I o w a


“S T E A M B O A T   W A R S”



Stabbing of steamboat agent

James Osborn


Researcher Sue Rekkas


Georgeann McClure




The Davenport Democrat

July 31, 1896






The courts will probably get a hand it.



The encroachment of Capt. McCaffrey’s Packet, the Boardman, on the Diamond Jo         Property, sets Tongues Wagging and Fists Shaking-Attorneys retained.




  The levee of Davenport is fast becoming the center of the liveliest interest in the city, and it is likely to arise to its old-time dignity of the most entertaining part of the town.  This morning there was a fair prospect of a battle there, all growing out of the effort of the men who have set in to break up the business of the boats that are running in the Davenport trade.

  The Mary Morton, Capt. McCaffrey’s big excursion boat, lay at the foot of Brady street.  His boat, the Helene Schulenberg, lay at the foot of Perry street, and below her lay his double decked barge.  Between this barge and he Mary was the Diamond Jo line landing, used also by the W. J. Young, Jr., and the Verne Swain and the City of Winona.

  The Young came in on time and landed in the middle of this unoccupied space.  The Douglas Boardman, which Capt. McCaffrey recently leased of her owners in Clinton and entered in the trade against the Verne Swain, came in later, and sought to land.  Capt. Blair of the Young swung his boat upstream, so as to make way for a landing between her and the Mary Morton, next below and at her accustomed landing place.  The Boardman made a clumsy landing, went against the Mary Morton and sustained some breakage, and then backed out and ran in just below the barge that lay above the Young.  There, on the Diamond Jo property, she made a landing, and made her headlines fast to the Diamond Jo line posts.

  Upon this Agent Osborn of the latter came out and ordered the lines off those posts, and off they came, but their removal did not affect the position of the Boardman.  She was left lying where she landed, her gangplank on the Diamond Jo property, and her cargo going on and off across it.  Her headline was merely moved farther up the river, off the Diamond Jo property, and there made fast.

  Then Jo Long, in charge of the Boardman and Agent Osborn came together with a few words.  The upshot of it was that Capt. Long informed the agent of the Diamond Jo line that the Boardman proposed to land on that property whenever and wherever it pleased, and to stay there as long as it liked.

  Capt. Walter Blair’s indignation was aroused by the action of the Boardman, and he demonstrated with him for “hogging” the landing.  That brought on a verbal encounter between them, in which Capt. Long had some facts very plainly stated to him.  Capt. Blair referred to the threats that had been in circulation for months that Capt. Streckfus was to be forced to buy the Long at her owner’s price, failing in which she was to be entered in his trade to break him up, and to the following threats that if this effort failed the war would next be made on him, and he took occasion right there to extend a very cordial invitation to Capt. Long and Capt. McCaffrey, his backer and financial agent in the squabble that is now on between here and Clinton, to wade right in on him.  “If you’re going to come in on me,” said he, “come now”,  I’m shipped up just about right now to enjoy a little fun of that kind with you fellows, and you can’t find a better time.”

  It is no secret that the talk among rivermen has generally been strongly condemnatory of the way some of the boats that lie here have been handled with the plain purpose of making landings difficult for others; and these boats, it might as well be said, are the ones that have been for some time working against this city and its interests on the river.  Never till today, however, has so bold a stand been taken.

  The courts will probably have a hand at the matter.  Capt. Long guessed today that he had a right to run a headline up along the bank and make fast where he pleased, and then lay his boat so as to cover the whole of the Diamond Jo Landing, regardless of the rights of the owner or lessee of the land fronting the river there, and it is understood that his patron, Capt. McCaffrey, has stated this position as his own.  Good attorneys have been consulted this afternoon, and the matter is coming to a head.  If the Diamond Jo people, and their lessee, have no rights on the river front that are worth anything they want to know it, and if they have any they mean to see them respected.  It is apparent that there is a chance for quite a little tussle in court, with perhaps a fight or two on the side.



Davenport Daily Times

July 31st 1896



Growing Warm


Incidents of interest in the Steamboat War.


Rival forces Endeavor to Prevent the Douglas Boardman From Landning in a Convenient Location-She lands Just the Same- Steamboat Runners Arrested this Morning



  Merrily indeed is the steamboat war raging and interesting in the extreme is it becoming for all parties interested and for the spectators that usually line the river banks upon the arrival and departure of boats.  Even the veterans in the business can hardly conjure up takes of more brisk competition between local packets and surely none can beat the present record of four packets a day between Davenport and Clinton.  There is a saying that competition is the life of trade and certainly in the case of these packets there is plenty of competition and plenty of lively times.

  One of the latter occurred this morning just as the steamer Douglas Boardmann returned from Rock Island.  Her usual landing place was obstructed by the steamer W. J. Young, Jr., while the space below made a dangerous port became of the existence of the sewer which if the craft had struck would undoubtedly have caused considerable mischief in the shape of a stoved hull.  Capt. J. N. Long therefore directed his steamer to a point east of the Young, and was about to run out his line to tie up when the storm which had been brewing broke in full force.  The rouster with the line had in fact succeeded in making it fast to the Diamond Jo post when Agent James Osborn ordered it cast loose.  His order was obeyed but was followed by another from Capt. Long who commanded the rouster to carry the line up to the city’s ring on Perry street. The order was obeyed but it called forth warm words from the other side of the controversy and in the dispute that followed Capt Osborn declared that no freight should be taken upon the steamer while it lay in front of the property over which he had rule.  Nevertheless, freight was carried on and not a finger was lifted in prevention.  Capt. Blair was on hand during the discussion and entered with considerable vim into it taking the side of Capt. Osborn and the property owners.  His remarks brought out the shot from the Jo Long forces that he must be financially interested in the Streckfus fleet or his actions would not be so marked and ally passed.  Later in the day a chance was given Capt. Long to resume his usual position but his blood was up and he would do nothing of the kind.  So until leaving time came the Boardman lay in front of the Diamond Jo property with one line running to Perry where the city ring bolt was located and the other across the bows of the W. J. Young Jr. and the Verne Swain and made fast to the post in front of the Jo Long office.

  The property in front of which the Boardman landed belongs to the Diamond Jo line company but is almost entirely in the control of Capt. Osborn.  It is undoubtedly the bitter enmity than has arised with the competition that prompted the exclusive clause in Capt. Osborn’s set of rules and regulations.  Boats have been tied there before but the objection to their presence has never been so marked.

  Early morning incidents also served to show the fierce competition that is raging between the rival steamboat lines.  Each steamer has a runner or crier, before this morning literally but unlicensed, but now legally arrayed with the documents which entitle them to pester the prospective tourist almost out of existence, or into an insane asylum.  The criers were out bright and early this morning.  Tommy Dunning for the Long and Tommy Oakes in the employ of the City of Winona.  They were both lustily shouting the merits of their respective steamer when the former spied a party of six ladies who were waiting for a male escort.  He waited also and when the gentleman came within reasonable distance had gained possession of the grip he carried.  Just then Officer Grapangeter in citizen’s clothes tapped the enterprising lad on the shoulder with the remark “I want you and the grip was dropped.  Oakes who was a close second, picked it up when the officer said “I want you too.” And the trio marched to the station awhile the six ladies and their escort boarded the Long.  The lads languished a short time in the city bastile when help came from the boats and runners licenses were taken out by Capt. Long and Capt. Osborn respectively.  The fact that each line is thus equipped speaks of a hotly contended war before either side has elevated the flag of truce. 

