IAGenWebScott County


The gin rickey was first introduced to a thirsty America by one "Colonel" James Rickey, a suave gambler of the old school who frequented the Mississippi steamboats in the florid days following the Civil War. Later he went to Washington, and old-timers still remember his bar, the floor of which was a mosaic of $20 gold pieces. "Colonel" Rickey was a tradition along the Mississippi when Henry Bellaman was a boy, and he has taken this picturesque character as the prototype for Garrison Gracey, gambler, in "The Richest Woman in Town" a novel which the century company is publishing Feb. 16, Mr. Bellamann is now Dean of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.


Capt. John B. Gordon of Moline, Master of the Moline Locks and a friend of Mark twain, was retired on pension today from government work after 48 years of activity on the Mississippi River.

For Many years Capt. Gordon had had charge of river packets, and in that capacity he became acquainted with the famous author. He came to Moline in 1884, and had been master of the Moline Locks since their construction.

W.W. Reed of Rock Island has been named successor to Capt. Gordon.

Source: Unknown, Davenport, Ia., 11 Feb 1932.


Capt. Tansy Hawthorne, LeClaire, Guest of U. S. Engineers

Captain Joe Morehead "Tansy" Hawthorne, 93, LeClaire, basked in the Limelight today.

The old river captain was the guest of the U. S. engineers station in the Clock Tower and was brought to Davenport by the U.S. Ellen, the engineers' boat, this morning. He was an honored guest at the Clock Tower and at a dinner served aboard the Ellen at noon.

In the afternoon the Ellen was taken thru the locks and below the dam, and on the return trip to LeClaire Captain Hawthorne took the wheel, piloting the boat over once familiar rapids now submerged by the lake. Altho he retired from the river in 1920 after 73 years service, he is given his pilots license each year by the government.

Captain Hawthorne told the engineers that John D. Rockefeller, who celebrated his 96th birthday Monday, had only three years start on him and that he would live longer.

Source: Unknown.


James Pemberton who used to wield the hoe in ineffectual campaigns against the ragweed, purslane, and other pests of the editorial garden on Prospect Hill, is now the fireman on the steamer Helen Blair, and seems to be able to hold the steam at 140 pounds without difficulty.

Source: River News, Saturday Evening Post, Burlington, Ia., 25 Nov 1911


Who Will Handle the Rafts on the River This Season.

Rafting the Only Branch of Steamboating that Preserves Part of its Pristine Vigor

About LeClaire Rivermen

The river man has always been an object of romantic interest to the people who live along the banks of the Mississippi so says the editor of the Davenport Republican. It was so in the old days when Mark Twain with his imagination fired by the thought of becoming a wheelman ran away from his home at Hannibal and passed the various gradations till he was a master pilot, the highest eminence to which a human being could aspire. At that time Father of Waters was crowded with crafts of all descriptions from flat boats to palatial packets. Rafts extended in an almost unbroken line from St. Anthony's falls to the Louisiana delta. The river was the only avenue of commerce and no one dreamed that supremacy would be snatched from it and given to the new fangled railroads. The successful river man was an aristocrat. His opinion on the question of the day was listened to with eager interest by all shore dwellers and accepted without question.

There has been a change but it has not been in the interest of the poetry that there is in life. The common place locomotive has usurped the place of the picturesque steamer that glided grandly up and down the current and wakened sleepy villages to bustling activity by its sonorous landing whistle. Steamboating has declined. The pace was too rapid for it. Not even Leimke, the St. Louis sign writer, can infuse life into the vanishing system. But there are millions who regret the passing of that which was their childhood's delight and around which their dearest ambitions were entered.

Only one part of the old Mississippi fleet survives in anything like its old vigor. It is the raft boat. Not as numerous as formerly they still do a heavy business from year to year and keep up as far as possible the traditions that attach to the career of a steamboat man. The broad bosom of the great stream would be lonely indeed if it were not for the thirty or forty crafts of this kind that ply the river. If one wishes to learn something of Mississippi life past or present he ought by all means to go to the pretty town of LeClaire in the upper part of the county. That is the home of captains and pilots in a greater degree than any other river town, not excepting St. Louis. Situated at the head of the rapids, where it was necessary that skillful pilots should be early in its history it became the seat of a steamboat aristocracy which still possesses a potent influence in the social affairs of the community.

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.

It is to the credit of the true river man, who was bred in the business and whose father was a raftsman before him in the days of "floating" that he is jealous of his reputation for manliness and courage, generous to a fault, and full of those feelings of true chivalry towards the sex which has always been his marked characteristic.

Skill in the handling of rafts has not declined with the amount of business done. Only last year Capt. Robert H. Tromley made the fastest trip on record from Rock Island to Stillwater and return and with his palatial steamer "F.C. A. Denkmann" took the largest raft down the river that has ever been recorded. All the other LeClaire captains and pilots are top-notchers in their professions, including Mr. Lachmund, who can not be surpassed in her skillful handling of the Robert Dodge.

Captains have been assigned to their raft boats all along the river and Friday the interesting list was made public.

Raft Boats Captains
F.C.A. Denkman...R.H. Tromley
Weyerhaueser...Geo. W. Reed
Rutledge...Billy Whistler
Eclipse...John Lancaster
Mayflower...Ike Spinsby
Kit Carson...Peter O'Rourke
Kate Keene...Robt. McCall
Ten Broeck...Bob Mitchell
Vivian...John Whistler
Wanderer...Henry Fuller
Chauncey Lamb..."Happy" Day
Robert Dodge...Mrs. Lachmund
Pauline...Bill Kratka
Inverness...John O'Connor
Mountain Belle...Andy Lambert
Bart E. Linehan...Bill Dubler
Van Sant...Geo. Tromley, Jr.
Glenmont...Bill York
Musser...Steve Witherow
Frontenac...Henry Slocum
Lafayette Lamb...Geo. Carpenter
Ben Hershey...C. Buisson
C.W. Cowles...Joe Buisson
Will Davis...Ralph Wheeler
R.J. Wheeler...Will Davis
Isaac Stanlee...Walter Hunter
Ravenna...Charlie Davison
Clyde...John Hoy

Two small raft boats now being built at Rock Island are not yet assigned and the Volunteer being remodeled to a packet at LeClaire, is still to be given a master.

