river boat view

Illinois Genealogy Trails - Finding Illinois Ancestors

Compiled by Georgeann McClure and Sue Rekkas

"May the waters that took you away, bring you back to me."
Adams, Harry  
Bergin, Edward
Davenport Democrat
August 26, 1896
Riverman Goes Insane

Edward Bergin, well known along the upper river as an expert steamboat engineer, was brought to Mercy hospital, Davenport, Sunday, from his home across the river, on account of having become violently insane. He escaped soon afterward and made his way back home, and after being declared insane by a jury, was sent to the hospital at Jacksonville, Ill. Tuesday afternoon.
Bergin is 86(36?) years of age and has a wife and two children. Until his mental facilities became affected about a year ago, he was employed on the J. K. Graves. He was considered among the most competent engineers on the upper waters. Mr. Bergin was the inventor of a cylinder cock, in the sale of which it is said he made considerable money. Such an extent that he was gradually becoming mentally irresponsible. Eventually it was necessary to find a successor for him at the engine. The fact of surrendering his position only increased his disturbance. He is a member of K. P. lodge 107
Black, Frank

Davenport Democrat & Leader
Short Line Packets here Brought Many Exciting Days
March 1, 1931
Walter Blair

"Then Capt. Streckfus put William Knaach in charge of the "Verne" with Frank Black of Rock Island as clerk, and bought the fine fast City of Winona from Youngmans Brothers and Hodgins of Winona, Minn."

"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 her master."

Davenport Democrat 1932

Verne Swain

Bromley, John
Reynolds Press
July 28, 1905

Bromley-- John C. Bromley, a native of England and a veteran upper Mississippi engineer, died of Bright's disease at his home in Rock Island last Friday, aged 66 years. He was buried Sunday by Trio Lodge, A F & M. Mr. Bromley at one time operated a ferry between Andalusia and Buffalo. He left a wife and eight children of whom the Misses Anna and Blanche are well known in Reynolds.
Buford, Thomas
steamboat agent
Burtnett, Spencer
Clinton Herald
April 11, 1913

One rafter on the Upper river

Morning Star to run
"The big steamer "Morning Star" will run between Davenport and St. Paul this year. Walter Blair will be Captain this year with Jim and Jack Richman pilots and Spencer Burtnett chief engineer."
Davis, John Burgess
Davis, B. W.
Davenport Democrat & Leader
Capt. W. Blair

In 1864 the Kahlke brothers and John Theissen built two good sternwheelers at Port Byron, Ill., for B. H. Campbell of Galena and Captain B. W. Davis of Rock Island. The City of Keithsburg began to operate in charge of B. W. Davis and the New Boston in charge of Captain Melville. Both were on the run to Ft. Madison, leaving Rock Island and Davenport on alternate evenings.
Delisle, Charles
*also from Montrose Iowa
Denier, John
Pilot on ferry
Denkman, Fred
Duncan, Albert
*also from Clinton Iowa
Folson, Nathaniel
Freneau, Louis  
Graham Oliver
Haikes, George
Davenport Democrat & Leader
Short Line Packets here Brought Many Exciting Days
March 1, 1931
Walter Blair

Zack Suiter was pilot on the "Vernie" when Swain sold her and remained some time later until Fuller Smith succeeded him and remained on her until she left the trade. John Bromley, George Haikes, P. M. Maines and William Walker were her engineers that I remember. The Clinton trade ran strong without unusual incident until the season of 1896, when the steamer Jo Long came in to divide the business, by leaving Davenport and Rock Island at 7 a. m. and returning about 7 p. m.
Henderson, Marcus
Rock Island Argus
1880 -- 125 years ago
Capt. Marcus L. Henderson, for many years captain of the Rock Island-Davenport ferry, has left for Bedford, Iowa, to farm.

