1910 Census: LeClaire Town, LeClaire Township, Iowa
Stitcher Andrew Head 31 Labor Stone Quarry
Tracy wife 31 none
Bissick Eliza Brother 29 Labor River Steamer
THE CAPTAIN'S STORY
Capt. John O"Conner Talks about His Recent Difficulty with One of His Hands.
The row upon the J. W. Van Sant on its last trip up, which has been made by some to put Capt. O'Conner in a rather unfavorable light, was the subject of conversation between the Captain and an Argus representative yesterday, when the former stopped over in Rock Island for a few hours:
"We had been laying at LeClaire all day having some boiler repairs made," the Captain said, "and it was evening when we got away. The trouble happened between LeClaire and Princeton and this is how it came about. There was an old man employed on the boat called 'Dad'. He is a harmless, inoffensive old chap, but this man Francis McMahon, seemed to have a grudge against him. He had been picking at the old fellow for some time and particularity abusive on the evening in question. I had been watching McMahon and having determined that the matter had gone far enough, I went down to the lower deck to take the old man's part. I had no idea of creating a disturbance but rather to preserve order. McMahan resented my interference and was so insulting that I confess that I struck him.
A few blows were exchanged and having made my mind that I had settled the thing, as McMahon had said that he had got enough, I started up the stairs again. As I turned my back McMahan rushed upon me and struck me from behind and knocked me down. He was about to jump on me when the cook came to my rescue. McMahan then rushed up though the cabin and I put after him. In going past my room I reached in and got my revolver, and as McMahon had made threats, and I knew that he was murderously inclined, and there was no telling what he would do if he got a drop on me or could make a sneak and take me unawares.
I followed him down to the blacksmith shop where he came at me with an immense club. I ordered him to drop it, but did not point my revolver at him. It was a self cocker, though and accidentally it went off, the bullet striking the floor and in an opposite direction from where he stood. He then retreated, and again said he would make no further trouble. But a few minutes later I found him quarreling with the pilot, George Twombley (Tromley), I again interfered as was my duty as master of the boat, and succeeded in preserving order, McMahon for the third time promising that he would behave himself.
There was no more of McMahon until we reached Albany, where I was told he had left the boat. I turned the light on the shore, and saw him running up the bank. I called him back and told him to get his pay before he left, but he paid no attention. That was all there was of the trouble. The story that I fired at McMahon after he had left the boat is false, as my revolver, now in the hands of the cook, to whom I gave it after coming out of the blacksmith shop, has but one empty chamber. Equally false are the charges preferred by McMahon that myself, or any of my crew, was drunk, and will so be proven. This McMahon is a bully, and has been discharged on numerous occasions for his domineering insulting ways. Steamboatmen are generally afraid of him.
"I desire to thank my friends here," said the captain, "for the way they have stood by me in this trouble and have not been inclined to call me guilty until they knew all sides of the case."
Source: The Morning Democrat, Davenport, Ia., 12 Sep 1890, p.4.