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  We took advantage of every possible hour of daylight and when we landed at Marion City, below Quincy, one night there was a good deal of ice in the river and in the morning the raft had a covering of six or eight inches of snow and a cold wind was blowing from the northwest.  Soon the ice showed signs of gorging and we gave it up, stripped the raft and stored the outfit in a warehouse near by and prepared to make our way to St. Louis.  We hailed the first boat that came along, the Iowa I think, but she declined to stop, which was fortunate for us for she sank at Cap au Gris on the way down.  The Wyoming answered our hail and we went on board only to get aground a couple of miles below.  I soon concluded it was useless to stay with her so we were put on shore and we proceeded on foot to Hannibal where I took a stage for St. Louis and the men began the journey of some one hundred and fifty miles on foot.  I did not gain much on them as they reached St. Louis soon after I got there and were paid off.  I remained in the city a short time to rest up and get a little recreation.  I do not remember the date now but it must have been early in December as we had left with the raft on Oct. 20th.  It was unusually cold for the time of year and the river was frozen over and thickly covered along the shore with little skating parks and skaters were out in great numbers, making a very interesting sight at night with the lights and swiftly moving crowds.  But the ice was not strong enough for teaming and as a consequence there was a fuel famine as most of the fuel for the city was coal from Illinois.  To meet the demand there came into the city from the adjacent country nondescript vehicles mainly little carts, with a jag of wood, generally cut stove length.  While there a fire occurred, not far from the hotel where I was staying, one morning just about daylight, and a great number of people were hurried out, many in their night clothes and some with less.  One amusing feature, if one could be amused in what was near tragedy to many, was a most surprising cloud of feathers that flew thru the streets with the wind and when they came to a side or cross street would whirl around the corners and fly again until they covered that entire section of the city and it seemed as though all the feather beds in the homes had been ripped and the contents poured into the wind and the heated air carried them high and scattered them far and wide.

  When I was ready to return north, not liking the long stage trip, at the suggestion of Mr. Holmes, to whom our lumber was consigned, I went to a livery stable he recommended and bought a saddle horse for seventy five dollars and then added to my equipment a saddle, bridle, pair of saddle bags and such other things as would be needed on a long cold ride.  I started out on the west side of the river and as there was nothing urgent in the trip took my time.  This was in slavery time and I was much interested in this to me, peculiar habits of the natives where they depended on the blacks to do all the work.  The places where I would put up at night were generally good houses and I would receive the best of attention and service.  Rooms with fire places and high feather beds were given me and darkies were at hand to anticipate my every want.

  Reached the raft at Marion city in a few days and found the river frozen over but the ice not very thick.   Had left the raft in charge of my clerk, Clem Nevitt, when we laid it up.  As he wanted to go home I placed it in charge of the owner of the warehouse where we had stored the rafting kit and then we two started to cross on the ice to the Illinois shore, leading the horse we were uncertain how we might find the ice,, but we got over with out trouble and started out for the north, bearing slightly out of the east.  We rode and walked alternately and reached Quincy the first night and Carthage the second night.  Nevitt concluded he would go over into Fulton county and visit a brother-in-law, so we parted, he going east to Lewiston and I continuing my way north passing to the west of Galesburg then direct to a little east of Moline, where I crossed Rock river on the ice, and then went up the back of the Mississippi to Albany.

  I was exceedingly glad to see Albany once more and I remained there until in February 1849 making my home with my sister, Mrs. Colvert.  The horse I rode from St. Louis I traded for eleven acres of land in the outskirts of Albany which remained in my possession for two or three years and was then used as a part payment on one team of horses and one yoke of oxen purchased from Melvine and Hopper the horse then netting me one hundred and fifty dollars.  This land is now part of the estate of Mahlon Winans and the residence stands upon it and it is the best land in the village.

  I had to be in Stillwater in March to defend the suit, before mentioned, brought by the Boom company so in due time I went to Galena by stage and there took the Burbank and Blakely express stage and made the rest of the journey mostly in sleighs.  We won our suit and a nominal sum as damages but not enough to reimburse us for the loss we suffered at the hands of the Boom company on account of our not being able to complete our sale.  I finally sold my interest in the logs to John McKusick for two thousand dollars.

  Early this spring I took the government Steamer Governor Brigg from Cattail slough to Alton for the sum of fifty dollars and my expenses.  We stopped at Rock Island over Sunday and the ice was piled so high on the shore that we had to dig through it to get on the levee.  That day I visited the Cave on the lower end of the island of Rock Island and left my Autograph with a brush and paint.  We landed at Burlington to take on the boat’s furniture and stopped for the night at Keokuk.  About four o’clock the next morning we were roused from our beds by a great commotion and careening of the boat.  The bank had slid into the river and on to the guard of the boat, many tons of earth falling on us and nearly capsizing the boat.  We worked with great energy for a few minutes with shovels and anything we could get hold of to get ourselves out of danger and then started on our way.  We reached Alton at sunset that evening and it was the fastest run of that distance, one hundred and eighty miles, I ever made.

  I cannot give details of that season’s work.  On my contract with McKusick I took two lumber rafts to St. Louis and had them hauled out and two log rafts in one fleet, my brother David Hanks, piloting one of them.  They were long logs and sold for a high price and I made a large amount of money on that contract.  I made during the season several short trips to Clayton, Dubuque, Savanna, Lyons and Burlington for other people.  I spent that winter in Albany boarding with Mrs. Newitt and took it easy taking part in the various amusements of the lively little village.

  On the opening of navigation in 1850 I went to Stillwater and during the season made my regular trips on the McKusick contract.

  My brother, William Hanks, who ha been clerking of me, concluded to marry. I put him in a house I had built in Stillwater, and further more I bought a small stock of goods and started him in a general merchandise business.  We did well from the start and made a good deal of money, considering the amount invested, which did not exceed two thousand dollars.

  In June I arranged to go pilot on the Anthony Wayne, a steamer carrying an excursion party from St. Louis to St. Paul.  We had a leisurely passage stopping at various places of interest.

  After a short stay at St. Paul we went as close up the Falls of St. Anthony as we could get,-right up to Goat Island, and that was the first time a boat ever went over the rapids below the falls.  Here we spent the night and had a big dance on the boat; the excursionists thus entertaining their friends and visitors, after which we returned to St. Paul.


Collected and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure


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