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

. (page 26 of 56)
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 26 of 56)
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bars. Tlie packet Hues threatened to guit stopping at Dubuque
unless tliis state of affairs was remedied. It required as much
skill to pass these bars as to pass the Rock Island bridge, which
likewise was for many years the hobgoblin of boatmen.

The business of boat building and repairing was steadily increas-
ing. In September, 1864, a new barge was under construction
on the island above the levee and several barges were being repaired
and caulked.

The steamer Mrs. Partington, a light draught tow-boat of the
Western Packet Company, burst her boiler near La Crosse
and the boat was torn in pieces. One man was killed and every
other man on the boat was injured. She had been known as the
Durand and was -i^alued at $3,000.

Early in 1865 it seemed that the Illinois Central Railway con-
trolled both the transfer and tlie ferry companies. Among the
boats and masters prominent here in 1865 were: Petrel, Jolly;
Burlington. Riiodes : James Means, Wood; Milwaukee, Holcomb;
Itasca, Webb ; Key City, Laughton ; Northern Light, Gabbert ; War
Eagle, Mitchell; Hawkeye State; Lansing; Davenport; Canada;
Benton ; Ryder ; Ocean Wave ; Northern Belle, West ; Keokuk,
Moulton ; McClellan, Hatcher; Savannah, Hurd. Daniel Hewitt
launched two new barges from the lower levee in May, 1865; they
were of 300-ton burden each. They were built for the North-
western Packet Company and cost about four thousand dollars each.
The steamers Victor and Savannah passed up in June with the
Thirtieth Illinois Cavalry bound for the Indian country via St. Paul.
One of the new barges was christened Ed Sawyer in honor of tlie
"cashier of the packet company, a worthy gentleman who has made
numerous friends here. Like her namesake, she is square built,
good looking and will carry all she can hold." The other was
named for D. P. Norford, an accountant of the company. "He is
the well-known ex-dealer in drugs and soothing syrups and never
tires of being asked questions in his business capacity."

A sale of forty-four United States steamboats and seven tugs,
part of the Mississippi squadron, occurred at Mound City, Illinois,
August 17, 1865. Among them was the old Peosta, formerly a
ferry boat here.

The first vessels on the Mississippi were the bark canoes of the
savages; then came the dugouts and flat-boats; then the sailing ves-
sels; then the stern-wheel steamers, and now in 1865 were the ele-
gant side-wheel packets averaging about eight miles an hour, soon
to run exclusively for passengers or for freight, with many heavily-
laden barges. The Milwaukee was a model side-wheel packet
and the Ocean Wave a model freighter in 1865. An immense
river business was done this year. Immense quantities of grain
passed down. "Dubuque has reason to be proud of the North-


western Packet Company, which by liberal management has placed
its boats ahead of all upper river competition." — (Cor. Herald,
October 19. 1865.)

Late in 1865 the Northwestern Packet Company ofifered for sale
the steamers Milwaukee, Northern Light, Itasca, War Eagle, Key
City, Ocean Wave, Flora, Diamond Jo, Damsel, Julia and Lansing.

D. W. Hewitt launched a large barge here in April, 1866; it cost
four thousand five liundred dollars and had a capacity for eighteen
thousand bushels of grain.

On Monday, April 30, 1866, the river was but a few inches below
the freshet of 1859, and was over twenty-one feet above low-water
mark. The lower part of the city was under water ; lumber yards
were all afloat. The water was over the sidewalk on the outer
levee ; boats shoved their gangplanks into the warehouses ; wild
boats were thick. Tradition says that the greatest rise was in
1S28. The flood of 1859 raised the river to 213/2 feet above low-
water mark — highest anyone living had ever seen it here.

