Franklin T Oldt.

History of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 25 of 56)
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Green; Metropolitan, Captain Rhodes; Northerner, Captain Al-
vord ; Lucie May, Captain Rhodes ; Dew Drop, Captain Parker ;
Lake City, Captain Blake; Chippewa, Captain Crapeta.

Early in May, 1859, the Mississippi rose seventeen inches in
twenty-four hours. By May 9 it was within forty inches of being
as high as it ever was at Dubuque — 1827. It was now within
twenty-two inches as high as it was in 185 1. The lower end of
Sixth street from the bridge to the outer levee was entirely under
water. Twenty teams were put at work on the outer levee. Many
buildings and lumber yards were under water and the levees were
in a dangerous condition. In the next twenty-four hours it rose
eight inches more and at this time large numbers of men and teams
were at work on all the levees, yards and streets.

"The river is still rising at the rate of eight inches in twenty-
four hours. It is now running across the foot of First street, near
Northrup & Ryder's warehouse. The various improvements still
keep ahead of the water and have no fear, unless a high wind arises,
of their ability to protect the works. The great freshet from the
north has not yet arrived." — (Express and Herald, May 12, 1859.)


"The river is still coming up, having risen about seven inches in
the last twenty-four hours. Last evening it was flowing over Jones
street in a dozen places. First street at its junction with the lower
improvement is co\-ered to the depth of eighteen inches. Flatboats
pass across the outer levee at the foot of Seventh street." — {Ex-
press and Herald, May 13, 1859.)

"The water yesterday made a clean break through the outer
levee at the foot of Sixth street. It has reached the top of the
Seventh street improvement and further work there is abandoned.
Flatboats are engaged in hauling stones to stop the break in the
central improvement levee. Lumber yards at the foot of Seventh
street are busy saving their lumber. The water sweeps through
the bridge at the foot of Third street with tremendous power and
reaches nearly to the woodwork. It also sweeps over Jones street.
The Dubuque & Pacific track is rendered impassable to the bridge
below the depot. The cars come only to Rockdale. The rise is
not so great now." — (Express and Herald, I\Iay 14, 1859.) There
were here about this time the Northerner, City Belle, Golden Era,
Minnesota Belle, Pembina, Key City, Conewago, Canada, Forest
Queen, Grey Eagle, Denmark, Henry Clay, La Crosse, Northern
Light, W. L. Ewing, Wave, St. Lawrence, Fred Lorenz and Time
and Tide. All the boats carried immense loads of freight and
passengers. About 4,000 pigs of lead were shipped weekly; also
about 100,000 feet of lumber.

"The river has risen some three inches since our last, although
at present it is nearly at a standstill. Jones street is covered nearly
its entire length, and reaching the lower levee on foot is next to an
impossibility." — (Express and Herald, May 15, 1859.)

On May 15, 1859, the Fred Lorenz, when near Eagle Point, burst
her connecting pipe. Several persons were severely scalded. The
boat was towed to the foot of Third street.

During the flood of May, 1859, people were taxed 5 cents and
10 cents to be taken from the Jones street levee to the ferry land-
ing. "If our improvement companies find it desirable to erect
islands in the Mississippi river, they at least ought to furnish citi-
zens with some means of getting to them." — (Express and Herald,
May 19, 1859.) "The water has fallen about five inches since yes-
terday morning. It will probably reach its proper level forty-eight
hours hence." — (Express and Herald, May 19, 1859.) "The river
has fallen about six inclies in the last twenty-four hours." — (Ex-
press and Herald. May 20, 1859.) By May 31 the river was down
to its proper level, though alarming reports of a higher rise than
ever came from upstream. "A very large raft yesterday got into
the slough above Seventh street. It came very near being broken
up. but several hours of hard labor got it out comparati\'cly un-
harmed." — (Express and Herald. May 20, 1859.)

