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Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 16:32:33 -0700 From: "Paul V. Hoyer" Reply-To:

I am seeking information about riverboat traffic in and around south east South Dakota before the turn of the century. A great uncle of mine disappeared after writing the following letter. Letter from L.J.Davis to his mother. He was never heard from again.

"Running Water, S.D. 9/15/1898
Dear Mother
Your kind and welcome letter received and I must admit my negligence in writing and will promis to try and so better hereafter. Tell Hattie (Pete) and Ella to both be sure and write and I will answer forthwith - write me all the news from away back.

Mr. Sauford (? Sawford) whom I have been keeping books for has had me in charge of a couple of steamboats he has for the last 2 months and has kept me pretty busy is one reason I have not written. I tried to get out of it but he said I was the only one he could trust (which made me feel somewhat important) so I went at it as he has always been very good to me. We run from this point up about 150 miles hauling lumber and mdse up and wheat and livestock down here where it is shipt by rail Sioux City and Chicago.

I have charge of everything in the business part of the biz. and have got a long very will so far. We will probably be able to run until about the 1st of Nov. I feel a little shaky sometimes as I am compelled to carry considerable money at times and this is considered a pretty tough country especially along the river and among the class of men who work around steamboats. It is mostly a new country just opened up and lots of cattle rustlers and half breeds along the line who would not hesitate at anything if they knew a man had money.

I have not heard from Elton for a long time but I expect it is my fault as I believe it is my turn to write. I hope I can see my way clear to pay you all a visit this winter. But will not promise for certain for I have promised so often especially to Mollie (Mollie Bruner) that I guess she thinks I can't tell the truth. Give my love to Pa, Arthie, Hattie, Ellan and accept a portion to yourself.
Your Prodigal

I have looked in Vermillion SD in the regional newspapers of the Fall of 1898 but found no info on his death. Have you heard of Mr Sawford before? Can you tell me of any sources about the riverboats in this area at that time or give me any other clues I might look for. (It is kind of an interesting letter.) Many thanks. Paul V. Hoyer ( (MR LESLIE L FEIGLEY) wrote with some info about the La Fitte Skiff.

I was in New Orleans this weekend and stopped by Chalmette battlefield. I asked a park ranger about Lafitte Skiff. He said that the town Lafitte, La is named after Jean Lafitte the pirate. The town grew into a fishing village which later produced a work boat known at the Lafitte Skiff. The boat is named after the town in which it originated and the town is named after the pirate. Lafitte himself was not linked with boat. Thanks for your help.

Bill Davis Sr. wrote: I would like to know where I could get information on a 1927 John Alden 28' yall sailboat. Thank you. My e-mail is

I am looking for infor on the Eagle Packet Co, My grandfather was chief engineer on the Golden Eagle and other riverboats of the Eagle Packet Co. Just curious if you might have some info on this Thank You JDAlbers@AOL.COM

JD, the best source I know of for steamboat questions is the Special Collections Department at the University of Wisconsin--La Crosse, Murphy Library. 54601
They are not in the business of answering a lot of these questions, but they might help occasionally. I know they have a lot of material on the Eagle Packet Co. --Pat

"Jenny R. Caudill" (
I am looking for some help in locating a experience for 45 people. During the week of March 1st thru the 8th, myself and 44 others will be traveling down to Cary, Mississippi on a mission trip. We will be building an addition to a home and doing some repairs on others.

At the end of the week, we will be having a Fun Day before traveling back to Michigan. I have been trying to find something interesting and different for the group to do. One thought came to me- River boating!

So I have been searching the internet to try to find info on any short, inexpensive trips down the river that my group could go on. Do you have any ideas for me? I'd really appreciate any help you maybe able to offer me in my search for "an experience of a life time!!!"

We are all incrediblly excited to be visiting Mississippi and can't wait to see the river! Thanks for your time in reading this.
Jenny Caudill (Trip Coordinator),

I have a family Bible that is from the Ladys cabin of the Olive Branch. I have found out that she was built in Jeffersonville by Howard in 1863. She worked the Mississippi from St Louis to New Orleans. On July 22, 1871 she was downbound drawing 7'-0" of water when she hit a stump and sank in 1 1/2 min. at Liberty Island south of St Louis. I am very interested in any more information that you can provide me. A newspaper article and/or a picture. Maybe the location of Liberty Island or information on the builder. Thank you for any help you can give me.
I can be reached at: or/ My phone number is (817)897-9043 (214)521-4100 (wk ask for Daryl)
Po Box 173
Glen Rose, Tx 76043

Subject: steamboat whistle
From: rfraiser

My father-in-law bought what he was told is a steamboat whistle from a drunk on the streets of Vicksburg, MS in the 1940's. We have the whistle. It is solid brass and has the name LUNKENHEIMER stamped in it. I assume this is the manufacturer. We are interested in finding out, if possible, what boat it was on if in fact it did come from a steamboat and of what value it is. If you can offer any insight to our quest for information we would appreciate your reply.

