Submitted by Georgeann McClure

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Davenport Democrat
February 23. 1899


The Death of O.M. Ruby of Buffalo township recently removes another of the old-time river men of this vicinity.   

Capt Ruby leaves a wife and two children.  His daughter arriving from her Indiana home before his death, while the son, employed by the government work near LaCross, arrived soon after.


Davenport Paper
July 1, 1906
Page 12  

Buried in Buffalo  

The remains of Joannes Ruby, mother of P.R. Ruby, 902 Kirkwood boulevard, who died at Hartford City, Ind.  Arrived in Davenport Saturday and were taken to Buffalo for interment.  The cause of death was cerebral meningitis


Captain Oscar Mills Ruby  



   The “J. McKee,” “Jenny Lind,” “Ben Campbell,” “Tishomingo,” “Jennie Whipple,”  “Belle La Crosse,”  “Sidney,”  “Rock Island,” “Dubuque,” “New Boston,” and “Diamond Jo,” are a virtual alphabet of the great steamers that plied the waters of the upper Mississippi River and Oscar Ruby was on them all.

   Oscar Mills Ruby was born in Allegheny Co., New York, Feb. 14, 1835.  He was the second son born to Warham J. and Mary Ruby. 

  On Sept. 27th, 1857 he married Joanna Johnston.  They had two children, Mary, who became Mrs. Campbell and moved to Indiana and Perry who became a riverboat pilot in his own right.  

   Joanna, born May 16, 1836, died in Hartford Indiana on June 28th, 1906.  Her body was placed in Rose Hill Cemetery in Buffalo, Iowa, with other members of her family.

   Oscar preceded Joanna in death on February 18th, 1899.  The inscription on his stone incorrectly places his death as 1998. 

   Oscar was a cub pilot on February 22nd 1854, when Predident Millard Fillmore came to Rock Island by train as part of the “Great Excursion”.  So many people wanted to be part of the celebration that the five chartered steamers were not enough to accommodate them all.  So,  two more steamers were asked to join the excursion, including the “Jenny Lind” with Oscar. 


"The Dubuque"
Captain Oscar Ruby


Davenport Gazette
April, 28th 1858  


In Buffalo , Iowa on the 18th  inst.,  By W. G. Church, Esq. Mr. E. JEROME RUBY to Miss SARAH PAULINE PAGE, all of Buffalo .  

“ Come all ye sober-sided folks,
And be rejoiced and merry
For long-faced creeds are all a hoax,
And long-faced lives are a grevious yokes,
And hard to balance, very:-
Then let your lives with nature’s dictates tally,
And go and do like Jerry and Sally.”  


Davenport Weekly Democrat
Feb 18th 1896


An old pilot gone  

     At Buffalo today occurs the funeral of Jerome Ruby, one of the best known steam boatman on the upper Mississippi .  Mr. Ruby died at the home of his brother H. S. Ruby, in Rock Island Saturday evening.  The fatal malady was heart disease, with which Mr. Ruby had been afflicted for a year.  His home was in Buffalo , but three weeks ago he came on a visit to his brother and was stricken the day he arrived.  He has been steadily sinking since.  He was born in Millersville N. Y.,  68 years ago, and came west in his early youth and has been on the river since.  He has familiarly known the entire length of the upper Mississippi over whose bosom he had guided all manner of craft from tow boat, Rafter and ferry to the finest packet.     Of the late years he had been connected with the governments engineers fleet.  He had a friend for every foot of the river, he traversed so long and loved so well, and the tiding of his death will be received with profound regret and sorrow all along the majestic stream.

     He is survived by his aged mother and his wife and brother, O. M. Ruby, at Buffalo ; his brother , H.S. Ruby of Rock Island , and his sister, Mrs. A. M. Pruden of Denver . 


Captain E. Jerome Ruby
Pilot of the “Moline”


   Jerome Ruby was born in Millersburg, New York on  November 8th 1833, to Warham and Mary Ruby.  He was the oldest of six children, four boys and two girls, including  Oscar, Charlotte, Amelia,  Henry and Homer Sheldon.  Jerome, Oscar and Homer Sheldon all became riverboat captains.  Charlotte married riverboat Captain Milo Adolph Pruden, Amelia married Milo’s brother Seth Pruden.  Henry died in childhood.

  Jerome and Elizabeth Woerner, had a son Edward Burns Ruby, June 1st, 1856. In the 1860 census Edward is living with John and Charlotte Burns, in Buffalo, Iowa.  By 1870, Edward is listed as an orphan in the Scott Co. Iowa census. Eventually, Edward returned to Buffalo, Iowa and became a steamboat engineer.  Edward and Katherin e, (Katy) Heckle were married in Buffalo on Oct. 19th
 1886. They had two sons, Warham J. and Charles Sebastian Ruby. Katherine eventually married William Ellsworth Anderson and changed the boy’s names  to Anderson. 

   Jerome married Pauline Page in 1858.  They had one son, Horace.  

   Pauline and Jerome remained married until his death on Feb. 8th, 1896  of heart trouble when he was at the home of his brother Homer in Rock Island., Illinois.

Jerome was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Buffalo, Iowa with Oscar and his family.

Jerome’s obituary states that “He had familiarly known the entire length of the upper Mississippi over whose bosom he had guided all manner of craft from tow boat, rafter and ferry to the finest packet.”  



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"The Moline"
Captain Jerome Ruby


Obituary for H. S. Ruby  (Homer Sheldon Ruby)


The Milan Rock Island Independent.
(Front page, picture included.)
February 28th, 1924.


Steamboat pilot On Mississippi for More Than a Half Century is Dead.  