Port Byron Globe
May 27, 1926
Capt M. L. Henderson Dead

"Captain Marcus L. Henderson, 79 years, known by thousands thru his many years connection with the Davenport-Rock Island Ferry, passed away Sunday. He underwent an operation for prostatic trouble last November and had been failing in health since, having been confined to the hospital at various times during (sic following) his operation.
"Capt. Henderson, since the year 1899 had operated ferry boat between Rock Island and Davenport and his last boat, the Davenport was sold to W. J. Quinlan a year ago. When a young man he started work on river boats and in 1896 became employed as ticket seller on the Robinson and Rock Island, two boats plying between the two cities named above.
"The present government bridge was then (being) constructed and the two ferry boats were the only means of transportation between the two cities and 3 years later he took over ownership of the two boats and operated them successfully. Following completion of the government bridge, the Rock Island was operated alone, the Robinson being taken out of service; the boats were purchased from his uncle, the late Capt. T. F. ( sicT. J.) Robinson.
"The Rock Island was used in ferry service until the Davenport was constructed at Kahlke boat yards, rock Island in 1904 and this boat was then put into service and operated by Capt. Henderson until last year. The craft has been remodeled by its present owner W. J. Quinlan and is still being operated,.
Mr. Henderson was the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Perry Henderson, pioneer residents of Rock Island county, and was born at Rock Island and became employed on river boats. He received his education at Hillsdale school and business college in Davenport.
June 20, 1877 he was married to Miss Isabella Fitzgerald at Bedford, IA., and at which place they lived 15 years. His wife passed away in 1898. October 30, 1906 Mr. Henderson was united in marriage with Mrs. Sarah Brewster and married at Monmouth, ILL. He is survived by his widow, one daughter, Miss Amy Robinson of Dallas, Tex., one grandson, Jack Henderson of Rock Island. A son, John R. Henderson, died 6 years ago.
During his later years Mr. and Mrs. Henderson have resided at the Harper Hotel. He was a charter member of Rock Island Club, a member of Christian Science Church and a member of Rock Island Chapter No. 18 Royal Arch Masons and of Trio Lodge No. 57 A. F. & A. M.
Funeral services were held Tuesday from Knox chapel, Reader F.L. Hartman of Christian Science Church of Rock Island officiated with interment in Chippiannock Cemetery, Rock Island Trio Lodge No. 57, A. F. & A. M. of which he was a member in charge of the services at the grave.
Henderson, William
From the Burlington Saturday Evening Post,
C. M. Berkley
April 19, 1924
Chapter Three

"One of the characters among early steamboatmen was "Old Bill" Henderson, an Upper Mississippi river steward. Bill's boat, one year, was the last of the season from St. Paul. She did not reach St. Louis, having to lay up at Alton on account of heavy running ice. She arrived at Alton about 10 p. m., and the crew got the St. Louis newspapers, wherein Henderson read that the banking firm of Page & bacon had failed the day before. In this bank were deposited all his life's savings.
"Old Bill" armed himself with a butcher-knife and started to walk to St. Louis, there being no train scheduled for the next 24 hours. He crossed the river on ice at St. Luis, completing his trip at 3 a. m. at the ban he found the front door locked, but saw two large covered trucks at he side door, which he proceeded to investigate and found that all the cash was being taken away. He walked into the bank, locked the door, put the keys in his picket, drew his butcher knife and demanded his money or their lives.

It is needless to say that he was paid all his money, in gold, and he wrapped it in a bandana handkerchief. As he left the bank, he had to pass a grating on the sidewalk, He slipped and the bandana and the gold dropped into the grating. It was still early in the morning, so he laid down to await the porter who arrived in due time and found Bill asleep. Upon telling his story to the porter he was allowed to gather his small fortune and carry it away with him."
Hunt, Harry

The Daily Times June 12, 1922

J. S. Steamboat

Harry Hunt, mate, on the excursion steamer "J.S." Paid a fine amounting to $109.05 in justice W.W. Scott's court Saturday night after pleading guilty to assault and battery charges filed by Frank L. Strong, 2304 Grand Avenue, Davenport, and Mrs. Horace Davelaar, the plaintiff's alleging that Hunt assaulted them on the excursion boat Saturday.
Hunt was arrested by the Davenport police when the steamer landed Saturday evening and was arraigned before Justice Scott. He paid his fine immediately, stating that he did so in order to avoid delay in accompanying the "J.S." to St. Louis.
Strong appeared in Justice Scott's court late Saturday afternoon to swear out a warrant charging the mate with assault and battery. His face was badly battered and he had many bruises on his head as evidence of rough handling. Mrs. Davelaar who also swore out charges against Hunt claimed that the defendant attacked them behind a bulkhead on the boat, beating up Strong and choking her and trampling upon her body. Strong alleged that he was knocked senseless and was powerless to defend himself against the mate's attack.
Hunt alleged in court that the couple were conducting themselves in an unbecoming manner on the dance floor of the boat. He said that he approached them in a courteous manner, asking them to leave the floor but they swore at him and refused to accompany the mate. Hunt claimed that he did not deliberately assault the pair, but was compelled to use force when they attacked him.

[Researcher Sue Rekkas... Transcribed by Georgeann McClure]

Johnson, Edward  
Kahlke, Fred J.
Ships carpenter
Rock Island Argus
1954 -- 50 years ago
Ferry boat service between Davenport and Rock Island will resume at the end of May or the first week in June, depending on the stage of the river. Fred J. Kahlke, Rock Island, operator of the Kahlke Boatyards, who has operated the ferry for about seven years, said today.
Kramer, Fred  
Blair, Capt. W. Capt. W. Blair

Daily Service Between Davenport and Keokuk Away Back in 1855.
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.
Kerrigan, Wm.  
Kock, John  
Lachmund, Ida Mrs.
*Also lived in Clinton, Iowa
Lamont, George Capt. W. Blair RECALLS MANY OF THE BOATS
"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"

July 6
Rock Island Argus
1902 -- 100 years ago
J.R. Johnson is the new ticket agent of the Acme Steamboat Line, succeeding Captain George Lamont.