Source: Unknown



There is a little white and yellow terrier who is just now occupying most of the attention of the men on the T. J. Robinson ferry boat. The pup in question is not very ferocious nor is he very bright. He is just an ordinary dog with all his feet and ears and eyes and an ordinary dog's bark at strange dogs and inborn enmity for felines.

But he is different from other dogs in that he has a perfect mania for riding on the ferry boat. The whistle of the incoming boat is sweeter music to his ears than a call to dinner or roast beef with dog biscuit on the side. He would rather sit by the edge of the boat and listen to the chug of the paddle than chase a dozen cats up smooth barked trees. He is happy only when he is crossing the river.

But the mate as the boys have named the-pup is not-always a welcome visitor on the boat. Captain Robinson says he does not object to the pup encroaching on his hospitality occasionally, but that he knows a good thing when he sees it. And that he also knows when he has too much of a good thing and the Mate has had a habit of getting in other peoples way. He was not exactly welcome and occasionally takes an unexpected bath in the hope that a douse in the cold water may wash away his fad for ferrying. But it has no appreciable effect. His mania is dyed-deeper than his skin and it is the Mate that is going to ride on every conceivable occasion. One day the boys thought they would try to cure him for good or drown him in the effort. So they waited until they were well to the middle of the river and then pitched him overboard. The little fellow gazed after the fast receding boat in a sort of bedazzled way and then swam for the Davenport shore. When the boat returned to the Davenport pier the first passenger to board the boat was a very wet and bedraggled little yellow and white terrier. He did not stop for explanations of apologetics but made a bee line for the boiler room and it was a full hour before he reappeared for inspection. Then he was as fresh and clean and dry as though he were prima donnas pet instead of a levee roustabout.

From that time on the Mate was treated with more respect. He commanded respect and when it is thought best to give him a ducking the ducking comes immediately after the boat leaves shore, so there will not be too long a swim ahead.

The mate is generally recognized as a movable fixture with the boat. That is, he misses an occasional trip, but when he does it is because he is out on a foraging expedition for dinner or because he is on the sunny side of the pier drying from a recent unexpected bath. He aims to be there on schedule time right along and so far is doing admirable well, considering the fact that he is only a dog.

Submitted by Georgeann McClure, from the book, Rivermen, Muscatine, Iowa.

Source: The Davenport Democrat, Davenport, Ia., 15 July, 1902.

Pg 2


The river is rising at this point

Ben Campbell--This fine steamer, one of the Rock Island Packets, came down on her trip last night, looking like a new boat. She has been completely remodeled and much improved since last year. Capt. Dodge--the veteran steam boatman of these waters and "a gentleman and a scholar" withal--is still in command. The former gallant crew is also aboard. Mr. Miller at the desk with his usually bland and gentlemanly manner, while Charley Asmossen "tends to the shore." Mr. West, the steward of last year, mixes up the "chicken fixings" and other good things in the pantry. Success to the "Ben" say we!

In this connection, we take pleasure in noting the fact that Mr. Edwin Porter, who has been acting for some time past as book-keeper at the Ogilvie House, has been appointed ticket agent of the packet company in Muscatine. The company is particularly fortunate in selecting Mr. P. for this responsible office. M. Block, as heretofore, acts as ticket agent for the company.

Source: Muscatine Journal, Muscatine, Ia., Spring 1858.


The Packets--Capt. Le Roy Dodge has resigned command of the "Ben Campbell", and is succeeded by Capt. Geo. A. Myers, formerly of the St. Louis and New Orleans trade, who, we understand, has purchased an interest in the company. While we in common with the public regret parting with Capt. Dodge in the capacity in which he has so long been known, we are pleased to learn that he is to continue President of the company and to take general supervision of its affairs. For more than twenty years he has been engaged as a river man on these waters, enduring the hardships incident in such a life with a fortitude and patience largely met with, and which have secured to him the esteem and respect of all with whom he has become acquainted. His successor, Capt. Myers, comes suiting us highly recommended, and we doubt not will continue to make "The Ben" a general favorite with the public. Mr. A. L. Miller continues to serve in the clerks office.

Submitted by Georgeann McClure, from the book, Rivermen, Muscatine, Iowa.

Source: Muscatine Journal, Muscatine, Ia., 1858.


The Steamer W. J. Young Sinks Last Night Near Buffalo.


The W. J. Young Goes Down Passengers at the wharf last evening who awaited the arrival of the splendid little steamer W. J. Young were disappointed and were either obliged to forego their contemplated passage south or take the cars. Her scheduled time of arrival at this port is 8:30 p.m. on her downward trip, and it is infrequently that she fails to show up unless detained on delayed on account of some, unaccountable accident. While the officers at this station were marveling on account of the boats non-arrival they were astonished at receiving a telephone message which stated that the stately craft, while on her way to Burlington under command of Capt. Walter A. Blair, had struck a submerged snag and gone to the bottom of the river, opposite Buffalo, about 8:30 o"clock. She sank in three and one-half feet of water. The damage to her cargo reported to be light. Nobody was hurt but all were badly frightened. The hole in her hull measures about twelve inches square, which is to be wondered at considering the fact that she has lately come from the ways of the Rock Island boat yard, where her hull was given a coat of iron plates which were intended to fit her for contact with the ice flow of the coming cold weather.

As soon as the extent of the damage was learned the Hattie Darling, a small steamer which was spending the night at the Rock Island shore, was telephoned, and went to the scene of the accident with the intention of assisting in pumping out the disabled steamer. The Carrier, another steamer of almost the Young"s size, which is owned by Captain Blair and runs for some time in the Davenport-Burlington trade, was telegraphed for. She is at Keokuk and will take the cargo of the Young to southern destinations. An unfortunate circumstance connected with the accident is the fact that the Young carried the largest freight manifest she has carried for the past eight weeks. Her passengers numbered about twenty, were taken ashore in boats and provided with rail transportation to their destinations from Buffalo. It is expected that the sunken steamer will have been raised some time today when the extent of the damage will be more fully ascertained.

Latest reports from the scene of sinking say that the Young was raised at noon to-day and started for the dry docks at Rock Island, where she will be repaired. The cargo escaped damage entirely. The accident was caused by the boat striking a stone rather than a snag, as stated above.