  The warfare in this vicinity is not confined to this side of the river entirely, It is reported that Agent Lamont who represents the Rock Island interests of the Streckfus fleet endeavored this morning to induce passengers who came over the C. B. & Q for a river ride to take passage on his steamer at $1 each for the round trip.  The regular rate is 75 cents above that sum.  They went up this morning on the Long.

  The Mary Morton, Capt. McCaffrey’s popular and commodious excursion steamer, returned early this morning from Burlington, whether she went with a crowd of excursionists who hailed from an interior city, and who had the steamboat ride sandwiched in between the railroad trip.  The excursionists were all pleased with the fine craft, as indeed everyone has been since she has entered in the excursion business with Davenport as headquarters.   A murmur, however has arisen from those who made the St. Louis trip because the provider upon that occasion was not up to the standard which their appetite craved.

  The boat was chartered by the Populist committee with T. H. Ellis of Rock Island in charge of arrangement and Capt. McCaffrey had nothing to do with the excursion beyond the running of the boat.  Therefore the kick against them should be registered elsewhere.


The Davenport Democrat

August 10, 1896





The Levee Feud Results in Stabbing


Capt. Jo. Long Under $5,000 bond for Using a Knife on James Osborn-the Outgrowth of the Increasing Unpleasantness of the Past few Weeks



  The levee, in front of the Diamond Jo line warehouse, was the scene for an attempted murder Sunday afternoon, of which James Osborn, the agent of the Diamond Jo line was the victim.  Whether the attempt on his life, made  Capt. Jo Long, will end in death or not is for time to determine.  The story, as it is gathered by The Democrat from several eye-witnesses, both interested and disinterested, is as follows:

  The W. J. Young Jr., from Burlington had landed at the Diamond Jo wharf.  The Douglass Boardman of Clinton, commanded by Capt. Long, landed above her, on the same wharf, notwithstanding that she had been requested to make her landings in front of her own warehouse.  It is repeatedly stated that there was room for her to do this Sunday.  Instead she stayed where she was.  The St. Paul of the diamond Jo line came in sight, up the river, and would need the spot occupied by the Boardman in a few minutes for her own landing.  The Boardman showed as little disposition to move as on former occasions where her removal had been desired by the Diamond Jo line, or its lessees.

  James Osborn, agent of the Diamond Jo line, started from the northeast corner of the pile of buildings occupied by the line named as a warehouse, and walked toward the Boardman’s plank.  About the same time Capt. Long approached from the Jo long office, near the northwest corner of the same building.  The men met near the end of the plank on the levee.  Mr. Osborn addressed Capt. Long, said that the St. Paul was coming, and asked him if he was not going to move the Boardman so that the St. Paul could land.  Several witnesses agree that Capt. Long made reply, telling Mr. Osborn to go to hell, and that he would move when he damned pleased, or, words to that effect.  Some other things were said, and among them the most objectionable epithet possible was applied to Mr. Osborn.  He struck at Capt. Long, and caught him, not very hard, on the side of the head Capt. Long came back.  There was a rapid exchange of fistic compliments, and then the men separated, Capt. Long walking up his plank with the remark that he would have Osborn out of the Diamond Jo line agency yet, and Mr. Osborn coming up the bank to the Diamond Jo line warehouse.

  It is not possible to get at the precise state of affairs with regard to the knife.  Nobody seems to have seen any stabbing, and Mr. Osborn did not see any knife in Capt. Long’s possession when the trouble began.  There are other persons, however, who say that Long had the knife in his hand all the time.  It was there when he was struck, and it was used by Long during the exchange of blows, though the nearest by standers say they thought were struck with nothing but the fist.  R. P. Osborn, the son of the injured man, expecting trouble, had taken a place close to this father, behind him.  He says that the blows were so quickly struck that they were all over before he could get into action, and that he had no idea that a knife had been used.  A knife was used, never the less, and the manner in which it was used is declared by old river men who have seen plenty of levee affrays, to indicate a high degree of skill in which used. And a determination to strike where the smallest wounds would be followed by most serious consequences.

  Mr. Osborn walked into the Diamond Jo warehouse, and soon went to his living rooms upstairs.  He walked back to the north end of the upper rooms, and then back to his apartments in the south end of the building.  By this time blood was running down inside his clothing in a stream, and he grew suddenly sick and faint, and swooned, remaining unconscious for something like half an hour.

   Dr. Heiwig, of the St. Louis Dispensary, was making the round trip on the St. Paul.  He at once gave the wounded man attention, and in the meantime Drs. A. W. and E. S. Bowman came in response to call, and applied restoratives, while probing the wound.

  In the interim the patrol had been called.  It came down Brady street, while Capt. Charles Falkner came down Perry street, by accident, at the same time.  As he came near the levee he saw signs of excitement in the crowd.  Capt. T. G. Isherwood appeared with his shirt covered with blood, and told him to go on the Boardman and arrest Capt. Long.  As soon as the nature of the case was ascertained Capt. Falkner started for the Boardman.  Capt. Long was in the pilot house of the boat.  As soon as he saw Officer Falkner approaching the Boardman’s gang-lank he gave a hurried backing bell and the Boardman hauled off into the river, dragging her plank after her.  It was not lifted till she was well out in the water.  Seeing that Capt. Long was apparently bent on flight on his steamboat Officers Falkner and Stutz ran to the ferryboat J. P. Gage, which had just landed from Rock Island, and taking possession of her, with the entire consent of the men in command, started up the river with her in pursuit of the Boardman.  At the same time Captain Lamont of Rock Island had been notified that Capt. Long had done the stabbing and was trying to escape, and he, in his capacity of Diamond Jo agent on that side, got some Rock Island policemen on the levee there.  It was plain that there was no chance to get away, so the Boardman came back to the bank, dropping in above the Helen Shulenberg.  In the mean time the St. Paul made her landing.  As soon as the Boardman came to the bank and the officers could reach her. Capt. Long was placed under arrest.  He made no resistance, and was taken to the police station in the patrol wagon.  At about 6 o’clock Sunday evening he was released, Capt. Jack McCaffrey, his friend and backer in his river ventures, signing his bond in the sum of $5,ooo.  Mrs. Long was notified at Le Claire, and came down Sunday evening.  The Boardman took another pilot and left on time Sunday afternoon, on her regular trip, and this morning Capt. Long and his wife went up the river on the Jo Long.

  Mr. Osborn rested in comparative comfort for a time after he rallied from the faint to which he fell, but as the night wore on he became very restless, suffered increasingly and did not yield to the opiates that had been left for him.  The doctor came at midnight and stayed with him for some time, until finally he fell asleep.  This morning he was restless and nervous and suffered considerable pain.  Later in the day his condition seemed to indicate no reason for alarm.

  The knife was a medium sized pocket knife.  It’s blade measured 2 ½ inches to the shaft, and 2 3/8 inches to the handle.  It is sharp-pointed and sharp.  The police have possession of it.  It still carried the blood of the man it cut.

  The first blow, as nearly as can be learned, was the upper one.  It landed close in the region of the heart.  It was a lucky thing that it struck a rib, and was turned away from the course it would naturally have followed.  As it was, it penetrated the cavity of the body.  Without interposition of that rib it would almost certainly have been quickly fatal.

  After that came a jab that thrust the blade of the knife deep into the abdomen, about an inch above the umbilicus.  This is the wound that is threatening to make the trouble.  It is hoped that the damage done beneath it is such as will heal, but there are grave grounds for fears, although Mr. Osborn has the advantage of a good constitution and good habits of living to back him.

  The crowd on the levee at the time is estimated at two or three thousand people.  There is no man in this city in the river business with more friends than Jim Osborn, and it did not take long to develop some very warm feelings there. Fortunately for Capt. Long and the good name of the city of Davenport he was so soon removed from the scene of the affair that there was no time for action, but among the roustabouts on the W. J. Young, Jr., and the St. Paul, no less than among the people on the levee, there was a spirit that would quickly have made further trouble.