By June 6, 1859, the river had risen so high that it was within


six inches of being as high as it had been a week or two before.
It had risen eighteen inches in the last twenty-four hours. At St.
Paul it was reported as high as it ever was and at Red Wing had
reached the highest point ever known. By the 8th it was within
three inches of the mark of two weeks before. By June 9 it was
three inches higher than before. By June 10 it was six inches
higher tiian in May. "Seventh street, the entire outer levee of the
Seventh Street and Central Improvement Companies is overflowed ;
so are First street continued and Dodge street. Third street con-
tinued is now the only street leading to the outer levee that is not
overflowed and impassable. The river is still going up rapidly." —
(Express and Herald, June 11, 1859.) "The river rose three inches
yesterday and is now within half a foot of the warehouses on the
lower levee." — (Express and Herald, June 12.) On the 13th it
rose two inches higher. It came to a stand at 9 p. m., June 13, and
soon thereafter began to fall.

In i860, among the early boats here were: Ocean Wave, Cap-
tain Webb ; Denmark, Captain Robison ; Hawkeye State, Captain
Gray ; Sucker State, Captain Rhodes ; Harmonia, Captain Hub-
bard ; Northern Belle, Captain Hurd ; Minnesota Belle, Captain
Keach ; Itasca, Captain Whitten ; Laclede, Captain Goodell ; Grey
Eagle, Captain Harris ; Northern Light, Captain Harris ; Peosta,
Captain Levens ; Canada, Captain Parker ; Henry Clay, Captain
Stephenson ; Shenango, Captain French ; Pembina, Captain Hill.

A small party of luxurious sportsmen here, not liking to row
their boats up and down the river while hunting, built, in the spring
of i860, a little steamboat, about sixteen feet long and three and
one-half feet wide, rigged with a little one-horsepower portable
engine set to drive paddlewheels with eight-inch buckets and a diam-
eter of thirty inches. With this they could go up bayous, sloughs,
etc., and come back without hard work.

In i860 there was sharp rivalry among the various boat lines
and often thereby much inconvenience was occasioned passengers
and shippers.

The Frank Steele, in coming down Coon slough, April 10, i860,
came in contact with a tree and got both smokestacks and her pilot
house swept clean from the deck, injuring the pilot slightly. In
the spring of i860, the Illinois Central Railroad Company, or its
individual members, put on a line of packets on the upper Missis-
sippi, under the name Dubuque, Dunleith & Minnesota PacJ<et Line.

So great was the river traffic on April 25, i860, that eleven ves-
sels arrived and ten departed. The Lake City, a railroad packet,
was here April 26, and the Key West, a boat of the Independent
Railroad Line, was here a day or two later. A barge laden with
lead, in tow of the Key City, going down, struck a snag and sank.

There was much complaint here in i860 that the packet lines
of steamers from St. Louis to St. Paul and from Galena, Dubuque


and Dunleith to St. Paul were disposed to create a monopoly in
the carrying trade upon the Mississippi river by driving off every
other boat. Numerous acts cited showed that this was the appar-
ent object of those lines. It was condemned vigorously by the
press, and particularly by G. R. West & Son, wholesalers of

Late in May, i860, the Minnesota Packet Company's steamers
began to carry a daily river mail between Dubuque and St. Paul.
"The steamer Metropolitan ran into the railroad bridge at Galena,
June 26, and tore off a portion of her guards and otherwise injured
herself. This is her third accident lately. Recently she ran down
a man in a small boat and caused his death, and two weeks ago she
disabled the Northern Belle." — {Herald, June 27, i860.)

"We ha\e found it to be a duty we owe to Dubuque, to the mer-
chants of this city and to ourselves to cease gi\'ing to the Northern
Line of steamboats that attention which their course to this city
and to its mercantile interests have forfeited. Dubuque and her
business interests have submitted too long and too tamely if not
too servilely to the outrages inflicted upon her business by persons
and companies who have taken advantage of the adversity to which
this city has been subjected to inflict upon her, if possible, a lasting,
permanent injury. For our part we do not feel like suffering such
treatment as this Northern line of boats seem disposed to inflict
upon this city with impunity." — {Herald, July 14, i860.)