Submitted by Georgeann McClure, from the book, Rivermen, Muscatine, Iowa.

Source: Muscatine Journal, Muscatine, Ia., 13 Oct 1896.


Davenport sent one of its wild excursion parties to this city yesterday on the Golden Gate, on reaching Muscatine a free-for-all fight ensued, and later on when the boat took out several parties from here two other brawls followed, resulting in several black eyes. The scenes enacted on the boat were disgraceful. Beer was sold as soon as the boat left the landing, Marshall Hartman having forbid the sale while laying at the levee. This is one of the beauties of ? of Sunday excursions and the management of the Golden Gate deserve to be censored for allowing such conduct on the boat.

Submitted by Georgeann McClure, from the book, Rivermen, Muscatine, Iowa.

Source: Muscatine Journal, Muscatine, Ia., 18 Aug 1889.


The Beautiful Passenger Steamer Goes to The Bottom at Winona City, Having Struck the Bridge The Contractors Will Have to Sustain a Damage of $1,000 to $1,500 as a Result of that Gale Last Night Infirmary Of Osteopathy Established Engineers on The Ground.


She strikes bridge at Winona and goes to the bottom The palatial steamer Dubuque, belonging to the Diamond Jo Line, bound south and due in Muscatine at 10 o"clock this morning, did not arrive and all because she collided with the bridge at Winona Monday evening and settled in five feet of water. In passing through the C & N.W. draw bridge during a heavy wind and thunder storm, she got beyond the pilot"s control and struck the support of the bridge with a terrible crash, which shocked and aroused the passengers. The boat was soon bustling with frightened men and hysterical women. It was seen at once the boat was sinking rapidly. Pumps were put to work but had no effect. Every effort was then made to guide the boat to shallow water, which was accomplished after a hard struggle. The water where the boat was drifting helpless for awhile was twenty-five feet deep.

It was found the hull had a hole stove in it twenty feet long and two feet wide. All the wood -work on the port side was completely wrecked. She had aboard about fifty passengers, mostly for St. Louis. All escaped without injury. The boat will be temporarily repaired and taken to the ways at Dubuque.

As the Dubuque's hull is six feet, the accident is not regarded as of a serious nature. And freight on the lower deck will scarcely be dampened. From present indications, the big packet will be out in a few days and will hardly miss more than a round trip to St. Louis.

The Dubuque was originally known as the Pittsburgh. She was a sister ship of the present Diamond Joe steamer Sidney and was built for the Ohio river trade. Some fifteen years ago the twin packets were bought by the Diamond Jo Line and installed on the Upper Mississippi. Both were stern wheel boats and larger than any on the river, and they quickly supplanted the steamers the Diamond Jo company then had and were the queens of the fleet until the merging of the Jo Line and St. Louis and St. Paul Packet company. The Dubuque, then the Pittsburgh, was caught in the terrific St. Louis cyclone of two years ago last May and all her upper works were, blown away. The winter before she had been provided with a new hull, and after the cyclone she was towed to Dubuque and rebuilt, so that when she came out a little over a year ago she was essentially a new boat. She is apparently hoo-dooed for only a few weeks ago she busted a flue out of St. Louis, one of her rousters dying from the scalding received. Her dimensions were 260 feet long by 40 feet beam, and she was worth $50,000. The Dubuque was in command of Capt. James Boland.


The Davenport Leader says the Young had a well-filled cabin Sunday evening on her short trip to Muscatine, many Davenporters taking advantage of the same and coming for the trip. It says: "It was delightful upon the river, too. There was a good breeze from the southwest, and as the boat went on it became stiffer and cooler. The heat of the day vanished. It was delightfully cool. Captain Blair seemed to know just how to make everybody feel comfortable, and they were comfortable. There was music aboard in quantities. The boat reached Muscatine at about 6:30 o'clock and started on the return trip at 7. Supper was served upon the boat and nearly everybody availed themselves of the opportunity. It was a good supper, too. The return home was more delightful still. Sixty miles on the bosom of the Mississippi, surrounded with music, song and friends. Eight hours of delightful breezes which waft away the heat of the day, cools the blood and gives repose."

Last evenings storm struck the W. J. Young just after, she passed through the Keithsburg bridge, upward bound. She kept on her course as though there was no storm. The wind blew down the river and the waves were high, but there was no rolling or rocking of the boat. She is a staunch craft with Machinery and Capt. Blair says he feels safe on her in a storm as he would in any dwelling.

The Quincy passed up this morning with 100 passengers on board. The St. Paul will be up Sunday to take the place of the Dubuque. The captain of the Quincy reports that the storm did no damage to the boat, although it blew a very strong gale down the river.

The river forecast for today indicates no change above Davenport and below Dubuque.The stage of the river stands at 3 feet 9 inches, a fall of three inches during the last 24 hours.

Dubuque Telegraph: This afternoon word was received that the boat had been raised and was on her way to Dubuque with all her passengers aboard. She will be put on the Eagle Point ways for repairs.

Submitted by Georgeann McClure, from the book, Rivermen, Muscatine, Iowa.

Source: Muscatine Journal, Muscatine, Ia., 20 Jul 98.


The stern wheel Steamer Lansing was owned by Rambo & Son of Le Claire. She made daily trips to Davenport, leaving Le Claire in the morning and returning in the evening. I was in Le Claire and there met Robert Smith, a pilot, with whom I had a slight acquaintance. I am not sure, but I think he was the son-in-law of the elder Rambo. I was going down the river and he told me that he was to take the Sterling to Davenport on the following day for the Rambo's, and invited me to ride with him. I accepted the invitation and told him I would be on hand next morning at 7:30. I was stopping at a hotel near the river and just opposite the steamboat landing. I was up next morning in ample time, but the hotel-keeper was late with breakfast. Myself and two other men missed the boat. We crossed the river to take the train, and there learned that the Lansing had exploded one of her boilers while lying at the town of Hampton. The Lansing left Le Claire that morning with 10 or 12 passengers. When Smith landed her at Hampton the wind was hard on the shore. When ready to leave there the wind held her to the bank, and she would not back out. A spar was set at the stern of the boat to span out and the passengers were all back there assisting in the work. Smith was at the wheel in the pilot house and the clerk in his office. The Lansing had two boilers, and while the sparring was going on the shore, the boiler exploded, going high in the air. Smith and the clerk, whose name, I think, was Vandyke , were killed. Van Dyke's body was blown across the river, where it drifted across the river to the shore. Pilot Smith was blown in the opposite direction-out into the town. The shore at Hampton was flat, and the wind had driven the side of the boat upon it, and it was said that the explosion was caused, not by steam pressure, but from a lack of water in the shore boiler. The hull of the boat laying on an incline, forced all the water out of one boiler and into the other.