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 Conger, 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.
Laycock, J. H.
Muscatine Weekly News Tribune
March 21, 1902
River Flotsam and Jetsam

J. H. Laycock, otherwise, Captain Laycock, brother-in-law and business associate of Captain W. A. Blair, is well known here, where he has been hailed for years as a good fellow on both land and water. He was at Quincy last week attending to the launching of the Silver Crescent, the boat that Captain Blair began the packet trade at this print with. The Crescent has been getting repaired, and Laycock is to have charge of her this summer, and this is the Quincy Herald's story of the way he started in.
Layhe Family/ Eagle Packet Company
*Moved to St. Louis

W. H. Layhe Vice President
H. W. Layhe MGR. Sec. & Treasurer

Thomas, E. H.
Life on the Mississippi, Chapter 7
One of the worst of that time occurred on the 4th day of July 1872. It crossed the river from the northwest to the southeast. It was a hurricane, a straight blow and lasted from about 6 p.m. to 12. It just touched the lower end of Keokuk and the upper portion of Quincy. I was on the up trip from St. Louis and acting as captain and pilot. The boat was new and staunch. My cargo, taken on at St. Louis, consisted of but two kinds of freight. The hold was full of salt in sacks and the decks covered with furniture in the knock down shape. As I came around the bluff below La Grange, Mo. I saw a black, heavy, rolling cloud approaching, and through it was a streak of red, the latter being a sure indication of a heavy wind. I was but a short distance below the town, but the storm was approaching so rapidly that I saw that I could not reach the boat landing so I put my steamer to the shore and with ropes and chains tied her to the shore solid to some trees. The storm, in all its fury, hit us. The roof of a brick block was picked up, carried 100 yards and thrown into the river, and the trees below us were twisted and hurled into the stream. We had big steam and was working both engines ahead to make it easy on the lines, but we could not get any slack in them. The wind was terrific, the thunder roared and the lightning flashed, and to make matters worse, my crew of 14 men became demoralized and left the boat. They ran to the shore and there laid down in the mud and water holding on to shrubs or anything they could get hold of. They were so badly frightened that I could do nothing with them. I was expecting the boat to be blown loose from the shore, and wanted the crew on board. I tried persuasion and then used some river profanity, but all to no purpose. One of the men declared that the end of all things had arrived. As I was making fast to the bank, the steamer Spread Eagle passed us, with 600 Keokuk people on board of her. The Spread Eagle was owned by the Leyhe's or Eagle Packet Co. and on this occasion, the youngest member of the Leyhe family was at the wheel. I think his name was Albert. As he passed us he wanted to know if I thought it would be much of a blow. The Spread Eagle was the fastest boat on that part of the river, was loaded with heavy machinery and had very tall chimneys. As I saw the storm approaching and looked at the Spread Eagle and 600 passengers it almost made the hair raise on my head. I expected to see her turn turtle and drown all of the excursionists. But Albert sailed on, telling me that he would go to the rings at the landing and I suggested that he get there as quickly as possible. The Eagle reached the landing but just as Leyhe was turning her nose toward the shore, the tornado hit her a broadside blast and the steamer went over on her side. The larboard wheel was spinning around in the air, and the other was buried deep in the water. The larboard chimney was lifted off the beeching, and I could see Leyhe, the pilot, with his wheel hand down and holding on to one side of his little glass home. He was staying right with it, and finally got the nose of his boat to the wind. As she straightened up the larboard chimney, which had been hanging high in the air, came crashing down, making a complete wreck of the forward portion of the roof and cabin. Fortunately no one was drowned or injured. I have thought of this incident many times, and have always admired the nerve and coolness played by the young pilot on this occasion. On the following morning the river was so full of trees, lumber, logs, boats and other stuff that we were compelled to lay at La Grange until it ran below us.

Longwell, George  
Mangan, C. J. Agent Streckfus Steamboat Line Rock Island Ill.

The Davenport Democrat & Leader
April 8, 1923

Carl Mangan Predicts Good River Season
Traffic Manager of the Streckfus Line visiting Old Home Here

"The outlook for a good excursion boat season on the Upper Mississippi was never better at this season of the year than it is now. Declared Carl Mangan genial traffic manager of the Streckfus Line of steamboat. His company owns the steamers Capitol, St. Paul, J. S. and Washington."

"Mr. Mangan is spending several days at the old home in Davenport. He returns to St. Louis Monday."
Mc Darah, Henry
McGinley, Otis
McGINLEY, OTIS E. (Mississippi)
1899 Nugget notes him as Captain of LEAH.
1898 Noted by Lynch as Captain of the LEAH.
W.J. for April 16, 1898 noted his departure for Yukon at which time he was master of the DENKMAN.
1896 Blair (p. 203) notes him as Master of the F.C.A. DENKMAN, largest raft, Lynxville, Wisc. to Rock Island.

