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Montrose, Iowa

  The "Wheel"  


Anderson, George

Boat Builder (1889 Lee County Directory)

1880 Federal Census
George Anderson 54
Occupation: ship carpenter
Wife: Rafehril 43
Children: Marie 20, Sadia 15, Anna 10


Best, George





George Washington Best II



George Washington Best II


1880 Federal Census
George Best 31
Occupation: steamboat mate
Born: Iowa
Wife: Caroline 30
Children: Pearl 3

From Descendant Terrie Cooper-Piper

George Washington Best Jr. : B 2/21/1849 and died 3/4/1921 in St. Joseph, Missouri. He was hit by a train. I have a copy of the obit if you are interested. Married Lucy Caroline Kirk 12/24/1873 in Fort Madison, Iowa. She was born 10/6/1851 in Iberia, Trumball County, Ohio and died 2/12/1941 in Seneca, Nemaha County, Ks.

I have from somewhere that George was a riverboat mate on a boat named "Zack."

George's parents were George Washington Best Sr. I have that he married a Sarah Ann in 1873 in Fort Madison, Iowa. I have them as having three children.


Best, James

, Steamboatman (1889 Lee County Directory)

Chapter XXX
Burlington Saturday Evening Post
E. H. Thomas

Letter from Fred A. Bill

“The name Jim Best brings to mind a great big good natured man who was always doing his “best” and well liked by everyone. At one time he was Master of the Sidney of the “Diamond Jo Line“. The line was then in operation between St. Paul and St. Louis and the Sidney was not one of the most speedy ships of the line. To keep her on time required eternal vigilance and frequently in low water time was made at the sacrifice of cargo and vice versa. One trip the Sidney came into headquarters at Dubuque on the minute with about all the cargo she could hold and Jim was in elegant spirits. When he came into the office and reported he added, with one of his largest smiles, “Ah Fred, the blind hog gets the acorn sometimes.” an expression I never forgot.”

Chapter 23

E. H Thomas

“The pay of the roustabouts or deck hand was about $45 per month. Under the skillful management of the mates of that time, such men as Mose Mullen, Hiram Finch and Jim Best, there was little trouble.”

From Descendant Terrie Cooper-Piper

1) James Madison Best b 1837 d 1912
Married Lavena Sherwood

George Washington Best


James Madison Best, 1837 - 1912

George Washington Best


James Madison Best

Barber J. P.
, pilot (Lee County Directory)

1880 Federal Census
J.P. Barber 49
Occupation: river pilot
Born: 1831, Ohio
Wife: Elizabeth 48

Children: Emmaus 22, school teacher, Caroline, 20 teaches school, Frederic, 16 Adal 12, Blanch 10
Died Montrose 1915

Capts. Brierly


Brierly James Capt.


Brierly Samuel 


Researched and written    by Patricia W. Grudzinski relative


Samuel was the son of Thomas Brierly and Elizabeth Howlett. He had been one of the first Petit Jurors of Hancock County Illinois in 1829. In 1853 Samuel and Sophia traveled to California by wagon when their sixth child was under a year old. They separated shortly after arriving in California. Samuel went back east. Sometime later, he and his brother, James operated boats between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Omaha, Nebraska on the Missouri River. This is probably where he met Mary, his second wife, the widow of Peter Goodman. They were married there in 1858. Samuel and Mary are listed on the 1860 Buchanan Co. Missouri census along with Mary’s children to Peter Goodman, Caroline, William, Marthy and Isaac (Owens) who was Samuel’s nephew. He later married Caroline. Another daughter of Peter & Mary’s, Barbara Goodman was married to Marshall Brierly, son of Samuel & Sophia. They were married in 1858 in St. Joseph as well.

The Native Daughters of the Golden West maintain a permanent record of information concerning California Pioneers who resided or were born in California before December 31, 1869.


Samuel Valentine Brierly 63-4


Census: 1870 Shawnee Co. Kansas, Silver Lake Twp. Page 104
Indexed as Bushly, Marshall 28 b. IA farmer,

Barbara 27 b. MO keeping house,

Samuel 10 b. Missouri,

Male (can’t read name) 6 b.? Nebraska,

male ?Grant 1 b. Kansas,

Samuel 63 retired farmer b. ? Virginia,
Goodman, Wm. 21 b. MO farm laborer,

Martha 18 b. MO domestic.