This community lost one of its oldest residents and the Mississippi river one of its greatest friends when Captain H.S. Ruby, veteran river man and steamboat pilot for more than a half century, passed away at five o’clock Friday afternoon at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Amelia Schaum, in Milan, where he had lived the last five years.  He was 82 years old and had been in poor health for the past year, death resulting from the infirmities of his advanced age.  

Born and reared on the banks of the Mississippi, it was only natural that he should turn to it to earn a  livelihood., as had two of his brothers before him  At the age of 19 years he made his first voyage on the upper stretches of the upper Mississippi as a steamboat pilot, shipping from Buffalo, Iowa, with the old Diamond Joe line, with which he was connected for many years afterward, piloting its boats up and down the river between St. Louis and St. Paul.  

Starting in 1860, the towns and cities which now line the river’s bank were but villages .  He saw these grow, while others started and vanished .  Many were the changes he witnessed in the years of his traveling on the stream, every foot of which he was as familiar with as the names of the ports he entered.  In the course of those years, which passed without being marred by the tragedy of a serious mishap, Captain Ruby had the honor of carrying many passengers, and making the acquaintance of many persons of note, but among them he held most dear his close personal friendship with Mark Twain, who was the frequent companion on river journeys in those years, when the author was gaining recognition as a writer.  

 Captain Ruby was born in Davenport, Oct 3, 1841, and moved with his parents to Buffalo, Iowa, when but a small child.  He grew to manhood there and Sept. 12, 1861 was united in marriage with Constantine Shuck, of Andalusia, the ceremony being performed in the parlors of the old Rock Island house.  They continued to reside in Buffalo until 1876, when they moved to Rock Island, where they resided for a number of years, later living in Andalusia until the illness and death of Mrs. Ruby, Feb. 27. 1919. 

After moving to Rock Island, captain Ruby continued with the Diamond Jo Line until 20 years ago, when he became a pilot on the ferry boat operating between Rock Island and  Davenport.  He made thousands of trips between the two cities in the ensuing 13 years before he retired seven years ago.  One of his proudest moments since his retirement occurred only last summer, when he was called upon to pilot a fleet of barges down the Hennipen canal and Mississippi river to Burlington, which he did, without mishap, despite the low stage of the river, which called for unusual knowledge of the channel and skill in handling the craft.   

He is survived by his two daughters, Mrs,.Schaum of Milan, with whom he had made his home, and Mrs. Belle Herbert of Rock Island, one daughter Mrs. Blanch Birnstihl, having preceded him in death four years.  He also leaves three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.  

Funeral services were held Monday afternoon at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Schaum, in Milan, Rev. John Leckie, pastor of the Methodist church officiating.  Interment was in Chippiannock cemetery.   

Captain Ruby’s favorite hymns, “Beautiful Isle,” and “Abide with Me,” were sung by Mrs. Thomas Wright and Mrs. Edwin Gamble, with Mrs. Bartol Rollins as accompanist.      

Pallbearers were Chas. Brandenburg, E.C. Nice, Lewis Guldenzopf and James Thompson of Milan and E.G. Fickenscher and Chauncey Church of Rock Island.         




Captain Homer Sheldon Ruby


   Homer Ruby was born Oct. 3rd, 1841 in Scott County, Iowa to Warham and Mary Ruby.

He married Constantine Shuch of Andalusia, Illinois on September 12th 1861 in Rock Island, Illinois.  They had three daughters; Laura Bell who married C. Wesley Herbert, they had a son Harland Herbert, Blanche Veda who married Oscar Ramser, They had a son Oscar Ramser, and Amelia Adda, who married Elbert Schaum, they had no children.  

   Homer and “Connie” lived on Vangruffs Island in the Mississippi River between, Buffalo, Iowa and Andalusia, Illinois, in the summer and often  stayed in town in the winter.  

  Homer, like his brothers before him, became a riverboat man and piloted all sorts of crafts including, the “Pittsburg” and “Sidney” excursion boats on the Upper Mississippi River, working for the Diamond Jo Lines.  For 13 years before his retirement he captained a ferry between Rock Island and Davenport. In his obituary it says,” One of  his proudest moments was when he was called upon to pilot a fleet of barges down the Hennipen canal and Mississippi river to Burlington, which he did without mishap, despite the low stage of the river.” This occurred the summer before his death.  

Homer died at his daughter Adda Amelia’s home, in Milan of old age on February 22nd  1924.  He and two of his daughters, Amelia and Blanche, are buried beside him in Chippianock Cemetery in Rock Island, Illinois.




Davenport  Daily Times
June 14th 1924

Capt. Perry Ruby,
Aged River Pilot, Buried at Buffalo  

Buffalo  Ia.  June 11th (Special)  

The funeral services of Capt. Perry M. Ruby, who died at Keokuk Thursday night following an operation, were held from the Buffalo church at 2:30 o’clock this afternoon.  Interment was in the Buffalo cemeteries.  

Capt Ruby was captain of the Dandelion government boat, used as a lighthouse tender on the Mississippi river for many years.  He took ill when the boat was tied up at Rock Island some time ago and took a train for his home in Keokuk.  

Capt Ruby spent his entire life on the river.  He was born in Buffalo and was 61 years of age at the time of his death.

Keokuk Daily Gate City
June 13, 1924
Page 11, col. 3


 Capt. Perry M. Ruby passed Away in Hospital here following Mastoid operation  

Captain Perry M. Ruby died at the Graham hospital Thursday, shortly after 10:00 P.M. following a mastoid operation which occurred Tuesday night of this week.  Captain Ruby had an attack of influenza seven weeks ago and had a slight stroke of paralysis two weeks ago.  His death was caused by a mastoid abscess and meningitis.  