Nugget refers to him as "another veteran navigator of the Mississippi" from Rock Island, Illinois.
[Submitted by Jerry Green ]
Mc Mahn, Oliver
Negus Charlie
Davenport Democrat & Leader
Feb 22, 1931
Boats of The Pioneer Days On Upper River
Sinking of Craft and Loss of Life Not Uncommon In Olden Days
Capt. Walter Blair
Many Seek Trade

We never had a short trade packet service to Dubuque after the Means and the Henderson quit, except by the sidewheeler, countess, a very fast boat in the trade for the latter part of 1869 but we had many aspiring candidates for patronage in the trade from here to Clinton. Lyons and Fulton There was the Jennie Brown, a beauty of small side-wheeler, 140 y 24 feet, engines 14 inches by 4 ½ feet, up one day, down the next, with William Pierce as master Charlie Negus of Rock Island, clerk and W. P. Hall, pilot, I made a trip on her and although very bashful I made my way to the pilot house and got acquainted with "Pete Hall.
Norris, Wilbur
Davenport Democrat and Leader
March 22, 1931
Capt. W. Blair
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 Hailkes, 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.
Pierce, Charley
"When Rafters Ruled"
Fred A. Bill
Clinton Paper

In 18812 we had a clerk named Charley Pierce or Pearce. While lying opposite Moline waiting for the wind to go down he went ashore and walked down to Davenport. We were there about 24 hours and when we pulled out in the morning sent a skiff out for him at Davenport, but he did not show up. On arrival at Muscatine one of our men wanted his money but as we had no clerk we were unable to make settlement with him but offered to give him some money and make final settlement later on, but that would not answer-he wanted it all and he wanted it then. The result was that on arrival at Dubuque he had the boat tied up which cost us some delay and about $70. Meantime our clerk could not be located. He had the key to the safe and a reasonable supposition was that he had taken that money there was and skipped. Later the safe was opened and every dollar was there, or accounted for. It was a strange disappearance and I never knew what became of the man.
Pierce, W. N.
Chapter VII
Burlington Saturday Evening Post
Capt E. H. Thomas

The D. A. McDonald, a stern wheel boat, with good power and fast, met with a similar accident, except that she was under way at the time. This accident occurred just above the town of McGregor, Iowa. She was a new boat and had two 22 foot steel boilers. She was used as a raft boat and was on her upstream run, with the raft crew aboard. Twenty-seven of these raftsmen were killed and drowned. An investigation was made by the steamboat inspectors, but the cause of this disaster was not shown by the evidence. The engineer was one of the best on the river, and he stated under oath that he had two gauges of water at the time of the accident, and his testimony was corroborated by another. It was customary in those days for pilots and engineers to pass each other up and down the river, and they would frequently visit each other. Mark Twain refers to this class of men as "visiting pilots." On board of the ill fated D. A. McDonald was W. N. Pierce of Rock Island a well known river engineer, and he was the guest of the engineer of the McDonald. Pierce was blown high in the air, but lived to tell the story of the disaster, and this is the way he handed it out to us: "Boys, do you want to know how it felt to be blown up? If so, I can tell you, for I went up ahead of the boilers of the D. A. McDonald. I was lying down in her cabin reading a book. I heard the noise, felt the force, of the concussion and knew what had happened. I passed into a swoon, altho I knew what was going on. Someone, or something appeared to be gently lifting me up toward the blue sky, and all around me I could see the wreckage of the boat. It all occurred in a few moments, yet it appeared a long time to me. Up and up I went, and I thought I would never stop. But soon I was descending, going toward the river. I was traveling faster than the boards and timber around me, and going head foremost. Soon after starting downward one of my legs struck a timber and I turned a somersault. The timber cut a great gash in my leg, but I was now going feet foremost, and being a good swimmer concluded that I was all right. I took in a long breath and was ready for the plunge into the river-and I was soon there, for through the force of gravity, I was going some when I hit the water. Down, down I went toward the bed of the river. As when in the air, I thought I would never stop, but I did without hitting the bottom. Then I came to the surface. Seeing some of the wreckage near me, I seized it. I was weak and exhausted, but with the assistance of the raft of wreckage, I soon reached the Iowa shore. For a time, I was working one wheel. My injured leg was numb, and I could not use it. It was a close shave and, as I frequently tell the boys, I think I did a wonderful thing. Made a round trip in the air, up and back, one in the water, turned a somersault and swam ashore, and all this in a few moments. But say, boys, I don't want any more of it." the pilot was killed, and the engineer was found in the woods on the Iowa shore with one leg and several ribs broken, but he was taken to the hospital and recovered. One of the raftsmen was found upon an island in such a crazed condition that he could not remember his name or tell how he came to be there.