Samuel is living with his son’s family, also the two youngest Goodman children. Mary must have died, haven’t been able to find that out yet. It was sometime after this that they went to California again. Samuel died there in 1879.


Brierly, Thomas






      Capt. Thomas H.  Brierly


Thomas Brierly from St. Joseph Missouri owned the following steamers: “F. X. Aubrey”, “El Paso”, and “Polar Spar” among others.

 Picture source:

Missouri Historical Review" volume LXVII (67), number 2, January 1973

 Submitted by Gene Brierly, Brierly  family researcher


The Gazette
March 13, 1849


Regular Packet
From St. Louis to Davenport

The fine and fast passenger steamer, ARCHER, Capt. Thomas H. Brierly, Master, has commenced her regular trips as a packet between the above named ports. Leaving St. Louis every Wednesday she will arrive at Davenport every Saturday, and leaving Davenport on Saturdays will reach St. Louis on Wednesdays. Freight will be taken at the lowest rates, and every attention will be paid to the comfort of passengers.
transcribed by Georgeann McClure

Brierly Genforum sight


I have a copy of an old magazine article about Capt. Thomas H. Brierly of St. Joseph, MO. He was born about 1807 (possibly Cincinnati)and died 1889 in Andrew County, MO. His brother was Samuel Valentine Brierly and they were sons of Thomas (of Baltimore) and Elizabeth Howlett Brierly. Children of Thomas H. Brierly listed in the article are Ella, Mary, Georgia, Senora, Emma and Alfred (who was involved in an international scandal). Captain Brierly ran riverboats from St. Louis to St. Joseph. He apparently lived in St. Joseph in a fine home, built by slave labor, and he lost it after the Civil War. I hope this information is of interest to someone.
This was posted by Margie Gilliland GillML@aol.com


From Davidadamlewis@msn.com

As far as I can tell the article got it wrong. Thomas H Brierly married Mary Elizabeth Withrow on May 23, 1841 in Hancock Co., IL. He was born about 1822 in OH and died before 1880 in MO.
Children are:
Eva Brierly was born about 1843 in Lee Co., IA.
Pauline Brierly was born about 1845 in Lee Co., IA.
Thomas H Brierly was born about 1848 in MO.

Family is in Ward 5, St. Louis, MO in 1850 census.
They are in Marian Township, Buchanan Co., MO in 1860 census.
In Ward 6, St. Louis, MO in 1870 census.



 Federal Census of Ward 5, St Louis, St Louis Co., MO:

HH#1304, August 26, 1850:


Thomas H Brierly 28 m Ohio Steam Boat Pilot

Elizabeth 25 f Ohio

Evaline 7 f Iowa

Pauline 5 f Iowa

Thomas 2 m Missouri

Mordiea Withrow 23 m Ohio Steam Boat Pilot

Silvey 17 f Ohio


* see Capts Withrow

The Autobiography of Frank M. Stahl, as told and illustrated by Margret Whittemore, University of Kansas Press, 1959 transcribed by John D. Meredith VIII – Heading up the Missouri


 “From him I learned that Captain Tom Brierly of St. Joseph owned and operated the finest, fastest, and most beautiful side-wheel steamers that ever plied the Missouri. The New Lucy was one of them, and he was master on many of her trips.”  





-- TO --

St. Louis and Return.


-- ON --

Monday, April 25, '98

Notice the Very Low Rates:

Lv Keokuk 6:00 a. m. $2.00
Lv Warsaw 6:30 a. m $2.00
Lv Canton 9:30 a. m. $2.00
Lv LaGrange 10:00 a. m. $2.00
Lv Quincy 12:00 m. $1.50
Lv Hannibal 2:00 p. m. $1.00
Lv Louisiana 5:00 p. m. $1.00
Lv Clarksville 6:00 p. m. $1.00


>>>> Tickets good to return until April 30.


Burlington Saturday Evening Post 1849

T. F Brierly and his boat Archer




From Saint Louis to Bloomington and Davenport.


       The  well known and fast running steamer ARCHER, T. F. BRIERLY Master, has resumed her regular trips between St. Louis to the Upper Rapids, and is now prepared to land or load freight or passengers at Nauvoo, Fort Madison, Burlington, Oquawka, Port Louisa, Bloomington, Davenport, Rock Island, and all intermediate ports.