Perry Mills Ruby was born at Buffalo, Iowa, on November 8, 1859, and received his education in that city.  He was united in marriage to Laura Van Ach in 1887 at Buffalo.  Mrs. Ruby died on July 5, 1912.  Before coming to Keokuk Captain Ruby lived for a number of years at Davenport, Iowa  On September 14, he was united in marriage to LuLu Bell Priestly, who survives her husband.  

Captain Ruby’s ancestors were all river men and he himself had been on the Mississippi since he was about seventeen years old.  He received his pilot’s license at the age of twenty-one years and has been a maser pilot on the Mississippi since that time..  For a number of years he was the captain of the Dandelion, a lighthouse tender playing between St. Louis, Mo., and St. Paul, Minn.  At the end of the present season he would have retired from active service with a pension.  

Captain Ruby attended the Presbyterian church and was a member of the Keokuk Aerie of Eagles and of the Modern Woodmen of America.  Besides his wife he is survived by one son, Oscar Mills Ruby, of Denver, Colo.  Two Grandchildren, Perry Mills Ruby and Janet Marie Ruby, both of Colorado and one sister, Mrs. Mary M. Campbell of Mt. Vernon, Ohio.  Captain Ruby’s son, grandson and sister were all with him at the time of his death.  

Short funeral services will be held from the residence 317 North Fourth Street, this evening in charge of the Keokuk Aerie of Eagles:  the family will leave with the body Saturday at 2:52 for Buffalo, Iowa. Where funeral services will be held Saturday at 2:30 P.M.


Captain Perry Ruby
Captain of the “Wake Robin”


          Perry Ruby was born November 8th, 1859.  His obituary in the Davenport and Keokuk paper both say he was born in Buffalo, Iowa.  However, his death certificate says he was born in Montrose, Iowa. 

      He married Laura Van Ach of Andalusia on December, 15th, 1887.  According to census records they lived in Rock Island, LaCrosse, Wisconsin and 902 Kirkwood Boulevard in Davenport, Iowa.  Perry and Laura had two children, Norma, who was born April 1st 1887 and died February 1890, and Perry who followed in his Father’s occupation. His grandchildren include, Oscar Mills Ruby and Janet Marie Ruby.

            After Laura’s death in 1887, Perry married LuLu Priestly, LuLu survived Perry.

            Perry was Captain of the “Dandelion” under the War Department.  In 1917, the “Dandelion” was purchased by the Corps of Engineers to be a lighthouse tender.  Captain

Perry was kept on board as her master.  The “Dandelion’s” name was changed to the “Wake Robin”.  It got it’s name because of the large wake it created. 

            Feeling ill in June while docked in Rock Island, Perry took a train home to Keokuk, Iowa.  He died there on June 12th 1924 after a mastoid operation.  His beloved boat became the U.S. Haunted House, an entertainment  boat in Cincinnati.      

© Georgeann McClure


 wakerobin.jpg (27812 bytes)

"U.S. Wake Robin"
Captain Perry Ruby


Milan Independent March 6th 1919
Obituary Constantine Ruby

Mrs. Constantine Ruby   

Death claimed Mrs. Constantine Ruby on Thursday night at 11:15 at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Albert Schaum on Vangruff’s Island, Milan. Death came following an illness of three months duration.  

Mrs. Ruby, nee Constantine Shuch, was born in southern Indiana, June 4, 1844. When yet a small child removed to Rock Island, which place had been their home until about six years ago when the couple took up their residence in Andalusia, where they had been living during the summer months, spending the winters with their daughter Mrs. Schaum. She was united in marriage to Sheldon Ruby in Rock Island, Sept. 12, 1861.  

Survivors are the widower, three daughters, Mrs. Belle Roach and Mrs. Blanch Birestihl, both of Rock Island, and Mrs. Amelia Schaum of Milan.  She leaves also two sisters, Mrs. Sarah Stewart of Geneseo and Mrs. Eva Kane of Andalusia, also a brother, Minor Shuch of Greenberg, Kans.  There are also three grandchildren and two great grandchildren surviving.   

Funeral services were held at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Schaum on Saturday afternoon at 2:30.  Prayers were conducted by Rev.  H.J. Archambault of the latter Day Saints church.  Pallbearers were: James Britton, Erhart Fickenscher, James Westby, John Kane and Clarence Skinner. “Rock of Ages.” and “Nearer my God  to Thee” were sung at the home. Private services were held at the grave in Chippiannock cemetery officiated by Rev. Mr. Archambault.


W.J. Anderson   (Warham Jay Ruby) (William Anderson)

The Daily Times Davenport Iowa Monday March 8, 1954         

DIES IN WEST-William J. Anderson, 67, a former resident of Davenport and a retired bus driver for the Davenport City Lines ,died Sunday in Wadsworth  general Hospital Los Angeles, after an extended illness.  He had served as a bus driver for 35 years.  

Mr. Anderson was active in military and veterans organizations .  He was a member of Bettendorf Post No.154, American Legion where he served as Chaplain for two years.  He was former commander of the Scott county council of Veterans organization: past commandant of the Navy club Davenport. Past commander of Battery B. Mexican Border service and a past commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 828, Davenport.   

He was called up for duty with Battery B. in the Mexican border campaign and was recruited for action during World War 1.  He returned to his work as a bus driver in 1920 and had 12 years of continuous service and 35 years of  total duty.  For eight years he was vice president of division No 312 of the bus drivers union of Davenport . 