The Northern Light was covered with ice in April, 1866, while
working her way through Coon slough near Brownsville and
sank in five minutes up to the hurricane deck. Nothing was saved ;
the loss was about twenty-five thousand dollars. Lake Pepin was
open about April 20, 1866, and the Sucker State was the first boat

The Northwestern Packet Company spent annually in Dubuque
about two hundred thousand dollars; its taxes here in 1865
amounted to $6,981.40. Previous to 1850 flat-boats did much of
the up-river traffic. The first important change was made in about
1853-4 by the organization of the Minnesota Packet Company at
Galena. It started with a single steamer, but finally owned nine-
teen, among which were Itasca, Nominee, Alhambra, Galena, War
Eagle, Golden Era and Ocean Wave. In 1856 the Dubuque &
St. Paul Line, with J. P. Farley as president, was established as a
competitor, and a little later the Prairie du Chien Line engaged ill
the up-river trade. Finally they were all consolidated under a long
name with George A. Blanchard secretary and William E. Well-
ington agent. Soon thereafter Captain W. F. Davidson bought
the stern-wheel steamer Jacob Trabor, began a good business, added
other boats and soon was a formidable rival of the consolidated
company, under the name La Crosse & Minnesota Packet Com-
pany. Mr. Wellington bought a small steamer and commenced
business between Dubuque and Winona ; was soon joined by Mr.
Blanchard ; they secured more boats and ere long had managed to
buy enough stock to control the election of officers of the consoli-
dated company. This accomplished, they reorganized the com-
pany November 19, 1863, under the name North-Western Packet
Company. John Lawler, of Prairie du Chien, became president;
W. E. Wellington, of Dubuque, superintendent, and George Blanch-


ard, of Dubuque, secretary and treasurer. This company, with
headquarters in Dubuque, added to its craft until by March, 1866,
it had ten first-class steamers and thirty-six barges varying in ca-
pacity from five thousand to twenty thousand bushels of grain.
During the winter of 1865-6 the company spent one hundred thou-
sand dollars in constructing barges. The capital of this company
in boats was about five hundred thousand dollars. In May, 1866,
a new company — the North-Western Union Packet Company —
bought all the property of the La Crosse & Minnesota Steam Packet
Company and the Northwestern Packet Company. Its officers
were William F. Davidson, St. Paul, president ; John Lawler,
Prairie du Chien, manager ; George A. Blanchard, Dubuque, secre-
tary ; William Rhodes, St. Paul, treasurer ; W. E. Wellington,
Dubuque, and P. S. Davidson, La Crosse, superintendents. The
new company started with thirty steamboats and seventy-three
barges. The invested capital of the company was announced as
one million five hundred thousand dollars. The shipping capacity
was the moving of one million bushels of grain every five days. The
barges alone had a capacity of three hundred and twenty-five thou-
sand bushels. The company's side-wheel boats were Phil. Sheri-
dan, Milwaukee, City of St. Paul, Itasca, Ocean Wave, Northern
Belle, Key City, Keokuk, War Eagle and Favorite; and its stern-
wheel steamers were Addie Johnston, Damsel, Annie Johnston,
Diamond Jo, Jennie Baldwin, Julia, G. H. Wilson, Flora, Clara
Hine, Hudson, Mankato, Chippewa Falls, Mollie Mohler, Stella
Whipple, Ariel, G. H. Gray, Albany, Cutter, H. S. Allen and St.
Cloud. The headquarters of the company were established in

Early in 1867 W. F. Davidson was president of the North-
Western Union Packet Company, and John Lawler w'as president
of the Northwestern Packet Company. Both did a large business.
The City Council authorized the construction of the submarine
railway at Eagle Point at this time. A drydock was strongly
talked of. The president of the Northern Line Packet Company
was Thomas B. Rhodes ; its steamers and masters were : Dubuque,
Barker; Sucker State, Hight; Haw-keye State, Worden; Burling-
ton, Greene ; Muscatine, Jenks ; Canada, McGowan ; Pembina, Con-
ger; Petrel, Isherwood ; Dan Hine, Patton. A fine stand of colors
was formally presented to the new steamer Dubuque in the spring
of 1867; its captain was J. W. Parker. A great crowd assembled
at the landing to witness the event. Mayor Graves presented the
colors in a fitting speech, to which brief response was made by
Captain Parker and, at his request, by John H. O'Neill. The boat
was presented with a magnificent pair of elk horns procured at
St. Paul.

