Lee County IAGenWeb
Free genealogy records

Fort Madison, Iowa

Compiled & Contributed by Georgeann McClure 04/18/2007

This is not a complete list.  If you have information pertaining to river men you would like to share, please contact the county coordinator.

Abel John
1860 Fort Madison Directory

wharf master, res n s Front bet Elm & Cedar

Alley L. C. Capt.
Chapter 11
E. H. Thomas
Saturday Evening Post
Just above Fort Madison, opposite Dutchman’s Island and on the Iowa shore is the fine country home of Captain L. C. Alley, the one time pilot of the Keithsburg and other boats.  Connected with his house is 320 acres

Capt. L. C. Alley                                     

1890-1891 City Directory Fort Madison 
riverman, r. 1404 3d

Atlee Family 
1860 Fort Madison Directory

ATLEE Isaac, lumber dealer, res n e cor Front & Market
ATLEE John C., lumber merchant, res s s 4th 2 w Market
ATLEE SAMUEL, mnfr & dealer in sash, doors & blinds, &c., office & yard on R.R. track nr depot, res cor Hamilton & Maple
ATLEE William A., wks S. Atlee, res n e cor Elm & 2d

1860 Fort Madison Directory

steamboatman, res n s 3d 2 c Pine



Bucket No. 1, Isaac R. Campbell
Bucket No. 2, Henry J. Campbell
Bucket No. 3, Captain Jim Campbell

Campbell B. H.
Master of the “City of Keithsburg”

Capt. Campbell J. W. 
1879 Lee county Historical bios

Campbell, J. W., now a resident of Ft. Madison, Lee Co., Iowa, was born on the North Fabius, Lewis Co., Mo., June 17, 1825, and became a resident of Lee Co., Iowa, in October 1830, and is to-day the second oldest inhabitant living in the county; while residing at Keokuk, in his boyhood days, he devoted a large share of his time to catching catfish and drift logs; this occupation inclined him in after years to a nautical life, and, in 1844, he shipped on board the steamer Mermaid in St. Louis, to learn to pilot on the Upper Mississippi River; he followed this occupation until 1851, when he was promoted to the position of Master of the steamer Badger State, plying between St. Louis and Galena; in succeeding years, he commanded the following boats: Hindon, in 1852; Envoy, 1853 to 1856; he built and commanded the Henry Clay in 1857 and 1858; City Belle and Kate Cassell in 1859 and 1860; Flora, in 1861; Fannie Harris, in 1862; Jenny Whipple, in 1863 and 1864; Keithsburg, in 1865 and 1869; built and commanded the steamer Rock Island in 1870 to 1871, and, in October of this year, after spending twenty-seven years on the waters of the Upper Mississippi, he voluntarily stepped down and off the hurricane deck, and requested President Rhodes, of the Northern Line Packet Company, to fill his place with Capt. Albert Woempner, who had at one time been an apprentice pilot with him on the steamer Envoy. There are probably living in Iowa at this time 50,000 persons who have been guests of Capt. J. W. Campbell during his career as a steamboatman; for many of these people he entertains a kindly regard, and feels assured the friendship is reciprocated. In 1871, he secured the original autographs of all the prominent boatmen on the Upper Mississippi from 1819 to 1871, and arranged them as an autographical chart, and presented it to the Historical Society of Iowa, at Iowa City, endeavoring thereby to perpetuate the names of many good and generous pioneer boatmen who would have soon been forgotten. The writer of this sketch is more indebted to him and his father, Isaac R. Campbell, for information in regard to the pioneer history of Lee Co. than any other authorities; they seem to have forgotten nothing relating to the county, or the men who have lived in it. Capt. J. W. Campbell married Miss Eliza J. Eversole, in St. Louis, in 1849, with whom he is now passing along the journey of life with all the happiness that man can ask; he has three sons - J. W. Campbell, Jr., B. H. Campbell, and I. R. Campbell, whom he is endeavoring to train up to be good and useful men. In the years 1872 and 1874, Capt. Campbell built several grain houses on the B. & S. W. R. R. in Van Buren, Davis and Appanoose Cos., and has bought and shipped, in the past year, to Chicago and St. Louis, about 300,000 bushels of grain.