Davenport Democrat & Leader
Feb 22, 1931
Boats of The Pioneer Days On Upper River
Sinking of Craft and Loss of Life Not Uncommon In Olden Days
Capt. Walter Blair
Many Seek Trade

We never had a short trade packet service to Dubuque after the Means and the Henderson quit, except by the sidewheeler, countess, a very fast boat in the trade for the latter part of 1869 but we had many aspiring candidates for patronage in the trade from here to Clinton. Lyons and Fulton. There was the Jennie Brown, a beauty of small side-wheeler, 140 y 24 feet, engines 14 inches by 4 ½ feet, up one day, down the next, with William Pierce as master Charlie Negus of Rock Island, clerk and W. P. Hall, pilot, I made a trip on her and although very bashful I made my way to the pilot house and got acquainted with "Pete Hall.
Rice, Joshua
Robinson, Thomas  
Ruby, Homer Sheldon (Shell)
H. S. Ruby (Homer Sheldon Ruby)

Rock Island
Chippiannock Cemetery

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.
Staussen, Gerhard
Servus, Peter  
Speakes, George
Steamboat agent
(originally from Montrose)
Streckfus family

*The Streckfus Line began in Rock Island and Moved to St. Louis

Photo Rock Island Argus
Capt Joe Streckfus

The Davenport Daily Leader
Jan. 25, 1903
Pg. 5
Capt. Streckfus Caught in the Net

Indicted by the Rock Island Grand Jury For Operating a Slot Machine Upon His Boat
Capt. John Streckfus of the steamers "City of Winona" and "J. S." was one of those caught in the drag net cast in Rock Island as the result of the recent investigation by the grand jury. The genial Captain even though now his boats are securely harbored I winter quarters, is accused of operating a slot machine upon them and was indicted by the grand jury. He gave bonds in the sum of $300.
[Submitted by Sue Rekkas]

The Davenport Republican
Jan 29, 1903
Captain John Caught In Dragnet Also.
Indicted For Having Slot Machine on His Boat

All day yesterday a steady stream of saloon keepers and bondsmen passed in and out of the circuit and county court rooms, in Rock Island. Some ahd to come the second time before being able to produce a bond. One of the surprises of the day came when Capt. John Strckfus marched into the circuit court and gave $500 bond for operating a slot machine on one of his steamers.
[Submitted by Sue Rekkas]

The Davenport Democrat And Leader
October 14, 1925,
Pg. 6
Captain John Streckfus

Those Americans who have lived their lives on the Mississippi in these and other days have been men of a distinct type, individual tho they were. They have been successful, for only the successful could remain. They have been good businessmen, for the competition has been most keen and only the able and wide-awake and enterprising could keep their heads above the waters. They have been compelled to adapt themselves to radically changing conditions, to forget the prosperity of the packet and lumber milling days and win from the new day and the new order their trade and substance. In their younger days they must hold themselves in readiness to fight as man to man, if need be. And always it has been a battle of wits to keep afloat against wind and current and floating snags, against hidden ledges of rock and shifting of sand. Of late years it has been an endless struggle to make the money from excursion trade that once came from freight and passengers. So, the Mississippi. so the Mississippi riverman was of recently keen and brave and enterprising. But he was always more then those. Whether it came from the waters of the Mississippi or the air of the western prairies thru which the great stream ran or from the time and age or the spirit of the American people combined with it all--who knows. All we do know is that these Mississippi rivermen were great souls, their heart always tender to misfortune, their open hands ever ready to plunge into an equally open purse to relieve poverty and distress. And that was not all. The Mississippi river bred a race of men as witty and entertaining as they were brave and lovable and kind. They were matchless raconteurs. Their memories were filled with endless stories. Their humor was the quaint American humor of Mark Twain, himself one of the river pilots.

And such a Mississippi steamboat man was Captain John Streckfus. He was a man born on the banks of the Mississippi but a few miles from Davenport. His life work was on the great river. He founded and was president of the largest transportation line in operation on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. And he, like Mark Twain, whose contemporary he was, was essentially a brave and a good, a kindly and genial man. The middle-west laments the passing of men like Captain Streckfus just as it is proud to have produced him.
[Submitted by Sue Rekkas]
The Daily Times
March 8, 1948