The old practice of attaching and tying up a vessel with a
legal writ for a small sum was abrogated by the legislatures of


the various states. Mathias Ham was president of the new ferry
company at Eagle Point at this time.

In 1867 the Phil. Sheridan was the fastest boat on the river.
Rafting by moonlight was declared to be one of the most enjoyable
experiences of river life. Daniel McLean was one of the best and
most successful raftsmen on the river. In a race of three rafts
down from Lake Pepin in 1867 he won and was paid one hundred
dollars for the victory. In July, 1867, the Phil. Sheridan ran
from St. Louis to Dubuque in forty hours and fifty-five minutes —
quickest trip on record. The government was making great im-
provements on the Mississippi Rapids at this date. Large quanti-
ties of wheat were sent by barges to New Orleans and thence by
vessel to Liverpool, in 1867-8; C. H. Merry, who had opened this
line, was tendered a fine supper as a token of appreciation and
honor by his fellow-citizens. In 1868 the new ferry boat Dunleith,
which cost forty thousand dollars, was put in service; it trans-
ported railway cars and trains across the river, and in a way was a
wonder. The Ocean Wave burned to the water's edge near Lake
Pepin in 1868. Pilots struck for a raise of wages from $75 to
$150 per month.

P. J. Smith, T. W. Burns, O. L. West, H. L. Beedle, William J.
Dolson, N. E. Tibbals, W. R. Tibbals, A. J. Harris, Stephen Dol-
son, T. G. Drenning, George Scott, Jerm Snow, Augustus Noble,
C. Looney, Pat. Gainor, Joseph Wilcox, Joseph Gardapie were well-
known pilots in 1868.

The Union company became known as the "White Collar Line,"
there being strenuous rivalry between it and the Northern Line.
The latter had the following boats and masters in 1869: Minne-
apolis, F. B. Rhodes; Dubuque, J. B. Rhodes; Minnesota, T. B.
Hill; Davenport, B. A. Cooper; Muscatine, G. W. Jenks, Sucker
State, William P. Hight; Hawkeye State, J. Worden; Canada, M.
Green ; Savannah. R. F. Isherwood ; City of Keithsburg, J. W.
Campbell ; New Boston, Robert Melville.

In 1869 the Northwestern Packet Line had the following boats
and masters : Tom Jasper, Frank Burnett ; Phil, Sheridan, A. M.
Hutchinson; Milwaukee, E. V. Holcombe; City of St. Paul, Thos.
Davidson ; Mattie McPike, Moses Hall ; Key City, Judd West ; War
Eagle, Thos. Gushing; Addie Johnson, Sam Painter; Jennie Bald-
win, Charles Leuserbox ; Keokuk, Isaac H. Moulton. It was said
in 1869 that W. E. Wellington had arrived here fourteen years
before with only 15 cents to his name; now in 1869 he was reputed
to be worth one hundred thousand dollars, all made in the river
and boat trade. In 1869 the two companies. Northern and North-
western Union, divided the river trade in order to prevent loss
by too sharp competition ; both ran boats from St. Louis to St. Paul.
In April the Mohawk took down five barges loaded with over one
hundred thousand bushels of wheat. At this time wheat was


quoted in Chicago at $1.03 '/S and in New Orleans at $1.25. In a
race riot on the steamer Dubuque in July, 1869, above Davenport
nine men were killed. There was a People's Line late in 1869;
also the Merchants' Star Line ; the People's began business with
three boats.

In 1870 Rouse & Dean began to build here their famous iron-
bulled steamers; the first was a tug for a Wisconsin firm; it was
96 feet long by 19 broad and a depth of 3 feet. It was called the
Clyde and was launched in August; it was the first of its kind
built on the Upper Mississippi. There was very high water here
in April, 1870; it rose 21 feet 10 inches above the low water of
1864; the high water of 1859 had been 21 feet 6 inches above the
same mark. Steps to secure a sectional dock were taken in August
by Messrs. Wellington, Hewitt, Cooley, Peabody and others.