  The Diamond Jo lines new steamer Quincy came down this afternoon, bearing Capt. John Killeen.  He had been advised above of what had happened.  Capt. Killeen, on behalf of the line of which he is a principal officer, effectually set at rest the assertion of some of the people on the Boardman that the line had given her permission to use the Diamond Jo line’s landing.  Capt. Killeen says that the Boardman and Jo Long have never had any such permission and he further says that the line will back Mr. Osborn in his efforts to protect its interests.

  A story was set afloat at the time that Capt. Jas. Boland of the St. Paul struck Capt. Long before Mr. Osborn came in contact with him.  This is altogether false.  Capt. Boland was in his stateroom at the time, and knew nothing of it till after it was all over.

  It is understood that J. R. Hanley of Le Claire has been retained by Capt. Long as his attorney.








Davenport Democrat

August 26, 1886




It is commenced before justice Le Claire

The Public and the Reporters Excluded at the Request of the Defendant. The Legal Talent Interested-Capt. Osborn testifies.


  The preliminary examination of Capt. Long of the Jo Long and Douglass Boardman, running in the trade between this city and Clinton, on the charge of assaulting Capt. James Osborn, agent of the Diamond Jo line and of the Verne Swain and City of Winona, also running in the Davenport and Clinton trade, with the intent to kill him, came up this morning before justice Le Claire.

  The time set for the trial was 10 o’clock, but owing to a misunderstanding it did not begin till after 10:30, county Attorney W. M. Chamberlin, assisted by J. W. Bollinger, appeared for the state, while E. E. Cook and J. A. Hanley appeared for the defense.  Miss Haddix took the testimony on behalf of the defendant.

  When the case was ready for trial the room was cleared, everybody, even to the reporters of the different newspapers being excluded from the room during the trial.  This was done at the request of the attorneys for Capt. Long, the defendant in the case.  It is not often done in a case of this kind, but it is a privilege which the defense may demand if it does not desire the public to hear the trial. 

  Capt James Osborn, who was stabbed twice by the defendant, was the first witness called.  It was the first time he had been out since the day he was cut, over two weeks ago.  He showed the effects of his wounds and enforced stay in bed.  He seemed to have lost 30 or 40 pounds in weight, and was almost too weak to go through such an ordeal as the trial threatens to be.

  The testimony given by Capt. Osborn, as near as can be learned, was to the effect that he had told Capt. Long to pull out to make room for the St. Paul, and had been answered in forcible language that Capt. Long would not pull out.  He had been invited to hit Capt. Long, who applied to him the most objectionable name imaginable at the same time.  Upon being called the name, Capt. Osborn struck Capt. Long on the cheek.  Capt. Long did not attempt to strike back with his fist and gave Capt. Osborn two pushes with his hand, which Capt. Osborn did not know the purpose or result of at the time.  He was expecting Capt. Long to strike him, but no blow came.  He did not strike but once.  Then Robert Osborn ran up and got between them, telling them to stop.  Capt. Osborn started to walk back toward the office and felt something similar to a pinch in the region of the heart.  At each step he felt it again, and put his hand to this side.  Taking it away, he found it was bloody, and then knew for the first time what the pushing of Capt. Long meant, and that he had been stabbed.

  It was sought by the defense to secure an admission that Capt. Osborn struck two blows, but this was denied, positively.  The details of the event preceding the cutting were brought out minutely, the defense seeking to show justifiable self defense, and the prosecution a previous intent on the part of Capt. Long to pick the quarrel and then stab his man.  The examination of Capt. Osborn lasted till 15 minutes before the noon hour.  Robert Osborn was the next witness, but it was decided not to take up his examination till court should reconvene at 2 o’clock.

  Robert Osborne testified that he walked down the levee behind his father, going due south and Capt. Long was going in a southeasterly direction toward the gang-plank of the Boardman.  His father asked long if he wasn’t going to move off and he said he wouldn’t.  He did not hear what words were passed until his father hit him.  He then saw Long make a couple of motions as if he was pushing his father away.  He then took hold of his father and led him away and Mitchell of the Boardman took hold of Long.  He saw Long’s knife after Long had stepped on to the gang-plank of the Boardman.  A few other details were recited and then Dr. A. W. Bowman was called to the stand.



The Davenport Daily Times

August 29 1896


River News


Where Lessons are needed in gladstonian diplomacy


Capt. Streckfus Followers still Persist in Injuring Themselves to the benefit of Their Rivals-Rock Island Agent is Discourteous to Boardman’s Passengers.



  The river war is still being followed by the local packets and fresh incidents tend to show that some of the agents are laboring faithfully in the interests of the line they represent.   The war has reached the other side of the river and a story comes authentically concerning an incident that occurred in Rock Island.  Six ladies wandered onto the office of the Diamond Jo line across the river, which is also the office of the steamer Verne Swain and City of Winona.  They were asked.  If they were waiting for the Verne.  Their reply was in the negative, with an explanatory addition which announced them as passengers on the Douglas Boardman.  Then the agent, who is one of the most polite individuals in the trade, took the special pains to conduct them to the door way, where he pointed out the tattered canvass stretched against four poles, doing duty as the warehouse for the Jo Long and Douglas Boardman.  This is but another instance of the magnanimity of heart which characterized those in opposition to Capt. Long and his boats, but it is a question whether it would have been so bad a building such as the captain desired to erect been in the place of the tattered tent, which exists though the refusal of the city council to allow a betterment.

  It is also reported that the self-same agent would not allow the ladies from Clinton who wore Douglas Boardman ribbons, to partake of the shade offered by his sacred sanctuary.  He had no shade for the passengers of the rival steamers.  More than that, it is reported that the ladies were refused a drink of water and were invited to take a walk, the kindly disposed agent putting himself out to show them the warehouse of the steamers Jo Long and Douglas Boardman and stating that they could undoubtedly find shelter there.  This courteous treatment by the Rock Island agent of Capt. Streckfus and its weight and now there are certain ladies in Clinton who declare that if the Streckfus boats were the only ones upon the long broad river, they would never take a boat ride any more.  There are others, however, and it would be policy for some people to brush the scales from their eyes, that they might see wherein their actions are detrimental to themselves, or to the benefit of their rivals.

  The committee in charge of arrangements for the excursion party that visited this city yesterday, met and manufactured a vote of thanks which it tendered Capt. Long for the courteous treatment received at the hands of himself and the Boardman crew.  In retaliation Capt. Long declared that in all his experience he has not met with a finer and more courteous crowd than the one made of yesterday’s 390 excursionists from Clinton’s to the Tri City.




The Davenport Daily Times

Dec. 2, 1896




Testimony of the prosecution is all in the Long case


Capt. James Osborn on the stand for five hours. The Doctor Evidence - The Gist of the Police Officer Testimony - Prosecution rests at 3 o’clock



  At 3:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon County Attorney Chamberlin began his opening statement to the jury.  He said that Captain James Osborne was said that Captain James Osborne was the agent of the Diamond Jo company for about twenty-one years; that with out a question the subject of levee ownership would arise; and that as such agent he had the right to exclude other craft from the shore line.  “Each company, said the prosecutor, had its own warehouse.  On August 9th last, a Sunday, Capt. Long’s boat, the Boardman, was tied up, not in front of its own warehouse, but directly, before the Diamond Jo office, and when, the St. Paul came in sight, still remained there occupying the landing.  As the St. Paul was going to touch at Davenport Mr. Osborne went down to the Boardman to order her off the levee, to give clearance for the larger packet. 