Capt. John Streckfus Dead at 56; Member of Famous Steamboat Family

Capt. John N. Streckfus, 56, Rock Island and St. Louis river man, vice president and treasurer of Streckfus steamers, Inc., famous for its excursion boat ventures, died in St. Louis Sunday following a lingering illness. The Streckfus family, which now operated the "Admiral" in St. Louis and the "President" out of New Orleans, formerly resided at Seventh Avenue and twenty-third street in Rock Island.
Capt. Streckfus, one of four brothers, all captains, who operated Stredkfus steamers, was well known along the full length of the Mississippi. He was master of several large boats, including the Steamer J. S. familiar to residents of the Tri-City area.
The Streckfus brothers, Capt. Roy Streckfus, now operating the New Orleans division of the company, Capt Joe Streckfus, president and general manager of the company at St. Louis, Capt Vernon Streckfus, now on the "President" at New Orleans, and the decedent began riverboat ventures in operating he old Clinton-Rock island packets.
In beginning river operations the Streckfus family had the "Verne Swain" and the City of Winona" in the packet trade, Later they bought the Diamond Jo line, receiving the boats "St. Paul," "Sidney," "Dubuque," and Quincy."
The "St. Paul," under Captain John's guidance, was later converted into an excursion boat. The "Quincy," was later converted into the "Steamer J. S. after the first boat carrying the name was wrecked, the "Dubuque" became the "Capital" for excursion purpose, and the "Sidney" the "Washington" for the same purpose.
Captain Streckfus was graduated from Rock Island high school where he excelled in Altletics. He is survived by his wife; the three brothers; and three sisters, May Streckfus of St. Louis, Mo. Mrs. Anna Manthey of New Orleans, and a sister in New York City.
Sue Rekkas

Streckfus Line Steamers
Davenport Democrat


J. S.


Capt. Roy Streckfus
Photo Hawkeye

Capt. Roy Streckfus
Buried in Burlington, Iowa
Friday Evening - THE DAVENPORT DEMOCRAT AND LEADER - September 22, 1922
River Captain's Life Threatened by Crazed Negro With Revolver

Powerless to protect himself, Captain Roy Streckfus of the excursion steamer "Washington", listened, last night, to the threats and curses of a gin-crazed, 210- pound negro, who kept a hand on his big revolver and would probably have drawn it, had he not been forced to flee from members of the local police force.
The negro was Pervis Hubbard, of Mound City, Ill., a dissatisfied steamer employee whose dissatisfaction was whipped into insane rage by moonshine liquor. Hubbard boarded the Washington yesterday with the avowed intent of doing a murder, it is claimed. Accosting Captain Streckfus, he began to hurl oaths at him, patting significantly the revolver pocket.
" I had to take all of it because I was in fear of my life," Captain Streckfus said today. "Hubbard had had some trouble about his employment, and had been drinking gin in Rock Island all day. He is six feet tall, and could easily have overpowered such members of the crew who tried to keep him from his purpose."
While the captain remained silent under the volley of abuse police were hastily notified by steamboat men who saw his plight. The patrol wagon and a police auto were sent to the river front.
When Hubbard saw the police, he leaped from the boat to the levee, and, running as swiftly as his condition permitted, boarded a bridge line car for Rock Island. Officer Walter Snider pursued him, but was unable to get on the car before it entered the bridge.
Hubbard's attack occurred about 6:30 o'clock, just as preparations were being made on the boat for the evening's excursion. There were few passengers on the steamer at the time.
After the negro escaped, Rock Island police were notified, buy were unable to find any trace of him. According to the description furnished by Captain Streckfus, Hubbard was well dressed and wore a soft hat.

[Transcribed by - Georgeann McClure... Researcher - Sue Rekkas]

Tipton, David
The Daily Times
Sept 23, 1904
Capt. David Tipton Dies On Steamer

Capt David Tipton, one of the best known pilots on the Mississippi, dropped dead yesterday morning in the pilot house of the government snag boat Col. A. Mackenzie. News of the sad death of the old river man were received at the U. S. engineer's office in Rock Island today, causing much sorrow among his boats friends in Davenport, Rock Island, Moline and other cities on the river,
According to the information received, Captain Tipton was seated in the pilot house of the steamer, as it was nearing the head of Lake Pippin, in the vicinity of Red Wing, Wis., yesterday morning at 11:30, when he suddenly dropped from his chair and died instantly.
The other pilot, who was at the wheel, immediately summoned help and the remains of the beloved river captain were tenderly carried to the cabin.
Captain Tipton was 78 years of age, was born near Zainesville, Ohio, and he has been a Mississippi river plot for the past fifty years. In 1873 he entered the employ of the government as a pilot on the government boats on the Mississippi. He has held his position ever since, and has always had the best of reputation among all those connected with the river business.
The captain was a personal friend of Mark Twain and the two had spent many happy days together. He was never married and his only survivors are two nieces, whose whereabouts are unknown,
The funeral services will be held tomorrow in Rock Island. Rev. Pearce of that city officiating. Colonel Durham and Maj. Riche have departed for Red Wing to accompany the remains to Rock Island.
[Submitted by Sue Rekkas]

The Daily Times
Capt. Davy at Rest
Veteran Riverman is interred at Chippiannock

At 2 o'clock this afternoon the Rock Island club, the remains of the late Captain David McBride Tipton, who died on the steamer Col. A. MacKenzie near Red Wing, Minn., were taken to the Chippiannock cemetery for burial. The services at the club were solemn and impressive, a large concourse of the venerable gentleman's friends being present to attend the last sad rites.
The remains reached the city this morning from the north over the Burlington and were taken at once to the club. This afternoon the services were held at 2 0'clock the Rev. R. G. Pearce officiating. Captain Davy's death is being mourned throughout the city by those who knew him as he was such a whole souled man.
[Submitted by Sue Rekkas]
Whitney, F. A.
Additional Information from Men Who Knew
Sinking of Stmr. Le Claire
She was Built in Le Claire in 1872
and owned by George Williams
of Keokuk for doing contracting Work.