The tug-boat Hyde Clark was built here and launched late in.
April, 1870, at the foot of Seventh street; it was sixty feet long
and fourteen feet wide. In June, 1870, the Eagle Point ferry ran
every hour. On April 30, 1870, the Dubuque Rowing Club was
organized with about one hundred members and with a capital of
two thousand five hundred dollars ; its president was Gen. William
Hyde Clark. The club started with one barge, two gigs, three
skififs, and a boathouse 60 x 20 feet; the captain was Alfred Hobbs.
June 4 was "red letter day" for the club; it was the first public
rowing exhibition. The rowers were (i) G. Stephens, (2) M. S.
Connyngham, (3) James Stout, (4) Alfred Hobbs (stroke), and
A. H. Gibbs, coxswain. Later the club owned the barge Desoto,
two four-oared gigs, two four-oared skififs and one captain's cutter
— Vixen. The fourteen-oared barge Desoto was launched June
25, 1870: it was built by Daniel Hewitt and was forty feet long,
five feet wide; it had fourteen oars, double banked man-of-war

The new marine ways were sunk in the ri\er early in 1871 by
Rouse & Dean ; twenty-two men accomplished the work success-
fully. Later, when in use, it was declared to be the best on the
river. In 1871 the White Collar Line and the Northern Line
agreed on a schedule of prices for the up-river trade; cut rates and
war were thus forestalled. There was a race in August between
the gigs Zephyr and Ironsides, distance three miles, ending at the
wharf-boat ; a great crowd gathered to witness the event ; the
Zephyr won by two lengths ; the winners rowed through at thirty-
five strokes. What was called the Dubuque Short Line (Dj.\buque
to St. Paul) had the following boats and masters in 1871 : Rlil-
waukee, Laughton; City of St. Paul, Gushing; Minnesota, Smith;
Sucker State, Wood.

In 1872 the White Collar and Northern lines dissolved their rate
agreement and prepared to cut j)rices to secure the trade. In 1871
another iron steamer was built bv Rouse & Dean. Thev also built


another in 1872; it was 135 feet long, 25 feet wide and 4 feet deep.
In 1873 the Diamond Jo packets became conspicuous in the river
trade; their first l)(jats and masters were Tidal Wave, Mitchell;
Arkansas, Wilcox ; Diamond Jo, Isherwood ; Ida Fulton, Killeen,
and Imperial. Early in 1873 the Diamond Jo line was in great
favor, because they had good schedules and were not so crowded.
Knapi>. Stout & Co. won a case in court invoh-ing their right to
land rafts on their own property without having to pay wharfage
to the city. Early in 1873 the White Collar and the Northern lines
were merged into one company with a capital of seven hundred
thousand dollars and with John A. McCune president and W. F.
Davidson superintendent — Keokuk Northern Line. The Diamond
Jo Line was given concessions of land, etc., provided they would
establish their headrpiarters here.

In 1875 Johnson & Kalke prepared to build three boats in Du-
bucjue. The Keokuk Northern Line waged war on all cities that
charged wharfage ; the courts had recently decided against the
right of cities to make such charges. Johnson & Kalke built a new
steam ferry boat at their Eagle Point works in 1876; it was 100
feet long, 25 feet broad and 4 feet deep; it could carry eighteen
teams at once and make a trip in five minutes. The old White Col-
lar Line began suit against the city to recover wharfage under the
recent decisions of the courts. The new Keokuk Northern Line
was formed from the three companies : North-Western Union,
Northern and Keokuk, with an aggregate capital of seven hundred
thousand dollars. The wharfage cases were decided against the
boat companies. The new ferry boat Key City was in operation
in May, 1876. In 1877 Congress appropriated fifteen thousand
dollars for the remo\'al of the sandbar in front of the city. The
bar was dredged away to the depth of six feet at low water. Many
wing dams were being built along the river.