Source: Burlington Saturday Evening Post, 1911.


Glenmont: Hiram Brayel
Rutledge: W. Whistler
Saturn: R.H. Tromley
Kate Keen: J. Connors
Neptune: George Winans
E. Douglas: I. Millison
Chancy Lamb: A.O. Day
Jessie B : W. Quinn
Vivian: Thomas Duncan
Gazelle: E. Root
Artemus Gates: John Lund
Brockmann: P. Gerlich
Robert Dodds: John Pearson
Kendal: W. Whistler
Ben Hershey: S. Witherow
Pathfinder: E. Winans
C.W. Cowles: Joseph Buisson
Satellite: T. Galliger
Lenehan: W. Dubler
Mountain Belle: A. Lambert
Kit Carson: G. Nichols
Ravenna:J. Hoyt
Clyde: I Newcomb
Juniata: : H. Slocomb
Lizzie Gardner: A. Short
Mayflower: C. Roman
Monarch: J. Young
Lotus: H. Pollock
Augusta: O. Thompson
Lone Star: C.W. Schricker
Lydia Van Sant: G. Tromley Sr.
Outing: J. Bork
Pickle: Isaac Spinsby
Weyerhaeuser: G.Reed
Rutledge: W. Whistler
Kate Keen: J. Connors
E. Douglas: I. Millison
Jessie B: W. Quinn

Source: Davenport Republican, Davenport, Ia., 13 Dec 1901.


I rousted on the Rob Roy, I rousted on the Lee,
I rousted on the Belle La Cross, she got away with me.
The Libby is a good boat, and so am the Lee,
but the Old Diamond Jo, She's too much for me.
Get on board, get on board, we's goin' up the river, get on board.
Written by: Capt F.A. Whitney

Source: Burlington Saturday Evening Post, Burlington, Ia., 1923.

Pg 3


In order to avoid confusion Reynolds adopted a trade mark to be used in marking and shipping his bales of furs, a very simple one consisting of the letters JO enclosed by four short straight lines , joined in the shape of a diamond, and one which anyone could make and anyone would could read--"Diamond JO," Later, when he began buying wheat, he had all his sacks marked--"STOLEN FROM DIAMON JO." As he never sold any sacks, he and his agents and employees could and did claim all sacks bearing his trade mark. From "Diamond Jo was For Many Years The Most Picturesque Figure On The Mississippi,"

Submitted by Walter Blair.


His Coffin Built Within his Hearing as he Lay Dying-His Checkered Life-How he got His Nickname-His Pet Mine Brought a Fortune.

No name, says the Philadelphia Times, is more familiar to the miner west, and few more so to the capitalist than that of Diamond Jo Reynolds. All sorts of stories have been circulated about his life, how he got his name, and when and where he died. Some are true, others fiction. We were all gathered about the board of a miner's table, at Cripple Creek, Colo., when the following narratives were told by Dr. Sydney R. Bartlett, the mine expert, who had been a roommate at Harvard with Blake Reynolds, the only son of the famous "Jo."

The doctor was also an expert in the employ of Reynolds and played an important and gruesome part of the time of the old man's death. Colorado mines and ores were discussed, and then the conversation turned on Arizona, when the "Congress" mine was spoken of, and with it its former owner Diamond JO. He was the sharpest man on a bargain and withal the most generous man I've ever "known", said the doctor. He had lame-hip disease, which was brought on when he was a boy. It illustrated the stuff he was made of. He had a jack knife, and in drinking at an air hole in the ice it fell through. Reynolds went to his home, got an ax and chopped a hole in the ice large enough to admit his body. And dove in, rescued his knife and caught a cold, resulting in a disease which lamed him for life. He told me," continued the doctor, "that he started at 18 years of age with $25 with which he bought a $45 heifer, leaving him $20 in debt, and from that time up to his dying day he had never been out of debt, despite the fact he left $7,000,0000.

The true story of his getting the name of Diamond Jo was in this wise: Jo Davidson owned a number of steamboats plying on the upper Mississippi, while Jo Reynolds owned boats' running south on the river to New Orleans. Both lines were known as the "Jo Steamers," and all bales and goods were marked via Jo line. The confounding of the two resulted in Reynolds drawing a diamond around the Jo on all goods shipped, and thereafter he was Diamond Jo, and in no way did the appellation come from the fact that he had a fondness for wearing the precious stone.

As a plunger the old man has had few equals. One of his greatest was the Del Pasco mine, in Arizona, but its turning out badly only strengthened his determination to secure a world beater, and it was about this time he set his heart on the "Congress" mine, which even today is one of Arizona's greatest producers. He paid $39,000 for the property and it was 65 miles from Prescott and any railroad. It was here the old man died. I went out to make an examination of the property for Reynolds, and handled assays and the requisition department of the place, and they were lively days out there. The story of Reynold's death has not been reported correctly, so I'll tell you the facts.

It was in February, 1890, and the rains were on. Outside of the mill we had a little shanty, a bunk house, and there we all slept. Never shall I forget that February night. Jo had been complaining for several days, though he was up and about the mine and mill each day. One afternoon he was taken down suddenly, and I undressed him and put him to bed in one of my own night gowns. Toward evening he grew worse, and the storm outside was fearful. About 6 o'clock I knew he was dying. His desperate efforts to breathe were frightful. His head was on my shoulder. Then it was the thought struck me to get his body to Prescott, for we had no ice, and it was a mighty bad road, covering 65 miles, and a start must be made at midnight, if the one train daily out of Prescott was to be caught.