  The prosecutor went on to say that the river feud had created bad blood between the two men.  When they met there was a quarrel.   Capt. Long had invited the blow from Mr. Osborne by saying “strike me------------------ .” whereupon, as the prosecutor said “Mr. Osborn struck him, and Capt. Long, in a cunning manner, stabbed him twice.  He then closed a very concise statement of the case by comparing the physique of the two men and arraigning Capt. Long for vicious assault, as he styled it, upon a grey haired old man.

  Mr. Cook began his opening statement with the remark that Mr. Osborne should be in the defendant’s box instead of Capt. Long.  He told the jury of the lordliness of the agent of the Diamond Jo, and his arrogant claims of all titles and privileges of the 208 feet water front, together with the quasi exclusive privilege of collecting wharfage from all boats landing in front of the warehouse.  He said that Capt. Long was in his office on shore inspecting some glass which was to be taken aboard.  That Capt. Long had been accustomed to whittling and that on this occasion he had his knife in his hand cutting at a stick of pine.  He finally left his office and started for the boat but met Mr. Osborn on the way.  There was a hot colloquy with the result that Osborn struck Long a sharp blow with his fist that drew blood  from his ear, and another lighter blow upon the forehead which left its mark.  These blows were forceful and undoubtedly in doing so he inflicted the wounds which the prosecution endeavors to preview were given with malice  aforethought and with intent to commit murder.  Mr. Cook closed by saying that the defense had no theories but facts to work on, and that such evidence would be adduced and submitted as would conclusively prove the innocence of the defendant.




  Mr. Osborne was the first witness of the prosecution.  He stated upon examination that he was fifty-eight years of age and had been agent of the Diamond Jo Company for twenty-one years.  He gave his residence as the levee.  He declared that the Diamond Jo Company owned and controlled about 208 feet of the water frontage.  The witness was not certain whether or not the property was 208 or 220 feet in length, but at any rate he knew that it extended to the low water mark.  The company owns and operates its own warehouse, of which he is the custodian.

  The witness then stated the circumstances of an altercation between himself and Capt. Long some time previous to Aug. 9th, when the alleged assault occurred, in which some hot words were spoken and used.  The Long boat had landed outside of her premises and would not give way for the proper boats which had the right to use that portion of the levee. On that occasion Capt. Long had stigmatized the witness as a “coward” and threatened to run him off the levee, meaning there by to cause him to lose his position as agent of the Diamond Jo Company.

  The witness then recited all the incidents of the landing on August 9.  He stated that the W. J. Young Jr., had landed before the Long’s warehouse, the George M. Waters, an excursion boat, occupying a position above it.  When the Boardman arrived she cast but her staging about forty feet above the Diamond Jo warehouse.  Shortly afterward the St. Paul whistled for her landing and the witness stated that he went down in the Boardman not knowing that Captain Long was ashore, in order to ask him to move his boat to admit the St. Paul.  “When I got part of the way down, the witness continued “I saw captain Long coming from is warehouse.  I said: “Long, I want you to leave the St. Paul room to land”.  He replied that he wouldn’t.  I then said that he ought to be hit or slapped.  He was standing sidewise at the time and he dared me to hit him.  I struck him on the cheek and he kind of pushed me twice staggering like.  My son, Robert, them came up crying “stop that, stop this!”  I then returned to my office and on the way felt something pinch, it seemed as though I had been grabbed.  I put my hand over it and when I reached the platform I noticed blood.  Tom Isherwood came up to me and I told him I was cut.  I then went into my office, where, pulling up my shirt, I found that I was stabbed.  I was told to go home, which I did.  I live upstairs.  When I got up to my house I sank into a rocking chair and saw Capt. Long pulling out.  The “headline” was ordered removed and I knew from that the Boardman was going to pull out.  I then became unconscious.  A physician from the St. Paul attended first, and afterwards Dr. Bowman.  I lay a bed until the next Tuesday week.”

  The witness was then surrendered to the cross examiner, attorney Cook officiating in this capacity.


Mr. Cook—“On the 9th of August was the W. J. Young tied with a stern hawser?”


Witness—I do not know.


The witness then stated that boats some times land by running over the guy or tie ropes of other craft.  The cross examination showed that the levee was overcrowded with boats on that particular day.

  Then followed an exciting tilt between the attorneys, as to the levee rights. Mr. Cook showed several contradictions in the testimony of the witness between his evidence in the court and that given in the lower court and that given in the lower court of Justice Le Claire.  In the lower court Mr. Osborne said that he had the right to collect wharfage from all boats making a landing on the Diamond Jo property.  He partially denied that by stating that the company had the right and not he.  He again stated that he thought he had all the privileges of the levee and could forbid all other boats but hose paying for the wharfage from poling their noses against the shore.  “I didn’t want Long, so I wouldn’t let him land.”  Was the way he put it.  Mr. Chamberlin objected to the admission of any evidence pertinent to reparian rights, but Judge Waterman allowed that it was admissible on the score of showing the feeling which led up to the quarrel.  Mr. Cook explained that Osborne had arrogated to himself the right of a river dictator and that it was this dictorial conduct which engendered the hard feeling which led up to the cutting affray on the levee.  Mr. Chamberlin objected by saying. That such rights and privileges remained to be proven, and had no place in the case.  The court ruled otherwise, saying that the question was admissible because it served to show the manner of the feud and the nature of the quarrel which led up to the cutting.

  Under the terrific cross fire the witness was taken by surprise and openly contradicted or denied statements made by himself during the preliminary before Justice Le Claire.  When these same statements were read, as extended by the official short-hand reporter, he hedged by pleading his physical condition at the time.  The witness was badly tangled on several occasions, and at the time the court took adjournment. Over night the cross fire had only reached the telling point of his evidence-that of his encounter with Captain Long in which he received the two stabs, for the infliction of which the defendant must answer to the charge of attempted murder.




  At 9 o’clock this morning the cross examination was resumed.  Attorney Cook asked the witness what had been said during the altercation which had taken place a week prior to the cutting affray.  Mr. Osborne stated that there was a dispute between Long and Capt. Blair concerning the rumor that the former was going to enter a boat against the latter’s packet then engaged in the Burlington trade.  Long had denied it.  The witness also testified that the defendant had not intruded upon the Diamond Jo landing when his own shore line was clear.


Mr. Cook-“When you struck Mr. Long did you step back?”


Osborn—“I don’t know.”


Mr. Cook—“What did Long do when you struck him?”


Osborne—“He swung his arm around and stabbed me here (indicating the left side) and

here  (pointing to the crest of the abdomen), and then I went away.”

  After this Mr. Cook had great difficulty securing responsive answers from the witness. Mr. Osborne evaded every question, and at least a dozen of his answers were ordered stricken out by court on the ground of being wide of the mark.  The pinning of agent down to his testimony in lower court was disastrous for the prosecution.  There were many contradictions shown up, particular in relation to the epitath used, when on the forecastle of the Young he called Long a hard name.  Mr. Osborne denied the use of the term, and when his testimony in Le Clare’s court was read he still clung to his statement that he used no such words.


Cook—“Were you angry when you were on the forecastle of the young?”


Witness—“Yes, sir.”


Cook—“Had your feelings changed during the fifteen minutes which elapsed between that conversation with the mate and your encounter with the defendant?”


Witness—“Yes, sir.”




The witness here evaded the question by saying that he was anxious about the St. Paul, and felt that he ought to use conciliating measures to prevail upon Long to move his boat.  “But,” interrupted Cook “Had your feelings changed?” “Well, no I do not think they did,” replied the witness.