Survivors include his son William J. Anderson Jr. falls Church Virginia, His mother Mrs. Catherine Anderson and a sister Mrs. Terry Layton, Los Angeles and a brother Carl, Chicago.

The body will be returned to Davenport and taken to the McCingos Funeral Home.  Burial will be in the National Cemetery. Rock Island Arsenal



The Daily Sentinel Star
Grenada, Miss.
June 21, 1999




William J. Anderson      

   William John Anderson 80, of Grenada, died Friday at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford.

  Mr. Anderson was a retired engineer with the U.S. Government.  He was a Mason, a Methodist and a United States, World War II and Korean War Veteran.  

  Mr. Anderson was also a member of the Veteran of Foreign Wars.

   The funeral will be at 3 p.m. today at the Garner-Harper Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. Jack Smith officiating.  Burial will be in Memorial Gardens Cemetery.  Visitation will be from 1-3 p.m. today at the funeral home.

  Mr. Anderson was the widower of Marian Harper Anderson.

  He is survived by a son, Edward Joseph Anderson of Lilllington, N.C.; a daughter Dee Bailey of Grenada; and five grandchildren.

   Memorials may be sent to the American Heart Association.  Garner-Harper Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.           

Burlington Saturday Evening Post

Capt. E. H. Thomas

Dec. 2, 1911

July 4, 1863 the shores of the Mississippi from Cairo to New Orleans were lined with Confederate batteries and riflemen. Steering a steamboat along there in those days was not a healthy occupation. Many of the pilots were shot full of holes while standing at the wheel. As a soldier, I was down there, during those troublesome times. Many of the boats were perforated with cannon balls. I counted 23 holes through the cabin of one steamer, the Prima Donna. She had been up the Yazoo river with the Sherman expedition. The government was paying enormous wages but under such conditions, pilots were not looking for a job on the lower Mississippi. The greater portion of the lower river pilots, those who stayed around there were handling boats for the Confederates, and it became necessary for the government to “press” or coerce a lot of the up river men. These pilots were met on the St. Louis levee by the military master of transportation and told to go on to the steamers and take them down the river. My old friends Jerome Ruby, Henry White and others, were caught in this military net, and sent down the river. If they refused to go they were furnished with a guard to escort them from the levee to the pilot house. They did not know a mile of the channel below St. Louis, but the government had a plan by which they could use them. The boats usually sailed in fleets ten to twenty boats in a fleet. The steamer ahead was called the flag boat.” On this steamer were two pilots who knew the river. The pilots who had no knowledge of the channel simply followed the flag boat kept up close after her.


The Chief Reporter; Perry, Dallas , Iowa ; May 6, 1908  


            Mrs. Jerome Ruby died at Colfax , Ia. , April 24, 1908. Sarah Pauline Page was born in Meegs County , Ohio , March 24, 1840, at the age of thirteen she removed with her parents to Danvigs Landing, where she lived for several years and from which place she was united in marriage to Jerome Ruby of Buffalo , Iowa . To this union were born two children, Spencer, who died at the age of five, and Sherman, who departed this life at the age of three years.
She resided at Buffalo , Iowa , until March 1896, when her husband died, since that time she has made her home at Angus , Iowa . Three weeks ago she went to Colfax to visit a nephew.
Thursday noon she suffered a stroke of apoplexy, a second stroke soon followed and she rapidly sank until death came to her relief at 9:10 p.m. Friday.
Abut the time of her marriage deceased united with the Latter Day Saints Church and from that time has lived a consistent Christian life.
The remains were taken to Buffalo , Iowa , where the services were conducted by Rev. Davis Latter Day Saint Minister basing his remarks from John, 12 chapter 24th verse. Interment was made in Rose Hill cemetery. She leaves to mourn her loss, two nieces, Mrs. Geo. Daly, Angus , Iowa , Mrs. Jas. Orman, Odgen , Iowa . Three nephews, Wm Bell, Pilot Mound, Arthur Bell and Jas. Bell, Colfax, Iowa.

Scan from original Tin Type - Pauline Ruby, wife of Jerome Ruby; 'Jerome'  Wildermuth was named after Jerome Ruby

Sarah Pauline Page Ruby

Muscatine Journal
July 17, 1890  


  The river continues to fall. It’s gauge to-day is 5 feet 2 inches above low water mark.

  The White Eagle went up this morning.

  The Golden Gate came down from Moline about noon with the Baptist excursion party.  They were landed at Smalley’s grove where they indulged in dinner, and spent the afternoon about the city.

  The St. Paul is to be up tomorrow.

  The Pittsburg is due South tomorrow.

  Capt. Geo. Lamont, of the Libbie Cinger, claims that Tuesday’s collision of his boat with the draw of the Rock Island bridge was due wholly to the fact that the draw was slow in opening and that while that was caused by the dredge boat being in the way. It should have been kept out of there.  He praises Pilot Ruby for his skill at the critical moment, which, he says, saved the boat from destruction., and he further states that if the Libbie had been large she would have been sunk anyway.  Capt. Lamont called upon Col. Whittemore yesterday morning and laid the facts formally before him.