About 9 o'clock I ordered the mill carpenter to come to the bunk house, and whispered for him to knock some boards together for a coffin, and in a few minutes, above the blowing outside, I could hear the nails being driven home in poor old Jo's coffin, and he not dead yet. It was pretty tough, I assure you, and that night made things seem worse. About midnight he died, and by 1 o'clock in the morning we had the body in the crude coffin, on one of the wagons, and its relay of six mules and its Mexican drivers, and the start for Prescott was made. It took the outfit just 24 hours to make the trip, and was we caught the one train out of Prescott. It was a sad ending of a great man and a terrible journey.

"And what became of the mine?" asked one of the men at the table.

"It was sold that July," said the doctor, "for $1,500,000."

Submitted by Georgeann McClure, from the book, Rivermen, Muscatine, Iowa.

Source: Davenport, Democrat, Davenport, Ia., 03 Aug 1896.


Along the river items washed ashore by the Mississippi's waves river water is again quite muddy. It is expected that the packet Gem City wilL pass down to-day.

The only packet passing this port yesterday was the Mary Morton, which left for down river points in the Keokuk and St. Louis trade at 7 o'clock in the morning.

The following is a complete list of the officers of the steamers of the Diamond Jo line for the season:

Mary Morton- Master, L. H. Cubberly; first clerk, Ed. Phillips; second clerk, Ed. F. Fay; pilots, H. E. Beadle and Jule Calhoun; second engineer, Dan Dawley; mate, Jesse Irwin steward, Wm. Hickman.

Pittsburgh-Master, John Killeen; first clerk, M. P. Fulton; second clerk, Geo. M. Miles; pilots, S. J. Dolson and L. P. Williams; first engineer, Henry Rice; mate, John Boland; Steward, Thos. Reardon.

Sidney- Master, F. E. Buchheit; first clerk, Ceph Gregg, second clerk, C. A. Norris; pilots, Mills Ruby and Sheldon Ruby; first engineer, Charles Monahan; second engineer, Thomas Burnett; mate, Frank McCleary; steward, H. G. Hill.

Gem City- Master, G. W. Jenks; first clerk, John F. Fay; second clerk, L. J. Hudson; pilots, Dug Roberts and Charlie Martin; first engineer, A. F. Beemene; second engineer, William Kay; mate, R. Costello; steward, William Blank.

Submitted by Georgeann McClure, from the book, Rivermen, Muscatine, Iowa.

Source: Gate City, location unknown, 29 May 1891.


Original crew of "Diamond Jo" boat included Capt. Ben Congar, with Andrew Coleman, Davenport and H. S. Ruby of Buffalo as pilots, John Carlisle and George Dodge, clerks Moses Mullen, Davenport, mate and Los Record and Henry Alford of Davenport, Stewards.


Davenport.....James Osborn
Rock Island......Geo. Lamont
Dubuque..........Fred A. Bill
Muscatine........W. G. Block
Gen Freight......E. M. Dickey
Burlington.......Wm. Penrose
Diamond Jo's agent Capt. Fred A. Bill


Capt. Fred Adelbert Bill, was born August 12, 1850 he was the son of Epaphras, (E. C.) Bill and Betsy O. Davis. Epaphras built steamboats in Hartsgrove, Ohio around the time that the Ohio and Erie canal opened. Fred Bill began his career as a riverman in 1868 on his fathers tug boat the "Buckeye". By 1872 He was the clerk of the "Dakota" and well on his steamboat career. In 1860, he became a clerk with the Diamond Jo Line where he continued his riverboat career until his retirement in 1916. For a time he was the Steamboat agent for the Diamond Jo Line in several cities including Davenport, Iowa. He died in Feb. 9, 1936 in St. Paul Minnesota, Ramsey County.

Source: Early steamboating on the Red River [microform] / by Captain Fred A. Bill. Bismarck : State Historical Society of North Dakota, 1942.


by John Hay

Well no, I can't tell whar he lives,
Because he don't live you see,
Least ways, he's got out of the habit
Of livin, like you and me,
Where have you been for the last three year
That you haven't heard folks tell
How Jimmy Bludso passed in his chocks
The night of the Prairie Belle?

He weren't no saint, them engineers
Is all pretty much alike
One wife in Natchez under the hill
And another one here, in Pike:
A keerless man in his talk was Jim,
And an awkward hand in a row,
Bill he never flunked, and he never lied,-
I reckon he never knowed how.

And this was all the religion he had-
To treat his engine well:
Never be passed on the river
To mind the pilot's bell;
And if ever the Prairie Belle took fire,
A thousand times he swore,
He'd held her nozzle agin the bank
Till the last soul got ashore.

All boats had their day on the Mississip.
And her day came at last,-
The Movastor was a better boat,
But the Belle she wouldn't be passed.
And so she came tearin along that night-
The oldest craft on the line
With a nigger squat on her safety valve
And her furnace crammed, rosin and pine.

The fire bust out as she cleared the bar,
And burnt a hole in the night,
And quick as a flash she turned and made
For that willer-bank on the right
There was runnin and cursin, but Jim yelled Out
Over all the infernal roar
I'll hold her nozzle agin the bank
Till the last galoots ashore.
Through the hot, black breath of the burnin Boat
Jim Bludso's voice was heard,
And they all had trust in his cussedness,
And knowed he would keep his word
And, sure's you're born, they all got off
Afore the smokestacks fell-
And Bludso's ghost went up alone
In the smoke of the Prairie Bell.

He weren't no saint-but at jedgment
I'd run my chance with Jim
Longside of some pious gentlemen
That wouldn't shook hands with him.
He seen his duty, a dead sure thing-
And went for it there and then,
And Christ ain't a going to be too hard
On a man that died for men.

Pg 4


Miss Nina Moore, Who Went to Klondike With Matrimonial Intentions to find the Former Davenporter Married to an Actress, Asks Big Damages

Miss Nina Moore, the young California girl who journey thousands of miles to the Klondike to wed Capt. Will Bledsoe of this city, only to find him married to an actress, has filed suit in the court at Dawson asking for $25,000 damages according to reports has a good chance of winning her suit. It is said that Capt. Bledsoe, though a young man has been given the command of the steamer Susie, and by speculating in claims and in following the river has made quite a fortune. He is expected to return to Davenport next summer.

