by a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren, residing in Muscatine are: Joseph  A,. Davidson Robert, John and Edward Roach, and Howard and Kathryn Davidson, children of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Davidson.                                         Transcribed by Georgeann McClure

 1876-1877 Muscatine City Directory
Davidson H ferryboat 57 W. 3rd st.
Davidson T. J  ferryboat 57 W 3rd st


Thomas Davidson

Greenwood Cemetery


July 27, 1850
Irad C. Day

Masonic Hall, July 26th, 1850,

At a special communication of said Lodge, held at the time above stated, in accordance with a regular summons issued by Absalom Fisher, the Master there of, among others were the following proceedings:
       The W.M. announced the demise of Irad C. Day--where upon the following preamble and resolution were unanimously adopted, to wit:
  Whereas, this lodge had received information of the death of our late brother Irad C. Day, esq. by the scourge which is now visiting our land, and by its ravages making desolate the hearth and homes of so many; and whereas upon an occasion like the present, it is meet for us not only to manifest our sympathy, towards the family of the deceased by those nets of benevolent and good will which should always characterize the fraternity of which the deceased was an honored member, but also to express that sympathy in a form which will in after years serve to remind the family of our deceased brother of the estimation in which he was held by the order, therefore be it Resolved, That the members of this Lodge have learned with unfeigned regret of the death of our late brother Irad C. Day Esq.

Thomas Dolson
1898 Mississippi August issue of the "Nugget" lists him as Captain of the “SUSIE”
1890 Blair (p. 299) notes a Thomas Dolson of Muscatine, Iowa as Captain of the raft boat “MUSSER” in 1890. Just before his departure to the Yukon he was Captain of the F.WEYERHAUSER).
Mid-1880’s Master of the “JAMES FISKE JR.” in the rafting trade.
June 27, 1923
Davenport Democrat
Captain Dolson Run Yukon Steamers During Klondike Rush
By the Associated Press

Dubuque, IA., funeral services for Captain Thomas Dolson, pioneer river man were held here yesterday afternoon.  Captain Dolson, who was 70 years old, died in a Burlington hospital Saturday while he was preparing to act as pilot on a river steamer this summer.

He piloted packets on the upper and lower Mississippi for 50 years and he was at the wheel of the Yukon river steamers during the Klondike rush in the late 90”s.
Transcribed by Georgeann McClure



Ewing Downer
Capt. Ewing Downer
Muscatine Journal
Sept. 26, 1910

  Captain Ewing Downer, one of the survivors of the old school of Mississippi river men, passed away this morning at the county farm.  He had been ill some time and death was due to senility.  He had been an inmate of the institution for less than two years. He was 82 years old and an invalid for years.  “Cap” Downer was well known along the river in the days of steam boats and numbered among the pioneers.  No arrangements for funeral services.  Internment will probably be at the county farm.  It is not thought that he has any near relatives.


Muscatine Journal
Feb. 9, 1909
Had lived for years in Lonely Cabin Near Fairport-had Hands and Feet badly Frozen

“ Some of the boats well known, at an early day, on which Capt. Downer was employed as a pilot were the Ida May, Holsten, Northern Illinois, Kate Keen, Pearl, Oriole and the De Kallion.”
“In the fall of 1857 Capt. Downer who was operating a skiff ferry between the Iowa and Illinois shores at Muscatine, was nearly frozen to death, and it was several days before it was determined that his life would be saved. It seems he had taken a party to the Illinois shore and on returning his boat became lodged in the floating ice, and drifted to a point near tow head.  There Capt. Downer in a benumbed state laid in the bottom of it all night, and when found in the morning his hands and feet were badly-frozen, making amputation of all the fingers and one leg necessary.” (Ewing Downer got his pilot license after this Incident)


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