Sat, 11 Jan 97 14:53:36 -0800 From: (Dennis Mulligan)
My great-grandfather, James H. McNoon held a licence as a "Mate of Steam Vessels" at least between 1874-1891. Got this info from National Archives. The first license was issued at Memphis, and following licences were issued at New Orleans. Are there resources to help me determine what was necessary to obtain such a licence, and also, are there listings of ships or boats and their Captains or crews on the Missippi during the last half of the 19th century? Des the surname "McNoon" appear on any material referring to the Mississippi? Thanks very much in advance for your help.

Subject: Lieutenant Ross map of Mississippi River, ca. 1765 Date: Fri, 27 Dec 1996 08:50:28 -0600 From: Ferguson ( Organization: Choctaw Museum

Am trying to learn some of the history of the printing of this map, including information on the French maps it is based on. Will appreciate any help. Sincerely, Bob Ferguson Tribal Historian, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

I will be canoeing the entire length of the MS. river, for charity, this next year - Oct. Nov. 1997- any information to help me plan this trip would be greatly appreciated. Thank You, --Dane Francis,

Dane, check out "adventure travel" in the STUMP SECTION. --Pat

Do you happen to know the coordinates of islands in the Mississippi called Paddy's Hens and Chickens. I am doing research on the steamboat Sultana which sank due to blowing up its boilers in 1865. Would appreciate your help greatlyy if you can. Please email me at Thanks in advance. -- Joan Layne

No, Joan, I don't know the coordinates for the Islands, but I recently found a map (Click Here to See Map) in a book of historic sites on the lower Mississippi that was published by the Army Corps of Engineers back in the '70s. I also did a net search and found The Sultana Disaster, 1865: Death on a Dark River. It is a very interesting, detailed article once published in American Heritage Magazine. -- Pat

Hi Pat-- My two best friends and I would like to cruise down the Mississippi River from Memphis to New Orleans sometime in the spring of 97. We figured it would cost $1500 to ship my boat, so we would be willing to spend more for a small house boat and pay for freight back if necessary. I will search the Internet for rental possibilities, but thought you might have a lead. Perhaps I could post my request on-line? Any thoughts would be most grateful. I look forward to receiving your book, Volume 3. Thanks. --

Here's your request, Kenny. Try Captain Bob's Charter Service (see travel directory). I know he will travel the whole river on occasion. --Pat

I am seeking information on the amount and types of traffic, both river boat and cargo on the Mississippi in the period, 1800 to 1850. Can you recommend a book or source of information. Thanks -- Ralph McCullough,

I have a gamblers box with a painting on the lid of the side wheeler Dubuque. His name, W. H. Bonnett of New Orleans, is also on the lid. I have been unable to find any info on either the boat or Bonnett. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

Reply to: (Terry dailey)
Hello i'm looking for a map of the Mississippi River dated 1840 or around that time. Do you know were I could find such a map? Preferably on the internet? Any help would be appreciated..!
Thanks, Terry Dailey

Terry, check out the "TRANS-MISS" feature. We have a rare book dealer who sometimes finds this type of thing. You can get his email address (or snail mail) and contact him. Thanks for writing. --Pat

> I have a houseboat at Willies Hidden Harbor in St. Paul Park, Mn. About a > month ago an older gentleman and his daughter constructed a raft with a 5 hp > motor on it and they were headed for the Gulf of Mexico. Neither one of them > had ever been on the river so I don't think they knew some of the pitfalls > they would expierience. Do you know how far they got?? If they made it to > Lake city I would be supprised. --Ken Gauw,

Interesting and SCAREY question! I'll post it and we'll see if we get any response. Thanks for writing! --Pat

Reply to: Kent S Ellickson (
I am interested in purchasing a sternwheel houseboat sometime in the near future, but I am confused on how and where to find them. I know that they are rare, but I also believe that people are out there ready to sell them. A few years back, I noticed one at the PRAIRIE DU CHIEN Marina called the CALISTA. If any one out there has information on where to find a paddlewheel housebout please help me out, make my childhood dream come true, and let me know where I can find one. Thank You!!!! Eric J. Steffes, Madison, WI

ELIZABETH JOHNSON ( writes: Hello, I am looking for a book called The Lure and Lore of the Mississippi, by Frank Fugina. I know it is out of print but I am anxious to find a copy.It contains some history and some pictures of the river-boats owned by my great grandfather. He was Jacob Richtman, in business with his 3 oldest sons, Jacob (Jack), James J. and Simon (Bob) Richtman.