The river was so low in September that few boats ran and they
carried very light loads; no lead was shipped from Dubuque during
this stage. The War Eagle, Henry Clay, Northern P>elle and a
few others did a small business. At St. Paul river business was
livelier. There the Minnesota Packet Company was trying to
force out of business the La Crosse & Milwaukee Railroad &
Packet Line. The fare from La Crosse to Chicago was reduced
to $4.75 via Dunleith and Prairie du Chien. The JNIinnesota Packet
Company thus carried passengers for nothing in order to injure its
rival. In fact, it reduced the fare from St. Paul to Chicago to $1
about September 20, i860, but the next day raised it to $4.75. On
the levee at Dubuque were 2.300 pigs of lead, 1,000 sacks of wheat,
etc., waiting for a better boating stage.

The river closed up suddenly on November 22, i860, with snow
and extreme cold. Boats were caught where they happened to be.
The Key City, Milwaukee and Metropolitan here; the Northern
Belle at Le Claire; the Ocean Wa\'e and La Crosse were caught in
rhe ice and grounded on Sycamore Chain ; the Golden Era was
forced ashore east of Dubuque; the War Eagle, after exciting ex-
periences, laid up at McGregor ; the Fanny Harris was safe at Pres-
cott ; the Favorite and Frank Steele were at La Crosse. Late in
November the ferry was again running.

The Herald became so incensed at the actions of the Northern


Packet Line in the summer of i860 that it afterward refused to
pubHsh its usual news of the river and boats.

It was declared in March, 1861, that Dubuque needed three
things : ( i ) A drydock for the repair of steamboats and other river
craft; (2) an ice harbor where steamboats could stay during win-
ters; (3) the removal of the bar in front of the lower levee and
inner slough. The nearest place where boats could be docked and
repaired was Le Claire. It was shown that at slight expense Lake
Peosta could be made into an ice harbor.

In 1861 the Northern line of packets had the following boats and
captains : Haweye State, R. C. Gray ; Sucker State, T. B. Rhodes ;
Canada, J. W. Parker; Pembina, J. B. Hill; Metropolitan, T. B.
Buford; Henry Clay, C. B. Goll ; Denmark, J. J. Robinson; W. L.
Ewing, J. H. Rhodes; Northerner, P. A. Alford; Fred Loring, M.
Green. William Wellington was the line's agent and clerk at Du-
buque. On March 2 the ice here moved twenty-five or thirty feet.
Crossing on foot was dangerous. The ferry boat prepared to start
March 3.

"Things begin to look business-like on the levee. Wellington
has got the wharf boat out of the slough and placed it in front of
the levee in its proper place. The Ferry Company has also got
its wharf boat in its place. There is a large quantity of lead await-
ing shipment." — {Herald, March 16, 1861.)

On April 11, 1861, Mr. O. Chamberlain, agent, shipped on the
Key City over one thousand packages of wheat, flour, corn meal,
beans, etc., for Kansas. This was the contribution of Dubuque
and other towns back in the interior to the sufferers in that new
State. The packages went down to Hannibal, thence by rail to

"The rix-alry between the boats for several years past in the effort
to make the first landing at St. Paul is stimulated by the favor of
free wharfage for the season to the successful boat. Captain
Harris has. in the period named, made the first landing six times." — -
{Herald, April 6, 1861.)

The Metropolitan, Canada, W. J. Clay, Connewago, Rocket,
Northern Light, Pembina, Key City, Sucker State, Golden Era,
Ocean Wave, Emma, Bill Henderson, War Eagle, Henry Clay, La
Crosse, Northerner, Winona, Milwaukee, J. Bell, Luzerne were
here from April 9 to 14. The levee on April 10 awoke and was
soon alive with boats, there being no less than five large ones there
at a time loading and unloading. Steamers now left regularly for
St. Paul. The river was rising, freight plenty and business brisk.

