IOWA HISTORY PROJECT
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE
Capt J. M.
owned by Dianne Krogh
Descendant of Capt. Short
Capt. J. M. Turner
Transcribed by Georgeann McClure
In 1853 and
1854 the writer was cabin boy on the
During the latter part of the season he made a trip with us. He asked me how old I was. We told him 16 years. He said, “You’ll soon be too old for this kind of work,” and asked me what I expected to do. We told him we didn’t know what we would do, but we could tell him what we would like to do.
He asked what
it was and we told him a pilot on steamboats.
He smiled and said that was what he wanted to do when he was about my
age. He then asked me if I could
learn the river. We told him that we
already knew the river from
We called on
him as he requested. He then told me
that the pilots had formed an association and that one of their rules was that
no cub pilots were to be allowed in the pilot house without the consent of all
its members. He also said that since
the association was formed two young men were admitted.
One of them was a son of one of their pilots and the other was a
brother-in-law of a pilot on the Northern Line Packet Co.
Boats running from
Captain Smith then advised that should I go back on the
Steamer City Bell for the year 1855 and that all I should do was to learn the
river Channel-not only how it looked to me in the day time but how it looked in
the night. He also advised that I
would do no regular work on the boat unless it should happen the steward should
get short of help and that we should get our pay for what we have done on the
boat. He also remarked that pilots
were scarce and that they wanted me to be a pilot as much as we did and that I
should have free living on the boat. Concluded
to accept the captain’s generous offer and stayed on the City Bell that season
and stood a regular watch on the upper deck with Capt. Lodwick and he was glad
to have me.
as Capt. Smith predicted the steward got short on help and we assisted him and
got our pay and when navigation closed that fall we never again knew the channel
in the river better in day or night.
In the Spring
of 1856, I called on Capt. Smith at his office at
In the morning we started for Rock Island and as soon as we got out of the Galena River the pilot gave me the wheel and took a seat near me and pointed out the channel of the river. These pilots stood a regular six hour watch; This gave me a chance to be partly on both watches. These pilots landed the boat at the towns on the route but I soon began to make landings also.
We passed over
this route every day up or down and I was learning to handle the boat quite
fast; also the river from Galena to Rock Island.
The steamer Bill Henderson laid over Sunday at Galena and the James Means
at Rock Island.
twelve round trips and passing over the route twenty-four times the pilots
notified the Captain that they had joined the Association and that they could
not work with me any longer in the pilot house.
This occurred on Saturday evening. The
captain kindly asked me to remain on the boat until Monday morning, which I was
glad to do. On Monday morning after
thanking the pilots and Captain for their kindness I left the boat in sorrow and
After leaving the steamer Bill Henderson we went to Captain Smith’s office. Told him why we had to leave the boat. After walking up and down the floor several times the Captain stopped in front of me and said, “I have helped these men (meaning the pilots on the Bill Henderson,) to learn the river and get their license and now they treat me like the young mule that sucked all its mother’s milk and then turned around and kicked her.” Then pointing his finger in my face, he said, “How am I to know but what you will do the same?” The old man had worked himself into a terrible rage.
When he cooled down he told me that the only thing he could do for me was to go back on the City Bell and stand my old watch with Captain Lodwick, so we boarded the City Bell when she arrived in port at Galena. The boys on the boat were glad to see me back’ also Captain Lodwick. The Captain said he had got lonesome for me especially on his night watch. But the pilots just glared at me.
We made eight round trips on the City Bell from Galena to St. Paul and started on her ninth trip. Near Britts Landing in Wisconsin there came a heavy fog. Pilot Wm. Tibbals was on the dog watch from four to six o’clock. Then Pilot Frank Tesom came on watch and between seven and eight o’clock the pilot concluded the fog was breaking away and started the boat out, and about the time he backed the boat out in the river a thick heavy fog came down from the hills and the pilot could see nothing. His aim then was to get the boat back to shore from where she started.
About three or
four hundred feet above where the boat had been was a big oak tree laying out
from the bank and pointing a little down the stream.
We knew of this snag and so did the pilots.
The boat was running on a dead slow bell.
She struck this snag on the starboard side and knocked in a hole near the
knuckle of the hull and sheared the boat out into the stream.
Her bow pointed toward the Minnesota shore.
We could hear the water running into the hull.
We told the Captain the boat was sinking.
The Captain ordered me to run down and order everybody on the upper deck.
As we started down the stairs we met a few of the younger cabin boys
We also heard
the captain sing out “go back you cowards and help the children get up
here.” When we reached the cabin
we found the officers and other help busy getting the people started for the
upper deck. The fog in the meantime
cleared up a little and the pilot found the boat lying across the channel facing
the Minnesota shore. The boat began
to list toward the starboard side, where the water was coming in the hull.
The pilot rang the go ahead bells and soon after rang the full stroke
bells. The pilot knew the water was
shallow on the Minnesota side and wanted the boat to sink in shallow water and
this was why he rang the full stroke bell for the engineer, but could not get
far enough before the boat went down.
As soon as
Capt. Lodwick knew the boat had settled he ordered a few of the boat crew,
myself included, to go down on the cabin deck, search all the staterooms and
find if any person was left down there. Capt.
Lodwick was an elderly man and not in good health and unable to get around like
us young fellows. He was a man
beloved by his men.
When we got in
the cabin we found the ladies cabin floor was about two and one half feet above
the water, and from the midship forward to the forecastle the floor gradually
went down to about three feet on the forward deck.
The boat was broken in two. Among the searchers there was a young man.
We are unable to give his name (this was sixty-five years ago).
This man stated that while in the ladies cabin he thought he could hear a
light tapping under the floor. Our
bunch of men went immediately there. We
pulled up the thick heavy carpet and then we all could hear a light tapping
under the floor. The boat’s
carpenter, who are always nicknamed chips on steamboats, was there with his tool
box and soon made a hole through the floor.
The first hole was small but we could plainly
hear a baby crying. The hole
was soon enlarged and we found a man holding his wife’s head above the water
while his daughter held her baby boy. When
they reached the cabin floor the father and mother collapsed.
They could not stand on their feet. The
daughter was able to sit on a chair and held her little son.
The report went to the upper deck and the cabin floor was soon filled
with people. The two chambermaids
took charge of the mother, the daughter and her baby boy, and the stewards took
charge of the father.
These people were emigrants going to Minnesota to take homesteads on government lands. They took deck passage to save traveling expenses. They did not know the boat was sinking until the water came. There were a lot of barrels standing on end as freight. These emigrants had made their beds on the top of these barrels and when water came on the deck they went up on the barrels. They did not seem to know how to get away. There were other passengers on deck but they managed to get to the cabin and then to the upper deck. There were a lot of people, myself included, who passed over this family but no one heard the rapping but this young man and the saving of these lives was credited to his keep sense of hearing.
The first mate claimed these barrels were filled with vinegar, the first engineer claimed they were filled with whisky. An old gentleman standing by declared they were vinegar barrels and that they could not possibly be whisky for the reason that whisky barrels never saved families-their mission was to destroy. The old man was denounced as a prohibition crank and yet we have lived to see the day when our great government is paying out millions annually to destroy the whisky barrel traffic. (This old man was only ahead of his time.)
After the boat
hit the snag it could not be more than fifteen minutes before she went down.
It surely was the liveliest quarter of an hour we ever witnessed.
Pilot Frank Tesom erred in going out in the fog too soon, but after
hitting the snag and the fog clearing up a little the pilot saw his only chance.
He knew that the water on the Minnesota side of the channel was shallow.
His boat was pointed that way and he immediately rang the full stroke
bell for the engineer to turn on all the steam he had, but the boat sunk a
little too soon to save her cargo of freight, but saved the lives of the
passengers. If the boat was five
minutes later she would have been completely submerged and more than two hundred
people would have been thrown pell mell together into the water.
The good swimmers might escape. We
always believe that the pilot’s full stroke bell and that young man’s keen
sense of hearing saved a lot of lives that morning.
The sinking of the steamboat City Bell changed all the dreams and plans of my young life to become a steamboat pilot and get big wages and possibly wear ruffled shirt bosoms and a high silk hat like other pilots were doing.
There was a
passenger on the City Bell, whose name was Batiste La France.
He was a skillful raft pilot on the Chippewa River. His business was to
buy lumber from small sawmills on the Chippewa River, and pilot the lumber out
of the Chippewa River himself. Then
when he got a small Mississippi raft he used his Chippewa river crew and also
picked up a few additional Mississippi river raftsmen and would float down the
river to towns where he could sell the lumber.
He seldom went below Galena with these rafts.
In addition to
pointing out the channel for Mr. La France we were to look after his lumber at
Nelson’s Landing about one mile below the mouth of the Chippewa River.
About all we had to do was to put our signal lights on the lumber.
Nelson’s Landing at that time had a store building, boarding house and
a warehouse. It was the starting and
stopping place for Chippewa and Mississippi lumbermen and lumber rafts.
Read’s Landing on the Minnesota side of the river was starting to build
We told Mr. La
France that we under obligations to captain Orrin Smith, President of the Galena
Packet Co. and that we could not accept his offer until we went back to Galena
and seen the Captain and that we would go to St. Paul on the War Eagle and back
to Galena and if we finally went to work for him we would come back on the War
Eagle, and if we could not accept his kind offer we would write and he would get
our letter on the return of the War Eagle. Mr.
La France said that would do and that the War Eagle would be back by the time he
got any lumber out of the Chippewa River. The
next morning Mr. La France got off the boat at Nelson’s Landing with his men
and rafting kit and we went on to St. Paul.
On our arrival
at Galena we called on Captain Smith at the Galena Packet Co’s office.
He was glad to see me and stated he would now get the particulars in
regard to the sinking of the City Bell.
We gave him
all the information we had. After we
got through the captain asked me, “Don’t
you think Frank went out too soon in that fog.”
We told him that it was about eight o’clock in the morning and usually
the fog is gone by that time. But if
Frank had waited fifteen minutes longer nothing would have happened to the City
then changed the subject. He said he
did not know what he could do for me. The
July thing he had in mind was to let me go on one of their other boats.
We then told him about the Mr. La France offer.
We also told him that we practically knew nothing about rafting and that
he knew my ambition was to be a steamboat pilot.
We also told him that if we had two or three months experience in the
pilot house on one of their side wheel boats that we could run one of their
boats as well as some of their pilots. The
captain said that he believed that if we were in Frank’s place the City Bell
would be running today.
We also told the Captain we had to find a job in the winter to get money to tide us over the summer on the river, and that any other training outside of the pilot house would be of little value to me between Galena and St. Paul. We also told the Captain we would like to go to school one more winter and unless we accepted the raft job we could not do it. The Captain said the Association had closed all chances and admitted that we had better take the rafting job and by doing it would still be keeping track of the river.
He also told me that the rules and regulations governing the local inspectors of steam vessels on the Mississippi River and its tributaries required, that when an application for a license came before them, the application must be signed by three licensed pilots and that they must testify that they know of their own knowledge that the applicant is competent to act as pilot on steam vessels from place to place.
said that my application would be put before the Association of pilots and would
get no signatures only by a unanimous vote of the association.
The Capt. said further, that the supervising inspector of his district
had a lawful right to grant a license to applicants for pilots and engineers in
his district, providing he had reason to believe the applicant had proper
knowledge and experience to fulfill the duties of pilot or engineer.
The Captain said further that Capt. Stevenson, the supervising inspector,
was his neighbor and friend but that he would not grant me a license unless we
could tell Capt. Stevenson that we personally knew that you had the proper
training to handle a steamboat, and a proper knowledge of the channel of the
river, and you have not the proper training in handling the boat and could only
say we were satisfied you knew the channel of the river between Galena and St.
Paul and this would but get you –license.
Before starting on our rafting career we wish to call attention to statement made by Captain Stephen B. Hanks published in the Saturday Evening Post at Burlington, Iowa, Sept. 24th, 1921. We quote Capt. Hanks as follows:
“During the winter of 1856 I made a trip to Galena and secured a berth as pilot on the steamboat Galena, a new boat lately completed for the newly organized Minnesota Packet Co., and the War Eagle was another newly built boat for the same company.” He also names the steamboats Naminie, the Alahambra, the Lady Franklin, and Doctor Franklin No. 1, but does not mention the steamboat City Bell as belonging to the so called, Minnesota Packet Co.
We regret very much that we have to make any statement in regard to the correctness of Captain Hank’s memoirs. He is dead and can make no defense, and the living should let the dead rest in peace. But we have said so much in our memoirs about the Steamer City Bell, Capt. Lodwick and Captain Orrin Smith President of the Galena and St. Paul Packet Co., that we are obliged to defend our statements or in other words put up or shut up.”
living steamboat engineer now living resides at Lansing, Iowa, is William
Glynn. He is now on his
eighty eighth year and has a good memory and very much interested in
steamboating and if he meets an old or young steamboatman he does not care to
talk on any subject that is not connected in someway about steamboats or
steamboating and especially back in the early fifties.
He did not know that Capt. Hanks had left many memoirs,
neither did he know that we are now writing ours.
Recently we called on him at his residence and we asked him if he
remembered the Steamboat City Bell and Doctor Franklin No. 1.
He said he did. We asked him
if he knew where the Bell and Doctor Franklin No. 1 were built.
He said they were built at Cincinnati, Ohio, and were brought to Galena
by the Lodwicks-that Capt. Columbus Lodwick was Capt. Of the City Bell
and his brother Press Lodwick was in command of the Doctor Franklin No. 1
We asked him if the Lodwicks owned these boats in whole or part.
He said he did not know, but that he was inclined to believe they were
only practical steamboat Captains. We
asked him when these two steamboats came to Galena what they did with them.
He said the City Bell was sold to the Galena Packet Company and the
Doctor Franklin No. 1 was sold to Thomas Levens then a wealthy miner of
The writer was well acquainted with Captain Tom Levens as he was generally called. We worked in his lead mine during the winters of 1852-54, and 1855, and during this time we spent our spring, summer and fall months on the Steamer City Bell, Captain Lodwick in command. Our old river engineer, Wm. Glynn names the Galena Packet Co., and Captain Hanks names the Minnesota Packet Co. This steamboat company was organized and the majority of the stock was owned and controlled by Galena men. Their headquarters and office were at Galena
When we went
on the steamer City Bell in 1853 and 1854 there is no doubt but what the company
was called the Galena and St. Paul Packet Co., but usually called like our old
engineer Wm. Glynn says, the Galena Packet Co.
In 1856 Capt. Hanks states that he came to Galena and secured a berth on
the Steamer Galena for the year 1855 and that the company was recently
reorganized and named the Minnesota Packet Co. the writer and our old engineer
have no recollection of the Minnesota Packet Co.; still Captain Hanks was surely
wrong when he left the City Bell out of the Galena or Minnesota Packet Co. and
he was also wrong when he named the Doctor Franklin as belonging to the
Minnesota Packet Co. He also left
out the Steamer Northern Light that belonged to Galena Packet Co.
The Lady Franklin was sunk at Britts Landing in Coon Slough, The City
Bell sunk about a mile below the Lady Franklin in Coon slough, Northern light
was sunk in Coon Slough Bend, about two miles above the Lady Franklin.
These three boats belonged to the Galena Packet Co. and Coon slough
seemed to be a graveyard for their sunken boats.
Capt Tom Levens libeled the Steamer Galena in the United States court for the sinking of his boat the Doctor Franklin No. 1. The rule of law in the United States courts in case of collisions is that where two boats collide and the evidence shows that both boats contributed negligence in making the collision neither boat can recover damages. On the contrary if the evidence shows that one boat contributed all the negligence then in that case she must pay all damages.
In the case of the steamboats Galena and Doctor Franklin all damages were assessed to the Steamer Galena, because the Galena the ascending boat against the current of the river did not blow a warning whistle. Had she done so no collision would have happened.
The law governing the passing of two boats is that the ascending boat must blow one whistle, providing she wants to pass to the right. The descending boat must answer that whistle. Then if the descending boat wishes to pass to the left, she must blow two blasts and the ascending boat must answer and govern herself accordingly; (the descending boat has the right of way.)
Capt Hanks says this collision brought out the present U. S. law that the whistle must be blown on both boats when entering a narrow or crooked place where the pilots cannot see very far ahead.
Persons not acquainted with steamboats would naturally think that Congress passed all laws governing their navigation. But this is not true. Congress makes no rules governing the navigation of steamboats navigating the inland rivers of the United States. On the contrary the President appoints a supervising inspector for each district. These supervising inspectors appoint a local inspector of boilers and a local inspector of hulls. Annually and soon after the New Year the supervising inspectors of each district meet at Washington as a board, the supervising general presiding. This body of men make and amend laws governing the navigation of steam vessels navigating the inland waters of the United States.
Captain Stevenson was the supervising inspector of the Galena district. His home and office was in Galena, one of his duties was to investigate the collision between the steamboat Galena and the sinking of the Doctor Franklin and at the meeting the rules and regulations were amended, making the descending boat also blow her whistle, making it doubly sure to prevent collisions in narrow and crooked channels.