A quote from my grandmother, "My father built steamboats which plied their way on the Mississippi River, mostly between St Paul,Minnesota and St Louis, Missouri. They also traveled on the Missouri River to Kansas City, Mo. and Omaha, Neb. Some of the boats were purely excursions, and some did river work for the United States government.My 3 older brothers were in partnership with him in the river work. Father also operated a general store in the different river towns we lived in namely Fountain City, Wis., Elsberry, Mo., and Nauvoo, Ill. Father built a riverboat in the East, and ran it down to the Gulf of Mexico, a very risky thing to do, but ended with no mishaps." Elizabeth, check out our new river book list.

From: "Louis Harle"
My father (Louis Harle) was a commercial fisherman on the Missippi River in the Dubuque area. He was based out of Massey Station and fished there for quite some time. His family has a history in the Galena area as well.

The reason that I'm writing is that he has since passed away as has my mother and I'm interested in obtaining any documentation or literature that may be related in some way to him or in a more general nature, of the commercial fishing industry in Dubuque. I have reason to believe that there are some books out there that may have statements/quotes from my father (he conducted a great many interviews with people writing about the Missippi River). My questions is this: Have you run along any literature that may have mentioned my father's name or covered the topic of commercial fishing in the Dubuque area? Any information that you may have would be of great interest to my family and I. Thank you for your help, Louis Harle

I am enclosing a quote from a 1890's historical biographies book from Marion Co., MO. The subject of the article was Thomas Maloney Young, the youngest of Maloney Young's children, and he was my great-grandfather. Capt. William Young was the Oldest of the children.

"Maloney Young, was born in Buncombe Co., North Carolina and moved to Marion County when quite young, where he married Angeline Carter of this county and settled upon a farm in Fabius Township, afterward he sold the homestead and moved to the mouth of the Fabius River, four miles below Quincy, becoming the owner of a fertile tract of rich bottom land. He erected a warehouse for storing and handling grain and other products, then shipping the same to various points by boats, at that time this was a distributing place for all the products of this section. Mr. Young owned the island which is now called in his honor and which belongs to E. Kimball of Quincy. In connection with his other business operations Mr. Young tilled his farm and raised crops on the island, which was about half-way across the river. The distance, about half a mile, was usually covered by fording the river, the team swimming the deepest points; the grain raised on the island was brought across on small flat-boats. Mr. Young also engaged in baling and shipping prairie grass hay, which was then quite plentiful. He died when our subject was only a year old, leaving a wife and nine children, but his widow soon followed him to the better land. The eldest son, James W., now of Hannibal, is Captain of the "Henry Reed" raft, and has been engaged in boating since his youth. .

Maloney Young, the father, died in 1858. The article was published after 1888. I've not found the original source for the article. I have only a typewritten copy of it.

I have searched modern Corps of Engineers maps for the location of "Young's Island" and I have had absolutely no luck finding a reference to it. I would be most pleased to hear from you concerning any of the details of the above quotation. Where was "Young's Island"? What sort of vessel was the '"Henry Reed" raft'? Etc.

I'm tuned to your station --Capt. Mike Flanagan, (M/V Peter Fanchi), (Joe Eisenring) --I'm looking for a river boat service to carry me, a friend, and 2 motorcycles from Memphis, TN to Natchez, MS. If I find it, the MISSISSIPPI RIVER HOME page gets the credit for helping me.

Come on! Is there anyone out there who can help Joe?? --Pat

Harold Schiffman
I want to know the date of the grounding on a sandbar near the Chain of Rocks bridge, of the steamer St. Paul. This was three miles north of St. Louis, some time between summer of 1919 and 1923. Thiswas reported in the newspapers. It was stuck there overnight and pulled free by a tug the next morning. My mother was there, but can't remember the year.

In the late 1930's - early 40's there was a Mississippi river bridge in Minnesota that has a "corkscrew" approach. When leaving Minesota, the auto "corkscrewed up" to the bridge elevation. I have been trying to remember the Minnesota town where the bridge was located. Is there a FAXable photo available? Thanks. -- Peter,

Pete, two towns come to mind-- PRESCOTT, WI, (and across to Hastings, MN), and Wabasha, MN, (which had a lesser corkscrew). I think I saw prints of the corkscrew bridge for sale in Prescott--perhaps at the Steamboat Inn. (715 area code). They may even have photos. Also, try the Prescott Visitor and Heritage Center. They might know where to get a print. Pat

I am a inland waterway MV enthusiast and photographer. Looking for links concerning the towboat industry and contacts to other MV enthusiasts (e-mail or newsgroups) who, like me, are interested in currant towboat operations on the Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio-Tennessee basins.