1860 Fort Madison Directory
Campbell Captain of The “Keithsburg”

Waterways Journal 
Name: Jenny Whipple Type: Sternwheel, wooden hull packet. Size: 135 X 30, 138 tons. Power: 15-1/2's--3-1/2 ft., 3 boilers Launched, 1857, Brownsville, Pa. Destroyed: 1866, off the lists. Area: Built for Chippewa River trade. 1858-59, Ark. R. Miss. R. 1861, Fort Madison-Rock Island trade Owners: 1861, Capt. J. W. Campbell and Capt.Hillhouse Captains: 1857, Chippewa R., Charles C. Gray 1859-59, Ark. R. to Memphis, Ad Storm, 1864, for U.S. trip with 7th Infantry Volunteers, Burlington-St. Louis, Jones Worden.

* all of these men are from Lee County, Iowa

Carrey Louis,
1860 Fort Madison Directory
boatman, res n e cor 2d & Broadway

Carroll James,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

clk on the Savannah, bds n s Front 2 c Spruce

Chambers Oscar,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

Captain ferry boat, res n s Front bet Elm & Broadway

Chambers Thomas
1880  Census Fort Madison

Occupation: engineer
Age: 38
Wife: May 35
Children: Fred 11, John 9, William 7, 
Geo. Merrick
Lorna Doon
Small sternwheel tow boat built at St. Paul 1895: 12.3 feet beam, 3.5 hold 64 ft long. Owned for two seasons by Capt Asa Woodward and Thomas Chambers residents of Fort Madison, Iowa who did a general towing business at Fort Madison and Burlington. Woodward running as master and Chambers as engineer. 

1890 Fort Madison Directory
CHAMBERS John, r. 305 2d
CHAMBERS Oscar F. engineer, r. Chestnut bet. Front & 2d
CHAMBERS Thomas C. Mrs. r. 305 2d
CHAMBERS Thomas C. river engineer, r. 305 2d
CHAMBERS William, river engineer, r. 305 2d


Church Davis
1880 Census Fort Madison

Occupation: clerk on S boat
Born: Ky.
Lee Davis
Margret 59

Cowles Calvin
1880 Fort Madison Census

Age 36
Occupation: rafter

Dobson Marion, 
1860 Fort Madison Directory

boatman, res e s Oak 2 s 3d

Dobson Zephin
1880 Fort Madison Census

Occupation: Pilot

Finch Hiram,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

mate of the Keithsburg, res s s 3d 3 c Broadway

Enderle William
Captain of the J. C. Atlee

1890 1891 Fort Madison Directory
DIAMOND Jo Packet Co. 
J.H. Einspanjer agt. office 613 2d

Freiter Henry,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

wks str Keithsburg, res n w cor 4th & Maple

Hampton Alexander B.,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

river man, bds e s Oak 2 s 2d

Hessing Jacob 26
1880 Fort Madison census

Born: N. Y.
Occupation: boatman

Henderson James,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

boatman S. Atlee, res n w cor 2d & Broadway

Henderson Charles

Hooey Walter
1880 Federal Census Fort Madison, Iowa

Occupation: engineer
Wife Catherine
Children: William: engineer
Katie, Eddie

Hunter Walter
Capt. of the “Ottumwa Belle”
1899 Capt of “Isaac Stanlee”

Who Will Handle the Rafts on the River This Season.  Rafting the Only Branch of Steamboating that Preserves Part of its Pristine Vigor--About Le Claire Rivermen

Davenport Democrat
“The justice of the peace, the wealthy farmers and substantial shopkeepers are dwarfed into insignificance when a river man with a romantic career steps down the gang plank. When Capt. Ike Wasson laid in ambush for Capt. Walter Hunter and struck him shortly after midnight one night last fall, the event marked an epoch in the history of the village. It was the subject of gossip from Stillwater to Hannibal and occurrences of minor importance are referred to as being before or after the encounter.”

Pg 204
Walter Blair

A Raft Pilots Log
Captain W.L. Hunter of Wynona was in charge as master and pilot and made a nice, clean trip from Hudson to S.& J.C. Atlee at Fort Madison in fourteen days with a single crew.  Captain Hunter had been on the 'Ottumwa Belle' doing Atlee's running until the logs gave out, but in `1915 was piloting on the 'Morning Star'  in the Davenport and Saint Paul trade.  Mr. Atlee wanted Captain Hunter to run this last raft and Captain Hunter was pleased to do it; so we arranged that I would stand his watch on the 'Morning Star' while he made the trip that wound up the great industry that had lasted seventy-five years and really made all the good towns on the Upper Mississippi.