The pilot on the ascending Steamer Galena was negligent not blowing the warning whistle below the foot of Maquoketa Slough and the U. S. Court gave judgment against the Steamer Galena for damages. On that account there was at that time a rivalry between boats operating between Dubuque and St. Paul and Galena and St. Paul.
The Doctor Franklin was a splendid and speedy boat and we remember quite well of hearing Dubuque men say that the sinking of Doctor Franklin was done on purpose to get rid of her as a rival of the Galena boats. After we got to steamboating ourselves we soon came to know that it was a case of neglect on the part of the pilot, in fact this rule was always neglected more or less. It was very seldom that boats met in narrow crooked places where they could not see each other.
We never knew
or seen John Arnold, Capt. Hank’s partner on the steamer Galena, but we
did know Capt. Hanks. He was a large
fine looking man. The blood of
Abraham Lincoln flowed in his veins and we could just as soon believe that
Lincoln would be a party to a trick of that kind as that Captain Hanks would be.
Captain Hanks does not state in his memoirs who was at the wheel when the
collision took place.
On Sept. 2 we made a statement in regard to steamboating on the Mississippi river north of St. Louis from 1850 to 1870; also that in 1920 there had been no boats operating in this territory carrying freight or passengers. We also stated, “Is it not time to have a committee appointed to investigate these river and harbor appropriations? This committee could be appointed by the Secretary of Commerce and as a rule members are too much interested in the size of the swag for their district and in order to satisfy the taxpayers this committee should be disinterested men, who have never participated in river or harbor appropriations.
The writer also stated that he had no hope that there would ever again be any steamboating on the upper Mississippi River and also included the steel barge line carrying coal north and iron ore south.
We note in the Chicago Sunday Tribune as follows: “U. S. Harbor Engineers stir Ire of Senator Cummins. Washington, D. C. Oct. 8th Senator Cummins of Iowa today served notice on the Board of Army Engineers in charge of rivers and harbors that he will fight to stop all appropriations for work on the Mississippi River unless the board changes its policy toward the Upper Mississippi river. Senator Cummins told Gen. Taylor, head of the Board that they persistently discriminated against the upper river, and that as a result the development of this great inland waterway to supplement the Railroad transportation of the central United States had been hampered and retarded.”
There is a medium sized stern wheel boat, the Steamer Helen Blair about 50 tons burden operating between Davenport, Iowa and Burlington, Iowa a distance of about eighty miles. Thee is another boat-the Keokuk-about the same tonnage operating between Burlington, Iowa, and Quincy, Ill. These two little boats carry local freight and passengers between the towns and cities of this one hundred and sixty miles.
These two boats are the only boats operating on the Mississippi River between St. Louis and St. Paul the last five years. These little boats are all that Senator Cummins has left on his great inland waterway from St. Paul to St. Louis, a distance of about one thousand miles.
No doubt but
General Taylor is getting more of the swag than belongs to him and Senator
Cummins is right in calling him down, an stop all appropriations if we don’t
get our share of the swag. If
Senator Cummins fights and stops all appropriations, incidentally would it not
be a blessing for the taxpayers if Senator Cummins wins out in his strike in
behalf of the great inland waterways of the upper river?
Should he succeed in getting his share of the swag his river boomers and
contractors in his great inland waterways will hail him, as one of them, but if
in his fight he knocks out all River and Harbor appropriations for the next five
years the taxpayers of the surrounding districts of his great inland waterways
will call him Blessed.
We arrived in due time back at Read’s Landing and the four Chippewa rafts were run out of the Chippewa, coupled together and run down the Mississippi river.
We made altogether five trips from about July 1st to about Nov. 10th. Nothing eventful occurred during the balance of these trips, but we can say we did not collide again with Argo Island
There was a
young man in our crew who was called Sid. We
do not remember his full name, but to the best of our recollection he worked in
the interests of the Mill Co. and Mr. La France.
He kept the accounts and expenses of both sides also sold and collected
the money for the lumber sales. At
the end of each trip he went up the Chippewa River with Mr. La France and came
back on the last Chippewa raft. He
had a nice little tent where he kept his accounts and we bunked with him.
As we looked backward these five trips were surely the happiest days of
our young boyhood (chickens were hatching for us).
Our first trip ended at Galena our second trip at Savannah, Ills. Our fourth trip at Lyons, Iowa, our fifth at Galena. On arriving at Reeds Landing at the end of our last trip we got paid for the five trips-125 days at $3.00 per day $375.00, Mr. La France made us a present of $10.00 altogether $385, more money than we ever had at one time. We went back on the same boat to Dubuque that we came up the river on our last trip and then went back to the country to our old home and went to school for four months and took up arithmetic as our principal study.
Mr. La France and Sid expected to be on the same job the next spring 1857. Mr. La France went on a visit to his old home in Canada. We never saw him or Sid again. Something went wrong financially with the sawmill people up the Chippewa River and they were merged into some larger concern in the lumbering business. We knew nothing about this change until we came back to Reads Landing in the spring of 1857. This was a great disappointment for us. We had planned that we would take up our old job for 1857 learn to handle rafts so that we could become a good raft pilot. The only thing that would interfere with us in getting work was that we did not know the river far enough down the stream. We could not work below Rock Island.
concluded that we would go to work pulling an oar on rafts, going below Rock
Island and that it was the best and quickest way for us to learn the lower
river; also the best way to learn to handle a floating raft.
We also knew that all the raft pilots then on the river had learned the
business in that way and were making big wages.
Reads Landing was originally named Waumadee. Waumadee was the main route for the Sioux and Lakota tribes of Indians. There were migratory trips with their white bark canoes up the Chippewa River to Lake Superior to get virgin copper metal for their uses. Waumadee was at the foot of Lake Pepin just opposite the mouth of the Chippewa River. About two hundred feet back from the River at Waumadee there is from three to four acres of beach land, mostly gravel and originally a glacial deposit. This was their burial ground. We have seen nearly a flour barrel of copper instruments taken out of an ordinary cellar of a dwelling. These copper utensils were for various uses such as hatchets, spears and arrow heads. Waumadee was the starting and stopping place for these Indian tribes throughout the centuries.
Then came Reads landing for the white man. As long as the white pine lasted on the Chippewa River and its tributaries the Chippewa River rafts stopped there, and Mississippi rafts started there and Reads Landing was headquarters for both rivers. We have seen thirty-two steamboats lying at Read’s Landing in the spring of 1858. They were mostly big sidewheel boats. There was no raft towing boats at that time. These boats came from Cincinnati, Ohio, Pittsburg, Penn., St. Louis, Mo., Galena, Dubuque, Iowa. Looking down from the high bluffs it looked like the steamboat levee at St. Louis in its best steamboat days. There were more or less passengers and freight on these boats. Lake Pepin did not open until the third day of May. All of these boats were at Reads Landing for two weeks and most of them three weeks. Four stores at Reads were sold out of about everything they had, the saloons and gambling houses were open day and night and Rome howled.
It was the latest opening of Lake Pepin that was ever known before or since, but we are sure it was not later than 1858. Captain Steven B. Hanks no doubt was in that steamboat jam and will give the exact date. We were there ourself. About two miles above Reads Landing there is a great air hole open the coldest winters. It extends down the river for five or six miles. Lake Pepin is 25 miles long and will average about three miles wide and the ice is from three to four feet thick.
about 25 saloons at Reads. Most of
them had a poker game connected with the saloons.
They ran day and night including Sundays.
The people did not go to church for there was no church to go to, but
later on they got a church and some of the best old poker players became the
best church members.
After making our contract with Mr. O. H. Ingram we found there was a good deal of jealousy amongst the raft pilots especially with the older pilots. They were not organized like the steamboat pilots into an organization whose objective point was to stop making pilots. If these raft pilots were organized their first object would have been the same thing.
An old pilot came to Eau Claire after we had gone with our contract for two years with Mr. Ingram and applied for the same job. Mr. Ingram told him he had already contracted with me. This pilot told Mr. Ingram that he had made a grave mistake, that we were not known as raft pilot on the Mississippi River. At the time when this older pilot was in the office Mr. Ingram’s millwright was there and heard the conversation. This millwright was originally from the State of Maine and in his younger life had considerable experience on rivers in Maine in handling lumber. We think on the Penobscott. Mr. Ingram and his millwright decided they would go with me on my first trip. The millwright told Mr. Ingram that he could soon find out whether I could be trusted to do the work.
On the last Chippewa raft that came out there was a nice tent on it with two cots and bedding for Mr. Ingram and his millwright. Mr. Ingram told me he wanted to see that raft of lumber and that the other man was going with him to see the country and the Mississippi River. We did not have the remotest idea that their special mission was to watch me. We soon got ready and started the raft. We went to Winona the first day and landed below the levee. Mr. Ingram went out to sell some of the lumber but failed to make a sale. Mr. Ingram had not been selling his lumber. Mr. E. H. Plater was his regular salesman but did not go down the river this trip.
We left Winona the next day and after passing from La Moille over to Trempeleau Bay, we were floating along down Trempeleau Island. It was a nice looking piece of river. At that time a little below Trempeleau Levee the trend of the current was towards the island and it became necessary to use the oars to keep the raft from gong sideways into the bank. There was a fireplace on raft where Mr. Ingram and his millwright used to sit, using bundles of lath for seats. We frequently went there and sat with them while in good river and naturally we talked quite a little. When a pilot was approaching a bad place in the river as a rule he goes to the side of the raft where he expects trouble. We were at the fireplace just above where the raft commenced to drift to the shore. There was an argument going and we got up to go to the right side of the raft. The millwright said, “Hold on, this is a good piece of river.”
But we went and immediately started the boys to pull to the left and they had to pull quite awhile before we were safe to keep off the bank. When we got to where we knew we were safe we returned to the fireplace. On our arrival there the millwright asked me how old I was. We told him we would be 21 years old our next birthday. Addressing himself to Mr. Ingram he remarked, “This young man has a fine life before him.” We have gone into these details for the reason that these two men on that trip were watching me.
We left a part of this raft at Muscatine, Iowa, and the balance went to Hannibal, Mo. We had fair weather and made a good clean trip. We left Hannibal, Mo., on a St. Louis and St. Paul Packet; boat.
Mr. Ingram got off the boat at Quincy, Ill. and the old millwright came with us to Reads Landing.
On the way up the river he told me why they made the trip and also the name of the pilot who reported me as not a fit person to pilot lumber down the Mississippi River. He also told me that Mr. Ingram and himself were well pleased the way we handled the raft. We think this old millwright was a small stockholder in the Lumber Co. this trip really ended my endeavors to be a pilot on the Mississippi river ever afterwards and settled a five year fight.
The balance of
our rafts in 1858 went to Hannibal and St. Louis, Mo. We are unable to recall
the name of this old millwright. (This
was 64 years ago)
In the year 1859 all of our trips ended at St. Louis. We do not know of anything eventful that happened to us until in the fall of the year when the Presidential election was on between Douglas and Lincoln for president of the United States. On one of our trips to St. Louis during the presidential campaign we met Mr. Ingram. He was going to his home at Eau Claire, Wis. By rail to Chicago, Milwaukee and Prairie du Chien, then take a steamboat to Reads Landing, then a Chippewa River boat to Eau Claire, Wis. Mr. Ingram asked me to go with him instead of going by boat from St, Louis to Reads Landing.
When we arrived in Chicago we found the City Bill boards covered with the announcement, that Abraham Lincoln and William H. Seward would address the people of Chicago that evening. We also found billboards announcing that the Steamer Lady Elgin would make an excursion to Milwaukee that evening. We stopped at the Briggs House in Chicago. We were on our 22nd year then and knew little about politics and cared less. But the excursion trip on the Steamer Lady Elgin more than appealed to me. While we were well posted about steamboating on the Mississippi river we were never on board a lake vessel. We told Mr. Ingram that we would prefer to go on that excursion as we never was on a lake boat. Mr. Ingram advised that I should not go. He said the boat would not leave her dock before night set in and that I would not be able to see anything. He also said the boat would reach Milwaukee in the night and that we would have to go to a hotel at Milwaukee and stay there until the train arrived at Milwaukee that he was coming on. He also said that when we made a voyage on a Lake boat we should go on a morning boat and see things in daylight.
Another point that he brought up was that Lincoln and Seward were big men in the Republican Party and that he was a Democrat and would not vote for Lincoln, but would like to hear him speak, and that I was a young man and would have ample time to take a trip on a lake boat, but might never have a chance again to hear these men speak.
I gave up the
boat ride and stayed for the speaking. We
went to the speaking stand early so as to get near the speakers.
When we got there we noticed a platform not far from the speakers stand.
This platform was about ten feet high and from 10 to 15 feet square.
On the top of the platform there was a round log with the bark on, and
about the length of a fence rail and I could notice there were two iron wedges
driven into one end of the log. We
asked Mr. Ingram what that meant. He
said they were going to pull off their rail splitting stunt.
About the time the people got here a man stood in the speakers stand and
announced that Mr. Lincoln could not get to Chicago to address the people that
evening as something went wrong with the railroad connections.
The speaker then introduced the Hon Wm. H. Seward of New York, who would
address the people. Then Mr. Seward
came forward. He was a little man
with a decidedly Roman nose, but he had a good clear, loud voice.
He certainly made the people howl that night.
His first words were, “Hail
the great State of Illinois, Hail Chicago and her Railroads.”
Then Chicago roared.
Then a man appeared on the log platform, took up the maul and drove home the iron wedges, then put the wooden wedges in on top of the log and drove them and soon the log fell into halves. Then Chicago roared again. This man who started to split this log into rails was a tall, dark bearded man and was there to represent Lincoln both in form and color. When Seward made another point in favor of Lincoln this long, dark bearded man mauled rails out of that log. When Seward made another good point then this rail splitter split a part of this log and made two regular fence rails and he stood up these two rails on end one in each hand so the people could see them. Then Rome never could howl louder or longer than Chicago did at that time.
By this time it began to thunder with lightning and the people fled from the storm. This was a part of the storm that the Steamer Lady Elgin went down in that night with her 450 people and like Thermopyla and the Alamo none lived o tell the tale, and my career would have ended with them if we had ignored Mr. Ingram’s advice.
We spent two
weeks at the world’s fair. Large
lake boats went out every hour, but we never went near one of them.
We always regretted that Mr. Lincoln was not able to get to Chicago that
night as we would have liked to have seen him and hear him speak for above all
public men of ancient history or modern times as next to Christ we revere the
name of Abraham Lincoln
The next morning we left Chicago and on the arrival of our train at a station east of Milwaukee the newsboy came aboard and Mr. Ingram got a paper, the Milwaukee Sentinel, stating that the Lady Elgin did not arrive at Milwaukee that night and that there had been a terrible storm on the Lake and feared that she might be wrecked, unless she reached a harbor. But when we arrived at Prairie du Chien that night the report was that several lake vessels were lost in the storm that night including the Lady Elgin. Mr. Ingram remarked that when we got the final reports that some of the people would be saved, but when we reached La Crosse the next evening we got the final report that the Lady Elgin and her entire lot of people were lost and then we began to realize our escape. We are now on our 84th year and never have been on a lake vessel.
We started our last raft for St. Louis and arrived there the last day of October and landed the raft at north St. Louis our usual landing place. This landing place was generally called the Robbers Roost. Our lumber company had started a lumberyard on what was called Bloody Island now East St. Louis. But at that time people used the more classical names of Robbers’ Roost and Bloody Island was a resort for prize fights and duels; also gambling and horse racing and other things worse for St. Louis. Mr. Ingram was there and wanted this raft taken over to Bloody Island to their new lumberyard. There was a man there by the name of Buckley. He had charge of this landing place. He also had a powerful tug boat which met rafts above this landing place. She would put her bow against the raft, put a guy line from each side of the boat and then come ahead and stop the raft. Then Buckley would fasten his strong lines from the shore to the raft. This would leave the raft pilot free to pack up his lines and kit ready for the steamboats going north to St. Paul as before stated.
wanted to take this raft to their yard at Bloody Island.
We told Mr. Ingram that we were never at Bloody Island and did not know
the trend of water getting there. We
also told him that we would like to take one of our skiff boats and go over the
route. He consented for me to do so.
We were on this investigation and returned in about two hours.
In the meantime Mr. Ingram had engaged 20 men to help man our ten string
raft, making 40 men altogether, and everything was ready to go.
We told Mr. Ingram we would not take the responsibility of taking that
raft to Bloody Island. Mr. Ingram
then told Mr. Buckley to start the raft, which he did.
We soon could see that Buckley did not know how to point his raft to get
there. The raft went down the river.
We soon passed the first ferry boat.
We tried to hail her in to help us, but the pilot of the boat shook his
head. We then passed the second
ferryboat. He refused to help us.
Then Mr. Ingram gave up and told me to land the raft on the St. Louis
side. We were then close to the
upper end of the steamboat landing and there was no chance for me to make a
landing until we could get below the steamboat landing.
When we got below the steamboat landing we came to a wood boat landing.
A little above one of these wood boats our check line came against the little cabin on the wood boat.
