Research and Transcribed
By Sue Rekkas
BELL AND PEELE
Democrat, Sunday, May 25, 1884, page 1.
CLERK AND MATE MATE
And Stir Up LeClaire with Venture
--What the Heroine Had, What the Mate Had, How the Parties
--The Result Up to the Latest--
matter-of-fact citizens of LeClaire were treated to a
first-class excitement of the elopement order on Thursday
evening last. The facts as gathered from various sources,
seems to be about these:
The steamer Isaac
Staples, owned by the Burlington Lumber company, is captained
by Mr. Peele, who is also first pilot of the craft. Mr.
Peele’s (Peel) family consists of wife and daughter--the later
has been clerk of the boat--and since navigation has opened
they have lived on the steamer. The daughter, fair and
lovely, is 18 and has been in active demand in the matrimonial
market. Henry Bell, known in LeClaire, where he has been
bar-tender and general man-about-town for several years, as “Shorty,”
was employed as mate on the Staples. An intimacy sprang up
between the mate and the clerk. The mother had had her
suspicions aroused some time ago that there was likely to be
trouble, so she kept her eyes on the couple. At the time of
the boat’s last trip down, her vigilance alone prevented the
lovers from striking for a parson’s. On Thursday evening, the
boat on her way down with a raft, stopped at LeClaire for
coal. While the coal was being put on, the fair clerk and her
married sister took a walk up town. On their return they went
into a boat store to order supplies. The clerk stepped to the
door, and handing the keys of the boat’s safe to her sister,
said “good-bye, I am going to get married.” So saying, she
jumped into a buggy standing at the door. The mate, as
driver, picked up the lines and the twain were off, before the
father and mother could be informed of the condition of
affairs the lovers were out of sight. No effort was made to
head off the runaways. The captain, although very much
incensed and very much hurt, took the whole matter as a
settled fact and the boat went up to her raft, while the
heartbroken mother sobbed as if she had buried her child
instead of secured a new son-in-law.
Miss Libbie Peele,
the heroine of the episode, is 18 years of age, fine-looking,
educated, and refined in manner. It is said that she has been
engaged to a telegraph operator at Cedar Rapids and it was to
avoid marrying him, who was her father’s choice that she
eloped with Bell. It is said that Miss Peele has some
twenty-five hundred dollars in her own name.
found, after the clerk’s departure, that the boat’s account
was short a little matter of $275. This amount it is
presumed, the clerk took to defray the expenses of the
On Friday Bell
returned to LeClaire with the horse and buggy, but without the
clerk. He reported that he was, and also was not, married
but, as no license was issued to the parties in this county,
it is probable that the ceremony was performed in some other
sister, who was on the boat at the times of the elopement, was
in the secret and lent her aid and advice, as did her husband.
It is supposed
that the clerk and her lover came to this city after the
wedding. She then realizing that she was a defaulter went
to Burlington to straighten up the cash account will Bell went
back to LeClaire.
The Davenport Democrat, Saturday, May 31, 1884, page 1.
IN HER FATHERS HOUSE.
following paragraph from the Burlington Hawkeye will gratify
everybody who knows the young couple spoken of:
father of Miss Libbie Peele, who eloped with a young man named
Bell, who was mate of the rafter, Isaac Staples, called at the
Hawkeye office yesterday to correct certain rumors set afloat
in connection with the romantic episode of which his daughter
was the heroine. Captain Peel positively denied that the cash
account of the boat was short or that he had made any
statement to that effect. His daughter posted the books
before leaving, drew her salary and entered it upon the
books. He says that neither he nor his wife were aware of any
intimacy existing between Libbie and Bell, that he is
acquainted with the character of the latter, and neither
opposes nor favors the union. Mr. and Mrs. Captain Peel do
not censure their daughter for her conduct, and hope her
marriage will prove a happy one, though they think her husband
is her inferior, intellectually and socially. Mrs. Bell will
be welcome to her parent’s home in Burlington at any time. A
letter has been received from her, dated at Davenport, seeking
parental forgiveness, which has been granted.
regrets very much that the report that the young lady’s cash
account on the steamer on which she was clerk, was short, was
circulated. It is pleasant to know that her pure character
was not marred by any such defalcation as that attributed to
her when she married the young man of her choice.
1880 United States Federal Census Des Moines County
||Steam Boat Captain
||Work on boat
Marriage Record No. 6447 Scott County Iowa
Henry and Bell (Peel) Mary Elizabeth, date May 24, 1884 by
Charles Weston, J. P., and Witness John Bard.
The Daily Gazette,
Sunday, May 25, 1884, page 4.
From the County
Clerk’s office, yesterday, the following marriage licenses
were granted: Henry Bell to Mary Elizabeth Peel.
1885 Iowa State
Census Scott County LeClaire
Daily Times, Friday, April 19, 1889, page 4.
A terrible wreck
occurred last night during the storm. The tug boat, Pete
Eberett (Everett), was about entering Boston Bay some forty
miles south of here in order to take out another raft, when
the violent storm which was then raging upset the boat and
sank it, resulting in the drowning of the captain, his wife,
child, nurse girl and three others. The boat was owned in
Democrat Gazette, April 20, 1889, page 4.
FURTHER PARTICULARS OF THE WRECKED STEAMER.