  When the question of the conversation of the defendant came up again, the county attorney objected on the ground that the witness had replied to it before and that it was badgering the witness, but the court thought otherwise and allowed the question to be placed and answered.  This part of the cross examination brought out the particulars of the affray. Mr. Osborne testimony showed that he had struck the first blow and that his son, Robert, shouted “Stop that!” “Stop this!” as soon as he saw that fighting was in progress He did not know that he was cut until he had mounted to the area in front of the Diamond Jo warehouse.  Mr. Osborne testified that the blow he administered to Long staggered him—that he reeled, but did not fall.  The witness was shaken on no material point in regard to the encounter itself, except in his statement of the words used and his state of mind prior to the altercation.

  Mr. Cook—“I will ask you, Mr. Osborne, if Capt. Killeen of the Diamond Jo Company did not tell you to go on with the prosecution of this case and that he would furnish all the funds necessary?”

  Attorney Chamberlin entered a strenuous objection to the question as being irrelevant, immaterial and not proper cross examination, which objection the court sustained.  Whereupon the witness was surrendered by the cross-examiner to the prosecutor for the re-direct questioning.




  On the redirect, Mr. Osborne stated that he made no charges for wharfage from boats making landings on the levee, other than those authorized by the company of which he was the agent.  He stated that for fifteen or sixteen years he was the city wharfmaster and had administered the affairs of that office until twelve or fifteen years ago when it was abolished.  The prosecutor asked the witness several questions as to his condition during the time of the preliminary hearing.  Mr. Osborne testified that he was weak and became very tired before it was over.  The object of this evidence was to controvert the apparent contradictions between the testimony of the witness at the time of the examination before Justice Le Claire and his evidence submitted in the court.  There was some objection to the admission of this testimony but they were over ruled.  Mr. Osborne was then asked to exhibit his scars, which he did, removing his coat and uncovering his abdomen while the jury examined marks and location of the cauterized wounds.  This incident of the trial was an intensely dramatic one.  The bloodstained pants, undershirt, overshirt and drawers were also displayed to the jury, after which Mr. Osborne was released, the next witness to take the stand being Dr. E. S. Bowman.




  Dr. E. S. Bowman testified to the nature of the wounds, saying that the larger cut was a penetrating one, perforating the abdominal tissue to the depth of two inches and extending inward and downward.  The wound was in the region of the juncture of the seventh, eighth and ninth arteries, which unite 2 ½ inches below the apex of the heart, and was about two inches long, or rather wide.  The doctor testified that he gave medical and surgical attention to Mr. Osborne, and also that when he was first summoned he found the patient seated in a rocking chair suffering from shock, and weak from loss of blood.  The cross-examination did not care to further use the witness and he was therefore excused.




  Thomas G. Isherwood, residing at 112 east Twelfth street, was then examined.  He was at the levee on the 9th of August and saw the St. Paul come in.  It is a habit of his to hang about the levee.  His occupation he gave as a contractor and boat builder.  When the St. Paul whistled for her landing he saw Jim Osborne going towards the Boardman.  He saw Capt. Long come down from his warehouse and meet the agent of the Diamond Jo company.  He hears none of the conversation but saw each push the other as though about to wrestle.  Finally Osborne came away and the mate and another man came off and took Capt. Long aboard, after which the Boardman pulled out.  The witness, similarly to Dr. Bowman, was not subjected to a cross-examination.




  The next party on the stand was the man who made the arrest, Capt. Chas. Faulkner, aged sixty years, ex-policeman.  He narrated the manner of his acquaintance with the fact of the cutting and how he went to the levee to make the arrest.  When he reached the river front the Boardman was backing out.  He therefore went to the ferry and secured the services of Capt. Robinson to give chase to the Boardman, which he thought was trying to get away.  The Boardman, however, came back to land when the witness boarded her and arrested Capt. Long.  The cross examination of the witness was short and developed comparatively nothing of either material moment or interest to the case.  County attorney Chamberlin the submitted the knife with which the cutting was done in evidence.  This had been taken from the person of Capt. Long when he was searched at the station after the arrest. The knife is almost a plaything, a pearl handled trifle with a thin blade about two inches long.  Dr. A. W. Bowman was the next witness.




  The doctor described the wounds similarly to his nephew who was examined shortly before.  He stated that his nephew dressed the wounds and he had therefore not seen them until the 10th of August, the day after the cutting.  Mr. Cook then, upon the doctor saying that the cuts had a downward tendency, asked the hypothetical question.

  “Do you think doctor, that this downward cut could have been made by a person rushing against a knife?”

Witness—“Yes, sir”

Cook—“Were not the cuts up and down or lengthwise?”


Cook—“Do you think, doctor, that these wounds could have been made by Mr. Osborn running against the knife held by Long?”

  Here the prosecution interposed a strenuous objection, claiming that he witness was not summoned as an expert, and therefore that the question was immaterial.  The court ruled otherwise, and a heated argument followed, in which the county attorney offered to cite legal authority in support of his position that the testimony to be called out by the question was inadmissible.  The matter was then finally amicably settled and the examination continued.  The doctor, is reply to the question testified that such wounds could be made in that way.  He further said that that the wounds could have been downward I their tendency if the party rushing against the knife were in a stooping position.

  Officer Stuts then was called.  He corroborated that evidence given by Detective Faulkner.  On cross examination he allowed that he did not hallor to the boat as she pulled out and was only guessing when he said that the Boardman tried to get away.




  Bert Lovett was the next witness. He was standing a little east of the Diamond Jo warehouse, watching the St. Paul coming.  He heard a scrimmage and looking saw the flash of a knife, and an angry look on Capt. Long’s face.  He stated that he Boardman left soon afterwards and dragged her staging  for the length of the boat.  On cross examination he modified some of his statements, and gave a dramatic exhalation of the posture of Capt. Long after the stabbing as supposed so have occurred. He then contradicted his former statement about the dragging of the staging by saying that the gangplank was not hoisted until the Boardman was 400 feet out in the river.  On the completion of Mr. Lovett’s cross examination court was adjourned for dinner.




  Immediately upon the reconvening of court this afternoon, which was at 2:10 o’clock.  Capt. Walter A. Blair of the steamer W. J. Young Jr., was called to the witness stand.  He stated that he was a steamboatman, forty years of age and a resident of this city.  He was acquainted with both the defendant, Capt. Long, and Mr. Osborne.  He was in Davenport on Aug. 9, 1896.


Prosecutor—“Do you know of any trouble between Capt. Long and Mr. Osborne prior to that date?”


 Capt Blair—“Yes , sir, on one occasion.”


Prosecutor—“State what its nature was.”


Capt. Blair—“Well, I was seated on the boiler deck of the Young talking to my wife when I noticed the two men quarreling.  I went ashore and urged Capt. Long to desist I heard him call Capt. Osborne a ---------. Which I took exception to.  That was all.”


  In relation to the cutting affray which occurred almost ten days later, Capt. Blair related the encounter much similar to that of the other witness.  He expressly stated that Mr. Osborne struck Capt. Long’s blow on the side of the head, after which he saw Capt. Long push Mr. Osborne away as if thrusting him off.  He was seventy-five feet distance and therefore did not hear any of the conversation.  He further testified as to the condition of the levee on that afternoon, stating that there was at least seventy-five feet of room to spare west of the head of the Young, between it and the coal barges.