Editor Post; 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 Muscatine where 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.
Whitney, Henry B.

Whitney, A.J.
Davenport Democrat & Leader
Feb 22, 1931

In 1883 Capt. H. B. Whitney entered the Davenport-Clinton trade with a small new sternwheeler called the Nellie, of 78 tons and hull by the A. J. Whitney and Sons of Rock Island. Dole Holsapple was pilot and Parn Lancaster, mate. She was hardly large enough or fast enough for the run was sold south, her name changed to Dick Clyde and used as a towboat on the Tennessee River. Capt. Henry Whitney is still doing contract work for the United States, at present at Bonnots Mills, Mo.
Whisler, John T.
Reynolds Press
February 12, 1932

Capt John T. Whisler died of pneumonia on Tuesday at the age of 64. He was a resident of Rock Island and had been a riverman for 40 years or more. During the old lumber and log rafting days he served both as pilot and captain on various steamboats. Thru the last 11 years he had been the pilot on the steam ferry between Rock Island and Davenport.

Feb. 11, 1932
River steamer Captain victim of Pneumonia at 64

John T Whisler, 64, who was pilot on the J. W. Quinlan ferry active in river work on the Mississippi since he was 17 years old died Tuesday afternoon at the Moline City Hospital. He resided at 525 Twelfth avenue, Rock Island. Mr. Whisler had been ill of pneumonia since last Thursday.
Born March 11, 1867, in Como, Ill. He moved with his parents when a small boy to Albany, Ill, where he received his education. He moved to Rock Island 20 years ago.
Capt Whistler was married on Oct. 3, 1893 to Florence Wing in Prairie du Chien Wis. He was a member of the Albany Masonic lodge.
He served many years as pilot and captain on river steamers in early days and was one of the old masters and pilots for the Weyerhauser & Denkmann Lumber co. of Rock Island.
With the closing of the saw mills here he was in charge of the steamer Denkmann which was used for several years as the pleasure craft of the Weyerhauser and Denkmann families. In later years he served as pilot on the Davenport-Rock Island ferry on the steamer Minneapolis under the Rock Island engineers office.
Surviving are the widow; three daughters, Miss Helen Whisler of Rock Island, Mrs. Paul Rothe of Oakland Calif., and Mrs. Kenneth Tilton of Moline; a son, Arthur Whisler, of Rock Island; three sisters Mrs. Harry Burns and Mrs. Isaac Burns, both of Albany and Mrs. Ora Barnes of Reynolds. There also are one grandson and one granddaughter.
Whisler, William H.
Capt of the F.C.A.Denkman owned by Weyerhauser and Denkmann of Rock
Island, Illinois
Wisherd, Walter D.
The Davenport Democrat
June 30, 1903
Pg. 7

Captain D. Walter Wisherd, some time ago associated with the Blair Line as commander of one of the boats of the line, and later at the head of an excursion company here, but afterward connected with Missouri river steamboat enterprises, is back in the tri-cities. He is located in Rock Island, and is to be the general freight and passenger agent of the Streckfus Line. He will also serve to handle a number of excursions to these town in the course of the summer.
[Submitted by Sue Rekkas]
Wilson, Ben
Chief Engineer
The Davenport Democrat and Leader
March 13, 1932
Capt. Walter Blair Reviews More Famous Upper Mississippi Rafters Built at the Le Claire Boat yards
Capt. Walter Blair

The Le Claire Belle built at the Van Sant yard, came out in spring of 1873, and took her place in the growing fleet of rafters and held it with credit and profit for 17 seasons of steady work with scarcely an interruption. Her hull was 127"x22"x4'; her engines 14"x4' had been on the gun boat Benton during the Civil War. The Benton was later used as a ferry boat at Alton, Ill. For a while then laid up, neglected and sunk in Alton slough. Her engines, shaft, doctor (pump) and engine and some other parts were fished out and bought for $1,000 and installed on the new boat. She had a nice comfortable cabin with four staterooms on each side, a small neat office in front and a kitchen, panty and mess room aft. She had a skylight over her hall but the roof only extended a few feet forward and aft of the cabin.
She was only 27 inches in draft and when running light was very fast, but loaded she was only a 7 mile boat.
Van Sant and Son, Jonathan Zebley, John McCaffrey and R. F. Isherwood each owned one fourth at the time she was complete but Mr. Zebley and Capt. "Bob" Isherwood soon sold out to the other owners, Van Sant and Son and Capt. John McCaffrey.
That spring (18730 she was chartered to Capt. Cy Bradley and she started out in charge of Sam Hitchcock of Le Claire as master and pilot. Ben Wilson of Rock Island, chief and James Henry Harris, assistant engineer.
Young, Harry