The cabin was pulled off the boat and thrown into the river, but we stopped the raft. We had to leave the main check line to hold the raft of lumber as the water was quite swift. We sent the balance of our kit to the steamboat landing and sent our crew of men and kit on the last boat going to St. Paul. Mr. Ingram hired a lot of these wood boats, and woodmen loaded the lumber on these wood bots, and he had them towed up to Bloody Island at a loss of not less than fifteen hundred dollars.
paid off our raft crew and also myself. There
was some money due me for work done in 1858 and all of 1859, the total was about
twelve hundred dollars. We told Mr.
Ingram that we would like to take the lumber company’s note for one thousand
dollars, but he said they were paying off notes and not making any, that the
people had voted radicals into power and he did not know what was coming.
This was shortly after Lincoln’s election to the Presidency.
Mr. Ingram was a Douglas man. There
was no gold in circulation-mostly what was then called wild cat money.
We had some money besides what Mr. Ingram paid us, all together about
fifteen hundred dollars. We had
taken quarters at a boarding house. There
was a Jew occupying a room next to ours. He
was in some way connected with a broker’s office across the street from our
boarding house. We deposited our
paper money with them. This man took
no stock in the idea there would be any civil war.
He offered to take $1400 of our money and give us $1250 in gold, $1250 in
$20 gold pieces. The bank gave us a
bag to put this money into. We
started for our boarding house. This
bag of gold was so heavy and bulky we did not know what to do with it.
The real fact of the matter was that most of the money we had save up was
in that bag. We finally got to our
boarding house and met our Jew friend.
He advised me
to go back to that bank after dinner and get a gold certificate deposit for six
months and remarked this war talk will be over by that time.
We took his advice and went back to the bank and got out gold certificate
of deposit for six months and drawing four per cent interest.
We made our deposit for $1200 and kept three $20.00 gold pieces and soon
left the city.
When leaving St. Louis we bad our honest Jew good bye. We told him we thought of going to Memphis, Tenn. And then to New Orleans, but hesitated to go on account of Political troubles. He told us not to be foolish about the war business and gave me several reasons why he thought there would be no war. One of his reasons was that only the radicals wanted war, but that the great majority of the people were conservative, that war would lead to the freedom of the negroes, and that the majority of the white people in the south were Americans and would never fire gun against the American flag and we really believed he was right.
We went down to the levee and bought a ticket for Memphis, Tenn. There were posters at different places in this city that on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday there would be a market opened two hours in the forenoon and two hours in the afternoon for the sale and buying of negroes and that the sales and buying would continue for two weeks.
There was a circus with an animal show stranded at Memphis on account of the war troubles then brewing. The animals including the circus horses were kept in their different places, leaving the circus part, which was used for the slave market where the negroes were bought and sold like cattle. It was the largest and most interesting sale we had ever seen. The auctioneer was a large brutal looking man who did not seem to have a trace of pity or manhood in his whole make up. This was nearly 62 years ago and we do not remember everything we witnessed at that auction tent, but we can say that in that auction tent we saw more hell and damnation in two weeks than we saw in all the balance of our lifetime. During the two hours in the forenoon and afternoon of each day there was a continual crying and moaning going on. Children were separated from their parents and often men separated from their wives.
When this auction was over we concluded we had been far enough south. We took a steamboat to St. Louis then by rail to Chicago, Milwaukee and to Prairie du Chien, then by stagecoach to Wabasha Minn. A complete abolitionist ever afterwards and the finest seven words heard from mortal man are: (The are and shall be forever free-Lincoln).
Either in 1856 or 1857 at Reads Landing there was a man living by the name of Laudrigan and another man by the name of Loomis. There were over to Nelsons Landing and while returning to Reads Landing they were paddling along up the Wisconsin shore inn an Indian canoe and while about opposite Reads Landing an Indian appeared on the shore with a double barrel shot gun and fired one barrel into Loomis and then the other barrel into Landrigan. Loomis fell overboard and his body was never found. Landrigan fell inside of the canoe badly wounded. The canoe floated back down the river and when Nelson’s Landing someone there went to get the canoe and found Landrigan in it. They brought him to Reads Landing and sent to Wabasha for Doctor Milligan.
A bunch of men got together, armed and started for the Indian camp located close to where the shooting was done and brought the Indian to Reads Landing, Minn. He was the only Indian they could find. They took him before Landrigan and he identified him as the man who shot him. Mr. Fortress Richards, one of the founders of Reads Landing held a commission as Justice of the Peace under the territorial government of Minnesota. They tried this Indian before him and he condemned him for murder. This armed bunch of men took the Indian back to Wisconsin and hung him from a limb of a tree close to his tepee. The white man kept an armed guard near where the Indian was hung. There came a heavy snow that afternoon and the most of the night. It got cold after midnight and froze a crust on the snow. Along abut daylight a squaw was seen coming to the Indian with a large knife in her hand. She cut the rope, the Indian dropped straight down. His feet and legs went into the snow. The squaw was behind the Indian when she cut the rope and then came in front of him, looked in his face and the gave a terrible yell and fled back to her tepee.
We had this report from one of the guards who witnessed it. He supposed this woman was the wife of the Indian. The people wondered why this Indian tried to kill these two men. He did not try to escape. He could have gotten away after the murder had been committed. The country for 30 miles up the Chippewa River did not have a settler for several miles. The country for 30 miles up the Chippewa River was heavily timbered. It was the delta of the Chippewa River and was annually overflooded with water whenever the Chippewa River overflooded its banks.
committed murder in Wisconsin and was taken to Minnesota and tried by a
Minnesota official, who participated in that mob, including the court were
Minnesota men. Jurisdiction was not
considered. After this every man
went armed. The country had a large
population of both Sioux Indians on the Minnesota side of the river and Chippewa
Indians on the Wisconsin side of the river.
Landrigan finally recovered though badly wounded.
Early in the spring of 1857 we made our first trip pulling an oar, there was a raft of lumber belonging to Carson and Rand going to Burlington, Iowa. This lumber raft wintered about a quarter of a mile above Nelson’s Landing. A man by the name of Boyd Newcomb had a contract to run that lumber. He had a young man with him, who acted as second pilot by the name of Tom Forbush, who soon became a first class pilot on rafts. He had a knowledge of the river to St. Louis. We shipped on this raft to Burlington, Iowa. After we got back Carson and Rand had no lumber for some time to go down the river and we shipped with a pilot by the name of Malin Winans. On this trip to Dubuque, we first became acquainted with George Winans, a brother of the pilot. He was a year younger than myself. He afterwards became Captain George Winans, a noted pilot and later owner and builder of steamboats. We made a second trip with Pilot Malin Winans. We do not recall where this raft went to, but we do recall that it went below the Rock Island Rapids.
We wanted to learn the river to St. Louis as this was as far down as rafts went. A man by the name of John Welch made a contract with Chapman and Thorpe at Eau Claire, Wisconsin to run their lumber to St. Louis. That was where their lumber yard was located. Mr. Welch employed Tom Forbush as pilot to handle this lumber. Welsh was not a pilot himself. We went with Tom Forbush and pulled an oar. We wanted to learn the river as far down as St. Louis. We stayed on that lumber until the last St. Louis trip in the fall. We went back to Reads Landing and got a Chippewa River raft to pilot to Winona and another raft to pilot to Mc Gregor. We stayed at Read’s Landing until the winter of 1857. In the spring of 1858 we went to Eau Claire, Wis. And met a man by the name of R. E. Plater. Mr. Plater was working for Dole Ingram and Kennedy. We became acquainted with him in the fall when we were piloting the small rafts to Winona and McGregor. I think Mr. Plater was in charge of one of these rafts, but am not sure about this.
asked what I was doing in Eau Claire. We
told him that we were looking for a chance to pilot lumber for some saw mill
down the Mississippi river. He told
me to go with him and he would give me an introduction to Mr. O. H. Ingram, the
manager of the Dole, Ingram and Kennedy Lumber Co.
This was our first introduction to Mr. O. H. Ingram.
We had a long talk with him all that afternoon and gave him a general
idea of our life on the Mississippi River. He
told me to call in the morning at he office at 9 o’clock.
We were on time the next morning. Mr.
Ingram asked me how much wages we expected to get for the rafting season.
We told him we would rather that he would make an offer.
He then said that he heard pilots older than me were working for $12.00 a
day and he thought $8.00 was a fair price for me, and that they were willing to
employ me for two years at that price. We
were glad to accept the offer and we closed the contract on that basis for 1858
and 1859. We then felt that our
struggle for the last five years was over and nothing could stop us, and that we
had finally won out.
Reads Landing, Minn., became the residence and headquarters of a number of raft pilots and steamboat engineers. After towing lumber down the river with steamboats there were also a few operating on the Chippewa River handling passengers and freight between Reads Landing and Eau Claire, Wis., Capt E. E. Heerman built several boats for service on the Chippewa River. He finally found out what kind of a boat he wanted and built the Steamer Minnie Heerman. There was nothing noticeable or different about this boat except for her beam. Our recollection is that she was 30 feet wide while the other boats were not much more than half her width. They used to say that when the Chippewa got extremely low Captain Heerman laid up overnight and when the dew got heavy on toward morning he would cross the bar. But leaving jokes aside the Steamer Minnie Heerman was the most serviceable boat that was ever on the Chippewa River.
The same mistake was made in towing rafts down the Mississippi. The bull headed or bone headed pilots (myself included) got the idea that nothing but a little side wheel boat would pay. Their idea was low expenses. They had the same number of men, pilots, engineers and other help on these dinky boats, as they were called as they had afterwards when the boats were from ten to twenty times more powerful and the only difference in cost was fuel raft boats kept gradually getting larger and about the time the pine gave out raft boats were generally large enough to be good packet boats in earlier times. On the Mississippi River we can mention such boats as the W. J. Young, Lady Grace, Fred Weyerhauser, the Chas. Denkman and many other boats. I cannot recall their names, but they were named after the stars and planets. Capt. George himself was quite an astronomer.
In the use of
the first insignificant little side wheel geared boats the writer had about as
much use for them as the average pilots. We
chartered and made odd trips with them. The
only one we can remember the name of is the little steamer Johnny Smoker built
and owned by H. T. Rumsey of La Crosse. Mr.
Rumsey had a sawmill at some point above Chippewa Falls and had a raft of eight
strings of lumber partly at Nelson’s Landing and partly on the way down the
Chippewa River. Ramsey wired me to
meet him at his office at La Crosse. When
we got there it was just what we expected. He
wanted me to run that lumber to Hannibal Mo.
He said I was the only pilot he knew of.
The most of the pilots were on their last trips down the River and he
wanted a pilot who had a raft kit and he was informed we had a kit stored at
Reads Landing and he wanted me to take the raft.
We told him it was late in the season to start a raft from the foot of Lake Pepin for Hannibal, Mo. and that there was likely to be more or less winds at that time of the year-the middle of October. He asked me if we had used boats to help rafts down the river. We told him we had and that most any kind of a boat was good to fight wind.
He then told
me he had a good boat that I could use, the little steamer Johnny Smoker by
name. We had seen this boat but did
not know who owned her. We told him
that we had no license to pilot boats and that Captain Girdon had notified me
that the next time he caught me piloting any kind of a boat without a license he
would fine me $200 and that he ought to fine me $100 for what we had done.
Mr. Rumsey thought that license was intended for boats carrying freight and passengers and that it was nonsense that a raft pilot should have to get a license to help oars to get rafts down the river. We said that naturally it would look that way, but when we started back up the river we must use government rules and regulations in passing boats. Mr. Rumsey was quite well posted on steamboating. He came from Galena Ill. And had been a prominent stockholder in the Galena & St. Paul Packet Co. The Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad had recently put their road into La Crosse and Mr. Rumsey was their General Supt. in handling freight between the Davidson line of steamboats and the Milwaukee Railroad.
Rumsey said that Captain Stevenson, the supervising inspector of steamboats was in the city visiting his brother in-law General Washburn at his residence. He told me to come up in the evening to his office and we would go up to Gen. Washburn’s house and he incidentally told me that his wife was related to both of these men. I then went back to the hotel to wait for the time we should go to the Washburn home.
After arriving at the hotel we were quite sure from what Mr. Rumsey said that his intentions were to get Capt. Stevenson to grant me a pilot’s license although Mr. Rumsey had not intimated what he expected to do at the Washburn residence. When we arrived there Mr. Rumsey rang the doorbell. A servant appeared, and Rumsey handed him a card and soon General Washburn came. Mr. Rumsey told him he would like to see Captain Stevenson. We came in to the main sitting room where he was then. Mr. Rumsey introduced me to General Wasburn and Capt.-or Colonels Stevenson as he was sometimes called, asked me to give him my experience on the river. We went over it in a hurried way. He then went to his traveling gag, got out a blank paper and made us out a first class license enabling me to pilot any kind of a boat.
We thanked the Captain and told him we had given up all hopes of getting a pilot’s license and that so far as piloting a floating raft was concerned we did not need a license. He said that our experience on the river entitled us to a license and that in his opinion we would need one in the future and expressed his opinion that steamboating in the lumber business would increase and long before we quit the river there was no floating rafts.
We took the Johnny Smoker to Reads Landing, took our rafting kit that we had put away for the winter and started out the raft of lumber. We had a long spell of good weather and we made a fast trip to Hannibal, Mo. When we arrived at La Crosse we put our rafting kit in a store house and put the boat in winter quarters in the Black River where we got her and went back to Reads Landing.
On our way up
the river we landed at the levee at Dubuque to get a few supplies and coal.
We were at the wheel and landed the boat when we saw Capt. G. W. Girdon
coming down to the boat. He was the
man who threatened me with a fine of $200 next time I took a boat without a
license. When Capt. Girdon got to
the boat, he said, “We have caught
you right in the act. Your fine is $200.”
We said to Captain Girdon, “This
boat must go to La Crosse.” He
said, “You pay your fine of $300
and we will grant you a permit to take the boat to La Crosse.”
He also said, “You have
been violating the law long enough.” He
wanted it settled or he would have me placed in the hands of a U. S. Marshall.
He said, “You acted as
Captain and pilot on this boat in violation of law and its got to stop.”
We told him that we had no money and that he could see the clerk that he
was at the boat store. He started
for the clerk and met him coming back to the boat.
He told the clerk that he had fined me $200.
The clerk told him to come down to the boat and took him into the little
cabin and showed him my license signed by his superior officer.
We were in the pilot house ready to start out.
Captain Girdon came in and said, “Your
license is just as good as gold.” The
Captain made ample apologies. He
said that was the first license that Captain Stevenson had issued since he was
in the service and repeated that it was as good as gold.
We never had any trouble with Captain Girdon after that time.
In our floating days before the government built a canal part way over the Des Moines Rapids, we had more or less trouble in getting log and lumber rafts over these rapids especially in a low stage of water. We often wondered why this fifteen miles of river also twelve miles on the Rock Island Rapids was so much different than the rest of the 1000 miles of river between St. Louis and St. Paul.
Our early opinion was that the rocks over these rapids were of a harder nature but in time we gave up this idea. We also noticed these two rapids were similar to each other in their origin. At the head of both of these rapids the hills came down to the waters edge while on other places on this 1000 miles usually the hills were several miles apart.
In later years we commenced to read the geological formations of the Mississippi valley and more especially where the river passed through the state of Iowa we found a solution of the origin of the Des Moines Rapids and in time the same solution will show the origin of the Rock Island Rapids.
Prof. C. H. Gordon located an ancient channel of the Mississippi River a few miles west of Montrose, Iowa, and passing through the Des Moines River valley a few miles West of Keokuk, Iowa, this ancient route of the Mississippi River channel would leave Montrose, Iowa and Keokuk, Iowa, in the state of Illinois.
Prof. Calvin tells us that a great glacier came down the Mississippi valley and another large glacier came down the Des Moines valley and where these two glaciers met a dam was formed. (Let us call this our first Keokuk Dam) The greatest glacier passing down the valley of the Mississippi River originated in the far north bringing down material entirely different from all geological formations of the Mississippi Valley. This first Keokuk Dam was san ideal place for depositing this foreign material. It filled up the ancient channel of the Mississippi River north from the ice dam as far as Fort Madison. This is the same material that gave Fort Madison its first Klondike Gold Graze about 50 years ago.
Then came the melting age when water began to appear in the Mississippi Valley and when the ice glaciers began to retreat to the north. We had our first Lake Cooper extending back from 300 to 400 miles. The natural rain fall also water from the melting glaciers kept on coming until our first Lake Cooper was filled. Then the water had to pass over the dam from 250 to300 feet high and the lowest place on this dam was between Montrose and Nauvoo. This flood went over the hills about 20 miles and entered its old bed in the vicinity of Warsaw, Ill. Then we had either our first or second Niagara Falls.
In support of this seeming fairy tale there is a Rock Island of several acres lying between Montrose and Nauvoo showing that this is where the flood went over the dam. But the best and indisputable evidence is the old filled up channel lying to the west of Montrose.