  On the cross-examination the witness further illustrated this point by stating that the stern of the Young lay further down in the river than the barges with but eighty feet to spare between the boat and barges through which opening he said it would be quite difficult to pilot the Boardman which is a boat with a width of 75 feet.  In regard to the actual cutting affray the cross-examination did not develop any material modification in his testimony.  The captain made an excellent witness and materially sided the cause of the defense by his concise narration of the events that preceded and followed the cutting.  His evidence was to the pushing of Capt. Long rather than to the direct stab will undoubtedly be made the most of by the defense.  After a few re-direct and re-cross questions the witness was excused and County Attorney Chamberlin laconically said”




  There upon E. E. Cook for the defense made a motion that the state be required to produce Robert P. Osborne upon the stand.  He argued the motion at some length, citing the Reid case, and contended that in the justice court Robert Osborne testified, but his name did not appear upon the back of the indictment as a witness before the grand jury.

  The motive of the defense in seeking to have the son of the prosecuting witness summoned as a witness was due to the nature of the testimony given by him at the preliminary hearing which was considered somewhat damaging to the prosecution.  The county attorney strenuously opposed the motion and his objection was sustained by the court on the grounds that the prosecution could not be compelled to summon a hostile witness.  After this controversy William L Mitchell, the mate of the Boardman and the first witness for the defense, was called to the stand and his examination was in progress at the time of going to press.





The Davenport Daily Times

December 2, 1896





The examination pf witnesses is being long drawn out

Many Clintonittes give Evidence favorable to Capt. Long-Le Claire Witnesses Establish his good character-The defendant on the stand.







Testimony procedure


The state rested its case at 2:45, o’clock yesterday afternoon and after several minutes, recess, court was convened at 3:10 o’clock to bear the testimony in the Long case.  The motion made by Attorney Cook of the defense for the production of Robert Osborne being overruled, the defense again the stating of its case.  The first witness summoned was the mate of the Boardman, W. D. Mitchell.  The witness related that he had a conversation with Capt. Osborne on the George M. Waters the morning of the day on which the cutting occurred.  Mr. Osborne had come to him to order the boat away from the Diamond Jo Company’s landing.  The witness had told him to go to the captain of the boat.  Osborne replied.  “I wouldn’t talk to that black hearted-----------.”  The witness then told him to go about his business as if it was now and his concern.  He further told him that if he wanted trouble he could have it.  Osborne replied that he was “too big and husky.”  The references to the actual encounter Mr. Mitchell on direct examine said that he saw Capt. Osborne strike the defendant twice, each blow staggering him. As soon as he saw the fight he ran down to part them which he succeeded in doing.  When the prosecutor  began to press questions on the cross examination the witness became angry and many lively, tiffs took place.  The evidence secured by the cross-fire of questioning proved very amusing.  The mate showed his temper rather forcibly and refused to answer the questions which he deemed impertinent, and appealed to the court which ruled that he would be required to respond.  Nothing very important was developed, except a reiteration of the statement that no knife was seen.  Then the witness was excused and a young lady passenger on the Boardman was called to the witness stand.




  Grace Seymour, a sixteen year old miss from Clinton clad in a natty suit of blue, with a Tam O’ Shanter cap illuminated with a big buckle, corroborated the testimony of W. L. Mitchell in so far as the two blows are concerned and the incidents of the encounter.  The direct examination was very brief.  Under the cross-fire some very amusing contradictions were known. In relation to the knife the witness testified that it was a tortoise shell handled weapon, she saw the handle and when asked to show how the knife was held, she closed her fingers upon it tightly.  When Attorney Bollinger for the prosecution asked her how when Capt. Long’s fingers were closely gripping it, she could recognize its handle the witness replied:  “I could see through his hands.”  This then entered upon a very peculiar line of contradictory testimony, no doubt due to the rattling of the cross-fire.  She was badly tangled and often made very astonishing statements.  One of them being to the effect that Mr. Osborne had on an overcoat on the afternoon of August 9th which being midsummer, looked rather fishy.  On countless other points the witness also contradicted herself, much to the amusement of the crowded court room.  After a few redirect questions, calculated to reaffirm some of her prior evidence and to destroy the effort of the cross-examination, the next witness was called.




The third witness was in employee of the Clinton Sash factory, and knew the defendant.  He had been a member of the band which was retained by the Clinton excursion on that day.  This witness saw the fight and saw Osborne, whom he did not know, strike Long.  He further corroborated Mitchell’s story about parting the belligerent river men. On cross examination he admitted that he had made several trips with Capt. Long and that he also assisted at the serenade which was tendered to Capt. Long after the cutting scraps.  On no material point was the witness shaken in his testimony. Without much ado he was released and the fourth witness for the defense was called.

  After the cross examination of the musician court was adjourned by Judge Waterman until 9 o’clock this morning.




  Court convened this morning at 9:10 o’clock this morning with William Shanley on the stand.  The attendance was good, although-not so great as yesterday.  The witness stated that he resided at 746 East Sixth street, was sixteen years of age and was an employee of the Steam Heating company.

  The witness was a bright young fellow, who promptly answered all questions put to him in an intelligent manner.  He had gone down to the levee to see the St. Paul come in, when he noticed Captain Osborne and Long talking together.  In a few seconds Osborn struck Long several times, staggering him.  Long threw up his hands as though to balance himself, striking Mr. Osborne with them as he did so.  On the cross examination James W. Bollinger for the prosecution did his best to shake the testimony of the young man, but without avail.  He corroborated the stories told by the other witnesses of the defense, to the effect that an untoward assault had been made upon Capt. Long, several blows were struck and the defendant was staggered by the impact of the stroke.  In the act of throwing up the hands to retain his equilibrium, no doubt the defense will claim that the actual cutting occurred.  The defense did not care to re-question and he was released.  Then the fifth witness for the defense was sent for.


  1. D. Haller of Clinton


A.     D. Haller, of Clinton and an employee of a slaughter house part of the year, was then sworn.  He saw the fight from the deck of the Boardman.  Osborne struck the first blow, knocked off Long’s hat, and staggered him.  When the Captain of the Boardman came aboard his cheek was skinned and his ear was bleeding from the blow he had received. On the close examination his testimony remained the same.  He further testified to being present at the serenade tendered to Capt. Long at Clinton the day after the cutting, but said that he took no part in it.  In relating the circumstances of the scrimmage the witness got quite tangled up and when telling about the blows struck by Osborne and the defensive attitude of Long, he waxed a little angry at the county attorney who  persistently interrogated him with the object of showing that the thrusting away of Osborne by Long was deliberate.  The witness was then excused.




  Moses Irwin was the next witness for the defense.  He is a clintonite sixty-seven years of age and works for Mr. Lamb of that city.  He was seated at the second deck of the steamer Boardman, when the altercation took place.  The witness said:  “I was seated on a chair with my feet on the railing and saw Capt. Long comedown from the shanty.  Another oldish man came from the larger building and when he met Capt. Long he said, “you black------------- I’ve a notion to give it to you and with that he up and struck him. The foul words were reiterated, and the blows rained thick with the effect that Capt. Long staggered.

  On the cross examination the witness made some very emphatic, statements,  He declared that Osborne struck Long three times, and had called him a black-------------several times before he hit him.   The witness became uneasy, as he could not see the drift of the severe cross-fire, and narrowly escaped getting badly mixed up.  The old man was on the stand for half an hour, during which time he was subjected to a regular volley of interrogations.  He was excused at 10;45 o’clock.




  This witness also saw the cutting affray.  He is twenty-eight years of age and a resident of Clinton.  he was playing in the band on the 9th of August last.  He saw Mr. Osborne come up to Capt. Long, and after calling him a --------, strike him and knock him down.  According to this testimony the blow administered, by Osborne not only staggered but completely knocked Long out, he rolling over on the ground.  The witness was positive on this point ad the cross examiner could not shake him on any material point.  Under the crossfire he acknowledged that he was paid by Capt. Long for services rendered in making dispositions, etc,, prior to the trial and reiterated his statements concerning the epithet and the staggering and fall on the part of Long.  As a witness Mr. Laycock made a poor one, being too positive to entitle him to much credibility.  At 11 o’clock E. D. Rundgren was called to the witness stand.




