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 August 13, 1921


  When my eyes got better I went in the mill and assisted in the sawing until a raft was ready.  My winter crew had been put to work at different jobs and I was able to get some of them when the raft was ready and in addition I had during the summer my brothers David and William and Aaron Winans.

  Cannot say what time we started with the first raft, but it was early and the water was very high owing to the heavy snow fall during the winter.  I had a very good and successful season and made three trips to St. Louis.  The last raft we ran was a very thin one being only nine courses deep, on account of low water on the lower rapids in the fall, and was sold at Quincy.  I stayed there until the lumber was pulled out of the water, measured and paid for.

  At Keokuk, after I had started back up river I met three flat boats that had been built at St. Croix Falls and loaded with some extra quality clear lumber.  These flats had been taken into Galena and a top loading of lead and oats had been added.  They had been having more or less trouble all the way down and had a man out ahead looking for me.  I agreed to take them to St. Louis, which I did, in the meantime stopping at Quincy and adding a large quantity of hay.  The weather was quite bad and several times we had to anchor.  On a couple of occasions the cook, an Ohio river man, would go ashore and return with what he called bear and we would have bear meat served up to us.  He could only work it a couple of times before we discovered it was skinned hog.  His explanation was they did it that way on the Ohio

  On arrival at St. Louis the owner of the flats wanted me to go through to New Orleans with him but I did not think it best to go.  I was carrying a large sum of money with me, the proceeds of sales of the lumber at Quincy, belonging to Mr. McKusick and I thought it better be gotten into his hands as soon as possible.  I understood the lumber in the flats was to be used in building a custom house in New Orleans.

  At St. Louis I did not find any boat leaving for the upper Mississippi so took the Reindeer for Peoria on the Illinois river.  Before we got to Peoria it turned cold and began snowing and when we left Peoria by stage for Geneseo it was freezing and the roads were in terrible condition which made the trip very slow and unpleasant.  We were late in reaching Toulon, our first stopping place, on account of a break down and losing our way.  When we reached Rock River the ice was running so heavy we had to remain all night but fortunately it gorged on an island above the ferry during he night and we got over the next morning.  At Geneseo I took another stage for Fulton but got off at Kingsbury P. O. the kept by the elder Passimore, and I soon got an opportunity to ride to Albany.

  I now settled down for a winter of rest and recreation. My mother and her husband John Slocumb, were then living in Albany and I made my home with them.  I had not seen my mother since we parted in White county some thirteen or fourteen years before.  Meantime she had married a man named Kniver who was the owner of a large grist mill in White county.  He did not live long after the marriage and she eventually married John Slocumb and moved to Albany where she spent the remaining years of her life.

  A part of my time was spent in hunting and one deer, several turkeys, one of which weighed twenty-two pounds, numerous pheasants, and other small game were the results.  There was a spelling and geography school which I attended and there were parties and entertainments in town and in the country.  At home there were John Slocumbs children, Nancy and Charles, and Dave Sharp.  My own brothers, David and Sam, were working at the warehouse and store of Mcbritine (?) and Hopper.

  The spring of 1847 was dry and open and about the last days of March or the first of April a small steamboat called the Amulet came along.  Her pilot did not know the river above Galena and they stopped at Albany to get me to take them over the upper river.  I had made some large purchases of provisions for my own use and for Mr. McKusick, consisting of several tons of uncured bacon, eggs, beans, dried apples, and at Bellevue I bought fifty barrels of flour and several barrels of whiskey all of which were loaded on the little boat and I could pay the freight bills by piloting.  It was so early that I feared Lake Pepin would not be open and such proved to be the case.  We found ice all over the lake but it had melted next to the shore and left considerable open water between the ice and the bank, so we ventured in and followed up the left and or west bank of the lake, but we had not counted on the effect of wind upon the ice which when blowing from one side would crowd the whole field of ice toward the other shore and even crowd the ice away up on the bank.  When we reached where is now Lake City this happened and before we were aware of it we were pushed by the ice right out on the shore high and dry and the ice continued pushing and crowding under the hull until it had lifted the boat.  All this happened so quickly we hardly realized it and the strain opened the hull along the kuckle (?) some fifteen feet or more.  We immediately put a bulk head around it and cut some small bass wood poles near by stripped off the bark and run them under the hull, being obliged to dig the ice away from the lower side.  Then we took everything movable off the boat to the shore.  While this was going on another boat appeared below us and when some four or five miles below was caught by the ice just as we had been except that she was on a rocky shore and much steeper bank so the ice crowded under her and raised her up, instead of piling up below her.  They were able to run skids under her from the lower side and as the ice melted away the skids settled to the ground, and all at once without help she slid into the water unhurt.  When we saw what had happened to her and saw her coming up I took a skiff and went down to meet her.  She proved to be the Senator, with my old friend Capt. Smith Harris in command.  He promised to come up and pull us into the water when he could get to us, if we did not get in by ourselves.

  When I left Albany there were twenty or thirty men whom I had hired, or promised work, but I did not think best for them to leave with me as it was almost too early in the season and I found the most of them on the Senator.

  The Senator came to us as soon as the ice moved out and it took only one pull to put us in the water and we soon found that our boat was not damaged to any extent and did not leak seriously.  So we loaded up again and went to St. Paul.  When we reached the mouth of Lake St. Croix to go to Stillwater we found some ice in that lake which with very high wind, delayed us three or four days and then we went to Stillwater and unloaded my freight.  My men had all arrived and were set to work picking up logs and rafting.

Note:_Albany without the Slocumbs would have been like one of Shakespeare’s

 most popular plays with Hamlet left out.  They were numerous and if all counted might have outnumbered the Fuller family of Pepin.  They did not, however, take to the river with the unanimity of that famous family.

  Alfred Slocumb, with whom Capt. Hanks made his home so long, was followed to Albany by his four brothers, Stephen, Charles, Samuel, and William, all being cousins of the Captain’s mother.

  William W. became a famous raft pilot in both floating and steamboat days and was in the employ of Knapp, Stout, and Company, Mennomonie, Wis. and Laird Norton & Co., Winona , Minn. for many years.  His nephew William R. a son of Stephen Slocumb was with him for many years, to distinguish between them the former was known as “Old Bill” and the latter as “Young Bill.”  Later W. R. was a successful pilot and master on his own hook. 

  Henry Slocumb, son of Wm. W., ran with his father for many years and succeeded him at his death.  Both Wm. R. and Henry F. died during 1920, their deaths being duly recorded in the Post.

  The John Slocumb who was the third husband of the mother of Capt. Hanks was no relation to the five brothers mentioned but was a brother of one known as “River” Charley Slocumb and of Nancy Slocumb and they all added to the census of the Slocumbs in Albany.  F. A. B.


Collected and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure


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