Steamboats and Steamboatmen of the Upper Mississippi
Descriptive, personal and Historical
By George B. Merrick
Author of “Old Times on the Upper Mississippi



  Sternwheel packet, built at Metropolis, Illinois, 1880; 199.5 feet long 25.22 feet beam, 4.3 feet hold; 392.23 tons.  Owned by some time by Schwartz Brothers, of St. Louis , and employed in the Clarksville trade in 1893, with the veteran Captain Alex. Lamont, now of Upper Alton , in command.  In 1894 she was in the Calhoun county trade, Captain Lamont Master, Edward Young clerk, Phil, Kuehne mate, and Jno. Pritchett steward.  H. S. Ruby was pilot for several years. Capt. Ruby better known along the river as “Shell,” is the youngest of five brothers, all pilots and masters, all ranking among the best in their professions, and it may be added that through no fault of their own, the handsomest lot of “boys” on the river.  “Shell was born at Davenport , Iowa , in 1841, and commenced his life in the pilot house at the age of nineteen, in 1860, and from that time until 1912 he followed the river continuously.  A few out of the many boats on which he served were the “New Boston.” “Diamond Jo,” “Sidney,” “Louisa,” “President,” “ Augusta ,” “ Davenport ,” “ Willie Wilson,” “ Muscatine ,” and “Dora,: his last command so far as I know, being the “C. Brusso,” in 1911.  In 1913 he was enjoying a well deserved rest at his home in Andalusia , Illinois .





Waterways Journal

Capt. Perry Mills Ruby  

Oct. 7, 1899  

   “The Government steamer Alert is in charge of Capt. Perry Ruby, one of the cleverest steamer boatmen on the “upper Mississippi” and Mr. Charles Harvey is the painstaking engineer at the throttle.  The Alert has a very handsome engine room.

May 9, 1900 Pg. 9  

     “Capt Perry M. Ruby of the steamer Alert belonging to the government fleet in charge of United States Engineer W. A. Thompson, was in the city last Monday, the guest of Capt. H. Beedie of the steamer Dubuque, and paid his respects to this office.”  

Nov. 7,  1900 Pg. 9  

“--Capt. Perry M. Ruby, the gentlemanly and clever master of the government steamer Alert remembered us substantially this week.  The government fleet has been laid up in black river at La Crosse, Wis., and the Alert at Fountain City.  Capt. Ruby says his better half cannot keep house without the JOURNAL.  We are always on the ladies’ side.”  

Aug. 11, 1900 Pg. 9  

   Capt Perry M. Ruby, who is in the Government service on the Upper Mississippi, wrote us a pleasant letter on the 6th inst., requesting the address of his paper to be changed, and asking to be remembered kindly to all the boys.  He also said “Mrs. R. says she can’t get along without the Waterways Journal.”  this we consider as exceedingly   fine compliment, for when the ladies are on our side we are safe.”  

Oct. 6, 1900 Pg. 1  

  The Alert, doing Government work on the Upper Mississippi is in charge of that prince of good fellows, Capt. Perry Ruby, with Chas Harvey, engineer.  Mrs. Ruby enjoyed a few days visit with her husband, and has returned home to Buffalo, Ia.  

April 27, 1901  

“--Perry M. Ruby, who was recently in the Government service at Fountain City, wrote us on the 18th from Buffalo, Ia, saying “Owing to the kindness (?) of Mr. Tom Carter of Montana I have been obliged to leave the City of Fountains to find “ three squares” per day.  This accounts for my charge of address to my home in Buffalo.  With best wishes for yourself and the success of THE WATERWAYS JOURNAL. I remain yours truly. “  

April 9, 1910 Pg. 9  

Capt Perry Ruby of the snag boat David Tipton called on us last Thursday.  He is temporarily in charge of the  boat this trip owing to Capt Martin stopping off to attend to other government matters.”  


Waterways Journal


Sept. 8, 1900 Pg. 9  

   “Capt. Le Claire is in charge of the Rock Island Davenport ferry Augusta, with Capt. “Shell “ Ruby as partner and  L.A. Day as engineer.”  

Watrways Journal April 1894  

“In the opinion of Capt. Ruby, the well known pilot, that there will be a short river business between now and harvest time.  As for the state of the river he says:  “ In my opinion it will be best if the river does not rise any higher than t is at present, because at this season a rise falls so fast and leaves so much sediment that the channels are either filled up or considerably altered, while in places the river would be completely dry.”  

April 21, 1894 Pg. 5  


“Mr. Prichard, steward on board the Dora, looks innocent, but nevertheless has a mighty tough imagination.  While Capts. Ruby and Tessen were talking about the altering conditions of the river he chirped in with the following remarkable statement.  “Speak about your mud deposits in the Mississippi.  Why, it’s nothing to what used to happen on the Illinois ‘river, where the mud went down so fast that it formed islands, and we used to stop the boat to let the cattle out to feed on the grass, which grew up just about as fast as the mud.”  Then everybody laid down his hand and passed out, Prichard solemnly reaping in the chips.”  

April 28, 1894 Pg. 10  

--Capt. H. S. Ruby, of the steamer Dora, reports an incident which deserves attention in regard to navigation.  It happened in regard to navigation.   It happened at Hamburg, Ill., Sunday.  A frail little craft was seen crossing the river; its propelling power was a white ash breeze.  The port side was handled by a woman and the starboard by a man, with a woman at the rear end  acting as pilot.  The craft was used in the capacity of a ferry boat, on which was a team of horses being transmitted from the Illinois to the Missouri side.  

May 12, 1894 Pg. 13  

--Capt Ruby reports coal very scarce and says the Dora is burning wood exclusively.  He thinks it would be a good idea for all the steamers to use wood, as it would circulate money with the farmers along the Mississippi and that would naturally, make times better on the river.  

May 26, 1894 Pg. 7  

---Capt Ruby, pilot on that fast little steamer Bald Eagle, is coming to the front as a writer and we would be pleased to hear from him soon.  

June 26, 1894  

--Capt. Ruby says a woman is like a steamboat, because she is contrary.  