  This gentlemen unquestionably made the best witness for the defense.  He corroborated the story of the mate and on cross-examination did not modify his statement to any perceptible extent.  He saw two blows struck and a third one attempted by Osborne.  He also saw Long reel and almost fall.  The witness was one of the excursionists on board the Boardman and was in a position on the crest of the levee where he could overlook the entire affair.  He also corroborated the testimony of Grace Seymour in regard to the pushing away of Osborn by Capt. Long and the angry look on Osborne’s face s he approached the defendant.  He gave way for an aged witness who has been subpoenaed to testify to the good character of Capt. Long.




  The postmaster at Le Claire was next on the stand.  He was called to testify to the good character of the defendant.  He had known Capt. Long from the latter’s childhood and had looked upon him as a good citizen and of a quiet gentlemanly character.  He had loafed with him a great deal and had always highly esteemed him.  Hs character for honesty and truthfulness was unimpeached.  On cross examination he stated that he had heard of some trouble with Capt. McCaffrey alleged against the defendant, but had heard nothing about him using a knife in that fracas  Later on after Capt. McCaffrey had given his evidence Mr. Dodds was recalled and testified to the habit of whittling which was a character of the defendant.




  This witness ahs been a resident of Le Claire township for fifty years, and of Le Claire village for the past five or six years.  He knew Capt. Long’s father for nearly thirty years and for the past two or three years lived in the same house with the defendant.  He gave admirable testimony as to the high standing of Capt. Long in the community.  He never had any trouble except on one occasion with Capt. McCaffrey. On cross examination the old gentleman made his testimony stronger with most of Long’s associates and each held him in high regard.  There was some trouble between Capt. McCaffrey and Capt. Long that the had heard of, but he never learned that the defendant in that case had used a knife.  When Mr. Chamberlin grew too inquisitive Attorney Cook asked leave of the court to place Capt. McCaffrey on the stand to testify to the nature of the quarrel alluded to.  The permission was given and Capt. McCaffrey was accordingly sworn.




  This witness knew Capt. Long since 1865 and considered him a No. 1 gentleman.  He testified to the nature of the quarrel which was trivial and denied that Capt. Long had used a knife or even threatened to do so.  He placed the date of the fight about fifteen years ago and the place on the site of the present kitchen restaurant in Le Claire.  On cross examination he acknowledged first he was one of the defendants bondsmen, but denied having any “fighting interest”, in the case.  He also stated on the redirect that he knew of Mr. Long’s habit of continuous whittling when not occupied in the pilot house.  The captain made an excellent and a powerful witness for the defense.




  Mr. Suiter, a river pilot for about forty-two years, was the next witness.  He came to Le Claire in 1852 and knew Captain Long since 1859.  He worked with him for many years and always knew him to be a peaceful, law-abiding citizen.  On cross-examination he corroborated the previous testimony in regard to the trouble between Long and McCaffrey and denied that a knife was used in the quarrel.  He reiterated his statements as to the high regard in which the defendant is held in Le Claire, as well as among rivermen.  The cross-fire was brief and developed nothing worth of record.  There was no redirect examination.  Upon the release of this witness court wad adjourned for dinner




  The next witness was the son of the eminently respectable butcher of le Claire who testified that he was a life long resident of that city and knew Capt. Long from his childhood.  He always knew him to be a quiet and gentlemanly citizen.  The crossexaminer could not succeed in getting the witness to say that here had been general talk about Le Claire to the effect that Long had used a knife on Capt. McCaffrey.  Both examinations were brief, the witness being on the stand about two minutes.




  The leader of the band which was on the Boardman at the time was next put on the stand.  He told are remarkable story.  It was completely at variance with every other bit of evidence adduced by the defense.  The gentleman said that Mr. Osborne struck at Long three or four times and succeeded in knocking him down the bank.  The fight occurred on the crest of the levee and the captain of the Boardman was driven back twenty feet by the impact of the blow administered by Osborne, falling on his hands.  The witness also stated that after the fight Osborne stood on shore and continued using foul language until the Boardman had pulled out from shore.  On the cross examination Attorney Chamberlin tore the witness all to pieces and drew forth a number of very material contradictions, especially in relation to the presence of Osborne on shore after the fight.  The witness evidence may prove a boomerang to the cause of the defense, unless Mr. cook in his summing up argument is able to explain it away.  At 2:45 the cross examination completed. 


  The last witness called by the defense this afternoon was Capt. J. N. Long, the defendant in the case.  There was a buzz of interest in the court room as the captain took his seat in the witness chair and the assembled spectators then settled down to hear the skipper’s version of the deplorable occurrence.  His examination was being conducted at the time this report was closed.  It was expected that he evidence in the case would be all in this evenings and that tomorrow’s session would be devoted to the closing arguments of the opposing attorneys.


The Davenport Daily Times Evening

December 3, 1896



The Evidence All Submitted In the Long Case Today


Some Impeachable and Rebuttal testimony taken this Morning both sides rested at 10:00 Attorney Bellenger prosecutes and Attorney Hanley defends





  The last witness for the defense was the defendant himself.  Mr. Long was called to the stand shortly before 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon to give evidence in his own behalf.  In the preliminary Captain Long stated that his age was forty-six years and his residence Le Claire Scott County, where he has lived since 1852.  He was a pilot and steamboatman by occupation.  Attorney cook for the defense closely questioned him as t the particulars of his entering the river traffic.  He related the facts of the fight on the levee in a very concise manner, some time after fashion:  (we quote the Captain’s own words.)




  “When the Boardman landed, I went up to the office.  They had a box of plate glass which I thought I could take up on the Boardman because that boat had a larger crew than the Jo Long.  After examining the box I went back in a southeasterly direction to my boat.  When I reached a point about twenty feet from the gang- plank I first saw Captain Osborne coming towards me.  He said, “You G----D-------, I’ve a notion to break your G-------D---neck.”  I replied, “I don’t think you will.”  He repeated the epitath and struck me on the ear.  The blow was a good one and it dazed me.  He followed it up with another blow a little further up on the head.  He very nearly knocked me down and I threw up my hand instinctively to ward off further blows.”

  Attorney cook then questioned the witness as the position of the W. J. young Jr., when Capt. Long landed with the Boardman.  The witness testified that there was no room to land at the levee frontage and consequently felt obliged to ground his boat with her excursion barge on the alleged Diamond Jo Property.  The Young afterwards dropped down the width of the Water’s barge, the Boardman also doing the same thing.

  In regard to the quarrel with Capt. Osborne on the levee about ten days before the cutting scrape occurred, the witness said that both had used vile language on that occasion, but that no one had made any threat.  He farther testified that on that morning his agent, Jonnie Davison, had told him that Jim Osborne wasn’t going to make any more trouble for him, and he therefore did not look for any more trouble.




  The opening of the cross examination was rather tame.  The preliminary questioning brought out the history of the “river war.”  The witness testified to going to Capt. Osborne to have him take this agency of the Jo Long.  Osborne said that he would not make a contract with him until he had consulted Captain Streckfus.  Later on Osborne had refused t allow him the privileges of the levee.  And the witness was compelled to make a landing elsewhere.  The Diamond Jo agent then reported to alleged reprehensible tactics by catching flotsam and jetsam and piling the drift matter on the shore line of the Long’s landing.  This led to a quarrel after which both men ceased to speak.  Later on the witness secured the Hirschel property, which deal Capt. Osborne tried his best to frustrate.  This led to an open rupture which continued up to several weeks prior to the cutting scrape.