How the Storm Came on
--Efforts of the Gallant Crew to Prevent the Catastrophe--
--Sinking of the Boat--
--The Life Struggle--
Survivors and the Lost.
of thunder, lightening, wind and rain which prevailed in
Davenport and vicinity Thursday eve from 7 to 8 o’clock
extended down the river for more than a hundred miles, and in
some cases proved disastrous to steam boat interest.
THE LOSS OF THE
dispatch to the Democrat Gazette from Burlington gives the
details of the sinking of the steamer Everett in the gale.
The boat was a rafter belonging to the Burlington Lumber
Company. She was sunk at the head of Otter Island Thursday,
and five of the 16 persons on board were drowned. The names
of the dead are:
Captain Vincent Peel,
Mrs. Harry (Henry) Bell, the clerk,
Mrs. Bell’s 3 year old daughter,
George Howard, first cook,
nurse girl name unknown.
The Everett was
on her way from Burlington to New Boston bay, when she was
struck by a terrific gale of wind and sunk in 20 feet of
Ten of the
persons on board were on the lower deck and were flung into
the water as the craft sank. They were rescued in a skiff.
Those drowned were inside the cabin, and were carried down
when the steamer sunk.
The raft boat was
valued at $8,000.
particulars of the wreck of the ill-fated raft steamer
Everett, is thus given by the Burlington Gazette:
Rain fell and
gusts of wind blew occasionally as the boat proceeded on her
way, but nothing unusual or alarming happened until the boat
reached the head of Otter Island. As the boat was crossing
the channel at this point, and when she was about two hundred
yards from the Illinois shore, the storm broke in all its
The first blast
of the storm was not severe, and although the boat went part
way over, she almost immediately righted herself. The pilot
then endeavored to get her head pointed into the wind and had
almost succeeded, when the second and fatal blast struck and
she immediately went over on her beam ends and began to sink.
As the boat
settled down in the water her side caught on the river bottom
and the current swung her around until she lay almost directly
across the stream, with her bow towards the Iowa shore. As
the boat went over a number of the crew clambered up to the
windward side and clung to the guards with desperate energy,
well knowing that certain death stared them in the face if
they loosed their hold. Others who were not so fortunate, but
who were all luckily, able to swim, swam around until they
were rescued by their comrades and pulled up onto the wreck
out of immediate danger. About six feet of the boat’s side
protruded above the water and to this fact alone the survivors
owe their lives, as had the water been deeper and the boat
gone entirely under, it is hardly probable that any would have
Bell, the pilot, was at his place at the wheel, and when the
boat went over the pilot house stove was torn from its
fastenings and struck him in the face, cutting a severe gash
under the eye, but luckily not knocking him senseless. As the
pilot house was settling in the water Mr. Bell broke a number
of the windows out and made his escape, swimming to the side
of the boat and climbing up on the wreck with the others.
Captain Peel, Mrs. Bell and her little child, George Howard
and his wife, and Rhoda Van Ettan were shut up in the cabin
and it is a wonder that even one of them was saved. The
windows and doors were all shut tight, but the water forced
its way in like a sluice. It is supposed that Captain Peel
was knocked senseless and perhaps killed as the boat went
over, as he has a terrible wound on the left side of his head,
which must have been caused by his striking something hard
with great force. The others, with the exception of Mrs.
Howard perished miserably beneath the waves, there being no
chance of rescue for them. Mrs. Howard fortunately found a
place along the outer edge of the cabin which was not
submerged, knocked a hole though a transom with her hand to
get air and after enduring about 30 minutes of the keenest
agony was rescued by the men, who at last heard her cries.
The situation of
those clinging to the wreck was now desperate in the extreme
as the current was liable at any minute to tear away the
sunken boat from her resting place and carry all the survivors
to watery graves. Harry Bell knew that his wife was in the
cabin at the time of the disaster, and being unable to stand
the awful suspense of not knowing whether she was drowned or
not, he soon began to search for her. Nothing could be seen
except at intervals when flashes of lightening lighted up the
scene, but at last through a hole kicked by him in the transom
Mr. Bell grasped a woman’s dress, the dress worn by his wife.
The body of Mrs. Bell was drawn out, but although it was still
warm, life had fled. Willing hands worked for hours, but all
efforts to rescue her were in vain. About 9 o’clock, two
hours after the boat went down, the continued cries of the
survivors were answered by the appearance of two men, Andy and
Sam Jacobs, who had rowed to the scene in a skiff from the
Illinois shore, and who at once conveyed the eleven people
clinging to the wreck to the shore and fire was built and the
rescued people made themselves as comfortable as possible
under the dreadful circumstances.
All the bodies
which have been recovered were caught in the wreck and had to
be torn loose, Capt. Peel being found head downwards, his head
being imprisoned between two heavy timbers.
The Morning Democrat Dispatch, Tuesday, April 25, 1889, page
ITEMS IN BRIEF
raised the safe belonging to the sunken steamer Everett
Tuesday afternoon, together with her headlight and a great
number of ropes. The safe might about as well have been left
at the bottom of the river; however, as the combination
refuses to work and it will be a rather serious job to get it
open. An experienced diver from Cairo, Ill., is now working
around the wreck, and efforts are being made to get the boat,
which is now lying on its side, pulled over and righted.