Critics may claim that the Mississippi River flows North and South and that a great sweep of the river to the south west would be out of the ordinary course of the river but this is not true. Pilots on the Upper Mississippi River, not all of them but some of them, are aware of the fact that the predominating sweeps of the river are to the south west, for instance the sunsets for three months in the year are on the Illinois side of the river a few miles above Muscatine, Iowa. But it never sets on the Island between the old and new channel at the Des Moines Rapids and at no place does the sunrise in Minnesota, Iowa or Missouri.
This is a part
of our evidence that the so called Missouri River is the parent stream, but we
have more convincing evidence that out so called upper Mississippi River is only
a tributary stream.
Let us be wise and not forget
Our grand old rivers are changing yet.
Let us now quote in part Mahomad Kazsina an Arabian writer
of the 7th century:
I wandered by a goodly town
Beset with many a garden fair
And asked of one who gathered down
Large fruit, how long the town was there
He spoke nor chose his hand to stay
The town had stood for many a day
And will be here forever and aye
A thousand years went by and then
I saw the self same place again
And Lo! a country wild and rude
An ax in hand beside a tree
The hermit of the solitude
I asked how old the wood might be
He said I count not time at all
A tree may rise a tree may fall
The forest over lives us all.
When a thousand years may pass again
I mean to try that road again.
If he does the St. Lawrence route to the sea may be there. And gallant ships go sailing by; so goes the world, though multitudes have no conception of it.
says that 670,000 tons of water fall over Niagara per minutes over a limestone
ledge and wearing it away one foot per year.
Other observers say less than one foot, but according to Prof. Lyell’s
estimate it would take 118,600 years for the Des Moines Rapids to wear away its
limestone hills back to Montrose and Nauvoo a distance of 20 miles.
At the same rate it would take 5,280,000 years to wear the limestone
hills back from St. Louis to St. Paul a distance of 1000 miles.
In a former letter we stated the Mississippi River north of its junction with the Missouri River was a tributary of the Missouri. Our reason for coming to this conclusion is as follows:
These rivers could only be made by running water cutting down the hills both in depth and width. The zig zag bends of a river depend largely on local fissures and faults in the crust of the earth. The hills on both sides of any river so far as age is concerned depend entirely how far the hills are apart. If the hills on the Mississippi north of St. Louis to its source do not average more than three miles apart then if the hills on the Missouri River north of St. Louis to its source will average six miles apart would not the Missouri River be the oldest River? The Rock formations in these river valleys depend largely on the age of a river valley. The upper Missouri River flows over older rocks such as granite that are hard to dissolve and remove while the Upper Mississippi river flows over softer rocks such as limestones that are more easily dissolved and removed.
If it took five billion years to wash out the Valley of he upper Mississippi River with its softer limestone rock it must have taken at least ten billion to wash out its older and harder rocks.
Who was the man who named the upper Mississippi River? It is a good bet that he was a man more learned in theology than in geography or geology. If father Marquette wanted his name passed down to posterity he could have named it the Marquette River but he missed his chance.
Let us now call it after the most beautiful and romantic spot on earth, a name that will always be remembered in poetry and song, the Minnehaha River.
commenced steamboating on the Minnehaha River in 1853 and retired permanently
form steamboating in 1903. This was
the year that we made our first visit to the so called Missouri river.
We arrived at Vermillion, S. D. in the night by rail. Vermillion is situated on the east side of the so called Missouri on high ground. After breakfast we went on the porch of the hotel and looked or tried to look across the valley for the so called Missouri River, but could see no hills on the west side of the river. The landlord came out and asked me if I could see hills on the west side of the valley. We said “No”. He then took a field glass out of his coat pocket and handed it to me. We could then see the hills quite plain. We told him it was quite the surprise of our life. That we had steamboated the most of our lifetime on the Mississippi River and always supposed the Mississippi was the main river to the Gulf. He smiled and said “I have made several trips in younger days between St. Louis and St. Paul and when I came upon this river I was just as much surprised as you are. He also said that with good eye sight and impartial no man would believe for a moment that his was not the parent stream to the gulf of Mexico.
We then went
to Yankton, S. D. situated like Vermillion on high ground on the east bank of
the river and there we could barely see the hills on the opposite side of the
river. It is the oldest valley and
Father Marquette did not know where he was at and that our old landlord at
Vermillion was right and after being fooled for more than a century.
Let us call this old river after the Home of old Necoma, the Arrow Maker.
(What does Captain Fred A. Bill think about it?) Minneapolis and St. Paul
could hardly pull off a fight on the name of Minnehaha but you can never tell.
While the Keokuk Dam has created a splendid channel slack water for 40 miles up the stream it would be impossible to build a chain of dams for river improvements only. But there is no doubt but what dams can be built at several places for power also and improve navigation between St. Paul and St. Louis (also on the upper Missouri River.)
The writer had no faith that navigation will ever be revived on these two rivers. They fulfilled their mission settling states on their borders before the advent of railroads. We also predict that money in the past and future spent on the improvement of these two rivers will eventually go into Uncle Sam’s scrap pile-the same as his ten million canal at the Des Moines Rapids.
We also predict that dams will be built across these rivers and their tributaries to create water power, in fulfillment of a vision that the St. Lawrence route to the sea will come in good time. When large ocean vessels will come to our ports on the Great Lakes then they will want power dams to run railroads from the Rocky Mountain States to these Lake ports. Then the factories, the farmers, and miners of the two richest valleys and mountains in the world will come into their own.
If these condition existed today nobody would worry about coal strikes, neither would our Uncle Sam Gompers be telling our President and the people what they should or should not do.
People of these rich valleys going abroad will not ride over the Allegheny Mountains on Pullman cars pulled by coal burning engines to get to an ocean vessel. They still prefer this shorter route on Pullman driven by a power that has no smoke, dust or coal.
Let us remember that H. G. Wells, the great newspaper reporter stated that New York was the leader of the world, but he also predicted that reverses would come. Did Wells have the St. Lawrence route to the sea in mind? He sure had some kind of a calamity in his mind when he wrote that letter in regard to New York, City.
We notice in the papers lately that big men from the East principally from New York are writing letters and making speeches that the St. Lawrence route to the sea is not predicable and that all money spent on the St. Lawrence will go into the scrap pile. But they do advise that money should be spent on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers so that the people of the two valleys can get their products to and from the sea by the New Orleans route. These big men from the East would rather chip in and pay taxes to assist their brethren of these valleys to get their produce to and from the sea than to throw away any money on the St. Lawrence route. Who was the man who advised his people to beware of men who bring you gifts.
Let us quote
in part our old advisor Mahomad Kazawin an Arabian writer:
“A thousand years may pass and then
I went to see New York again
No vestige of that town I traced
But one poor swain his horn employed
His sheep unconscious browsed and grazed
I asked when was the town destroyed
He spoke, nor would his horn lay by
One thing may grow and another die
But I know nothing of towns not I
H. G. Wells
A thousand years went by and then I went to see Chicago again
And there a glorious city stood
And Mid tumultuous market cry
I asked when rose the town where wood
Pasture and Lakes forgotten be
They hear me not and little blame
For them the world is as it came
And all things must be still the same
St. Lawrence Boomer
In the winter of 1860 we stopped at Wabasha, Minn. On toward spring Fort Sumpter was bombarded by the rebels and the American flag was hauled down. Just think for a moment if such a thing happened today. Soon after that bombardment a company of young men enlisted at Wabasha, Minn. We joined this company at Fort Snelling. The Provost Marshall’s office was located at St. Paul. Our company had to go there to be sworn into the service. We were lined up in single file in front of the provost Marshall’s office for that purpose. When they came to the window the Marshall asked our name, residence, nationality, age and lastly our occupation. When it came to occupation with us we told him a pilot on the Mississippi River. He then told me to go into a room in the building and he would examine me further as soon as he got through with the Company.
He came into
the room and asked me how long I had been on steamboats.
We told him nearly three years. He
then asked me if we ever had any experience steering a boat.
We told him we had. He asked where we had done the work and how long were
we at it. We told him our work was
done on a packet boat between Rock Island and Galena and that we worked on the
Steamboat Bill Henderson four weeks. He
then asked me to go with him and he took me to a gallery and had my picture
taken and told the man who took it to deliver it at his office.
He then took me back to his office and filled out a blank paper notifying
me that whenever we changed our residence we must notify the naval office at St.
Louis. He then told me that we were
now ready to enter the naval service of the United States and that we could not
enter the army. We told him we had
no pilot license. He said, “You
don’t need a license to work for the government” and said farther that he
was a busy man and that my case was settled so far as he was concerned, and we
returned to Wabasha. This ended my
career as a soldier but I was finally taken into the naval service with a
Chippewa River steamboat that I happened to be on.
On arriving at St. Louis our first day a man came on board of our boat and took measurements for round plates to put around the pilot house, then around our steam boilers, then plates on each side of the engines. These were protection against guerrillas lurking in the woods below St. Louis. A government soldier came aboard. He would allow no one but the workmen on the iron plates to come on board and none of the crew could leave the boat without a pass. We were under military rule.
There were several small stern and a few small side wheel boats in the harbor. We were in St. Louis several days when an officer come on board and told the Captain, myself and Louis Fulton, the Chippewa river pilot, that the next morning we should start for down river, and notified Mr. Fulton and myself that we should keep as near to 500 feet as we could guess from the boat ahead of us so as to avoid collisions. He also gave the Captain some orders.
The next morning a swift little patrol boat went by and shouted “No. 19 fall in line.” All boats in the fleet had their number painted on the plates on both sides of the pilot house. Each boat had a short jack staff standing a few feet above decks for signal lights that were to be lighted from dark to daylight. These jack staffs had a box around them on deck and when a lamp was lowered they went into this box and could not be seen. All precautions were made against guerrilla attacks.
The shore on the Missouri side of the river was heavily timbered and was the home of Missouri rebels. There was gun boat in the front and at the rear of the fleet. The gunboats were iron clads. The front boat had two experienced lower river pilots on board to lead the fleet and also a gun boat in the rear. At a signal, three short blasts of the steam whistle at night from the gun boat in front, the signal lamps on all the boats and in fact all light were put out and at three blasts of the whistle all lights were on. This was done to guard against guerrilla attacks at night.
evening after leaving St. Louis we arrived at Cairo, Ill.
And the fleet landed on the Kentucky shore.
One gun boat landed at Cairo, Ill. We
laid there about ten days when orders came for all boats to return to St. Louis
and await orders. This reminded me
that: Jack and Jill marched down the
hill, then marched up again.
What shall or can be done to revive navigation o the Minnehaha River? Build a great dam across the foot of Lake Pepin raise this 100 square miles of lake water from 12 to 15 feet above this low stage of water, use this great body of water for power, and to feel and regulate water flowing through this 600 miles of canal, build a lock to correspond with the lock at the Keokuk Dam.
This canal floor to be on a level with the low water mark of Lake Pepin. This canal should have three walls so as to make two channels, the east channel for the ascending boats and the west channel for descending boats. The east channel to have locks to create slack water for ascending boats. This canal should be not less than 1000 feet from either side so as to have plenty room for drainage and flood waters. Dams can be built at suitable places on either side of the canal to create power to drive barges up and down the canal. Each of these channels should be not less than 60 feet wide.
that a fleet of barges carrying several thousand tons of through freight can be
handles with one captain, one mate, one clerk and one cook.
These barges when built of steel, all danger of any kind would be small
either from fires, collisions, storms or explosions.
It would be the cheapest and safest long haul inland freightage on the
globe. Towns and cities on both
sides of this canal wanting to use the canal must build wagon bridges and
freight terminals to and at the canal.
The backwater from the great dam at Lake Pepin would give from 12 to 15 feet of water at Red Wing, Minn. The lock at Minneapolis could be used to feed the canal to Red Wing, Minn., as the lock at the Keokuk dam could be used to feed the canal to the Illinois River.
We presume that rock and cement would be used in the building of this canal (mostly rock). The government has many rock quarries along the route on both sides of the river. Coal can be moved from the mines of Illinois and Indiana as far north as Minneapolis and iron ore to the south.
With the St. Lawrence route to the sea and the completion of the Minnehaha and Illinois river canals the twin cities in time combined would be the greatest inland city of the globe. They should then cut out the Saint and the Minne and call it Paulapolis.
The Minnehaha canal could be extended 25 miles further south and connect with the Mississippi river, the parent stream to the Gulf of Mexico.
books teach our children that the so-called Missouri River is the oldest and
parent stream to the gulf then why should the Minnehaha River be called the
upper Mississippi river, making the child older than its mother.
Let W. J. Bryan include our public school geographies in with his monkey
and baboon books. Our children may
or may not be sure that the blood of the monkeys and baboons flowed in their
veins, but they are dead sure that they are no older than their mother.
We left Cairo in the morning with our fleet of boats for St. Louis. At some point between Cairo and Cape Girardeau we ran into a bunch of rebels. They were hid in the woods and were riding horses and had some kind of small cannons on their horses. They were aware that our pilot houses were iron clad also our boilers and engines, so that rifle fire would not have much effect on our boats. They waited until the gun boat had passed. Their bullets were made of lead metal and wherever they hit especially our iron plates the lead spattered on the plates. They fired two volleys before our gun boats began to drop shells on them. The rebels disappeared back into the timber quite lively.
The only damage to the fleet was one ball hit the steam pipe leading from the boiler to the engines of one of the boats. But the boat continued to go ahead with the fleet. A fireman on this boat tried to wrap some asbestos around this slight crack in the steam pipe and in the operation inhaled some of this steam and was taken to the hospital boat but died before reaching St. Louis. This was the only racket we had with the rebels. Two mechanics came on board of this boat and wrapped this pipe with some kind of material. The boat was soon ready and the fleet went on. If this poor fireman had remained at his post nothing would have happened to him. This was the only fight, if it can be called a fight, we had on the trip. We finally arrived at St. Louis, mechanics came on board and took off these plates of iron much quicker than they put them on, and we left St. Louis as quick as possible.
Capt. Tainter remained at St. Louis to get a settlement with the Government and met us at Dubuque. As we went north the weather became cold and when we reached Prairie du Chien we stopped and took our grain barge we left there. We started north and when we reached Victory, Wis., where the celebrated Indian Blackhawk fought his last battle, ice was running and we ran the boat and barge into a bay at Tippets’ Landing about a mile above Victory and that night the river closed and the boat and barge were left in charge of the Tippets family until the river opened in the spring.
steamer Chippewa Falls was taken at Prairie du Chien the Government was digging
a ditch at some point north of Vicksburg in a westerly and southerly direction
to take General Grant’s army thru that ditch to get the army below Vicksburg,
and all of these small light draught boats were intended to move that army thru
the Butler Ditch and on account of a continued low stage of water the ditch
proved to be a failure. This trip
ended our career as a soldier and sailor during the Civil War.
In 1868 the white pine regions of Wisconsin and Minnesota had a scarcity of snow and rain fall and there was not much doing in the moving of logs or lumber rafts, and still less in 1864. At that time the nearest railroad to northern Wisconsin, northern Iowa and all of Minnesota was at Prairie du Chien, Wis. . At that time the nearest railroad to northern Wisconsin, northern Iowa and all of Minnesota was at Prairie du Chien, Wis. 1863 and 1864 were extremely mild winters, beautiful Indian summers running into New Year and with the exception of 1891 we never saw much beautiful fall and winter weather except 1891 when there was a steamboat excursion out of Winona, Min. The excursionists wore linen dusters but we were reliably informed that these linen duster fellows had their overcoats hid by the linen dusters.
In 1864 there were frosts every month in the year. It was a cold and extremely dry summer. There being no railroads in the north and west the Governor of Minnesota issued a proclamation that no wheat should be shipped out of the states, The governor got afraid that if much wheat went out the people might be starving before the steamboats could bring them flour in the spring.
There was a Chippewa River steamboat lying idle at Reads Landing and could not run the Chippewa River on account of low water. We chartered that boat and in connection with a man by the name of Michael Drury, a resident of Wabasha, Minn., who had a barge. We started to carry wheat to Prairie du Chien the nearest railroad. The water was so extremely low that the side wheel boats were unable to navigate and there were only a few light stern wheel boats running to St. Paul and they had all the business they could handle without carrying wheat so that we were able to get good freight prices. We cannot recall the freight prices.
Mr. Drury was attending to the financial part and our job was to run the boat. We took on some sacks of wheat at Wabasha on the steamboat and then went down the river to a little new town that was just starting up called Minneiska and loaded the barge with bags of wheat and then went to Prairie du Chien, unloaded the wheat and were on our way back to Minneiska for another load and landed at Winona for some purpose. Mr. Drury went up town and a stranger came aboard the boat. This stranger asked us what we charged a bushel for carrying wheat to Prairie du Chien. We told him what we were getting from Minneiska. He then asked how many bushels we had taken down the last trip. We told him as these questions were fresh in our memory. We had in mind this man had wheat to ship. He then handed me figures stating the amount of our finewhich was more than our freight came to. This man claimed that he was a State Officer sent by the Governor to search out and fine people for carrying wheat out of the state against the Governor’s proclamation. About that time Mr. Drury came back on the boat. We told him all about this man’s business. Mr. Drury advised that we should go and see Judge Wilson for advice. The Judge said to pay no attention to his State Officer.