Chamberlin- “in that last quarrel did you say anything about running Osborne off the levee and causing him to lose his job?”


Capt. Long- “Yes, I said that.”


Chamberlin- “What did you mean by that””


Capt. Long- “I simply meant to infer that I would absorb all the business of the Diamond Jo company, that of the Verne Swain and other packets.”


Chamberlin-“How did you expect to accomplish that?”


Capt. Long-“I didn’t expect to accomplish it.  It was simply a levee quarrel, and I said it because it was the first thought that came to my mind.”

  Here the cross-fire became interesting.  The witness was obliged t repeat the circumstances of he personal encounter a great many times.  This drew out the admission that the witness cut Capt. Osborne by means of the knife he had in his hands, through the impact of Mr. Osborn’s body against that weapon.  He could not be shaken on this point, and tenaciously clung to this statement that he had his knife in his hands, which he cast up as soon as he had received the blow from Mr. Osborne’s body against his hands and consequently against the knife.  He was angry at the time and the blow had dazed him.  Capt. Long stated that he was not looking for a sight.  He had guarded all summer against engaging in any quarrel on the levee because he had too many enemies there.  Consequently he was careful to avoid all occasions of trouble. 


Chamberlin-“Were you whittling at the time you went up to look at the glass?”


Witness-“Yes. Sir.”


Chamberlin-“How do you know that?”


The captain then stated that he had that habit and felt sure that he had his knife in his hand at the time of the fight or altercation-indeed he felt sure of it as he even had it n his hand after the fight was over, when he boarded the boat.  He did not know Osborne was cut until he appeared at his door upstairs shaking his fist and restipulating(?) at the witness.  He then noticed blood on his shirt and supposed that he had been cut in the fracas.  When arrested he was told for the first time that he was accused of stabbing Osborne.  This he denied by saying that he had no recollection or intention of cutting the old man.  He further denied that he tried to run away from the officer who were sent to arrest him.  Under the cross fire Capt. Long showed no nervousness.  He could not be caught in his straight forward testimony, not withstanding the tactics and shrewdness of the county attorney.  His version of the story was strongly cooperative, explanatory and supplementary to that adduced before.  Not once could he be convicted of a misstatement.  The cross questioning was exhaustive, every possible method being employed by the prosecutor to have the captain contradict himself but the roved unsuccessful, finally at 4:30 o’clock prosecutor Chamberlin said “that’s all,”  and Mr. Long was dismissed after being on the stand for an hour and a half.

  Attorney Cook then said that he defense expected to put two more witnesses on the stand, and as they were not present at that time, he asked that court be adjourned until today which was accordingly done shortly after 3: 30 o’clock yesterday afternoon.




  It was 9:15 o’clock when court was convened this morning for the completion of the testimony in the long case.  The interest in the trial has not in the least abated.  The auditorium was crowded with many Le Claire, Clinton and Princeton residents who are interested in the affair.

  Miss Haddix was first sworn by the defense as an impeaching witness.  She testified to having taken down the testimony before Justice Le Claire in short hand which she had afterwards extended.  Various conflicts and contradictions were shown in the testimony of Mr. Osborne as given in the court and in the lower court, which the extended report of the stenographer evidenced.  Miss Haddix’s testimony was strongly impeaching of Mr. Osborn’s in character.  After the fact was established the defense signified itself as satisfied with resting its case, whereupon Mr. Chamberlin took up some evidence on rebuttal.

  Capt. McCaffrey was recalled and asked by the prosecutor about the quarrel he had with Capt. Long in Le Claire some fifteen years ago.  The captain testified that the altercation occurred over a dispute in regard to the witness having secured a contract which the defendant tried to obtain.  The lie was passed and a fight took place.  “Long had his knife in his hand whittling at the time, and I knocked him down and kicked the weapon from his hand before he arose.”  The witness said that Long did not try to use the knife-was only whittling-and that he soon made friends with the defendant and remains his friend to this day.  There was no cross examination and Capt. Walter A. Blair was recalled to be asked a few questions in reference to the occupation of the levee frontage on the day of August.  Strenuous objections were made by the defense and the matter was ruled out by the court.  E. A. Tisebeing, desk sergeant at the police station, was then sworn and testified to the searching and incarceration of Capt. Long after his arrest.  He said that the defendant stated that he acted in self defense.  Other witnesses had been subpoenaed in the case on rebuttal, but it was decided to forego the examination of these as the state thought it had established its case.  Both sides then rested and the court took a recess about 10 o’clock for five minutes, after which James W. Bolllinger, one of the prosecuting attorneys, took the floor for the argument of the state.




  Mr. Bollinger began by stating that the case on trial was not a simple assault and battery, but a cowardly attempt at murder with a deadly weapon.  “Some forty years ago a levee fight with a knife was a common thing.  Some ’nigger’ might be stabbed and kicked off a steamboat and nothing would be said or done.  We did not then value life so highly as we do now.  But now we cannot tolerate it.  Civilization demands the punishment of such a crime.”

  The speaker then began to review the testimony taking up the quarrel from the first entrance of the packet Jo Long into the trade.  He deserted the various quarrels and levee conflicts which led up to the quasi-tragedy of the 9th of August.  In regard to the credibility of the witness on both sides Mr. Bollinger said that those of the state clung well to their testimony and did not contradict themselves while the defense with its testimony was all contradictory, its witnesses for positive and its theory untenable he declared that no one could engage in a street fight of the kind without giving blow for blow.  He scouted the idea of Capt. Long’s passivity in the quarrel but said that he felt sure that Capt. Long gave blow for blow during the encounter and that those blows were deliberate and given with a knife in his hand.  He made light of the theory of self defense stating that the only testimony showing it was that of the putting up of Long’s hands to ward off Mr. Osborne he very dramatically allowed the manner in which the knife might be held and argued there from that either theories of self defense or accident were equally ridiculous.




The Davenport Daily Times

Dec. 5 1896






The jury returns a verdict late this afternoon guilty of assault to commit great bodily injury



Davenport Weekly Democrat

Dec. 17, 1896

Pg. 3




  Capt. J. N. Long was up before Judge Waterman Monday morning to receive his sentence for he crime of which he was fund guilty by the jury at the recent trial.  He was accompanied by his attorneys. Messers. J. A. Hanley and E. E. Cook, they being practically the only ones in the court room at the time.  After some preliminaries Judge Waterman stated that he would sentence Capt. Long to pay a fine of $100, so that the total amount to be paid by Capt. Long, aside from his attorney’s fees, will be about $250.  He was not prepared to make a settlement at the time, but the court allowed him time to get the money instead of committing him until paid, as is sometimes done. 







                                                           Capt. Joe Long





Additional articles on the James Osborn stabbing



August 10th 1896 Davenport Daily Times        “A Serious charge  is preferred against      

Capt. J. N. Long”


Aug 20, 1896 Davenport Daily Times               “Opens at last hearing in the case of Capt. J. N. Long Commences”


Sept. 24, 1896 Davenport Daily Times            “ Seventeen Inditements the grand jury returns that number of True Bills.”


Nov 30,1896  Davenport Daily Times      “The Long case  Engages the Attention of the Jury this afternoon”


Dec. 4 1896 The Davenport Daily Times  Plea of the defense is that of accidental and not intentional stabbing”


Dec 4, 1896 The Davenport Democrat      “ Mr. Cook talks  He makes one more plea  in a criminal case.



Old saying:



Georgeann McClure






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