Tom Cody writes, "A Japanese friend of mine--who loves bridges and is awed by the midwest and great plains--has asked how many bridges span the Mississippi River. do you know the number, or could you point me in the direction of where I can research this question?

Tom, I know just the book for your friend. It is Climbing the Mississippi Bridge by Bridge It is by Mary Costello who tells me that there are approximately 222 bridges along the river.

Several school kids have written asking me about where to find information on pollution in the Mississippi River... Elysia B. wrote: I'm doing a school project on how much and what kind of pollution there is in the Mississippi. Would you just happen to know any information on the pollution level, or anything about the pollution on the Mississippi River?If you do could you please E-MAIL it to me?

Elysia and all, I just ran across a note about Pollution Fact Sheets which are available free from the Coast Alliance, (202)547-9534. The facts are drawn from EPA and industry data. They detail the amount and type of pollution directly discharged into the Mississippi, by state. Thanks to the Big River newsletter for this tidbit!

Wintfred writes from the university in Martin, Tennessee: I am compiling an illustrated history of the Reelfoot Lake region of northwest Tennessee and have found a few photographs mounted on cards embossed with "Doremus' Floating Photograph Gallery on the Mississippi". So far I've been unable to date them. Does anyone have any information on Doremus' or similar operations, probably in operation during the latter half of the 1800's?

Wintfred, I check with Edwin Hill, Curator of Special Collections at the Murphy Library in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He writes, "We know a lot about Doremus. He came from Paterson NJ "for his health" to these parts, built floating photo galleries at the Twin Cities and floated downriver taking pictures. We have some of his stereos, copies of hundreds more, a copy of his diary, and other biographical stuff. Most of his Mississippi River trip photos were taken in 1874 and 1875. If your contact will send us photocopies of what he has, we can probably provide more detail and perhaps even a good date."

Do you know the Web page for the MS River Trail Association? --Germantown, TN

This is one I can't help you with. Can one of our viewers?

I have been trying to find some reference to Jackson's or Glasscock's Island. I finally found it! Actually, Jackson's Island was where Jim and Huck Finn were staying in the *Adventures of Huck Finn*. The island's real name was Glasscock's Island, and was eventually washed out by the Miss. River sometime. For some reason, this is incredibly hard info to obtain. --Thanks, Bob.

Bob, I've studied and taught Huck Finn several times, and it never registered for me! Thanks for sharing that information with us! --Pat

Beverly writes: My grandmother tells me about an island she used to go to as a girl that was known then as Stearns Island. All she can remember is it was close to another island and was in the section of the river between Minnesota and Wisconsin. She mentions Wabasha sometimes, as well as, other cities I'm not familiar with. Is there any way I can find out when the information I have is so vague?

Beverly, you might try studying some Army Corps of Engineer river charts (available from most river marina stores.) You can also write one of the US Army Engineer District offices at:

Wabasha is north of La Crosse, WI, and Winona, MN. The Wabasha area has a large number of islands because of sedimentation from the Chippewa River which enters the Mississippi just above. Maybe someone out there has heard of Stearns Island. Please let us know!

I'm trying to locate info [history, etc] of Glasscock's [Jackson's] Island for a class project but have located nothing...can you help me? Thanks,Bob.

Beatrice writes: I am looking for information on Steamboat Captain. One Thomas Harper of the Josh Cook that was on the Ohio and the Mississippi during the 19th century. Have you any suggestions? Thank you.

Beatrice, you stumped me on this one! Maybe one of our visitors from the "Cherokee Belle" could help you out! Meantime I'll check around. Thanks for writing!

Jim writes: A friend and I have been working our way down the river in a canoe for the past 6 or 7 years--10 to 100 miles at a time. This summer we met two men in a refitted small sailboat, one from Arizona and one from Califrnia, who made the trip from someplace around Chicago in 1935 in a rowboat. We didn't get their names, but would really like to get in touch with them. Has anyone out there heard of their adventure? They were seniors at Wheaton, Illinois, high school in 1935.

Jim, I haven't, I'm sorry to say. BUT maybe someone else out there has and will get in touch! Thanks for writing. I will post the answer if I get it.

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