The boats and captains of the Galena, Dunleith, Dubuque and
Minnesota Packet Company for 1861 were as follows: War
Eagle, C. L. Stephenson ; Golden Era, W. H. Gabbert ; Itasca, J. Y.
Hurd ; Milwaukee, J. Cochrane ; Northern Belle, W. H. Laughton ;
Ocean Wave, N. F. Webb ; Keokuk, E. V. Holcomb ; North Light,


John B. Davis ; Grey Eagle, D. S. Harris ; Key City, Jones Worden ;
Fanny Harris, W. L. Faucette ; Alhambra. Ben Howard ; Flora,
J. W. Campbell. The first four were a daily line between Duhitli
and St. Paul ; the next three were on the daily line between La
Crosse and St. Paul : the next three were on the Northern line from
St. Louis to St. Paul ; and the last three were on the freight line
from Dunleith to St. Paul.

The river continued to rise rapidly on April 19 — seven inches
in twenty-four hours. The Fanny Harris arrived here from a
trip up the IMinnesota river, where she went after government
troops. Her cabin and all the woodwork were badly damaged by
the winds, storms and soldiers. She laid up for repairs. The
river still continued to rise on April 24. The water was running
over Jones street and several others. The lumber yards were
piling loose boards and making property as secure as possible. The
Grey Eagle struck the Rock Island bridge and sank in five minutes
in IVlay ; several lives were lost, among them being Mrs. Weaver
and child, of Dyersville.

"Fastest Trip on Record. — The Northern Line packet Sucker
State left St. Louis on the i6th of May at 5 130 P. ]\L and arrived
at St. Paul on the 20th of May at 3:30; time from St. Louis to
St. Paul, three days and twenty-two hours, doing all her regular
business ; also going in to Galena, discharged in the up-trip 309 tons
of freight and had 425 passengers. Left St. Paul on the 20th at
5 130 P. M., discharged on down-trip at different points 1,000 sacks
of wheat, and arri\-ed at St. Louis on Thursday, the 23d, making
the round trip in seven days and two hours." — (Herald, May 28,

"The Hawkeye State made the run from St. Louis to this city
(Dubuque) in forty-eight hours and thirty-eight minutes, made
thirty-three regular landings and laid one and a half hours at Dav-
enport. This is the quickest trip on record and shows that she is
a hard boat to beat. The river never was in better boating condi-
tion than it has been this spring." — (Herald, June 12, 1861.)

Li August Daniel Hewitt launched a repaired flat-boat at Third
street. It was claimed that the Sucker State was the fastest boat
on the Upper Mississippi. At all times sandbars in the river were
the terror of all pilots and masters. The Key City struck and
badly damaged the ferry boat A. L. Gregoire; the Peosta took its

In the spring of 1862 deck hands of the Minnesota Packet Com-
pany, who were then receiving $25 per month, struck for $40 per
month ; this line ran daily boats between Dubuque and St. Paul.
The Northern Packet Line had five boats: Northerner, Hawkeye,
Sucker State, Canada and W. L. Ewing; it was tri-weekly. In the
St. Louis and St. Paul Line were the Pembina, Denniaik, Metro-
politan, whii'h ran tri-weeklv between St. Louis and l)ubu(|uc, and





R J-






the Bill Henderson, Fred Lorenz and others, which ran daily be-
tween Dubuque and Davenport.

"The light of other days can be seen by going down to the foot of
Fourth street, where the wharf boat is moored, and see the ferry
boat going through the Barney Cut to Dunleith, as of yore." —
(Herald, May 2, 1862.)