Klecan Michael,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

fireman "Keithsburg" res e s Maple 1 s Water

Maher John 

Life on the Main Deck
William Cairncross
Chapter 10
 “My partner and I walked up the levee and shipped on the Lamartine bound for Dubuque and St. Paul.  Hosea Montgomery was mate, and he was a nice a man as I ever ran with and we had a fine crew.  The river was high and we had a nice trip.  There were six deck-hands on each watch; and we had an old man on our watch named John Maher.  He had been a soldier at fort Madison in his young days, and he ran the ferry boat between fort Madison and Nauvoo and was well acquainted with Joe Smith and all the Mormon men, who were there before they went west.  He escorted Joe Smith from the ferry to Nauvoo one night a few days before he was killed.  He called him ”Mormon John”. John would get a lot of the passengers around him and give them a whole history of the Mormons. 

  One of the stories “Mormon John” used to tell of Joe Smith, the Mormon Prophet was Joe was great in the faith that could move a mountain; with faith he could walk on the water as Christ did.  There was a mill pond near Nauvoo and to prove that he said he was to walk on the water, so he went to the mill pond one night with some of his confidential friends, and with stake and boards made a platform so when the dam was full, the water would cover it about five or six inches.  On Sunday morning he got a boy and a yoke of oxen to take a tree top and drag it up and down the creek, so the water was so muddy that the boards could not be seen.  When the congregation met that forenoon, Joe gave them a lecture on faith, and to prove it, Joe was to walk on the water, so taking off his shoes and rolling up his trousers, Joe went over the mill pond and back.  The news spread all over of Prophet Smith walking on the water.

  Next Sunday everything was ready and all the neighborhood was there to see the miracle.  After Joe had given them a lecture on faith he stared to prove it.  He got half way across, when his faith gave out and down he went, up to his waist.  A lot of heretics in the congregation sent up a yell and hooted and laughed at him. “Old Nick” or some of his imps had been there and moved Joe’s faith and that let him down.”

McColgan John,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

pilot, res s s 2d bet Broadway & Elm

McMillan G.W.,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

engineer S.Atlee

Marsh Calvin,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

fireman ferry boat, res n s 2d 2 e Broadway

NORTHWESTERN Line of Packets
Charles S. Smith, agent, office Front 2 w Cedar

NORTHERN Line of Packets
G.L. Coleman, agt., office Union Warehouse, foot of Locust

O'Kell Frank
1880  Census Fort Madison

Born:  March 25, 1864 Fort Madison
Father: Peter O’Kell, England

Geo Merrick
Louise (second)
“Frank A. Whitney was engineer in 1896, She still was in service in 1915, Frank O’Kell, engineer, captain McAllister and Charles Delisle commanded the Louise at different times.”

Pruden M.

1860 Fort Madison Directory
pilot, res cor 2d & Elm

Chapter 40
E. H. Thomas
Saturday Evening Post
“This was my last work on the Gate City.  She was operated for a portion of the next season the business let go, she got in debt, and was sold by the U. S. Marshall.  Two bankers, who held a claim against her, bid  her in for $2,000  the bankers sent her to the Rock Island boat yards, where she was remodeled and repaired, and converted into a stern wheel steamboat.  Milo Pruden was made captain and pilot, and the Gate-City went into the Davenport and St. Louis trade.” 

Pyle Clinton, 
1890-1891 Fort Madison Directory

steamboat engineer, r. 1325 3d

Roe Tyler,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

pilot ferry boat, bds n s 2d 1 e Elm

Ruby O.M.,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

pilot res s s 3d 2 w Broadway

Oscar Ruby
Occupation: Pilot
  *See Ruby Scrapbook celticcousins.com

Smith Charles A.,
1860 Fort Madison Directory

agent Northern Line Packet Co., office Front 2 w Cedar, bds s s 6th bet Elm & Cedar

Smith Robert

1860 Fort Madison Directory
clk on Minnesota, res e s Locust bet 6th & 7t


Winter Charles
1880 Census Fort Madison

Born: Iowa
Age; 25
Occupation: pilot
Wife: Ella 24
Child: Harry

Woodward Asa B. Capt. 
Capt. steamer Sam Atlee, r. cor. 4th & Cedar fort Madison

Portrait and Biographical Album of Lee County, Iowa”, 1887, Pages 242-243:
   CAPT. ASA B. WOODWARD, pilot of the steamboat “Sam Atlee,” has his headquarters at Ft. Madison, and is considered one of its worthy and excellent citizens.  He was born in Lancaster, Fairfield Co., Ohio, Sept. 3, 1836, and is the son of John Mason and Elizabeth (Wilson) Woodward, both natives of the Buckeye State.  His father was a carpenter by trade and a skilled mechanic, who died in New Corydon, Jay Co., Ind.  The mother still survives, and resides at Lancaster, at the advanced age of seventy-six years.  The parental household consisted of six children, two sons and four daughters.

