Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 5 - Page 25 & 26 Submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, May 28, 2012

Page 25

Boxing Match of 30 Rounds Was Big Sport News

One of the outstanding events of the sporting interest to residents of Muscatine, Davenport and surrounding territory during the late 19th century was a challenge boxing match between Santry and Lambert on Smith Island, located about 10 miles below Davenport, on Aug. 2, 1897.

Santry was backed by Muscatine capital, and Lambert was the favorite of the Davenport sporting fraternity. Rivalry between the two contestants was keen and interest among the spectators was equally so.

According to the records, the two bitter rivals battled to a draw in 30 rounds. But backers of Santry made strong claims that their man was the better of the two and would have knocked his adversary out early in the battle had he not met with the misfortune of breaking his “finer finger and dislocating his wrist in the second bout.”

Muscatine partisans also advanced the claim that the fight had been a put up job in order to protect Davenport money. However, others maintained that the battle had been fought in good faith and was a “splendid exhibition of the manly art.”

The festive spirit of the occasion is portrayed in an excerpt from an early Journal:

    “The steamer George M. Watter, labeled Santry excursion and having on board a brass band, intermingled with reed, the latter pitched fully a half tone lower than the former, steamed into this port yesterday morning. An enthusiastic crowd of sports met her at the wharf and began to climb on deck, after paying $1.50 each for tickets. Shortly a beer wagon drove up and ten kegs of malt extract were loaded onto the craft. After considerable coaxing about 67 passengers climbed aboard and the craft left the wharf for the Tri-Cities. All sorts of gambling devices were in operation on board the steamer, and the only reason that plain drunks were not plenty was because the glasses were so small that the drinkers went broke before they had imbibed enough to affect their reason. The entire affair was one of disgraceful tendencies and would have furnished a splendid field of operation for United States marshals.

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Many Muscatine citizens heard the signals denoting junction of two lines of Pacific railroads at the local telegraph where they congregated for the event. The rail lines connected the eastern seaboard of the United States with the west coast by rail. The driving of the last (golden) spike with a silver hammer made the signals which were heard at every telegraph station in the United States and over the Atlantic cable. – May 10, 1869.

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This date saw Muscatine’s two Civil War volunteer companies, which had been encamped at Keokuk, ordered forward. From Keokuk they went to Hannibal and from there to Boonville, Mo., where they joined General Lyons and took part in the battles of Wilson Creek, Mo., near Springfield on August 10. The first soldier from Iowa killed in the Civil War was Shelby Norman of this regiment. The G. A. R. Post of Muscatine is named after him. Private S. H. Tullis of Company C. First Iowa Infantry, died of typhoid fever at Keokuk and was brought back and buried in the Muscatine city cemetery, the first union man buried at home. – May 18, 1861.

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“Old Nick” a man of all work employed by John Phillips, who had caused considerable trouble over Muscatine’s ferry, but who then ran it through agreement with city officials, was found murdered at the Phillips’ home in Illinois. Mr. Phillips said his house had been robbed by a masked bandit who killed “Old Nick,” and as proof exhibited bullet holes in his door. Consensus of opinion was that Phillips had killed “Old Nick” to keep him from revealing some of his employers nefarious transactions. Shortly afterwards Phillips removed to Rock Island and the ferry property was leased to J. Fimple and Irad C. Day, who obtained the ferry privileges. – May 23, 1849.

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The Bloomington town board “unanimously declared the steps lately erected on the side walk in Front street extending from the side walk to the second story of the house adjoining the dwelling of Moses Couch to be a nuisance and the marshal is ordered to have the same removed forthwith.” – May 27, 1845.

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At Street Car Barn

Photo ~ This scene was taken at the site of the old street car barn when it was located on third street, about the year 1911. In the picture, reading from left to right, are, William Vaughan, John Collins, W. D. Schuyler, Arthur Bishop and Sam Bronner (now mayor of Muscatine). The child shown in front is Lester Vaughan.

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Page 25

Interesting Old Diary Tells of Daily Progress in Construction
Of Muscatine’s High Bridge

Construction of Muscatine’s high bridge, one of the major projects to be completed in the early 1890s was an undertaking of much community interest for local residents at that time.

Through the years it has served as an important link between Muscatine and the Illinois areas across the Mississippi and but recently, following extensive improvements made by the owners has been designated as an important link in a national highway system.

To the late Ira S. Johnston, the bridge building was the all-important undertaking. A daily record of the progress made in the later construction is found in a notebook which he kept when he served as construction engineer on the bridge. Mr. Johnston was the father of Dr. J. G. Johnston, 209 West Seventh street.

Beginning with New Year’s day in 1901, the book tells in a series of brief but meaningful paragraphs the story of the building of the bridge here that linked Iowa to Illinois by wagon road and opened up to Muscatine a rich new trading territory.

Some samples of the notes found in the little book are given:

    Jan. 2 – putting iron up on falsework for span; paid freight, $819.15.

    Jan. 3 – Loaded steel on boat for span on Illinois side.

    Jan. 5 – Fine day, we took the boat load of steel across the river.

    Jan. 11 – Cloudy, we worked on span. Turned cold, we brought up the boat to the Iowa side of the river.

    Jan. 13 – Very cold and windy, south wind, went to look at and buy Iowa piling.

    Jan. 22 – Quite cold, snowed some, ice went out at noon, got our traveler back to the towers to start on cantilever arm, went to church.

    Jan. 26 – Fine day, drove three piles for span on Iowa side.

    Jan. 27 – Fine day, drove 21 piles for span on Iowa side.

    Jan. 31 – Finished driving the piling for the span, coaled up our boat and took her back, ready to cut the piling.

Through February, March and later the book continues to give step by step the progress made in the building of this bridge that is now considered indispensable.

Officials of Muscatine, riding in four carriages, made the first crossing over the bridge to the Ilinois shore on May 8, 1891. Because of formalities between the bridge company and the Milwaukee Construction company in regard to the acceptance of the work, the bridge was not formally opened until a few days later.

Organized in 1888 by a number of resident merchants and business men, the Muscatine Bridge company was capitalized at $200,000. Stock in the value of $52,600 was subscribed and $60,000 in bonds were issued. Work commenced on the structure in the fall of 1889, and it was finished May 8, 1891. The bridge is one-half mile long and has six spans. It is of cantilever order and 57 feet above high water. Following the formation of the company that built the bridge, another company made up principally of members of the original concern, constructed a road and bridges on the Illinois side as an approach to the high bridge.

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One Pioneer Greets Another

The history of the hardy pioneers who settled in Muscatine County is graphically written into the records in the office of the Muscatine County Abstract company.

First Transaction Made in November, 1838

The first conveyance of land in MUSQUITINE County, then Iowa Territory, in what is now known as Muscatine County, was made November 7, 1838, and recorded December 5, 1838, in book “A” of Lands at page 1, for 150.70 acres of land in what was later a part of Moscow, in Moscow township, by Charles Henderson to Peter Perry. This land was entered from the United States government by Charles Henderson on November 6, 1838, for which he paid the sum of $1.25 per acre.

Daily this organization takes off the records of Muscatine County every transaction effecting real property. You can depend upon the Muscatine County Abstract company for accuracy and promptness no matter what your demands.

Muscatine County Abstract Co.
414-415 American Bank Bldg.       Phone 2856
Gus Allbee, Pres.       G. Clyde Parks, Sec’y.

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