May 18, 1895  





   At 3 o’clock last Saturday afternoon the Bald Eagle, with Capt. A. B Hall in command, Capt. E. D. Young in the office and Mr. H. S. Ruby at the wheel, steamed out from the foot of Washington Avenue with a select party of  Ladies and gentlemen on board, the guests of the Schwartz Bros.  commission merchants of this city, to witness the launching of their new steamer from the ways of the Sectional Dock Company at the foot of Mareau street Caromdelet.   

May 15, 1897  

The Steamer Carrier  

Last Saturday the Steamer Carrier, formerly of Davenport, Ia. Made her initial trip in the Clarksville trade.

   The carrier is owned by Captain Walter Blair of Davenport, ia and has been running in the upper river trade for several years, sometimes as a regular packet and sometimes as an excursion boat.  Capt. T. G. Isherwood is in command and Capt. E. D. Young is in the office, with Zolle Block as assistant.  H. S. Ruby has control of the steering apparatus and Frank Bucheite is in command of the forcastle.  

August 27, 1898  

   Shell” Ruby, for many years in the St. Louis and Clarksville trade on the steamer Dora and Bald Eagle, is now pilot on the ferryboat Augusta, running between Rock Island and Davenport.  

Oct. 1, 1898 Pg. 1  

“While basking in the shade of the old Diamond Jo warehouse at Rock Island, the ferryboat Augusta whistled to pass some boat as she was coming across the river.  And such a whistle!  Even the old mules hauling sand look at each other and have to laugh.  All the people along the bank, even if in a hurry, stop, look around in amazement, and then break out, anything from a grin to a “haw-haw.”  Ben Lamont says she caught cold the night of the fire, and has not been well since.  Capt. Fuller Smith says:  “Hear that blankety, blankety, blank, blank noise that old pirate of a washtub makes, trying to scare people  so that they will keep out of her way!”  And it is a fearful and wonderful sound.  First you hear a noise like a lot of geese hissing: that is water gathered in the pipe.  After a minute of this the steam comes till the string puller gets tired of holding on to it, and as he lets go and the steam is gradually shit off on the tail end, like a poor little groan it manages to let out a sound the like of which was never heard before in the heavens above, the earth beneath or the waters under the earth.  Gentlemen, for the Lord’s sake, take the fares for one good trip across  and buy a decent whistle!  Don’t be the laughing stock of everybody.  You waste enough water and steam in a week to run your boat for a day . 

Geo. M. Waters

From the Burlington Saturday Evening Post  

Written by Captain E. H. Thomas of South Ottumwa  

(References to Ruby’s)  

August 19, 1911  

Chapter I

Recollections of a Veteran Steamboat Pilot  

   At one of the river towns I met an acquaintance, Jerome Ruby, who was ten or twelve years my senior.  He asked me what I was doing.  To him I put my tale of woe that I had quit my job in the country town and was looking for something new, a position which would have more    of the adventure in it, and where I could see the people on the move and mingle with the crowd.

   “Young man,” said Ruby “Come with me, and I will give you all of the adventure you want.”

   My friend Ruby was a pilot on the steamboat New Boston, a passenger packet then operating between Rock Island and Montrose, a distance of 120 miles.  There were two of these steamers, the New Boston and the Keithsburg, one up and one down every day except Sunday.  The pilots were O. M. Ruby, Jerome Ruby and Sheldon Ruby, brothers, and L. C. Alley.   I have reason to remember these men, for they were good to me, my true and steadfast friends through all of the years I was on the river.  

Chapter IV

Iowa and Cedar Rivers Navigable  

(speaking about working the Iowa and Cedar rivers in Iowa)

 My experience commenced there in 1865, on the steamer Young Eagle, owned and operated by Dr. T. G. Bell, John Atchinson and Geo. Bell. The boat was built by the Eagle Packet Co.   With this fleet we had a large and paying business for three seasons.  The second season we navigated these rivers up and down, night and day, and at my request, the owners employed Mills Ruby as my assistant, and Dick Dickson was in the engine room.

During this time the railroad and mill interests made a move to have the Iowa and Cedar rivers declared not navigable.  To beat this movement our clerk made a sworn affidavit for each trip, showing the number of tons of freight carried and the number of passengers, also.

   Ruby and myself also made affidavits as to the stage of water on these trips, and to beat the game we were very careful to do good work, and we did it.  Our record of 26 round trips on the Iowa and Cedar, with the steamboat and two loaded barges, showed the average stage of water to have been 3 ½ feet, and that we were aground but once, when we went to the gravel bar below Florence.    

Chapter XI

Golden Days On River  

“But very many have passed (pilots)  away.  My old friends, Jerome and Miles Ruby, with whom I was first associated, are numbered among the dead, and sleep at Rock Island and Buffalo.”


In the Rock Island cemetery at the head of a mound of earth, may be seen a large steamboat anchor which marks the resting place of Dave Tipton, who spent his entire life in the pilot house.  

Jan 27, 1912

Chapter XX

When Montrose was a Live Town  

“The passengers who congregate around the pilot house of a steamboat are usually loaded up with questions for the pilot.  Among other things the travelers want to know are the following:  The depth of the water?  Does the pilot run by compass?  What is his object in crossing the river so many times?  Why does he not take a straight course and keep to ti?  Why does he tot his whistle when meeting other boats?  Why does the boat go slow at certain times, etc.  On one occasion I heard an interesting conversation between a passenger and pilot O. M. Ruby.  The pilot answered all the forgoing questions and then the passenger wanted to know if he would not rather work on a faster boat.  (We were going against the current and a head wind and towing two barges.)  Ruby answered this last question in the negative and said that he would prefer the slow boat for the reason that it gave him a better opportunity to get acquainted with the farmers along the shores of the river !”  