    The subject, of this biography was the eldest son of his parents’ family.  He grew to manhood under the parental roof and received a good education in the common schools.  At the age of nineteen years, in 1855, he set his face westward to the Father of Waters, boarded a steamer, and went up the river to St. Paul, where he engaged to return with a raft of lumber.  This novel occupation being quite a change from the labors of his former life, proved quite an attraction to him, and he followed the river for the next six years, or until

 1861, and the breaking out of the late Civil War.  He then decided to become a volunteer soldier, and enlisted as a member of Company A, 1st Iowa Regiment, in which he served three months, that being the term of enlistment.  He then continued in the service as wagon-master, and subsequently had charge of the Provost Marshal’s stables at Memphis, under Gen. E. B. Washburn.  He remained in the service until the close of the war and then resumed his former life on the Mississippi.  Since that time he has either served as Pilot or Captain, and is well fitted for his peculiar duty.

     Capt. Woodward was married in 1862 to Miss Jemima C. Gibson, and they have become the parents of two children, Rend and Ruth.  Capt. Woodward located at Ft. Madison in 1869, and has made this city his residence since that time.  Religiously he is connected with the Presbyterian Church, and socially with the A. O. U. W.  Politically he is strongly Republican, and uniformly casts his vote in support of the principles of that party.  He is a good citizen, and the families are highly respected in their community. 

Walter Blair
A Raft Pilots Log
“in the large center-wheel ferry boat 'Keokuk' and with Captain Asa Woodward in charge as master and pilot she made several trips.  When dismantled, her fine engines were put in the new 'Sam Atlee' an excellent towboat.”


 The 1913 Graphic

Compiled and Edited by Virginia Ross
Registrar for Daniel McMillan Chapter, N.S.D.A.R.1913

by Virginia Ross

Capt. Asa Woodward Dies:

Capt. Asa Woodward died on April 30, 1913, being 76 years old at that time. He was born at Lancaster, Ohio, in 1836 and received a good education in the schools of that place. At the age of 19 he struck out for himself, going to St. Paul, Minn. Here he chanced upon a raft going down the Mississippi River and engaged to go with it. This trip marked the beginning of his experience as a riverman and he quickly developed into one of those noted pilots who made the Mississippi River famous 50 years ago and in whom Mark Twain found material for some of his famous stories. When the Civil War broke out, young Woodward enlisted as a volunteer in Co. A First Iowa regiment in which he served for a term of three months. He then entered the service of the U.S. as a wagon master, and served in that capacity throughout the war.

In 1869 Capt. Woodward and his wife, whom he married in 1862, settled in Ft. Madison and this was his residence until the time of his death. On making his home there, Mr. Woodward again took up his occupation as steamboat pilot and was for many years the pilot of the "Sam Altee," one of the best known lumber rafters of the old times. When the Klondike region in Alaska was opened up, Capt. Woodward went to the new gold fields and on his return was shipwrecked along the Pacific coast, and stayed several years at the Snake River. He later became a prospector and miner in the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma. About 8 years ago he returned to Ft. Madison and although then close to 70 years of age, his love of the river led him to again seek occupation in guiding the crafts plying the stream. He continued to hold a wheel in the pilothouse until within a year of his death. Although his life was one of romance and adventure, Mr. Woodward was always a kind and true hearted husband and father and was highly esteemed by a large circle of friends. . 

Wright Samuel
Samuel Wright, retired; was born in England in 1812; he learned the trade of machinist and emigrated to America in 1832, and lived in Ohio until he came here, in 1840, and located in Lee Co.; has made a farm close by Keokuk, where the west part of the city now stands; he was engaged in steamboating for fifteen years, acting as engineer. He married Miss Leonora Dowd, of Missouri, in July 1874; she is a native of Vermont. When Mr. Wright began life, he had nothing; has earned what he acquired by his own industry.

1880 Federal Census Fort Madison
Samuel Wright 65
Occupation: engineer
Born: Eng.
Wife: Lenora 54


Wright Thomas
1880 Federal Census Fort Madison

Rosanah 70
May 46
Thomas 41
Born: Il
Occupation; engineer
John 29
Born: Il
Occupation: engineer 

Walter Blair
A Raft Pilots Log
Re: “The Le Claire Bell”
“At breakfast I was made acquainted with James Hugunin, master and pilot, George Tromley, Sr., pilot, R.B.McCall, mate, Thos, Wright, chief engineer, Add. Mikesell, assistant engineer, Wm.
Davenport, my partner, Ben Shipley, cook, and Harry Carleton, cabin boy.”