In October, 1877, one of the dredge boats in the harbor scooped
up an old musket from the river bottom, on which was stamped the
date "1812." It proved to be the property of William Cams, of
Wisconsin, who, while engaged in scouting duty at the close of
the Blackhawk war, became engaged in a hand-to-hand encounter
with Indians, all in boats, and in the struggle the gun fell overboard.

In October, 1877, an immense convention at St. Paul urged the
appropriation of a sufficient sum by Congress to open the rapids of
the Mississippi and to efifect other needed improvements ; two mil-
lion dollars was asked for these purposes. The Emma and Key
City were the ferry boats in 1877-8. In 1878 there passed through
the drawbridge 3,139 steamboats, 884 barges, 176 wood flats, 498
log rafts, 159 lumber rafts, 37 tie rafts. There passed down the
river 459.000,000 feet of lumber.

In 1878 the Diamond Jo Company located permanently at Eagle
Point and was granted valuable privileges ; Joseph Reynolds was


the owner. J. A. Johnston liad charge of the yards at first ; seventy-
eight men were employed in January, 1880. In 1878 the company
spent here about one luuidred and fifty thousand dollars.

The establishment of an ice harbor at Dubuque was for the pur-
pose of providing a shelter for boats during the winters. Waples
Cut had been used for many years for that purpose; it was now
proposed to dredge out this cut and enlarge it, all of which was
expected to cost about forty thousand dollars. The necessary per-
mission was secured from Congress.

On June 19, 1880, the water in the river was only fourteen
inches below the high water of 1870; on the 21st it rose over the
mark of 1870; on the 23d it had reached a stage of 22 feet JV2
inches above low-water mark, or about 9^/2 inches over the 1870
mark. Many persons were driven from their homes and were per-
mitted to sleep in the City Hall. The Illinois Central tracks were
nearly two feet under water. Nearly all land on the river front
had disappeared and the buildings and lumber piles there were sur-
rounded by the angry waters. On Jones street the water extended
up to Locust; all South Main was under water; it covered the floor
of the Illinois Central depot ; it was two feet deep on Iowa and
Third and Fourth. All houses on White at Fourth and Fifth
were filled with water ; it extended up White to Sixth ; Couler
avenue was completely flooded, all at Thirteenth, Fourteenth and
Fifteenth being under the rushing flood. All high-water records
were thus broken — height 22 feet 8 inches.

In 1880 the Diamond Jo Company built another large steamer —
the ]\Iary Morton, Capt. John Killeen ; the boat cost about forty
thousand dollars and was throughout a product of Dubuque ; Joseph
Reynolds superintended the construction. He had previously built
here the Libbie Conger and the Josephine. At her trial trip many
Dubuquers were on board to testify their appreciation of the work
of the Diamond Jo Company. Resolutions thanking the company
and Superintendent Reynolds for their efforts and success were
passed. At this date, June, 1880, the Diamond Jo Company had
six steamers in service and was a popular line. At this time and
before boats wintered here at the Eagle Point ways and in "the
slough" at Waples Cut. In the fall of 1880 the Keokuk Northern
Line successfully passed through serious financial troubles. In
November Mrs. F. D. Chouteau and Miss Amanda Gregoire, sis-
ters, were drowned in front of the city; their bodies were not recov-
ered for several days.

In January, 1881, Capt. W. J. Dolson, an old river man, died
here; he was born in 1820 and learned boating when a boy; he
lived in Dubuque after 1846, and was related to Capt. Thomas
Levens. another prominent river man. L'nder the reorganization
of the Keokuk Northern Line early in 188 1 Henr)- Lourey became
its president, vice Davidson, released. In February, 1881, there


were at work in the Diamond Jo yards at Eagle Point about seventy-
five men. The company put in condition the Stillwater, Mark
Bradley and J. W. Mills, built several large coal barges and were
at work on two new steamboats for Clinton and Rock Island owners.
So great was the jam of ice at the bridge April 1 1, explosives were
employed to dislodge it. Mr. Dickey was superintendent at the
Diamond Jo yards in i8<So-i. In the spring of 1881 the Dubuque
& St. Louis Packet Company was organized, with headquarters in
Dubuque, and with B. E. Linehan as one of its principal members.
The St. Louis & St. Paul Packet Line was called for short "the
Saints Line." At the trustees' sale of the boats of the Keokuk
Northern Line the following steamers were sold: War Eagle,
Northwest, Belle of La Crosse, Alex. Mitchell, Rob Roy, Minneap-
olis, Clinton and Redwing; also several barges.