Capt E. H. Thomas

     An incident: One dark, stormy night we reached Burlington on the down stream at 12 o’clock.  There was a strong wind from the west.  Our captain was an excitable temperament and his hair was red.  He had been a freight agent of one of the towns along there and what he did not know about a steamboat if printed would have made many large volumes.  But he had a pull with the company and was transferred from the freight house to the boat, and given the rank of captain.  On this bad night we backed away from the Burlington levee, and pointed the boat toward the draw of the bridge.  My partner, Mills Ruby was at the wheel, and I was out on the roof with one eye on the bridge light and the other on a light on the North hill.  This for the purpose of aligning the light on the draw and the light on the hill and by such alignment I could tell when the wind was flanking or sliding the boat toward the Illinois shore, and away from the draw.  When we were opposite Bogus Hollow the wind hit us and the boat made a slide on the water.  As we were going she would have missed the draw and went under the next span of the bridge.  I yelled at Mills and he stopped the engines and backed her up stream.  We then went some distance above the landing and made the second run for the bridge, but with the same result.  The wind flanked us away from the draw.  Then for the third time we steamed up the river, turned around and went at it again, this time holding the boat more into the wind, or closer to the Iowa shore.  In fooling around there the engineer had accumulated big steam.  The safety valves were jumping up and he had reached the limit allowed by law, but we used it all.  We had resolved to get thro that bridge on this third run.  Mills held her close up to the wind and I watched the lights.  When near the bridge she was sliding but little.  I yelled at Mills to let her go and then jumped into the pilot house and took one side of the wheel.  We got her more into the draw, and as we passed through it we were going some.  We had told the engineer to give us all the steam he had, and he did it.  We barely missed the draw pier, but were through the bridge and plowing ahead for the “Lime Kiln” crossing.  Then came our red haired captain to the roof.  He was excited, badly frightened, away up in the air and proceeded t hand us a few packages.  “Great God” said he, “never do such a think as that again.  You should have worked her slow through that place, but instead you were going at the speed of an express train.  From where I stood on the guard I could have touched the draw pier.  You are the most reckless men I ever saw.  Mills Ruby was one of he best pilots on the river.  He was also a man of but few words, but what he said was always to the point and he gave it back to the captain this way:

  “Say, old man, you are now in no danger, for we are at least one mile below the bridge.  But you lost the opportunity of your life.  Why in the devil didn’t you touch that pier when you were so close to it?  

Silas haight was a profane man


He ran steamer countess

in Burlington trade.



Written Exclusively for this Paper by Captain

E.H. Thomas of South Ottumwa.

Chapter XXXVII.  

I think Capt. Haight’s last service on the river was as commander and owner of the steamer “Countess.”  As I remember it the countess was a side wheeler and equipped with six turbulent boilers.  It was during the 50’s or 70’s.  At that time there were four passengers boats in operation between Keokuk and Davenport, and great rivalry between all fighting for the business.  As the veteran Haight stood on the shore and watched the contest, he concluded to take a hand in it and he went around on the Ohio river and purchased the Countess, and put her into the Davenport, Keokuk trade.  He employed Deck Dickson as chief engineer knowing that Deck was not afraid of the steam and low water, and I remember that Mills Ruby was one of the pilots.  With this boat Captain Haight commenced the contest, declaring that he would whip the four passenger packets and whip then to a finish, and he made good.  He took them by turns, and with big steam, the Countess would keep from one to two miles ahead of her rival every day in the week.  Captain Haight would not wait for a large lot of freight and never made a tie at any of the towns.  Holding the steamer up to the shore with the outside wheel, he would take the light packages and being far in advance of the other steamer, would get all of the passengers.  He was skinning the packet companies six days in the week, and it made them sore, but this cut no figure with the veteran Haight.  He whirled the Countess up and down the river, and got the business.  The people always ride on the swift boat, regardless of the danger.  Dickson was carrying an enormous steam pressure, the boilers were old and steamboat men along there who knew the danger, were expecting the old tubulars to go up in the air.  I was standing on the Keithsburg levee one day, when the countess rounded in to the landing, on her down steam run.  The boat was enveloped in a cloud of steam, and every timber on her was trembling.  Through this cloud of steam Mills Ruby came ashore, and he was carrying his grip.  He told me he had quit his job in the pilot house.  I asked him why he did it.  “The trouble is,” said Mills, “The boat has a d--m fool for an engineer, and I will not ride another mile over his boilers.  I shall take the train for my home in Fort Madison.”  From the engine room door thro the cloud of steam, I saw the familiar face of Dick Dickson.  He was laughing, swinging his hat in the air and roasting Ruby for leaving the boat.  But Mills was justifiable in going ashore.  The way things were running, I would not have accepted a free round trip ticket, with meals included, and rode on the Countess.  We were all expecting to hear of her being blown to pieces.  But Dick Dickson enjoyed these trips.  Knowing no fear he regarded it as great amusement, to be cutting the water and leading all other boats along there.  After whipping all competitors, the countess was laid up.  One or both of the packet companies, purchased the steamer and tied her to the shore in order to get rid of Silas Haight.  I was told that Captain Haight cleaned up about $10,000 on this deal, that he purchased the boilers at a low figure, and then unloaded on the packet companies at a good big price.    