It is hoped by Capt. Bledsoe that when he gets where he can tell his side of the story it will sound very different. The Seattle Times of Aug. 8 tells of Miss Moore's return as follows:

Among the returning passengers from the North on the steamship Humbolt today was Miss Nina Moore, who went to Dawson last year, according to public repute, to marry Captain Bledsoe, who is said to have made a fortune navigating vessels on the Yukon . She went North under promise of marriage to Captain Bledsoe, but reached the Klondike metropolis to find him the husband of another woman. Several days before his promised wife from California reached Dawson the fickle captain was wedded to a variety actress who was performing in a Dawson theatre.

Miss Moore made the trip from San Francisco to Dawson , nearly 3,000 miles, alone. She had worked the previous summer for a large lumber company at Nome , as stenographer, and there met the captain. A passing acquaintance soon ripened into a better understanding and the captain proposed to the pretty stenographer. She accepted him and they formally announced their engagement of marriage.

Finally duty called Captain Bledsoe up the Yukon , where he took charge of the large river steamer Susie, one of the most handsome craft on the Yukon river, Miss Moore returned to her home in San Francisco . The lovers, though parted, wrote regularly and by their letter it was arranged that Miss Moore should make the trip alone to Dawson , where she should wed the captain. Securing her trousseau she started and after considerable difficulty reached the Klondike metropolis. There she found her promised husband with another bride.

Miss Moore was indignant and made up her mind to immediately return to her California home. She did not have enough money, however, and bravely went to work as matron of the Dawson jail. In that manner she secured quite a sum of money, enough to pay her fare to the outside. In the meantime Miss Moore started suit for breach of promise against the rich captain upon the advice of friends. That suit is still pending in the Dawson courts. She asked for $25,000 for the broken promise and every indication points ultimately to a favorable verdict. Says one Dawson report.

Miss Moore spent the day at a local hotel, and this evening will take the train for home.

Source: Davenport Republican, Davenport, Ia., 11 Aug 1901.


She declares missing Jewels to Be Prenuptial Gift---Denies in Court

Alice Tenney, housekeeper for the late Captain Whitney. Veteran riverman, admits possession of $300 worth of jewelry formerly in the possession of the dead man and which have disappeared since his death, to friends, it is alleged, but denies knowledge of them in court.

According to the story told by authority which cannot be questioned , Mrs. Tenney told a friend following the discovery of the loss of the diamonds, that she had them. The housekeeper is reported to have said that the old man presented them to her before he died at a time when they were expecting to be married.

Mrs. Tenney says that Captain Whitney wished her to marry him for some time before his end and that the jewels were a gift to his affianced bride. It is declared that the housekeeper has the jewels, which consist, of a diamond scarf pin and earrings in her possession now.

Denies Knowledge in Court

In court, however where she has been arraigned by the Whitney heirs on a charge of grand larceny, Mrs. Tenney strenuously denies any knowledge of the present whereabouts of the valuable trinkets. The hearing was started yesterday morning in Justice Mauckers court and is still in progress.

Further developments are expected at any time, although there is much questioning among friends of the family as to the validity of the claim of the housekeeper to the precious stones. It is known that the veteran pilot was quite fond of his housekeeper, but it is not generally known that matrimony was considered.

Source: Davenport Democrat, Davenport, Ia., 24 Jun 1913.


Yesterday afternoon the Steamer W. J. Young Jr. made her second trip to Muscatine in the Afternoon and returned in the evening. She tool along a flattering list of passengers. One of the features of the trip was an interesting race, between her and the steamer J. W. Van Sant. The two steamers backed out of Muscatine at the same time as did the consort of the latter boat, which is used as a bow boat. The boats came alongside as they passed under the high bridge. From that moment the race was on in earnest. The Van Sant was caught by the suction of the Young and the two boats drew together, their guards touching. Neither could get away from the other. The excitement was intense. For five miles they held together, then by a shrewd maneuver on the part of Capt. Blair, who was at the wheel himself, he succeeded in getting clear and distanced his plucky adversary.

If Capt. Blair will promise a treat of this kind every week these trips will be wonderfully popular. They are popular as they are.

Source: Davenport Leader, Davenport, Ia., 30 Jun 1898.


Additional Information from Men Who Knew Addenda 21 Jun 1919.Sinking of Stmr. Le Claire. She was Built in Le Claire in 1872 and owned by George Williams of Keokuk for doing contracting Work.


In 1879 Capt. A. J. Whitney and Capt. Vincent Peel brought the little rafting steamboat Le Claire to use as a tender for a dredging fleet for government work on the upper Mississippi river between Quincy and Dubuque . In September of 1879 they were doing some work at Keithsburg and one evening they left Keithsburg for Rock Island with the Le Claire, Capt Peel master, Shell Ruby pilot. F. A. Whitney engineer, and a crew of four men. About 11 o'clock at night a landing was made at Muscatine for supplies and then we started on up the river. When a few miles above fairport we met the steamer victory with the old Colossal's hull loaded with grain on the way to St. Louis .

The victory had this barge hipped well forward and in attempting to pass the victory the Le Claire ran across the bow of the barge and it having a model or sharp bow, cut the Le Claire in two just back of the boiler and she sank at once in 23 feet of water. The crew were all saved by getting on the victory's barge and were taken back to Muscatinewhere they could be sent by rail to Rock Island . The Le Claire was raised and towed to Kalkes boat Yard at Rock Island where a new hull was built for her machinery and boiler and the spring of 1880 she came out as the steamer A. J. Whitney. The old Le Claire hull was broken up in the boat yard which ended the career of what was once a very popular and successful little tow boat.

Yours Truly F. A. Whitney.

Source: Centerville, Ia., 19 Jun ?.



All old timers well remember the commanding figure of Capt. Bryson as he stood upon the roof telling the pilot to come ahead on the star board wheel, and hold the steamer up to the shore. He is one of the few surviving captains and is now postmaster at Davenport, Iowa .

Source: Unknown.


Walter Blair

J. H. S. Coleman and his brother Egbert, had each a tenth interest in the great Homestake mine at Deadwood, S. D. and each got about $40,000 for his share. Egbert put his money back in the ground in various places looking in vain for another Homestake.

J. H. S. or "Sullivan" as we knew him, brought his money back home and with his older brother, James and Andrew, contracted for a new boat, 140 by 28 feet, at St. Louis . They then bought the engines, shaft and all other usable parts of the "James Means" and placed them on their new boat which came up in the spring as the "Golden Gate".