We returned to
the boat. We told this man the boat
was about to leave for Winona. He
wanted a settlement. We told him our
advice from our attorney. He refused
to leave the boat and we went out with him. We landed at Fountain City ten miles
above Winona. Parties there had
wheat to ship. Mr. Drury went to the
grain office, but the man he wanted to see was out of town.
He returned to the boat. In
the meantime this officer went up to a large spring of water that the city was
named after. It was close to the
boat. We let go the line and backed
out in the river and left him on the bank. This
was the last time we seen him, and also the last we heard from the Governor’s
We think it was in the spring of 1868 that President Lincoln called for 600,000 men to put down the rebellion in the southern states. We are unable to recall the number of recruits that Pepin Township had to furnish. After meetings of the people to raise money to buy recruits they raised all the money they thought they could get. They then appointed a committee of three, a chairman, a secretary and a treasurer.
In the pine
region of Minnesota and Wisconsin there was no rain and no log driver and
nothing to do on the rivers in the way of handling logs or lumber rafts down the
Mississippi River. This committee
asked me to go to St. Paul and find what Minnesota was doing in the way of
getting men. They would pay my
transportation and hotel bills, but could not allow me any salary.
We accepted their offer as we had nothing to do.
We took the
first boat and arrived in St. Paul and soon got in touch with a responsible
recruiting agency there. In
convenience with the proprietor he at once said they were filling contracts for
recruits at $500.00 per man and that
later on they expected to be able to take contracts for $450.00 per man.
We told him that we would suppose the nearer we came to the draft the
higher the price. He stated there
were plenty of young men ready to go in the army, but wanted all they could get
out of the stay at homes. Later on
we found he was correct. We told
this agent how many men we wanted and that we had in the bank at St. Paul
$350.00 for each man. This man said he did not believe we could get men at that
price. We wrote the committees what
this man said but said we were unable to give them any advice and that we
expected to return on the next boat. We
met this man again (the recruiting agent) and asked his advice as to what we had
better do under our circumstances. He
advised that if we had business at home we better go back.
We told him we had no business calling us home.
He then said “You better join our recruiting force, and stated they
paid $15.00 for recruits and $25.00 for substitutes.
He said a recruit was a man who joined the army for three years or during
the war. He then explained that when
we brought a man to his office, he was examined by the doctors in an adjoining
room. If their report was good they
then swore him into the service and then we got out pay.
If the doctors rejected him we got nothing.
We concluded to try the job. We
soon got onto the job and were satisfied. The
returns in dollars was O.K.
After accepting the recruiting job and reporting to the committee there were two men on the Reads Landing list. We will call then super patriots. They were always ready to lend a helping hand to war measures. They were active and liberal subscribers to our war fund. They were lumbermen and were getting war prices for lumber and could afford to be liberal. But they finally got stampeded. One of them came to St. Paul and told me that himself and associate wanted substitutes. He said they were satisfied that Reads Landing could not fill her quota and they did not want to take any further chances.
We then introduced him to our recruiting agent and he told him he could fill the order at once for $2,000 and that was the best he could do. He then told the agent to get him the proper papers from the government and he would write his check on a St. Paul bank for $2,000. He called on me that evening at my boarding and asked me to give him a check on the bank for $700. This was because their substitutes were the place of two Reads Landing men. We told him that we had no authority to draw checks on that bank and that the treasurer at Reads Landing only had the authority to make checks against that money. He left the city and went to Reads Landing. We do not recall how he got on with the treasurer as that is more than 58 years ago. But we do remember he did not get the $700.
There was nothing further of any importance happened until the beginning of the first week before the draft. This recruiting agent called me to his office and told me that counting out the two substitutes if Reads landing could raise a certain amount of money immediately they could fill the quota at once. We told him we would see what could be done. We then went direct to the telegraph office and wired our treasurer. He wired me back he would call a meeting and would let me know. The next morning we received a telegram from the treasurer that he would be in St. Paul on the first boat. He arrived in St. Paul in due time. He brought just money enough to fill the Reads Landing quota. The treasurer told me they were to hold another meeting to raise enough money to pay the substitute men $800 and also pay me for what I had coming to me.
We did not go
back to Reads Landing for a few days. We
finally started for home and the boat landed at Red Wing.
We heard shooting on the front of the boat.
There were three men coming on board the boat and were on the stage
plant. They recognized a U. S.
Marshall waiting for them and they turned and ran.
The Marshall got one in the hip and he fell.
The other two got away. They
were deserters (bounty jumpers). When
we arrived at Reads Landing the committee called a meeting of the people to
raise money to pay for the two substitutes also myself.
The three committee men, the substitute men, and myself were there.
The Chairman adjourned the meeting and never called another meeting.
The substitutes as well as myself pocketed our loss.
But such is war.
During the year 1861 we had a contract with Pound Halbert & Co. to run the lumber for the big mill at Chippewa Falls, Wis., down the Mississippi River. There was lumber enough for two pilots and we let Captain George Winans in on the contract. We took out the first raft. I do not recall that Captain Winans or myself used a steamboat that year in handling this lumber. We are inclined to believe that we did not. The next three years Captain Winans ran that lumber and used the little side wheel steamboat named “Union.”
In 1862 we handled lumber for the Daniel Shaw Lumber Co., in 1863 and 1864 we handled what lumber Porter, Brown and Meredith had to go down the Mississippi River. In 1863 and 1864 on account of low water there was not much lumber to run. In 1862 and 1863 and 1864 we occasionally made odd trips down the river on two of these small boats, but in 1865 we bought the side wheel steamboat W. H. Clark and ran her on the Porter and Moon Lumber four years. Then in 1869 Porter and Moon were merged into the Northwestern Lumber Co. and they bought the Steamer Silas Wright and we ran that boat eight years. Their lumber all went to Hannibal Mo. We then gave up our job on the Steamer Silas Wright and recommended our old friend and second pilot Captain John Walker to take our place and he got the job. Then in 1877 and 1878 we ran the Dells Lumber Co. for two years to Hannibal, Mo. on contract. In 1881 we ran the Steamer Golden Gate two years. Then Alfred Hollingshead and myself formed a co-partnership to run for seven years. This brought us up to 1889.
The firm of Turner, Hollingshead & Co. terminated in 1889. We then owned the Steamers Pauline and the new Stern Wheel Steamer Clyde. We sold the Steamer Clyde to the Standard Lumber Co. at Dubuque. Then J. M. Turner bought the Steamer Pauline and ran his last lumber for the Empire Lumber Co. to Hannibal, Mo. in 1893.
We live on the
bank of the river at Lansing, Iowa. There
is a good steamboat landing in front of our house.
Occasionally a boat would land or send their skiff ahead when one of the
pilots was alone. Some years we made
a trip or more and some years we made no trips, and in 1903 the year of the
Worlds Fair we made our last trip on a Stillwater boat to Dubuque.
I cannot recall her name but I think she belonged to Folsom & Co. at
Stillwater, Minn. We went on the
river in 1853.
The last year we ran the Steamer W. H. Clark in 1867 we sank the Steamer Mollie Mohler. This boat was towing a raft of logs from Beef Slough to some point down the river. Quite a few boats that were built for freight and passenger service later went into raft towing, the steamer Mollie Mohler was one of them. Boats that were built for log towing had their bow timber perpendicular so that when the boat started to tow ahead she would not go up on the logs or lumber. The Steamer Mollie Mohler had what was known as a spoon shaped bow without a butting block. She did not make a revolution with a wheel without sliding up on the raft and became totally unmanageable.
When the Steamer Mollie Mohler got her raft at Beef Slough there was a butting block on the raft put there by the Beef Slough Co. This butting block was all that was needed provided the raft was kept whole, but when they made two parts of the raft to run through the draws of the bridges than there should have been a butting block on the center of each half of the raft border to pass through the bridges drawn.
When the Steamer W. H. Clark used the foot of Argo Island the Mollie Mohler was close to the draw of the bridge-at least a mile away. We had no reason to believe that the Mollie Mohler would go through the bridge long before we could get there. When we got to the main shore above the bridge we ran our check line out and stopped our raft. The bow of our raft was a little below the stern of the Mollie Mohler the bow of our raft swung towards the Minnesota shore, driven by the current of the river. The right corner of the raft collided with the stern of the Mollie Mohler and the larbord side and made a hole in her hull. The Molllie Mohler did not sink very fast. She floated through the draw of the bridge and when she got through she commenced to back the stern towards the west shore.
They ran a line ashore from the rate and landed the raft and the boat sank near the shore behind the raft. This whole trouble was brought on by the crew of men not putting in a better block for each half of the raft. We believed at the time of the sinking that there was no butting as we passed by we sent our skiff out with several men to see if there was a butting block on the raft and there was none.
Mollie Mohler libeled the Steamer W. H. Clark gave evidence before the court
showing the conditions and the cause of the collision, and that the Steamer
Mollie Mohler contributed negligence by not having a butting block so as to
enable the tow ahead with her raft. The
court admitted that the Steamer Mollie Mohler was negligent in not being
properly equipped but that the pilot on the Steamer Clark had noticed that
something was wrong with the steamer Mohler and that the pilot on the steamer W.
H. Clark should have passed through the east draw of the bridge and no collision
would have happened. The court cut
the Steamer Mollie Mohler’s claim for damages one third and charged the
balance of the claim to the Steamer W. H. Clark.
In the early days of raft towing on the upper Miss. River there were stock companies and individuals operating as contractors in towing logs and lumber from the St. Croix River, the Chippewa River and the Black River to St. Louis and intermediate points on both sides of the great river and naturally there was competition. We have in mind one of these squabbles in the way of contracting in the winter and spring months for work for our boats for the coming season.
A contract was to be let at Chippewa Fall, Wis. This saw mill was the largest on the Chippewa River. A man by the name of Bernard, we can’t recall his given name. Mr. Bernard was an eastern man and was not acquainted very much with the lumber business in the west. Mr. Bernard organized what was known as the Chippewa Lumber and Boom Co. Mr. Bernard had a young man in his office by the name of Wm. Irvine. He is now President of the Lumber Man’s Bank at Chippewa Falls. Previous to that time Mr. Irvine had been salesman on the Miss. River for the lumber made at the big saw mill, and his general knowledge of the lumber business made him a very valuable man for Mr. Bernard.
While we did not ask for Mr. Irvine to intercede for us still we felt that in him we had a friend at court. This was the most important contract at that time to be let on the Chippewa River. We put our bid in early and then took up our headquarters at the Taylor House. James A. Taylor was a pioneer merchant and lumberman of the Chippewa Valley; also a past master when it came to swapping stories he was an ideal landlord. We thought it best to camp on the ground until this contract was let. Other contractors came, put in their bids and went home and amongst them was E. W. Durant for Durant Wheeler& Co., at Stillwater, Minn. and D. A. McDonald of Mc Donald Bros. at La Cross, Wis. The probability was that the bids were not far apart. We landed the contract.
The last trip we made on the Golden Gate we left Reads Landing the 9th of Nov. We landed under the timber at night above the Sabula Bridge. A heavy northwind started and by morning it commenced to get cold. The river was quite low. The Savannah Bay a good winter harbor lay three miles above where we laid. We ordered the mate to put a butting clock on the bow of the raft. We moved the boat-to the bow and then started the raft up the stream. It took six hours of good hard towing but finally arrived in good safe winter harbor.
passed the city of Savannah Mr. Wm. Irvine arrived on the train at Savannah.
The hotel where we stopped at looked on the river.
He asked the hotel man if he had seen any rafts going down the river that
day. He said, “No” but he did
see a raft going up the river. Mr.
Irvine said, “Your joking.” The
hotel man said, “It’s God’s Truth.”
He had lived all his lifetime on the river and had seen thousands of
rafts go down stream but that was the first time he ever seen one go up.
Mr. Irvine was looking for us and was glad we were in a safe harbor and
the raft laid there for the winter. The
river closed soon after we got the steamboat to Rock Island and the next day
while pulling the boat out for repairs heavy ice was running.
We are unable to give the year that the Steamer Lilly Turner was sunk by the Steamer C. W. Cowles but it was in the eighties.
The Steamer Lilly Turner was making daily trips between Lansing and La Crosse carrying freight and passengers. There were big horse races at Prarie du Chien and a lot of Lansing people went there to attend the races. A telegram was sent to Lansing from Prairie du Chien for the Steamer Lilly Turner to come down to Prarie du Chien and bring the Lansing people home. After arriving at Lansing in the evening soon after her La Crosse trip the boat started for Prairie du Chien and between Yorks wood yard and the Yellow River she met the C. W. Cowles coming up stream. She blew the whistle to go to the right and the Steamer Lilly Turner answered. The steamer C. W. Cowles then tried to go to the left and struck the Steamer Lilly Turner on the larboard side between the boiler and the engines and stove in the side of the boat and it sank immediately.
The river channel at that place was at least one quarter of a mile wide and either the pilot on the Steamer C. W. Cowles was drunk or he wanted to sink the Steamer Lilly Turner. As the captain or owners of the Lilly Turner never had any acquaintance with him we always were of the opinion he was drunk. He was at the horse races that afternoon and was well known to be a drinking man Captain D. C. Law was in command of the Steamer Lilly at that time.
The firemen on the Lilly Turner got scalded by the breaking of a steam pipe and died that night. The Lilly Turner was soon raised and with a barge on each side of her, was taken to the boat yard at Dubuque and was soon put in repair and went back to the Lansing and La Cross trade. The wife of the man who was killed libeled the Lilly Turner for damages. On receipt of a telegram we went to La Crosse and gave bail and released the boat. We met the father of this woman at La Crosse and we told him the circumstances of the collision with the C. W. Cowles.
The old gentleman had charge of hid daughter’s affairs. He had a farm a few miles back of Genoa, Wis. He told me that there was a god farm adjoining his farm. 120 acres with a good log house and stable and 80 acres of it was under cultivation. He could buy that farm for $1000 if taken immediately. His daughter had two sons-one of them old enough to plow and if he could get $1000 and buy this farm and put his daughter on it he would be glad to do it. We told him to release their claim against the Lilly Turner and gave him our check for $1000. He also released his claim against the C. W. Cowles in our favor for killing his son-in-law. It was quick settlement. The woman and her father went home that afternoon and bought the farm and moved on to it and all went well with the mother and her two sons.
Our bill for
getting the Steamer Lilly made good was $2200 and the $1000 paid to the widow
made $3200. The Fleming Bros. of
McGregor were the owners of the C. W. Cowles and in our confab with them for a
settlement we claimed the pilot on their boat was a whiskey drinker and they
also claimed our pilot could drink as much as their pilot.
We then settled the $3200 on a 50-50 basis.
We charged our $1600 and our fireman’s life back to the proverbial
whiskey barrel and the Fleming Bros. could have done the same.
In the early days of floating logs and lumber down the stream on the Mississippi River there were five Rapids pilots living in Le Claire, Iowa, at the head of the Rock Island Rapids. They were kept reasonably busy piloting floating rafts over the rapids. When steamboats started to tow rafts down the Mississippi River there seemed to be only two of these pilots that were able to make the change successfully-Captain Wesley Rambo and Captain De Forest Dorrance.
When boats towing lumber and log rafts reached Dubuque they must not let other boats pass them before they got to the head of the Rock Island Rapids. If a boat got by them they might be delayed at the head of the rapids waiting of one of these pilots as the rule was always the first boat in the first served with one of these pilots.
We have in mind one of our trips with the Steamer Golden Gate. The custom was if we had a full raft to land on the east of the river about two miles above the railroad half of the raft through the draw of the bridge, land it about two miles below the bridge, than go back and get the other half. We arrived at Eagle Point with a 14 string raft of lumber just as two other boats commenced to double trip through the bridge. There was no possible chance for the Golden Gate to get ahead of them-only to pass through the bridge with the whole raft. We had a measurement of the width of every span of every bridge on the river between Winona, Minn. and Quincy, Ill. in the office of the boat. We called for the clerk and asked him to measure the width of he raft and compare that measurement with the width of the second span of the bridge on the Iowa side of the river. He soon got me the exact width and reported the span was 4 feet and 7 inches wider than the raft. It was a moderately low stage of water. The current of the river was slacker in that span than any other span in the bridge.
We did not feel that we were taking any particular risk. We knew the current of the river was slack in that span as we had been there before. We had a good search light. The Golden Gate was a powerful boat and the only danger would be if the machinery of the boat failed to function and this could happen any place. In addition we had oars on the bow of the raft and there was not as much risk going through that span as there was in operating in many other parts of the river. We went through the bridge without any trouble or breakage. Our old engineer, who was on the fore watch came to me and said, “I have been on the river longer than you have been, and that is the best piece of piloting I ever seen on the river.” But the old man was not acquainted with all the circumstances. He only knew that the raft was nearly as wide as the span and it was in the night time.
There was nobody on the boat that seemed to realize but what was a dangerous undertaking and that we made a lucky hit, and especially at night. We heard one of our men say he did not know what crib of lumber he was going to ride on going down the river that night. Our second pilot was in bed asleep and if he was up he would not know much more than the rest of our crew. He was an old packet pilot and never could learn how to handle a raft. He was a part owner of the boat otherwise he would not have been there.
