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  We were at once put on the Golden Era.  Just how she happened t be there and free for us to use I cannot say.  She had been with the company before and I think must have been doing something outside of regular line work.  We left Galena on the Galena’s day so the regularity of the line from the lower end was not interrupted.

  Early in the fall the water began to get low and one day just after leaving Dubuque I asked the Cub, who had now been with me for two years, if he could run her long enough for me to get shaved and he said he could.  We were going down stream in a good river so I ventured to leave him in charge.  When I was about half shaved there was a sharp blow on the hull, under and forward, followed by a slivering and raking along what seemed to be her entire length. I jumped from the chair under the barber’s hands, and run up until I could see the cub and then told him to “round to” and run into a slough close by where we would be in shallow water, then returned to the barber’s chair t finish my shave.  Meanwhile the inside of the hull was examined and the report was that but little water was coming in and that mostly at the point where the obstruction first bit us.  At the first shock I sensed what had happened and as soon as I got outside found my suspension correct.  A year or two before the Roy al Arch had sunk at this point and the low water had brought one of her cranks near enough to the surface to rake us as our boat was some hundred yards out of her proper course.  This happened at a point about half way down nine mile Island.  The wreck was taken out by the Government the next year.  It was a close call for us, hitting that kind of an obstruction under full

On the Grey Eagle.  I went to Galena early in the spring via Fulton and Dixon and I remember there was much ice still on the banks of the river when we first went up.  My regular season’s work was on the Itasca with Captain Webb whose home was in Le Claire.  He had come from the Ohio river at an earlier date and was rather a peculiar man in some respects but we became very good friends.  He was perfectly bald and wore a wig.  My partner was Orlando L West, commonly known as “Ed West” and Charlie Mather was our clerk and a very good friend of mine.  His wife was boarding in galena and my wife came up and boarded for a time in the early part of the season at the same place.

  The season was uneventful: there was a good stage of water: our trips were regular; we had a fine steward, Frank Norris by name, and he supplied an excellent service at the table.  The passenger traffic was not large during the early part of the season but as the summer came on the tourist travel became good both form the East and South.  The planters from the southern states were getting into the way of coming up to the north country to spend the hot season and it became a familiar sight to find southerners and their families traveling with us, nearly all of them slave holders, together with their personal servants who were slaves.  This created more or less friction, the boat employees objecting to waiting on the slaves as well as objecting to service with them in waiting on the masters and their families.  There was never anything serious with us but at hotels there was much annoyance and sometimes real trouble.  The latter frequently came when the blacks learned that they were on free soil and were not compelled to remain in slavery.  In fact there were plenty of people ready to give them this information and naturally some took advantage of it and this cause further bad blood and I think can be considered as one of the causes leading to the War of Rebellion.

  Many are still living who can recall the famous “Dred Scott” case,

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Collected and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure


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