The Verne Swain ran in 1898 in charge of Capt. A. H. Lovett of Davenport , and in 1899 and 1900 Frank Black who had been her clerk, became master.

Source: The Davenport Democrat, Davenport, Ia., 1936.

Pg 5


When he Bought the Davenport Ferry

Forty years ago a keen, blue-eyed, bare foot boy of slender build sat on the banks of the Mississippi at his father's farm watching the Davenport ferry boat wend its way lazily across the Father of Waters. The lad was then 7 years old.

As he sat fascinated with the sight, in his boyish mind there came the desire to some day be the sole owner of that ferry. How he later succeeded in realizing his life's ambition sounds like one of Horatio Alger's novels, yet it is the life story of Captain William "Bill" Quinlan, today the owner and operator of the Davenport ferry Company.

"Bill" is a small, smiling man, a pleasant conversationalist and quick to make friends. The pride he takes in his boat is unusual, it is his castle, the idol of his dreams and last but not least, an excellent meal ticket.

However, all has not been a bed of roses for the captain of one of the niftiest and strongest steamers of its size.

In his early days he worked on the farm, on barges, in warehouses, and tried his hand at anything that came his way, but with the uppermost thought and desire, cherished close to his heart and resulting from his boyhood dreams of owning the boat. This was his ideal. This was the ultimate end of his labors.

Strikes out

Finally he accumulated enough money to buy a strip of land near the oil fields of Eldorado , Ark. After years of meager living he awoke to find himself rich, they had struck oil on his land.

The thought uppermost in his mind was to sell out and buy the boat of his dreams. This he did, selling his land at a considerable profit, and caught the next train for Davenport where he purchased for $35,000 the Davenport Ferry company, then controlled by the Henderson's and at that time, six summers ago, a losing proposition.

He had never operated a boat, didn't know the first thing about running a company of this kind. All he had was a fervent desire to own it and this he did.

Told he Was Crazy

"You're crazy, Bill," his friends told him. "Why that thing has been in the 'red' for years. You'll never make a go of it." However, the boat was bought despite the admonitions and free counsel of his friends.

"Maybe I was crazy," Mr. Quinlan said to a Democrat reporter "I was almost convinced of it before I had owned the ferry two years. During that time I lost $40,000." He said smiling.

Makes 144 trips

The ferry crosses the river 144 times a day, operating from 6 a. m. until midnight. It is five eighths of a mile wide where the boat crosses and therefore it travels 90 miles a day, making a round trip every 15 minutes.

From three to four tons of coal are used a day to fire the boilers and a crew of then men is employed, including two pilots, Before Mr. Quinlan began operating the vessel the coal consumption was 12 tons a day.

The average number of passengers for each day, eight months out of the year, is 7,000 persons. In the year 1929 the boat carried more than a million passengers and Mr. Quinlan expects the total to exceed 1,250,000 for 1930.

Source: The Davenport Democrat, Davenport, Ia., 1930.


Took an Official part in first Legislature

Served also as Assistant Clerk of House at First Session Held at Iowa City Faithful Official in City and County Affairs-Thirty Years on the River.

In the death of Lemuel Parkhurst announcement of which was made in Fridays evening's Democrat, one of the remarkable characters of this section has passed away. He was one of the pioneers in the early settlement of this county and in the various fields of work with which he was identified he faithfully and efficiently performed the duties that were his.

Clerked on Noted Boats

After taking up his residence at Le Claire Mr. Parkhurst went to clerking on the river and some of the noted boats on which he served as first clerk during the score and a half of years he was steam boating, was the Royal Arch, the Golden Era and the Grey Eagle. These were among the finest boats that plied the great river during that long period, though there were many others of the same magnificent type and on which he served. Often times his trips took him from St. Paul to Pittsburg. It was a common thing in those days of stupendous river traffic for a vessel to clear all the way from $10,000 to $20,000 on a trip. That Mr. Parkhurst was one of the most efficient steamboat clerks that the river has known is shown in the period of service in that capacity and on many of the largest and most celebrated packets of his time.

Source: Davenport Democrat, Davenport, Ia., 13 Dec 1903, p. 14.

Contributed by Sue Rekkas


Captain Blakely Who Brought the Old Settlers Here

Days of Work and Worry

The few who remember the e4arly packet days when the Dr. Franklin and the Argo were running will remember Captain Blakely. Captain Blakely entered the Mississippi river steamboat service in 1847 and was one of the most familiar steamboat men at the Davenport levee for fifteen years. During the time he was in the service as the captain of various steamboats on the river trade Captain Blakely. It is estimated brought fully 15,000 people into the states of Iowa and Minnesota


In the winter of 1848, Captain Blakely was one the members of the Galena and Minnesota Packet company and when in May 1849 the officers of the new territory who had been appointed by President Taylor arrived by rail at Prairie du Chien they were to enter on their new duties as officers of the territory, they boarded the good old steamer, Dr. Franklin on which Captain Blakely was clerk.

The Dr. Franklin

Captain Blakely first went into the river service in 1847, when he became clerk on the old steamer Argo. The same fall the Argo was sunk and the new steamer, Dr. Franklin, was purchased by Campbell & Smith, Henty Corwith, H. L. Douseman, Brisbois & rice, Henry H. Sibley. M. W. Lodwick and Captain Blakely. In the spring of 1848 when the navigation opened on the river Captain Blakely went on the Dr. Franklin as clerk. The Dr. Franklin was the crack steamer on the river that year, having been purchased on the Ohio to beat the War Eagle, the owned by Harris Bros.

Another Old Time Boat

After servicing on the Dr. Franklin, or the Old Doctor as the boat became known through the naming of a newer boat Dr. Franklin, No. 2, Captain Blakely became new captain in 1852. The next year he was placed in command of the Nominee a newer and better boat, and in 11855 he was made captain of the Galena . At the close of that season he left the active steamboating and was made outside manager of the packet company at Dunleith. He remained with the company until 1862 when the company went out of business.

Days of Work and Worry

The early river days were days of work and worry for the steamboat men for the only entry into the new land of promise was by was of the Mississippi river . All passengers and all freight in those days came into town by way of those steamers and of all the river captains of the territorial days non was better known in Davenport than Captain Blakely. He resides in St. Paul today, and many are the laughable and hair raising stories he can tell of early days on the river, of which he is one of the few survivors.