Chapter XV




Pilots and Engineers Took Turns

On the Roof--Old River Men Usually

were Democrats


     It frequently happened that a crew with some kind of a grievance would desert a boat, call for their pay and go ashore.  This was expected as a part of the business.  But for the captain and the clerk, owners of the boat, to desert the crew, 500 miles from their homes, and leave a steamboat on their hands was regarded as a new departure.  This is what happened to a gang of us in the city of St. Louis.  It was sometime in the 70’s during the cholera period.  The steamer and two barges were owned by the captain and clerk, and cost them about twelve thousand dollars.  ‘We had a good trip of freight and passengers from Davenport to St. Louis.  W. H. Pierce and his son Frank were the engineers and Mills Ruby and myself  were the pilots.  The river was at a low stage, and we had some trouble in getting over the bar at Cape Angris, but otherwise had a very successful run.  We landed at Alton.  Here the clerk asked me to fill his place from that point to St. Louis.  Said that he was not feeling just right, and feared that he would get the cholera if he went into St. Louis.  I took his word for it, and he took the train north for his home.  Arriving at St. Louis.  I checked out the freight, and then turned the bills over to the captain, who left the boat just after dinner to go out in the city and collect the freight charges.  He did not return to the boat that night, and was not with us for dinner on the following day.  There was much discussion among the crew as to what had become of our captain.  A clerk of one of the boats had went ashore, on a similar mission, and he was slugged and robbed.  Some of the men feared that our captain had met the same fate, but I had my suspicions.  I had been on the boat for three seasons and was familiar with the business.  The boat had been making some money, but I knew that a certain capitalist up the river held a claim against the owner for 46,000.  The clerk had taken what money there was in the safe when he left us at Alton, and the old man had about $2,500 in his jeans, and it looked woolly-as though they were making a clean up, going out of business, and leaving the crew out of business, and leaving the crew and the capitalist to hold the sack.   Just before supper, on the second day, we had a message from the missing captain.  A receiving clerk, who worked on the levee brought a note from him to the crew.  The note informed us that the captain had received a telegram that one of his children was dangerously ill, and that he was about to take the train for the north.  He instructed us to bring the boats on up the river, and that he would met us at some point above.  The humorous part of the deal was, that he sent us the sum of ten dollars as expense money, which would just about pay our coal bill to the head of Sawyer Bend.  However, we took the ten dollars from the receiving clerk, and then called a meeting of the crew to discuss the situation.  At the meeting it was decided to take on some coal and leave St. Louis at once.  I did not believe that we would find the captain on this up stream trip.  His home was inland, 50 or 60 miles from the river, and I had a notion in my head that he and the freight money would remain there, but I finally submitted to the rule of the majority.  They all appeared to have great confidence in the captain.  It was also agreed that Pierce, Ruby and myself  were to take our turns in being captain of the boat and paying the bills.  That when a man’s money run out, he was no longer captain, but must come down and let the other fellow go on to the roof.  In the matter of money I was short.  At Muscatine, on the down trip, I had drawn $250, about all that was due me, and sent the money home.  With me this was the one fortunate feature  of the trip getting that $250 at Muscatine.  I had the honor of taking the boat out of St. Louis and paying for the coal and commissary stores.  I landed at Alton, where we secured a few hundred pounds of freight, but on leaving a wood yard, just below Clarksville, we were out of fuel.  My pockets were empty, and I’d had lost my position as captain of the steamer, Mills Ruby assumed command of the steamer, purchased some wood, and we steamed along, reaching Quincy about five o’clock one evening.  Here it was announced that we had neither coal nor provisions, and that Captain Ruby was in a bankrupt condition.  It was now up to Pierce, the engineer, and Ruby went into the engine room to see him about it, and they had a spat.  Pierce said that he had no money, but Ruby did not believe it, and neither did I.  I had been with him for several seasons, and knew that he always carried a good roll.  When Ruby returned to the cabin he was sore.  He said the engineer was not giving us a square deal.  Now, Bill Pierce was a good engineer and a good fellow, but his bump of self esteem was very largely developed.  He was a fine looking man, a good talker and liked to be at the head of the procession.  Knowing this, Ruby and myself commenced calling him captain Pierce that night and this gave us the desired result.  On the following morning Pierce flashed up light on ten $20 notes, and I noticed, that he had some more of the long green in his big pocket book.  He at once purchased the necessary supplies, and the boat backed away from Quincy levee, with the commanding, majestic figure of Capt. W. W. Pierce on the roof, passing signals back to the pilot.  We reached Muscatine in good time, but the captain was not there to greet us.  At the suggestion of the crew, I sent him a telegram-and he answered, instructing us to take the boat on to Davenport.  The we had a mutiny among the deck hands and firemen.  They were tired of promises to pay and refused to sail for Davenport, but we finally induced them to go.

   When we reached Davenport, the captain was not there, but the sheriff and the capitalist gave us a very cordial reception and tied the fleet to the shore on the claim of $6,000.  The matter was compromised, the capitalist accepting the three boats as payment in full on his $6,000 claims.  As I had suspicioned it was a clean up.  The capitalist got the boats at a bargain, and the captain and clerk received about the same amount out of the earnings, and went out of business.  Wm. Pierce was the heavy investor on our excursion trip from St. Louis to Davenport, but it made him feel good to be called captain, and then he got even with the game by chartering and operating the boats for several months.  Ruby and myself had no complaint to make on our investments between St. Louis and Quincy.  Did not even attempt to collect our claim.  We had been on the steamer for several years and had drawn a lot of money at the clerk’s office, and concluded that it was all right, as a closing feature in the service of the owners, to have an excursion trip at our own expense.  Mills Ruby W. W. Pierce, the captain and the clerk, my old time friends and associates on this steamer, with whom I spent many of the happiest hours of my life, have all passed away.  With many others of my river friends they are sleeping the sleep of death.  If there is a second life and another world, and I believe there will be, I hope to meet them all again.   Dec 23, 1911 


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