In May, 1881, the river reached the stage of 16 feet 6 inches;
again on October 24 it reached a stage of 21 feet 2 inches, or only
18 inches below the high water of 1880 — 22 feet 8 inches. A
small iron steamer was built and launched by the Iowa Iron Works
late in 1881. Thus far the Diamond Jo Company had built four
steamboats, one new hull and four large barges. In 1882 it built
the raft-boat W. J. Young, Jr., for a Clinton company. This was
the ninth steamer built here by the Diamond Jo Company in three
years. The W. J. Young, Jr., was 140 by 28 by 4^ and cost
twenty-five thousand dollars. In 1882 the Iowa Iron Works began
to build for steamers what was called the "featherwing wheel,"
which entered the water straight and left it straight ; it was first
put in the Vixen and proved a success. The Diamond Jo Line
had in service the Josie, Libbie. Conger, Mary Morton, Josephine
and Pittsburg. The "Saints Line" had in service the White Eagle,
War Eagle. Arkansas, Keokuk, Minneapolis, Centennial, Alex.
Mitchell, Grand Pacific and Alex. Kendall.

In the spring of 1882 the ice harbor was talked of in earnest;
the government was expected to appropriate thirty thousand dollars
for that purpose; it was necessary to buy considerable land adjoin-
ing the Waples Cut from Mr. Stout before work could be com-
menced. It took considerable time to secure the desired land from
Booth and Stout, who had made valuable improvements on the
tract wanted. In June it was decided to use thirteen thousand
dollars left over from the old harbor appropriation and secure a
new one of twenty thousand dollars, all for the ice harbor. In
1880 Major Mackenzie surveyed the various sites for an ice harbor
and reported the most desirable at Dubuque. Waples Cut, enlarged,
was chosen, and the engineers showed that the cost would be about
forty thousand dollars; in 1882 Congress appropriated twenty
thousand dollars to start the work; the plan was to dredge down
six feet below low-water mark and provide room for twenty


steamers and fifty barges. In 1883 the Diamond Jo yards suffered
a fire loss of aljout fifteen tliousand dollars.

In 1884 W. F. Davidson was president of the "Saints Line."
Many boats came to the Diamond Jo yards for repairs. Their
vessels Pittsburg, Sidney, Mary Morton and Libbie Conger ran
from St. Louis to St. Paul, but the Josephine plied between Du-
buque, Davenport and Rock Island only. In 1884 Congress appro-
priated another twenty thousand dollars for the ice harbor. In
1884 the Iowa Iron Works built in the ice harbor the iron tug-boat
Ida Patton; she was yj -s. 14 xs^^ and cost about nine thousand
dollars. Four boats for the government were under contract here
in 1884. This year a company with a capital of one hundred thou-
sand dollars was formed to make important improvements at and
near Eagle Point. They cut a canal 350 feet long and 40 feet wide
througii the island opposite Eagle Point and constructed piling to
the mainland at Smeed's bottom. They had docks and a ferry boat
in operation. It was called the Eagle Point, Dubuque & Grant
County Ferry ; the boat was built by the Diamond Jo Company.
The ice harbor was not yet completed, but late in 1885 work was
again commenced.

The Diamond Jo boats and masters in 1885 were as follows:
Pittsburg, Killeen; Mary Morton, Boland; Sidney, Best; Libbie
Conger, Corbett ; Josephine, Congar ; Josie, Sweeney. So great

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 26 of 56)