In 1862 the names of the boats and captain were Pembina, Hill;
War Eagle, Webb; Alhambra, Wellington; Canada, Parker; Mil-
waukee, Holcomb ; Pearl, Hale ; Itasca, Hurd ; Bill Henderson,
Rhodes; Key City, Worden ; Hawkeye State, Gray; Northerner,
Alford; Keokuk, Hatcher. In May the flood was only ten inches
lower than the rise of 1859; boats ran across the islands and levees
to the foot of the principal streets. A race between the Key City
and the Keokuk in June, 1862, was won by the latter in fast time.
There was sharp ri\"alry between the lines of the Minnesota Packet
Coinpany, the Northern Packet Company and the Davidson Packet
Company at this date. Business was very brisk here on the river
in 1862; low water was the only hindrance. The Denmark struck
a snag and sank near Keokuk in November.

The ferry boats ran almost continuously in January, 1863; large
numbers of cattle and hogs were taken over and shipped to Chicago.
February was very cold. When the ice left the river each year a
great crowd usually gathered to witness the event. In February
tlie ferr}' boats ran through channels cut in the ice. The sandbar
in front was a great hindrance to navigation ; many boats struck it
and often grounded ; strong demands for its removal were made.

Captain Spencer J. Ball, an old river captain, was employed by
the government to pick out vessels for the expedition against Vicks-
burg. He was authorized to draft into service all boats of two
hundred feet and under. He selected the Ocean Wave as one in
March, 1863, and eight more were under inspection. It looked to
shippers as if they would have to use the railroads. The Bill Hen-
derson had been in the government service, but was released at this
time, though soon taken again. The Allamakee, Eolian, Chippewa
Falls and Frank Steele were seized up the river for the use of the

The Bill Henderson took down the river one hundred and fifty
packages of sanitary stores for different Iowa regiments April 9,
1863. The government had taken so many boats that almost any-
thing that would float was put in commission in 1863.

In the summer of 1863 it was claimed that the Key City was the
fastest boat on the river ; she had a ten-pounder on board which
shook the city when fired. A huge ice-boat, 132x21 feet took
immense quantities of ice to .St. Louis. The new Davenport looked
like the Canada and Hawkeye and was a fine boat — 203 x 34 feet.
It was owned by Mullally. The Henry Clay was burned before
Vicksburg. The ferry boat was thoroughly repaired at La Crosse


in 1862-3. Tlie Favorite passed down in April with 292 Indians
on board — taken from the Indian war in Minnesota. The North-
erner passed up the river May 3, 1863, towing a barge laden with
negroes from the South on their way to a home in the North.
Thomas McLean, a river man and a Dubuquer, received May 6,
1863, $1,050 for piloting a raft from the foot of Lake Pepin to
St. Louis in less than three weeks. The little steamer Ad Hine
ran the blockade at Vicksburg; she was well known here; she drew
only sixteen inches of water.

"The bottom of the river is rising as usual and becoming more
visible daily; some people call it low water." A lumber raft con-
taining one million feet came partly from Stillwater on its w-ay to
St. Louis in charge of Pilot Jack Parker; water low; but his skill
was equal to it. In 1863 an independent line of steamers was
established here; they began with one boat, the U. S. Grant, Cap-
tain Gray, and later owned the Pearl, Captain Hale, and seven

Late in 1863 the Minnesota Packet Line sold all its steamers to
the stockholders of the Illinois Central Railway, as follows: Key
City, Worden; Milwaukee, Holcomb; Itasca, Webb; Ocean Wave,
Laughton; War Eagle, Mitchell; Northern Light, Gabbert; Clara
Ames, Ewing; Flora, Wilcox; Franz Siegel, and the Durand; in
all fifteen steamers and twenty-seven barges were sold for $150,000.
The Milwaukee, a large sicle-wheeler, reached St. Paul October
26th; the first boat to reach that city since June. She was wel-
comed as if navigation had just opened. The War Eagle, Ocean
Wave, Franz Siegel, Durand and Pearl passed the winter of 1863-4
here "in the slough."