Source: The Davenport Times, Davenport, Ia., 15 Nov 1899.

Contributed by: Sue Rekkas



Capt. F. A. Whitney, Centerville , Iowa

The next cities to still keep the ferry are Rock Island and Davenport . Bridge or no bridge the large stern wheel steamer Davenport is constantly going from 6 a. m. until midnight with many passengers both ways. It seems like the people of Davenport work in Rock Island, and the people living in Rock Island work in Davenport.

Capt. Henderson don't care if they do, he gets their nickels going and coming.

Source: Saturday Evening Post, Burlington, Ia., ?.

Pg 6


Capt. W. Blair

From 1875 to 1880 Davenport and Rock Island had a very satisfactory service by the Diamond Jo, followed by the Josephine, running between Fulton, Ill., and Burlington, Ia., James Osborn was agent in Davenport, George Lamont in Rock Island and W. G. Block in Muscatine.

These three men were remarkable fine agents, being friendly and attentive to patrons and very loyal and faithful in promoting the interests of the boats. The crews of the boats always held them in high esteem.

Source: Saturday Evening Post, Burlington, Ia., ?.


Capt. W. Blair

Daily Service Between Davenport and Keokuk Away Back in 1855.

On February 1892, the Carnival City Packet Co. was organized at Davenport with Capt. Lon Bryson, L.M. Fisher, F. W. Downs, Capt. August Reimers and W. A. Blair as directors. The officers of the company were W. A. Blair, president and manager; S. R. Van Sant, vice-president; M. L. Marks, treasurer, and J. B. Phillips, secretary. Wm. Boldt, living in Davenport, retired.

Popular Captains

Captain J.W. Campbell and Captain Hillhouse were prominently connected with these popular steamers and the three Ruby brothers of Buffalo, Engineers Ben Wilson, Spence Burtnett Sr., Wilbur Norris, Lew Smith, George Halkes, and Fred Kramer of Rock Island, Andrew and James Coleman and Tony Le Claire of Davenport were among the pilots employed on the boats and their successors. The engineers were "Deck" Scott and E.D. Dixon.

Source: Saturday Evening Post, Burlington, Ia., ?.



A river man since 1837 and a Davenport property holder and taxpayer for a quarter of a century-sketch of a practical river man's career.

There lives in Davenport a business man and captain whom those that know have stamped as being one of the most practical river men that ever floated a craft on the upper Mississippi river . With a fleet of four steamers upon the bosom of the great river, every remaining dollar he has is invested in the city of Davenport and to the city coffers yearly come the taxes apportioned his lot to pay. They come in no small portion , either, for the taxable property owned by his capitalist in Davenport amounts to considerable. And yet, however strange it may seem, those people exist who would like to make it appear that he is working with might and main in the interests of some other city, a common wealth in which he has no possessions and whose welfare means neither the loss or gain of a dollar nor even a pleasant smile as far as he is concerned. When consistency is lost sight of then does argument lose its name.

Captain Jack McCaffrey originated in the city of St. Louis . It can literally be said therefore that his entire life has been spent along the river which has been to him the pathway of life. He did not stay there long enough, however, to become more than one of its proverbial barefoot boys, when a change was made in his residence. He came north and Scott county became his home. It has been so ever since. Capt. McCaffrey was but a lad in the neighborhood of fourteen years of age when he settled in Le Claire and yet from that date his river career can be said to have commenced. This was in the year of 1857, ever after he has been a follower of the great river and in 1865 he was proud to tread the deck of the first boat over which he had entire command. This boat was the Union , a small sidewheeler. From then until now it is doubtful if Captain McCaffrey has ever had a fonder moment than when he realized and others realized that he and he alone was the master of the vessel.

It was in the year 1893, about the middle of the summer, that Captain McCaffrey decided to locate in Davenport , in which city his capital had been invested for many years, and into whose coffers he had for a long period annually paid taxes. He came to Davenport and purchased a home. The site is where his handsome residence stands now just above the brow of Brady street hill. The building was then known as the Ida Institute but a lavish expenditure of money and many a consultation with a well known architect soon converted it into a magnificent and ideal home. The location and proportions of his property are worth considerable, but the improvements in the building cost enough to build at least three common frame dwellings, and as the captain himself states every man who was employed in the remodeling work was at the time a resident of Davenport, and the outlay therefore, in a measure went to the city. It is to Captain McCaffrey's interests that Davenport properly improve in value, and he is hardly the person to work against his own welfare to the benefit of a city in whose interest he has naught.

When Captain McCaffrey came to Davenport in 1898 he brought with him a fleet of four boats, the Charlotte Boecker, the Helen Schulenburg, the Robert Dodds and the Duke. The two former boats were entered into the excursion trade. They were manned by residents of this city and their supplies were all purchased as far as possible in Davenport . The Boecker did not remain here long, she was disposed of in about a year and sent to southern waters, but nevertheless, during the year she was here her supply bill amounted to considerable. The Schulenberg was active since then until this summer but now her trips are mainly confined between the two cities and Manhattan beach . The Dodds is a rafter but her supplies are purchased in this city as well as the others. This spring the Mary Morton was purchased and has since been running excursions in and out of the city. On an average of eighteen to twenty men are required to man the steamer when on a trip and not one of them is paid less than one dollar a day. As they are residents of Davenport the money is practically spent in this city.

Capt. McCaffrey has lately embarked in a new business. He has entered extensively in the coal business which necessitates the employ of from forty to fifty men and keeps the steamers in constant activity. He is furnishing Davenport with coal from the Hennepin canal at a cheaper rate than was ever known in the city and to the latter direct as has been the means of a great saving. The coal contract for the city schools for twenty-five to thirty-five thousand bushels represents a saving of hundreds of dollars as his price delivered is nearly a cent a bushel under all former prices in the history of the schools. Capt. McCaffrey says he is here to stay and will continue to do all in his power to advance the interests of the city in which he has invested.

Source: The Davenport Daily Times, Davenport, Ia., 01 Aug 1896, p. 2.

Submitted by Sue Rekkas and Georgeann McClure.

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