Young John
1880 Federal Census Fort Madison

Occupation: Cook on boat


1880 Federal Census Fort Madison (these men all boarded together)  

Allen Frank                  raftsman                        single

Ball James                   raftsman                       married

Brown John                  raftsman                       married

Christy James              pilot                              single

Coyor James                raftsman                       single

Doyle Thomas              raftsman                       single

Kingsley Frank             raftsman                       married

Riley  Charles               cook                            single

McGuin Thomas           raftsman                       single

Shipley George            raftsman                        single

Smith James               raftsman                        married

Stanton William           raftsman                        married

Van Werner Martin       raftsman                        married


Boats  Fort Madison

Walter Blair
A Raft Pilots Log
The 'Ottumwa Belle
“Belle' is owned by S. & J.C., Atlee of Fort Madison. The master of the'Belle' is Walter Hunter, one of the few remaining raft pilots”


Crew of the “Sam Altee”

Sam Atlee............................................. Capt. James Hugunin
owned by S&J.C. Atlee of Fort Madison, Iowa.

Asa Woodward 
Captain of the “Sam Altee”

McMillan G.W., 
1860 Fort Madison Directory

engineer S.Atlee

Henderson James, 
1860 Fort Madison Directory

boatman S. Atlee, res n w cor 2d & Broadway

Crew of the J. C. Altee
William Enderle

Master of the J. C. Altee

“City of Keithsburg”
Waterways Journal

Name: CITY of KEITHSBURG Type: Sternwheel, wooden hull packet. Launched: 1854, Port Byron, Ill. Designed and built by Kahlke Bros and John Theissen Destroyed: 1872, Above St. Louis, Snagged and lost. Area: 1864-?72?, Ft. Madison-Rock Island trade. Owners: 1864, B.H. Campbell of Galena and B.W. Davis of Rock Island. 1864, end, purchased by Northern Line. Captains: 1864, B.W. Davis, master

Crew on the “Keithsburg”
J. W, Woodward

Capt of the “City of Keithsburg” 

Finch Hiram, 
1860 Fort Madison Directory

mate of the Keithsburg, res s s 3d 3 c Broadway

Freiter Henry, 
1860 Fort Madison Directory

wks str Keithsburg, res n w cor 4th & Maple

Klecan Michael, 
1860 Fort Madison Directory

fireman "Keithsburg" res e s Maple 1 s Water 

Pilots of the “Keithsburg”

Alley L. C.
Pilot of Keithsburg

Ruby O. M.
Pilot of Keithsburg


Fort Madison

Raft Pilot's Log by Capt. Walter A. Blair
1929-Arthur H. Clark Company
Transcribed by Joan Bard Robinson

Chief Engineers of the Rafters

Thos. C. Chambers............................Fort Madison, Iowa
Thos. Wright...................................    Fort Madison, Iowa
John Wright....................................    Fort Madison, Iowa
Chas. Henderson............................... Fort Madison, Iowa
Frank O'Kell....................................    Fort Madison, Iowa

Fort Madison, Iowa
S. and J.C. Atlee mill ran steadily until the last. The old mill is still there and the business is carried on handling southern and western stock.

Walter Blair
“A Raft Pilots Log”

The 'LeClaire Belle' was owned by Captain Sam Van Sant of LeClaire, Iowa, and S. & J.C. Atlee of Fort Madison, Iowa.  Captain Van Sant was her manager and he put me on her to do what clerking there was, and with Will Davenport, who became my partner, I stood regular six-hour watches running the nigger-engine while towing rafts down stream, and as watchman going up river.

Towed by 'Ottumwa Belle'

These three reminders of the old days were towed through by the 'Ottumwa Belle,' the only survivor of the great fleet of ninety raft-boats that were in the business on the crest of the wave in 1880. The season of 1914 will see the end of the rafting business, when the 'Ottumwa Belle' will take three rafts through, the last three rafts ever destined to go down the river, and the knell of the once great traffic will be rung. The 'Ottumwa Belle' is owned by S. & J.C., Atlee of Fort Madison. The master of the 'Belle' is Walter Hunter, one of the few remaining raft pilots.

Walter Blair
A Raft Pilots Log
During one season of good water and plenty logs, S. & J.C. Atlee had more work than their steamer 'Le Claire Belle' could do alone, so Mr. Sam Atlee made a few changes.

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