Late in 1863 the Northwestern Packet Company was organized
with John Lawler as president ; W. E. Wellington was its Dubuque
agent. The ferry boat Gregoire was sold late in 1863 for over
forty thousand dollars, presumably to the Illinois Central Railway
control. The Northern Packet Company elected the following
officers late in January, 1864: T. B. Rhodes, president; T. H.
Griffith, secretary. Their vessels were the Davenport, Hawkeye
State, Sucker State, Northerner, Canada, Pembina, Muscatine,
Burlington and Savannah. The Ad Hines was sunk in the Arkan-
sas river near Pine Bluff early in 1864.

The steamers here early in 1864 were Canada, Itasca, Pearl,
James Means, Sucker State, War Eagle, Northern Light, Musca-
tine, Davenport, Key City, Keokuk, Hawkeye State, Chippewa
Falls. Cutter. Pembina. Boats came annually from Pittsburg
laden with glassware, crockery, hardware and oil. In April, 1864,
the Chippewa Falls and Cutter passed down on their way to Idaho
via the Missouri river ; others were to follow later. They belonged
to "Captain Davidson's line." They belonged to what was known
as the Idaho Packet Line, the lieadquarters of which were at La


Crosse; the cabin passage to Fort Benton was $150, with eighty
pounds of baggage free.

Tlie boats and captains of the Northwestern Packet Company in
the spring of 1864 were: Northern Light, Gabbert ; Milwaukee,
Holcomb ; Key City, Laughton ; Itasca, Webb ; War Eagle,
Mitchell; Ocean Wave, Sheets; Flora, Wilcox; Pearl, A. Haile;
Lansing, K. C. Cooley. The Mrs. Partington was remodeled and
repaired for jobbing trade up and down the Upper Mississippi.
The wreck of the Grey Eagle at Rock Island was removed for
$1,000. Charles Chever, a steamer drawing only sixteen inches
of water, went from St. Louis to St. Paul in August, 1864, when
the water was extremely low. The Emma Boyd was another
light draught boat for the St. Paul trade. Stephen Dolson, who
had served for many years as pilot on the ferry across the river at
Dubuque, was succeeded by Orville West in August, 1864.

The following boats were here undergoing repairs early in
August, 1864; Itasca, Pearl, Ocean Wave, Flora, Mrs. Parting-
ton, Grey Eagle, Northern Light and Joe Gales. A little steamer,
St. Paul, was put in commission in August, 1864. The river by
August 5, 1864, was at its lowest point — the lowest on record.
Large quantities of freight were heaped on the levee. Water in
the river was so scarce that it was humorously said that its use
even to soften whisky was forbidden. The movement of boats
was very uncertain and irregular.

T. B. Rhodes, president of the Northern Packet Company,
bought the entire interest and stock of the Rapids Packet Company,
the latter owning the New Boston, City of Keithsburg and Jennie

The Pembina, with a crew one-half negroes, was boarded here
by roughs who objected to the colored hands and attacked them
with clubs, etc. The ship's officers resisted with iron bars and
drove the gang away ; five were arrested and three sent to jail ;
they were "levee loungers." Many rafts came down in 1864 —
often five hundred thousand to seven hundred thousand feet. As
early as the latter part of May boats quit running to St. Paul, owing
to low water.

By August 13, 1864, the river at Dubuque was lower than it was
ever known before. The sandbars were covered with weeds and

"The up-river papers say that boats have frequently to blow the
whistle to drive cattle out of the channel to allow them to pass.
The oldest inhabitant, always reliable, does not remember a season
when the water was so low." — {Herald, August 27, 1864.)

"The river is no better than formerly. She is confined to her
bed, and won't be up for some time. Her complaint is the pre-
vailing one in the North and all her cry has been, 'Water, more
water!'" — {Herald, September 15, 1864.)


The Dubuque harbor was a terror to boatmen, owing to the sand-

Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 25 of 56)