Our crew were very much elated in getting ahead of these other two boats. They knew we were getting ahead of a couple of boats that had the reputations of what they called “Sooners” and that we would get to the Rock Island Rapids first and get one of the good pilots first.
When we backed
the Steamer Golden Gate away from that raft and went through the draw of the
bridge to get to the raft below the bridge we met one of these two boats coming
up the river after her second half of her raft.
While passing each other the boat going up yelled out, “Go on, Hog.”
Our boat yelled out, “Go on old snail.”
When we get to the Rapids we will tell the rapids pilots you are
coming.” We got to the Rapids the
next evening before midnight and found a raft lying there to go in the morning
with Dorrance as pilot and (double trip) Rambo and his boat took us
(double trip) and the other two boats that we passed at Dubuque had to wait 24
hours before they could get these pilots. When
the fellow yelled. “Hog,” he meant that we were taking a hog’s chance to
beat them to the Rapids and our man when he yelled “Go on old snail” meant
that the boat including the crew were too slow.
On October 30th, we left Reads Landing with a small lumber raft, 7 strings wide and 12 cribs long. This was a floating raft. It belonged, to a lumber company at Hannibal, Mo. We could not make much headway on account of heavy winds. We were finally driven in by a heavy north west wind at the lower end of Nauvoo, Ill. near the Mansion house where there was a safe little harbor. We wired to Hannibal and a man came up and paid off our crew and myself. We left our raft and kit in care of Major Bideman, proprietor of the Mansion House. The owner of this raft asked me where we could find a crew of men in the spring to take this raft to Hannibal. We told him we could find trained oar pullers at Montrose across the river who were used to pulling oars over the rapids.
We took a stagecoach that operated between Nauvoo and Carthage, Ill. the county capital and the Burlington & Quincy Railroad. We had to wait at the depot a few hours for the Chicago train. In the waiting room at the depot we noticed what seemed to be a door shot full of holes and hung up over the office window where we bought our Railroad tickets. We asked the ticket agent what that door was there for and he said that was the door of the old jail where Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet was shot and killed. We asked the agent if Joseph Smith was not a prisoner and he said he was. Then we said, “You are preserving this relic to show what a cowardly mob can do.” The agent said, “You must be a Morman.”
The coach driver we came with put up at the Mansion House at Nauvoo. He heard this conversation with the agent about the shot up door and when he got back to the Mansion House he repeated the conversation between me and the Railroad Agent.
Near March 1st, 1863 we received a letter from Hannnibal, Mo. That the ice had gone out there and advising me to return to Nauvoo as they wanted that raft soon as possible. We immediately started for Nauvoo, going there by the same route from Read’s Landing to Prairie du Chien, Wis., by stagecoach and then by rail to Chicago, then by rail to Carthage, Ill., then by stage couch to Nauvoo, Ill.
Major and Mrs. Beideman gave me a welcome that was a surprise to me especially Mrs. Bideman as we only had a passing acquaintance with her during my short stay in November. Before we left Nauvoo we were aware that Mrs. Bideman was the wife of Joseph Smith before she married Major Bideman. We also, had a passing acquaintance with her son, Joseph Smith, who was the Justice of the Peace, and we think Postmaster of Nauvoo, and also a younger son from Joseph Smith. We are unable to recall his first name. The older son Joseph had black hair and black whiskers and the younger son had light hair and blue eyes.
The weather turned cold and stormy and we did not get away from Nauvoo until the early days of April. This gave us a good opportunity to get first hand information in regard to the killing of Joseph Smith, the burning of the Mormon Temple at Nauvoo and other crimes committed against the Mormon church and people. Mrs. Biderman was elated at what we said to the Railroad agent’as this agent’s father was suspected of being with that cowardly mob who shot and killed her husband. She asked me if that agent was not mistaken when he took me for a Mormon. We told her he was and that we knew nothing about the Mormon Faith, and that we only denounced that cowardly mob for killing a defenseless prisoner, whom they should protect instead of killing.
Mrs. Bideman said that her first husband was a kind husband and father and in many ways he was a remarkable man. When he came to Nauvoo there were only a few farmers settled there and her husband brought a large tract of land there, surveyed and platted it into lots for a large city, built a large temple and built this home, and Nauvoo was a beautiful place for a city. We said to her that we were well equipped with the Mississippi River from St. Paul and there was no place comparable to Nauvoo. She stated that Salt Lake City would have been at Nauvoo if they had not murdered her husband. She said that Joseph Smith and none of this children were polygamist and that doctrine was brought into the church by Brigham Yong after settling at Salt Lake and if Joseph Smith had not been murdered Zion City would have been built at Nauvoo instead of Salt Lake City.
We asked her what was the real cause of that war. She said it was religion, that a all creeds joined against the Mormons seemingly because it was something new, that the Mormon creed was based on Christ, the Latter Day Saints and modern miracles and that Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Calvin, Henry the 5th with his Anna Boylein and others based their creeds on Christ, the earlier saints and ancient miracles and that was the main difference in their religions, one was old and the other new. She said the Mormons were murdered, their homes and churches burned. They were driven to the wilderness and built a great city and state and that their church would live but that polygamy would surely die as it was against the laws of civilization and God. Mrs. Bideman did not make us believe in Mormonism still she did make us believe that the Mormons were persecuted and driven from civilization and destroyed all chances of ever making Nauvoo a beautiful city and the most beautiful location on the Mississippi River or any other river in the United States. Mrs. Bideman was a kind motherly woman.
Chapter XLI (39)
In 1886 we
made a contract with the Empire Lumber Co. of Eau Claire, Wis. To run their
annual cut of lumber, about 30 million feet form Reads Landing to Hannibal, Mo,
at 80c per M feet for six years. We
bought their raft boat the Steamer Clyde and her iron barge for the sum of
$6,000. At the end of six years John
C. Daniels of Keokuk, Iowa, put in a bid to run this lumber at 60c per M, feet.
It always cost 70c per M feet including our salary of $2,000 as Capt. and
first pilot. We ran this lumber with
the Steamer Pauline. Mr. John C.
Daniels was not himself a steamboat man. If
he applied to us for a job on our boat unless we could use him as a clerk we
could offer him a deck hand’s job. We
do not know how Mr. Daniels came out on the contract, but we do know the lumber
was run very satisfactorily.
When we made this contract with Mr. O. H. Ingram at Eau Claire, Wis. We then had in mind to get through with our contracts with other people; also our co-partnership with other people and keep one of our boats and handle no other work but the Empire Lumber Co’s lumber. It took us three years to do this and the last three years we ran this lumber with the Steamboat Pauline and no one could handle this lumber more satisfactorily than we did. After loosing this contract we had a chance to sell the Steamer Pauline and this ended our career as a contractor to run lumber down the Mississippi River and the 60c per M. feet also ended John C. Daniel’s career. In order to handle this lumber satisfactorily there should be no large accumulation of lumber at Reads Landing or at Hannibal as landing room was scarce at both places.
Mr. Daniels after getting this work bought the Steamboat Kit Carson, a large powerful boat. He figured that by taking larger rafts down the river than we did he could run lumber one quarter less than we could. He did not consider that a large accumulation of lumber at Reads Landing and Hannibal would be bad for the owners of the lumber. Perhaps this did not interest him.
This deal with
Mr. Daniels was made by the Delayneys at Hannibal.
They wrote me before they made a deal with Mr. Daniels that it was a
saving to them of $6,000 and they could not afford to turn it down but they
never got the $6,000. After we lost
the running of this lumber we got a letter from Mr. O. H. Ingram that he always
had more trouble about the running of his lumber than any other part of his
business and that after we took the contract and boat he had a six year rest so
far as that part of his business was concerned and that it always cost them more
than 80c per M. feel to run their lumber and that he often had a quiet laugh
about his Hannibal people and their $6,000 that they expected to save but did
In the year 1859, we became the owner of the Steamer Pauline, also the little sternwheel steamer, Emma, which we used as a bow boat for the Pauline.
We had a contract to run lumber for the Empire Lumber Co. from Reads Landing, Minn. to Hannibal Mo. at $1.03 per M feet. In the latter part of the season the Mississippi River was low. We landed a raft at Montrose, Iowa, in the evening, too late to go into the canal. The steamer Bella Mack came out of the canal where she left a raft of logs and went up the river for another raft and came into Montrose after midnight. This made two rafts to go into the canal in the morning and only one pilot, Captain Owens. We sent our mate to see if he would take us into the canal in the morning and he said he would, as we were the next boat in.
We sent our mate out in the morning to get him and found out he was going to run the Bella Mack in first. We were already out in the river and went on down the river into the canal. We done our own piloting. The Bella Mack was then compelled to remain two hours at her handing. This was on account of giving us time to get through and vacate the only landing for her. We arrived at the middle lock and had two quarters of our raft through and our third quarter was ready to go into the lock when Major Meigs arrived and ordered us to back our boat and raft up the canal out of the way of the Steamer Bella Mack, who had arrived with half of her rafts. We asked Major Meigs why and he said we had violated the rules of the canal by passing another raft in the canal. We told him that we supposed the first boat or raft at the lock had the right of way and refused to back our boat or raft out. Then he said, “I will have this other boat back you out.”
We warned him
that if the Bella Mack came there to pull us out there would be a fight.
He then said he would see who was running the canal and started to go for
the other boat. We noticed our mate
opening a toolbox, take out three axes and gave two axes to two men and kept one
himself. It began to look like civil
war. Major Meigs was gone less then
half an hour and came back to the lock and the gates began to open.
In about two hours we were through the locks, and then went down to the
lower lock but seen no more of Major Meigs and his pet steamer Bella Mack.
We asked our mate what they were going to do with the three axes we seen him take out of the toolbox. He said he intended to cut the Bella Mack’s lines if they undertook to hitch a line to us to back us out. We never heard what passed between Major Meigs and the captain of the Bella Mack. If the Major asked the captain to pull us away from the lock we believe the captain refused. There was more or less jealousy between captains on raft boats.
Neither Captain Owens or the captain of the Bella Mack thought that we would pilot our boat down the rapids and into the canal. In this case it was a brother captain trying to put a brother in a hole and fell into the hole himself, and then tried to get Major Meigs to bail him out.
We never employed Captain Owens to pilot us into the canal again. We done that work ourselves ever afterwards. If Captain Owens had taken us first that morning as he agreed to do the Steamer Bella Mack would not have lost any more time that she finally lost. The Steamer Mack on account of a low stage of water was practically running two rafts and steamer Pauline came to the head of the rapids between the Bella Mack’s two rafts and had the right of way.
In 1858 or 1859, when we were running lumber for Dole, Ingram and Kennedy of Eau Claire, Wis., two young men came to Reads Landing in the spring of the year, wanting a job to pull an oar on floating rafts. They were young strapping fellows and we were glad to get them. Their names were Joseph Buisson and Cypriano Buisson and they were brothers. Both of them were born and raised in Wabasha, Minn. The majority of children born in Wabasha when these two boys were born had Indian blood in them. Their mother was born on Credit Island a few miles south of Davenport, Iowa. Their Grandfather on their mother’s side was a Scotchman. He married a half-breed Indian Woman of the Sac-Fox tribe of Indians located in that region. They were the Indians who fought under the celebrated chief Black Hawk that Abraham Lincoln fought against in the Black Hawk War.
This made the mother of the Buisson children a quarter breed. She married Buisson a full blooded Frenchman. This would make the Buisson children one-eighth Indian. The children being born in Wabasha, most people would think their strain of Indian blood came from the Sioux and Dakota tribe. We got their lineage from Henry Buisson, an older brother. This was the first trip these two brothers made on the Mississippi. When a north wind came, floating rafts generally had to make a landing. When we passed Victory a little village in Wisconsin, one of these north westers came up and we landed in the head of Battle Slough. On the east side of Battle Island is where Black Hawk fought his last battle and this slough and island take their names from it. This village of Victory is about a mile north of where the battle was fought.
When these north winds came they usually cooled the atmosphere and more especially in the early spring and fall months. This trip was made in early spring. Our men went into the woods where there is always more or less fallen and decaying timber. They built a big fire and before we left Battle Slough there were more than 50 skulls of dead men laying here and there on the lumber raft. These skulls were of dead Indians. They would be called good Indians by the people of Minnesota after the New Ulm, Minn. Massacre. The Buisson boys were always called Jo and Zipp. The raft went to St. Louis, and the skulls went there too.
One day we noticed Zipp looking over the skulls. We remarked, “You must be interested in them skulls.” He said he was and that some of them may be his ancestors. Some time afterwards his brother Henry told me that there was Indian blood on his mother’s side.
Jo and Zipp
Buisson became skillful captains on steam boats.
Jo became a deputy U. S. Marshall of Minnesota after President Wilson’s
election, and died while in office and was buried in Wabasha.
Zipp died in 1920 and was also buried in Wabasha. They were splendid men.
In the latter sixties a man came to a place called Beef Slough. We are unable to recall his name. When we first came on the Mississippi River Beef Slough was the main channel of the river, and the Beef Slough Bar was for many years a noted obstruction to boats and rafts. The way this place got its name a Government boat loaded with beef cattle for soldiers at Fort Snelling, Minn. could not get over the bar. The cattle were unloaded, driven up the shore, and the boat then passed over he bar. The cattle were reloaded and the boat went on. This incident gave this place the name of Beef Slough.
About 20 miles up the Chippewa River there is a branch on the south side of the river. This empties into the Beef Slough which is a part of the Mississippi River. Where this leaves the Chippewa River the Beef Slough Co. put in shear booms to drive the floating logs into this branch and when this branch is filled with logs there is 20 miles of logs. There is a boom across the mouth of this branch where logs are let out as fast as they come in to Beef Slough proper where the logs are put into Miss. River rafts for the down river mills.
This Beef Slough route to get logs to the Miss. River saw mills seemed to be a kind of a detriment to the Chippewa saw mills and naturally these two rivals became enemies. This Man who started Beef Slough for financial reasons failed. The Chippewa mill owners had a chance to purchase that property and a meeting was called for this purpose. When they got together only one man was in favor of buying and scrapping the property. This man was Daniel Shaw of the Daniel Shaw Lumber Co. He told them what would happen if they did not buy it that the saw mill owners on the Miss. River would get the property and use it to get logs to their mills. The balance of the Chippewa mill owners were of the opinion that the Beef Slough route for getting logs down the Miss. River was a total failure and adjourned without doing anything.
The Miss. saw mill men quietly got together, bought the Beef Slough property, organized a joint stock company, called the Beef Slough Logging Co. and elected Frederick Wyerhauser of Rock Island, President. This company enlarged this plant and ran it successfully for twenty years. During that time the amount of logs that passed through their works would have run the Chippewa River Mills twenty years longer than they did.
We do not believe there was any organized attempt to interfere with the New Beef Slough Co. but we do know of one individual attempt to interfere in their logging work. A man by the name of Thomas B. Wilson of Reads Landing, Minn. Claimed an ownership of a piece of land at some place on the Beef Slough rafting works where one end of a boom was fastened to his land. Mr. Wilson hired two men at Reads Landing and went down there early in the morning before the logging men got to work. Wilson cut the boom fastened to his land and let out a large amount of logs.
county seat was about three miles below these works.
The sheriff came and arrested Mr. Wilson and put him in the county jail.
The next day a steamboat coming up the river landed at Alma and while
discharging freight the Captain of the boat heard that Mr. Wilson was in jail
there and he bailed him out and if we ever knew just how this matter was settled
we have forgot, but we do not think that Mr. Wilson cut any more booms.
When Ozie John, the Sioux Indian, concluded he would kill the Chippewa Indian, he took an extra bottle of whiskey over to the tepee and got his companion drunk and then shot him. Each of them had his gun in the tepee. Ozie John while telling me how he killed the Chippewa Indian seemed to take pride in his strategy. While in the tepee and while he was getting his man ready for killing he took light drinks himself and urged his companion to drink often. When the Indian began to sing and while singing he took the Indian’s own gun and shot him through the head, then went tot the river bank, gathered up some drift wood and placed over the body and after removing everything from the tepee that was of any value to him and after putting the plunder in his canoe he set the tepee on fire and left for Waumadee. We then saw a drunken Indian Devil before us. But we have seen white men when under the influence of whiskey nearly as bad.
Some few years afterwards the first steamboat up the river in the spring landed at Reads Landing about dusk in the evening. She laid there over night and returned down the next morning. Lake Pepin was not open. The ice on the Chippewa River, which lays directly across the Mississippi River at Waumadee now Reads Landing came out that day and in the evening the slush ice was coming out of the river. We went up to the steamboat landing and walked back with Mr. Seary, proprietor of the American House, where we were stopping. We heard a voice out in the river and Mr. Seary heard it. He had a skiff lying in front of his hotel. He went and got a pair of oars and a steering paddle. Mr. Seary told me to get in the stern of the boat and steer for the voice and he pulled the oars. It was slow work through the slush ice. Occasionally we could hear the voice. Our lantern sat on the bow of the skiff. We finally ran into a canoe with the black head of a man hanging on to the side of the canoe. We got hold of the canoe and by that time we were close to Nelson’s Landing.