Capt. Young
The Daily Times
Feb 19, 1948

Capt. Harry Young, Pilot of Ferry for Many Years is Taken by Death
Capt. Harry F. Young 84, veteran river pilot and for whom the town of Youngstown, Alaska, was named in 1889 died at his home 806 Seventeenth street, Rock Island at 7:45 a.m. today following a long illness. Capt. Young piloted the ferry W. J. Quinlan from Rock Island to Davenport for about 27 years,

To Alaska in 1878
Captain Young went to Alaska in response to a call for pilots in 1878 when 15 years old, following in the footsteps of his father, who had started his career as a riverman. As a youth he worked summers on Weyerhaeuser & Denkman boats for $15 a month traveling from Rock Island up the Mississippi into Wisconsin.

Yukon Veteran
The veteran boatman was one of five captains, six pilots, 10 engineers and six mates, the Alaskan Commercial company employed in the Mississippi area to man boats traveling on the Yukon. In the gold rush in the winter of 1888, captain Young and his mate set out by dog sled fomr their winter quarters at ambrosia to stake claims for themselves in the Nome region.
In returning from Alaska in 1892 captain young served on various Mississippi river steamers for more than 20 years and at one time was captain of the steamer "Helen Blair" a boat which was familiar to many quad-city residents. He retired as captain of the "W.J. Quinlan in 1936

Born in Albany
He was born Oct.. 8 1864, in Albany, Ill. And married Ursula Morgan. She died July, 1946. The couple had resided in Rock Island for approximately 50 years. Surviving are two nephews, Thomas G. Morgan of Rock Island and Findley Muhs, of Comanche, Ia. A niece Mrs. Harold Lusk of Pleasant Valley, Ia.; and a cousin Mrs. Valeria Kirby of Chesterton, Ind.
The body is at the Knox mortuary in Rock Island

Miscellaneous News Items


Walter Blair
"A Raft Pilots Log"
List of Raft-boats, their Masters and owners, 1883

F.C.A.Denkmann.........................................Wm.H.Whisler owned by Weyerhauser and Denkmann of Rock Island, Illinois.
Stillwater.................................................Jim Hugunin owned by Rock Island Lumber Company.
Golden Gate...............................................James Coleman

Walter Blair
"A Raft Pilots Log"

Rock Island, Illinois
Mills on Sylvan Water Slough between the water works and the C.R.I. and P. station, owned and operated from 1878 by the Rock Island Lumber Company, in which Weyerhauser and Denkmann held the controlling interest. Previous to 1878 the style of the operating firm was Anawalt, Denkmann and Company.
Mill of Weyerhauser and Denkmann at the lower end of Rock Island. In 1857 the firm of Mead, Smith and Marsh operating this mill got in Financial trouble and the mill was shut down. Mr. Fred Weyerhauser, who was in their employ took hold of the property and operated it on his own account. When the affairs of Smith, Mead and Marsh were finally closed up the mill was offered for sale. In 1860 Mr Weyerhauser and his brother-in-law, Mr. F.C.A. Denkmann, bought the mill for $3000.00. They operated it continuously and very successfully until the log supply was exhausted. They made extensions and improvements increasing its output until it was known as one of the 'big mills' sawing over forty million feet annually

Davenport Democrat & Leader
April 8, 1923
Carl Managan Predicts Good river Season
Traffic Manager of the Streckfus Line Visiting Old House Here.
The out look for a good excursion boat season on the Upper Mississippi was never better than it is now. Declared Carl Managan, genial traffic manager of the Streckfus line of steamboats. This company owns the four palatial steamers, Captiol., St. Paul, J. S. and Washington.
The Washington will open the season here with a moonlight excursion on Saturday evening May 2, The St. Paul will open on the same date in St. Louis. During the early season the J. S. will give several excursions in this vicinity and will then on to St. Louis for the summer. The Capitol which is now plying in the excursion business at New Orleans, will come north in June.
Captains assigned to the various stressful boats this season are:

J. S. - John Streckfus
St. Paul-Hilmar Lax
Capitol-Con McGee
Capt. Walter Blair of Davenport will be pilot on the Capitol.
Mr. Managan is spending several days at his old house in Davenport. He returns to St. Louis Monday.
[Submitted by Sue Rekkas]

Steamer Lansing explosion

05-14-1867 Collins, Robert - killed in Steamer Lansing explosion. From Rock Island.
05-05-14-1867 Wassegerber, William, killed in Steamer Lansing explosion. From Rock Island.
"May the waters that took you away, bring you back to me"

Slave dealer Fred Cook Feb 11, 1946

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