In the meantime our lantern fell into the river and left us in the dark. We got hold of the man one on each side of him and it was hard work to get him into the house. We knew the house and took the man into the kitchen. We had some matches in our pocket and lit one of them. We found a lamp and lit it and then turned the lamp on the man’s face when lo and behold! We had Ozie John. The man and his wife who lived in the house went up on the Steamboat to Reads Landing. The boat had landed at Nelson’s Landing and put some freight in the warehouse there. The man and his wife left a fire in the cook stove and forgot to lock the kitchen door. There was plenty of dry wood in the kitchen and we soon had a good fire.
We went up stairs and found a good heavy double pair of Mackinac blankets, took off his wet clothes. He then, like the rattlesnake that he was, soon thawed out so that he could walk and we took him over to Reads Landing. Mr. Seary took him into a room, on one side of the office where there was a stove, built up a good fore in the stove, hung his wet clothes up to dry. When Seary came downstairs in the morning Ozie John was gone and took the good pair of blankets with him and we never saw the blankets again.
and his nephew were trapping up in the vicinity where he killed the Chippewa
Indian and coming out of the Chippewa River with their traps and furs a swell
made by that steamboat together with the slush ice upset the canoe and the boy,
his nephew, drowned. Everything in
the canoe was lost in slush ice. Ozie
John turned the canoe right side up. It
was filled with ice and water. He
could not get into it. He held onto
the side and that was the way we found him.
Had Mr. Seary or myself known that it was Ozie John we certainly would
not have taken risk of our own lives in that ice flow to save his worthless life
and yet in our long river career we have no recollection of helping to save a
human life and especially in this case for this demon afterwards participated in
the Indian Massacre at New Elm, Minn. And justice surely was robbed when this
villain was not hung with the rest of the good Indians in that massacre.
“Beyond Good and Evil”
Tonight I am sleepy and the flesh tempts “Write it tomorrow, but I shall not listen, this very night I must write it, the something beautiful that came to me today-in Chinatown.
I shall begin with the tourist although they did not come first. That was the thing about the days experience, that nothing came first nor last; there was nothing superior, nothing inferior. And yet it was not a flat level; rather it was “beyond good and evil,’ humanity glorified into a common sonship of God. Even the cross on St. Mary’s was down their in the street with the people Oh, poignantly down there among the people.
It seemed that there were never so many tourists in Chinatown as today. They were so smartly dressed; so apparently, too, the best in American cultural life. Then there were the up-to-date Chinese girls who could talk the language of the smart travelers. In one shop-such a sweetly mysterious smelling shop with fragrance of sandalwood, incense, old woods and the poetry of China made fragrant there was a scholarly-looking old Chinaman who might have been the ghost of Po-Chu! A palatial limousine drove up and stylish society people got out and went into one of the chop suey places. Chinese girls with bobbed hair curled against nature, and others, more native, with bangs and black satin beads ornamented with jade and opals, passed on the street.
Then further in the market place a row of Yankee vagabonds sat selling water cress from country brooks and some green thing which they said grows between potatoes a “Chinese green” they called it’ and snails they had for sale, too; snails that clung weirdly to the sides of the box, leaving the box empty…And in a tiny meat shop a mumbly old hag, toothless, with the chin of a witch and a mantilla over her cross old head, was haggling over some spare ribs with a mummy Chinese, grabbing them with her claws away from his parchment finger…in among apricots, figs, cherries, plums, peaches and Chinese confections sat a fat Chinaman trailing little wreaths of smoke from a gnarled and knotted stick.
Christian Endeavor convention they came sight seeing, and Mrs. Deacon Redfield
back home would say that They were the hopeful sign in the medley.
And out of St. Mary’s came devout Catholics and the Paulist Fathers
would say that They were the hopefulness of the medley.
But in this that came to me today-the vagabonds with water-cress, the
mumbly hag, the tourist whom I heard talking about “creativeness”-the sign
of C. E. was all glorified into the infinitude of some great Oneness.
I did not lose my sense of values, but received a new one where men were
above the little accidents that make them different.
After filling our contract with the Standard Lumber Co. in running their eight log rafts from Stillwater to Dubuque we used the steamer Clyde in towing the Empire Lumber from Reads Landing to wherever we took the steamer Pauline. The co-partnership for Turner, Hollingshead & Co. expired that fall and the property had to be sold. We sold the steamer Clyde to the Standard Lumber Co. and we bought the Pauline we bought the little
Steamer Emma from John Spetak and used her for a bow boat. We ran this lumber for the Empire Lumber Co. to Hannibal for the next three years. We had no associates interested with us. We concluded that what ever steamboating we done would be with one boat and without co-partnership. On our last trip in the fall we sold our little bow boat Emma to a man who had use for her on the Illinois River. We sold her for what she cost and had the use of her for that one season. She did not have power enough for a bow boat.
When we arrived in Lansing, Iowa, on the last trip in the fall, we got notice that there were 14 strings of lumber at Reads Landing that the Empire Lumber Co. wanted put into Lansing Bay for winter. The water in the upper river was extremely low and we made two trips out of this 14 strings. To make sure that we would have no trouble we chartered a boat owned at Wabasha to bow these two trips. We cannot recall the name of this bow boat. It snowed all that night at Wabasha and when we arrived at the raft all the grub pins were out of sight. It then turned cold and we landed above Fountain City Bay that evening so that if there was any ice in the river in the morning we could go into Fountain City Bay. The second day we landed above the La Crosse Bridge so that we could go into the Black River harbor at La Crosse. The third day we made Lansing Bay. We then returned to Reads Landing and started the second raft in the morning and made the same landings in the evening we made on the previous trip Fountain City Bay and above Black River Bay. Both of these places were safe winter harbors. Then to Lansing Bay.
The last day our men were kept busy whenever we could stop using the wheels of both boats cutting ice off the fan tails cylinder timbers and wheels of the boats. These were two of the coldest and disagreeable trips we ever made on the river, and together with losing the Empire Lumber Co.’s contract, we decided to quit any further active work on the river and we are quite sure for the next two years the Empire Lumber Co. missed our services as much as we missed their lumber contract.
We were in command of the Steamer Clyde the first two years after she was made into a stern wheel boat and no boat ever passed her on a race and she passed every boat she ran after that did not land. She was the fastest boat of her time. Our head engineer when we got on a run if he was not on watch soon got there provided the other boat was known to be fast. When he was on his own watch and he seen a smoke behind he would go forward to the fireman and call his attention to the smoke and ask him if he knew what boat that was coming behind us. The fireman would say “No”, and then the engineer would say, “We don’t want to know.” On the contrary if the smoke was ahead of us, then he would come forward and ask “What boat is that?” “We don’t know.” He would say “We want to know.” He was always like Jim Bludso, an awkward man in a fight. We will quote John Hays “He was no saint.” Them engineers are pretty much all alike. One wife in Natchez under the hill and another one here in Pike.” While our Jim Bludso had one wife in Natchez under the hill, he didn’t have any in Pike.
In the early fifties there lived a noted Indian in the vicinity of Wabasha, Minn. His name was Ozie John. He belonged to the Sioux and Dakota tribe of Indians. He was a drunken, blood thirsty savage. The Sioux and Dakota occupied the Minnesota and the two Dakotas on the west of the Mississippi River and the Chippewas occupied the east side of the river in Wisconsin and Michigan. The two nations were always more or less at war. The Chippewa parted his hair like our women; the Sioux and Dakota cut his hair across his forehead and did not have to part it. In this way they would tell each other in a company or in a fight.
The Sioux and Dakotas had tribes located in certain territories. These territories were usually marked by rivers flow from a north-westerly direction into the Mississippi River which flows south and a few degrees south-west. There is but one place as you go down the Mississippi from St. Paul to St. Louis where the sun sets on the east side of the river and that is about five miles from Muscatine, Iowa, and that sunset commences about Nov. 1st and lasts to March 1st. But there is no place between St. Paul and St. Louis where the sun rises on the west side of the river.
The Rollingstone River to the Zumbro in Minnesota was the home of the big chief Winona and from the Zumbro River to the Canoe River was the home of the big chief Wabasha and from the Canoe to the Minnesota was the home of the big chief Red Wing.
A well informed and educated Indian told us that all these different tribes of the Sioux and Dakota before the white men came had a government formed something like our states in the union. The chiefs over each territory corresponded to the governors of our states. They also had a super chief like little Crow as an example. They were called the Great chiefs holding a position similar to our president. In this way the Winonians, the Wabashas, the Red Wings, and numerous other tribes held allegiance to the Great Sioux and Dakota nation.
We now come
back to the bad Indian Ozie John. The
delta of the Chippewa River extends about 20 miles above the Mississippi and
from four to six miles wide. This
delta was deep and rich. Before the
white man came, it had a splendid growth of mostly oak, elm, ash, hickory and
walnut trees. It was the winter home
of the elk, deer, bear and fur animals that lived under the ground.
Waumandee and Wabasha on the west bank of the Mississippi and opposite
this Chippewa River delta was the winter home of the Wabasha tribe of Indians.
Naturally this forest became the dark and bloody ground for the warriors
of the Sioux and Chippewa Indians not only for game, but for each others scalps.
related to me as follows: He was
trapping on this delta for fur animals that lived under the ground and suddenly
came face to face with a Chippewa Indian. They
both jumped behind a tree but soon found out that neither one of them was armed.
Ozie John had a bottle of whiskey in his canoe nearby and took a drink
and offered one to the other man. They
agreed to be friends. The Chippewa
had his tepee further up the river and they both took their canoes and moved the
tepee down near the good trapping grounds. They
agreed to live and trap together. There
was a trading post at Waumandee kept by a half
breed. Ozie John would take
his and his partner’s furs there to exchange for supplies for the
tepee-whiskey and tobacco always wanted. Ozie
John’s relatives and friends heard of his comradeship with the Chippewa and
asked him why he did not go live with the Chippewas, and then he made up his
mind to kill his Chippewa companion.
(see chapter XLIV for the conclusion of this episode.)
When we bought the Steamer Clyde we had no work for her. We then had two steamboats Pauline and Lily Turner. The Lily Turner moved all rafts from Reads Landing and when we met with the Pauline we usually backed our boat away from the raft and the Pauline took our place. That year 1887 we had a contract with Knapp Stout and Co. to run their lumber to their yard at Dubuque; also the Daniel Shaw Lumber Co. We had lumber for some other lumber company which we are unable to recall. The Knapp Stout and Co. were going to handle their lumber themselves in 1888, and the Daniel Shaw, Lumber Co. and the Empire Lumber Co. could be handled with the Steamer Pauline and Steamer Lily Turner. We knew the situation when we bought the Steamer Clyde, but the lumber contract was the boat for its size on the river. The lumber was well rafted. It all went to Hannibal, Mo. There, was no peddling out along the river and we knew that we could not get the lumber unless we bought the boat; and her iron barge.
The boat was laid up for winter quarters under the railroad bridge at Reads Landing. We wanted to take the boat first to Lansing Bay and Mr. Ingram telegraphed to the engineer who lived at some town not far from Wabasha to get the boat ready to go out. When we arrived at the boat the engineer and one of his firemen were at work putting the machinery together. We soon got ready to go. In the meantime there was a little boat that ran from Wabasha to lake city. She took our iron barge up into the mouth of the Chippewa River. We had it loaded with wood and in the morning left for Lansing, Iowa, and arrived there the next evening. We stayed at Lansing over night, took a lunch with us and the engineer, fireman and myself started the next morning for Dubuque and arrived there that evening at Eagle Point.
Capt. Alf. Hollingshead and myself entered into a co-partnership under an agreement in writing and under that contract we were the manager. Capt. Hollingshead was at the boat yard at Eagle Point. He had the Steamer Pauline on the way for minor repairs. We pulled the Clyde out on the cradles for the winter and after several days we got a bid from the Iowa Iron Works to rebuild and remodel the boat into a stern wheeler. The Iowa Iron Works was very much in need of winter work for their men and done good work at a reasonable price.
They put in two steel boilers that would be allowed two hundred pounds, also new engines 14 inch bore and six foot stroke. After the boat got quite well along toward completion Captain Hollingshead got it into his head that the boat would out run anything on the river. We both spent a good part of our time at the boat yard. One day the Captain asked me if I knew the name of the fastest running animal on earth. We told him we thought the Reindeer was considered the fastest. He then said, “That is going to be the name of the new boat.” We told him it was a nice name and satisfactory to us. It then soon got noised around the yard that the Clyde was going to lose her name.
When Mr. John
P. Hopkins, Supt. Heard of it he asked if it was true and we said it was.
Mr. Hopkins was born on the river Clyde in Scotland.
He built the
Clyde for Ingram and Kennedy. Mr.
Hopkins and Mr. Ingram both took good pride in the boat and no doubt but what
she was the best side wheel boat in the rafting trade.
Mr. Hopkins appealed to me not to change the name that it would be a
favor to him also to Mr. Ingram. We
told Hopkins that Capt. Hollingshead wanted to call the boat the Reindeer and
that we had consented to do so and did not care to break our word with him.
We then suspected that Mr. Hopkins would appeal to Mr. Ingram to use his
influence with me to save the name Clyde. It
was not long before we got a letter from Mr. Ingram stating he had a letter from
Mr. Hopkins that we intended to change the name of the boat and that Mr. Hopkins
had made an urgent appeal to him to use his influence with me not to change the
boat’s name and that it was a nice name and it would be a special favor to let
the old name stand. We gave Mr.
Ingram’s letter to Capt. Hollingshead to read.
After reading Ingram’s letter Capt. Hollingshead said, “Them fellows are Scotchman and they want to run our business. They may run you, but they can’t run me.” The Captain went home that day to Clinton, Iowa, for a few days and I went home to Lansing, Iowa.
Mr. Hopkins had an arrangement with the railroad if he had anyone at Eagle Point going north he could flag the train about the time the train was due. Mr. Hopkins said the sign painter may come here any time and want to know if he had decided what name to put on the boat. We told him we decided to let the painter decide the name and that we wanted Hopkins to see that the painter done a good job and made nice letters. A broad smile came over Mr. Hopkins face. The train stopped and Hopkins said as I was getting on the train. “Don’t fret about those letters. I will see they are good.” When we got back to the boat yard Capt. Hollingshead was there but never said Boo about the name of the new boat, but we always thought it was a thorn in his bosom.
Mr. Hollingshead took command of the Steamer Pauline that year and we took command of the Steamer Clyde. We put the Steamer Lilly Turner in the freight and passenger trade between Lansing and La Crosse with Capt. D. C. Law, in command. In the part of the season we bought Capt. Hollingshead’s interest in the company and he took the steamer Lilly Turner in part payment and put her in the packet trade between Clinton, Iowa and Davenport, Iowa. He soon sold her and built a new boat at the Eagle Point boat yard and called her the Reindeer.
We put Capt. Alf Withrow with Capt. D. C. Law on the Pauline and we took charge of the Steamer Clyde. We pointed the lumber from Reads Landing and the Steamer Pauline delivered the lumber.
In 1890 we made a deal to run logs for the Standard Lumber Co., from Stillwater, Minn. To Dubuque, Iowa, and let captain Hollingshead have the Daniel Shaw Lumber Co. We made this change for the reason that it made trouble and more expense to run lumber where one of went to Hannibal Mo. And the other to different points along the river ad it was always less expensive and more satisfactory both for the boat and the owner of the lumber.
This left us with the empire Lumber gong exclusively to Hannibal, Mo. And the Standard Lumber Company’s logs to Dubuque. The Steamer Clyde would take a raft of logs at Stillwater and deliver it at Dubuque, the go back and start a new raft of empire lumber and run it down to meet the Steamer Pauline. When we came to close a contract with the Standard Lumber co. to run their logs from Stillwater to Dubuque they could only give us eight rafts as that was all the logs they would buy more logs at Stillwater and that they generally bought from Durant, Wheeler & Co. Durant, Wheeler & Co. were dong a commission business largely in the way at selling logs owned by loggers at Stillwater and they also had several raft boats running logs to various mills on the Mississippi River. When they sold a raft naturally it gave them a better chance to get the towing down river. This was the reason why the Standard Lumber Co. could not give me only their own logs 8 rafts and our contract specified rafts.
The President of the Standard Lumber Co. had his man to do work for him that he was too dignified to do himself. It was and had been the universal custom to raft logs 500 feet long and four brails wide. We do not now recall the width of the brails. This agent or handy an got to Stillwater a few days before the Steamer Clyde and found a boat there. The Steamer Kit Carson a very powerful boat had a contract to run logs from Stillwater for a saw mill at Burlington, Iowa, by the thousand feet end her rafts were ordered to be put up 150 feet longer than the usual custom 500 feet. This was our first trip on Stillwater log rafts. We had a pilot helping us, who had always run logs from Stillwater. He was on watch and sent for me to take his place as he wanted to measure the length of the raft; he got our tape line, went down and found that he had grossed right. The raft was 150 feet longer than any he ever run out of Stillwater or 650 feet long instead of 500 feet.
We called this
handy man’s attention to the length of the raft and he said there were other
boats running rafts that long and that we had made an unusually quick trip and
that our contract did not call for a 500 foot raft and that he would order the
rafts put up shorter, but every raft we ran after that was 600 feet long except
the last raft, it was only 487 feet long.
In our last
letter we forgot to state that in addition to making the raft 650 feet long they
made the raft 16 feet wider, that is they added 4 feet to each brail in width 4
brails, 16 feet.
When Captian Henry Fuller measured the length of the raft he did not measure the width. There was but one place to go through the Hudson Bridge. We towed into the span and the bon logs began to jump up on the other logs, but went so far that the boat could not back the raft out. Then the only thing we could do was to pull up small logs on the raft so as to narrow up the raft. If the raft was one foot narrower the raft would have gone through the draw. The rafting people heard of our trouble at the bridge and when we got back to the rafting place the other half raft was narrowed up usual width and that ended the widening out part of the game.
We submitted our contract to an attorney and he advised me to measure all rafts. If 500 feet was the standard size when this contract was made they cannot change the size and we could collect for all rafts over 500 feet. He also advised that when we measure the rafts we should have tow men do this measuring so that both of them could testify to their measurements if called on to do so.
All the rest of the rafts measured 600 feet, but one raft No. 7 measured on 480 feet. We asked the foremen of the rafting works why this raft was so short. He said that was all the logs they had for the Standard Lumber Co. but that recently they had bought two rafts from Durant Wheeler & Co. We then told this foreman that the Standard Lumber Co. told us when we made the contract they had rafts at Stillwater. He said, “They did have 8 rafts but they run your rafts too long.”
When we arrived at Dubuque with raft No. 7 we still had a half raft of their logs at Lansing Bay that we left there on a former trip.
The president and his handy man came on board the Clyde. The President told me that they wanted me to go to Lansing Bay and bring down the half raft at Lansing and then go to Stillwater that they had two rafts there to bring down. We told the President that we would call at his office as son as we could, that our pilot was sleeping. They went to their lumber office and we soon followed them.
Before leaving the boat we asked our clerk to give me the date and amount of money we had drawn at their office. We knew the amount was $3000 as we were getting $500 each trip, but we wanted to know the dates. Their bookkeeper said our account was right and asked if we wanted another check for $500. We told him we wanted a check for $3400. The bookkeeper went into the Presidents office, who then called me in and said to the bookkeeper, “Give the Captain his usual check for $500 and when he comes down with the Lansing Bay raft he can get more.” He wanted to know why we wanted $3400. We told him that when the Lansing Bay raft was here my contract was filled and that we would not bring down the half raft at Lansing unless they paid me $3400. That they had put 8 rafts of logs into seven rafts and that we were unable t hand them a gift if $800. This handy man spoke up and said, “If you don’t bring that raft here I will send a boat after it.” We ignored this man as we did not have to have anything to do with him, but said to the President that tomorrow the sheriff would have charge of that raft. The President then said, “We don’t care to go to law to make a man run our logs.” Told the clerk to make a check for $3400 and he would sign it. We got our check, went to the bank, got Chicago exchange, started for Lansing and soon had the half raft of logs delivered at Dubuque. This was the last logs we ever ran for them but we always thought that the President at heart did not care to make $800 in that way and when it came to a showdown he did not back up his handy man.
The real facts
about this matter were this handy man put up the job of enlarging our raft to
make $800 for his company, then in addition when he bought the two rafts at
Stillwater from Durant, Wheeler & Co. he wanted to buy the logs delivered at
Dubuque. But on account of the
extremely low stage of water Durant, Wheeler & Co. would not run these rafts
for $800, the price we were getting,
and he then tried to put the work on us but his plans failed to work.
We have always been in doubt whether or not the President knew all of the
facts in this case and that if he did he would not deliberately consent to beat
us out of $800 but his handy man, Oh boy.
After 1870 steamboats carrying freight and passengers on account of competition by railroads began to decline. The Davidson Bros. came from the Ohio River to St. Paul with two small sized stemboats-we cannot recall the name of these boats. They were put to work from St. Paul up the Minnesota River as thee was no railroad in Minnesota at that time. The Minnesota River boats were prosperous. Then the Milwaukee railroad came to La Crosse and the Davidson Bros. put two or three boats firm La Crosse to St. Paul.
About that time the Galena River began to get filled up by the sediments washed in from cultivated lands so that steamboats could not get up the Galena River in a moderate low stage of water on the Mississippi River. Then the Galena Packet Co. moved their office and headquarters to Dubuque.
Up river passengers and freight that usually came from Chicago and eastern points came to Dubuque and Prairie du Chien by rail were diverted to la Crosse and the Davidson boats began to get a part of that traffic. This interfered with the Dubuque line of boats. Then in order to keep from cutting prices on traffic the Dubuque and La Crosse Line merged together and organized the Northwestern Packet Co. The stock was divided 50-50 between the Dubuque and galena crowd and the La Crosse crowd. Then the dividends began to roll in and the stock went up to the clouds for two or three years. The head quarters of the new steamboat company was located at La Crosse. We are not sure but I think that W. F. Davidson of St. Paul was President and his brother was the general superintendent.
We will now state as near as we can, as related to us by their attorney, how the La Crosse crowd got entire control of this steamboat company.
At their last annual meeting of the directors after looking over the affairs of the company the past year it was then getting near the time to elect a Board of directors for another year. A Director stated that he would like to hear from the attorney about legal matters and the general affairs of the company. He stated that the company had no legal troubles of any consequences and that no stockholder had any complaint to make in regard to the size of his dividends and all seemed to be happy in that respect. He said that the great railroad freight house was putting all non-perishable freight outside and the perishable freight inside and by the time spring opened the building would be full. That was the only dark spot in the sky that he could see for the coming year, that in the spring the probabilities were that new freight will be coming to as fast as our boats can carry it away. Then what can be done to move the old freight and that there was not one half the freight here last spring as we have now.
The people and railroad complained about their steamboats not getting the freight away faster. One of the directors inquired if they could not get a good barge. He said the only barge that our superintendent can find is a large barge ling here in the Black River harbor and that the owner lived in La Crosse. A motion was made and carried that this Director and Attorney would interview the owner and see if they could buy this barge and they would adjourn until nine o’clock the next day. In the afternoon they interviewed the owner and he told them he expected to make some money with that barge and told them if they wanted the barge to give him $10,000 of the Packet Co. stock and they could have it. They asked him if he would take $10,000 in cash. He said he wanted that barge to earn him some money and he knew that he could earn more with the barge than he could with the money.
They told him the Packet Co. had no stock to sell. He told them that was the kind of stock he wanted. No stockholder in the company wanted to sell his stock, it was too valuable to sell. Then the Packet Co. decided to issue the $10,000 in stock for the barge and the stock was ordered to be made and delivered and then when Directors and officers were to be elected the Davidson’s had the barge stock and controlled it.
Then all that
was left for the Galena and Dubuque crowd to do was to go home like little men
and stay there. The Davidson’s had
their own private boat yard and machine shop and all buildings and repair work
was done in the yard and shop. Then
all we knew about this stock was that one of our old neighbors invested all he
had in this packet company stock and he died a pauper.
Before he invested in this stock he was well to do financially.
The Davidson’s finally got control of the Northern Line Packet Co.
boats. These boats ran from St.
Louis to St. Paul and it was not long before the Davidson’s had no use for
these old stockholders unless they wanted to carry sacks on the levee.
The Government started river improvements on the Mississippi river in 1870. About that time navigation began to decline as fast as the railroads began to increase. The steamboats put up a good fight but gradually went down and in 1914 aside from a few excursion or so-called dancing boats there were no boats carrying freight or passengers from St. Paul o St. Louis.
But we must not forget that steamboats were used in settling up all states bordering on the Mississippi river and its tributaries and although we regret to say it but we must admit that steamboats so far as carrying passengers and freight is concerned they have fulfilled their mission between St. Louis and St. Paul.
But spending millions annually for 50 years the Government is still going on with river improvements and now after the decline and fall of steamboating it is a shame and disgrace that the people will elect Senators and Representatives year after year to go to Washington and vote for river and harbor bills. Recently one of the Senators made a threat that if his district did not get more of the swag he would put up a fight to knock out the whole river and harbor bills.
In the summer and fall months of 1919 the writer made several trips on a boat between prairie du Chien, Wis. and Hudson on the St. Croix about 250 miles. On many reefs there was not more than four feet of water and on several reefs not more than three and one half feet of water. Capt. Harry Short was pilot. He knew the channel. We seen the soundings done and done some of it ourselves and yet the news papers have stated then there was a six foot channel from St. Paul to St. Louis. The Galena and St. Paul also the St. Louis and St. Paul boats carrying freight and passengers and as a rule could not pass over less than three feet of water. We are now alluding to boats that were in use from 1850 to 1870. As a rule you cannot depend on a six foot channel only in the months of May, June and July.
The newspapers have also been telling us every spring for the last five years that large government built boats and barges would be on the river carrying coal North and iron ore south. They did not come and we are expecting them again in 1922. If they do come we can only promise then three months work annually. It is reported that private capital is to operate this fleet. Then why did they not build these boats and barges. If we are not rightly informed and our Uncle Sam is going to operate this fleet. The newspapers said that Uncle Sam made a failure when he under took to operate the railroads. Do they expect him to do any better operating steamboats? Indeed it is a good bet that if the barge line proves to be a financial failure that capital will not be operating the barge line.
Recently a man
in this vicinity said to me, “You
should not say anything against river improvements.
It brings money to labor and helps business more or less.”
This man is considered in a general way to be a good citizen and a pillar
in the church. We told him that this
was our country and our government and that from the way he talked we did not
believe that he had any country or government.
The woods is full of men of that ilk.
We may be mistaken but we are of the opinion that his whole thing is
largely in the hands of politicians.
During the Civil War a man by the name of J. S. Coleman left Davenport, Iowa and went into the mining regions of the Rocky Mts. When gold was discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Coleman and nine other formed a company and rushed for the Black Hills. They found a great vein of low grade gold rock. The ten men staked out the claim on their lode. Each claim had a different name in order to comply with the mining laws. Then they consolidated these claims into one and called the lode the Homestake Mining Co. This lode was well defined. The country rock on both sides was micacious slate. They then commenced to quarry some of this deciminated rock.
A stranger came there and carefully selected specimens of the rock and went away with his specimens. When he came back he told them he was ready to buy out all their claims and the ten men to get together and make him their lowest offer. He told them it was a low grade of ore and must be worked on a large scale. These men asked $800,000 for their ten claims or $10,000 for each claim. This man accepted their offer and this ended the ten man company association. This buyers name was Hearst, the Father of William Randolph Hearst, the big newspaper man.
Mr. Coleman came back to Davenport and got married there and built the Steamer Golden Gate. This was the name of his claim on the Homestake Gold Mine in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mr. Coleman had two brothers, who were steamboat packet pilots between St. Louis and St. Paul. Andrew Coleman and James Coleman. We are not sure but are inclined to believe that James Coleman had some money invested in the Steamer Golden Gate, but he was one of he pilots on the boat. The Coleman’s did not seem to be able to get much work for their boat. James Coleman was a fairly good steamboat pilot when piloting a loose boat but in towing rafts down the river the work was entirely different. Large rafts would drift more or less with the trend of the current while a lose boat run by marks would go to the mark and a boat towing a raft would drift more or less away from the marks: so that the pilots on packet boats seldom made good pilots on raft boats.
James Coleman could not get away from his old habits and take up something new. When we went on the boat we knew quite well that we would have to do the bulk of the work while towing boats down the stream.
Our contract with John Coleman was that we receive no salary for acting as Captain and first pilot on the boat and that the net earnings of the boat were to be divided between the boat and myself on a 50-50 basis. James Coleman acted as second pilot and received $150 per month and J. S. Coleman acted as clerk. We do not know what his salary was. The first year we ran the boat we were short of work a part of the time, but at the end of the year the 50-50 was satisfactory to the boat and myself. If we owned the boat we probably would not have had any Coleman on the boat. James Coleman while not a first class raft pilot was an agreeable companion and a nice little man.
The next we made a contract with the Chippewa Lumber and Boom Co. of Chippewa Falls, Wis., to run their lumber down the Miss. River. The Chippewa Lumber and Boom Co. were the first party in this contract and the Steamer Golden Gate and myself were the second party in the contract. Mr. J. S. Coleman got it into his head that the reason we got this contract was on account of the responsibility of the Steamer Golden Gate which the real fact of the matter was the contract was awarded to me as the old darky said because I was myself.
This was the hardest year we ever put in on the river. We had all the work we possibly cold do to keep the lumber moving and while going down the river any partner could sleep three or fur hours to my one. We put the boat in the fall on the dock at Rock Island for minor repairs. We stopped in a hotel at Davenport for ten days before making a settlement with the Coleman’s. We finally concluded that it would be better all around for all of us to make a settlement on a basis of some kind that would separate us. The real trouble was that the Steamboat Golden Gate was in the contract to run the lumber and had a legal right to participate in the work and the contract ran for another year. We could not think of dong any further business with the Coleman and we told them so. J. S. Coleman suggested that we get some other pilot to take our place and suggested George Rutherford. We remarked that it would be doubtful about getting him as he was working for Captain Sam Van Sant. James Coleman said he knew they could get him. We told these if they could make a deal with Capt. Rutherford we would turn the contract over to him. We knew Captain Rutherford to be an extra good pilot and a fine man and we dropped out of it to our regret.
very much to give up this work. It
was a good contract and splendid men to work, but we had to do it and do not
care to give our reasons for quitting further than to say we quit on account of
J. S. Coleman.
The year 1922 has given a lesson to the people for the United States that will not soon be forgotten. 500,000 men have threatened 110,000,000 people with a calamity that can hardly be estimated. The President of the United States for the last four months has almost got down on his knees begging a few men like Gompers, Lewis, Jewell, and their likes to let men go to work practically at their own prices and save the people from being frozen and starved to death. The President’s plea has been treated with contempt by these few impudent labor leaders: also the authority of our government has been questioned.
These labor leaders finally consented to let their dupes go to work for a few months. Then what ate the people going to get next year, or any other year? They will get just what these labor leaders consent to give them. The President of the United States has been considered the most powerful man in the world, but our people for the last few months are ruled by a foreign born man who has been visiting the White House at short intervals for the last six months, telling the President what he should or should not do. Is there no remedy for such insolence? Yes.
At or near a town called Wittenberg in Perry county, Mo. There is a place known as the Chain of Rocks. It is a dangerous place at certain stages of water for steamboat navigation. It is the same place where Mark Twain got the big scare of his life while navigating a steamboat over this Chain of Rocks. Mark Twain had retired from the river for several years but finally wanted to make his last tip on the old river from St. Louis to New Orleans. On his downward trip he knew the boat was not far above the Chain of Rocks. This was the evening just before dark. Mark Twain concluded to go into the pilot house to see the boat pass over this chain of rocks. When he arrived there the pilot on watch knew who he was, but Mark did not know the pilot. The pilot asked Mark to take the wheel for a few minutes as he wished to go down in the cabin and would soon be back and to oblige him Mark took the wheel and the pilot left for downstairs, but did not come back as soon as he agreed to do.
It was not long until Mark began to see signal lights on the chain of rocks. The most of these lights were placed after Mark had quit the river and he began to get alarmed. He did not know these signal lights and the boat was fast approaching them. The boat had a big passenger list and most of the passengers were on this trip principally because Mark Twain was making the trip. Mark was just on the point of ringing the stepping bell when the pilot came into the pilot house and took the wheel. He thanked Mark for this help but that was the last time on that trip that Mark came into the pilot house. When he saw the signal lights all his charm for the old river suddenly faded away.
This chain of rocks across the Mississippi river is an ideal place for building another but larger Keokuk dam. The rainfall of the Eastern slope of rocky Mountains from Colorado to Northern Montana, all of Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, all of Iowa, nearly all of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, pass thru and over this chain of rocks. The hills at this place are not much farther apart than the Keokuk Dam. The reported horse power at the Keokuk Dam is 120,000 horse power. It is probable that a dam at the chain of rocks would be not far from 500,000 horse power.
This is only one of a thousand places that can be made available for electric power that must come into use in time or civilization will perish from the earth.
There are only a few people amongst the many who realize that wood, coal and water power is all that stands between our present civilization and the caveman. The forests are passing away. Our geologists tell us that in 570 years coal will be a thing of the past, but our rivers will flow on forever. Harness these rivers or perish.
Wherever a dam is built like the Keokuk dam across a navigable river the back water improves navigation. God and nature gave these flowing rivers to man. Let him put them to work.
This chain of
rocks across the Mississippi river seems to be an ideal place to build another
great but larger dam. The Keokuk dam
is estimated at 120,000 horse power. Geologists
estimate that there is coal enough for the people to last them 570 years, but
they also know that it took many 570 years to bring the earth to its present
condition. The coal may be gone in
570 years but the power made from flowing water will live on forever.
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