      The Archer is of light draught, nearly new, and has excellent accommodations for passengers and freight. Strict attention will be paid to both passengers and shipments, by the officers of the boat.


For freight or passage apply of board or to B. T. DAVID, Agent

March 15, 1849 




Campbell, James W.


Chapter 19

E. H. Thomas

Saturday Evening Post 1912


The professional piler of wood could easily make five cords out of four.  He would work in all of the knotty logs, which would not go into a furnace, and leave holes in the rank of wood large enough for a dog to pass through.  This system caused many joint discussions between the buyer and seller.  If the knotty logs were thrown aside, as they were, the boat would find them in the woodpile again on the return trip.  If the knots were dumped into the river the wood yardmen would fish them out of the water and return them to the rank.  After a long experience we finally destroyed this system by taking the knotty sticks aboard the boat and transporting them to some distant point, where there were no wood yards.  I heard Captain Jim Campbell declare that one of these crooked, knotty sticks of wood had cost him about ten dollars, and after handling the owner of the yard a few packages of rive profanity, he ordered the stick brought on board of the Keithsburg.

*Also see Capts. White

Campbell Andrew



Cay H. M.


1880 Federal Census

H.M. Cay 49

Occupation: engineer steamer

Wife: no

Children: William 17, Luella 14, Minnie 7,

H. M. Fuller Mother in law

G. W. Harrison, 13



Cheesman,  Michael

1889 Lee County Directory:  Mate


1880 Federal Census

M Cheeseman 50

Occupation: Steam boatman,

Born: Vermont

Wife: Francis 42

Children: Samual, 23, Andrew 18


RiverBoat Dave’s

Memoirs of General William T. Sherman



The Second Brigade, Colonel D. Stuart, was composed of the Fifty-fifth Illinois, Seventy-first Ohio, and Fifty-fourth Ohio; embarked on the Hannibal, Universe, Hazel Dell, Cheesman and Prairie Rose.


…We steamed up to Fort Henry, the river being high and in splendid order. There I reported in person to General C, F. Smith, and by him was ordered a few miles above, to the remains of the burned railroad bridge, to await the rendezvous of the rest of his army. I had my headquarters on the Continental 


 Michael Cheesman

13 February 1899

Montrose Journal

17 March 1899


Michael Cheesman Dies at His Home.

At his home, at 5:45 a.m., Monday, Feb. 13, 1899, Michael Cheesman died of Bright’s disease, aged sixty-nine years and twenty-nine days.  The funeral took place from the home at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, conducted by the Rev. R. C. McIlwain, of the Episcopal church, interment being in the Montrose cemetery. Deceased is survived by a wife, one son and a grandson.


Deceased was born in Vermont, Jan. 14, 1830, where he grew to young manhood.  Railroads did not gridiron the earth then as they do now and the stage lines and canals did a flourishing business.  Being a lover of horses, Mr. Cheesman early became an expert reinsman and soon found employment with the leading stage lines at once taking his place among the most trusty and careful drivers.


During this employment Mr. Cheesman became acquainted with “Billy” Wells, who was then laying the foundation on which has been reared the great Wells-Fargo Express company.  Many a trip did Mr. Cheesman and the then embryo great expressman make on the boot of a stage coach, and while the former touched up the leaders the latter carefully guarded his express matter, which he usually carried in his hat.  The Wells family was in such poor circumstances then that Mrs. Wells done washing to add to the family exchecquer, Mr. Cheesman regularly having his washing done by her.


The west began to be the magnet which attracted the energetic people of the east, and in 1853 Mr. Cheesman joined the throng and during the course of that year he landed in this locality.  Following his bent he became a stage driver here, working on the line that ran stages to Des Moines.  In this employment he continued for some time when he shipped as a mate on the Mississippi river.  In this employment he became famous and was well known by river men from New Orleans to St. Paul.


At the commencement of the civil war he enlisted in Co. A, 1st Iowa cavalry, in June, 1861, and served four years.  As in everything else he went into he put all of his young manhood into the soldier business and as a consequence he was a fearless soldier.  At the conclusion of his term of service in the army he resumed his duties on the river, which he followed a few years when he moved onto a farm at the top of he Keokuk hill, where he resided until his death.


As honest as the day was long, Mr. Cheeseman was outspoken against any form of fraud and deception.  His word was a good as his bond, and when Mike Chessman [Cheesman] passed his word to his neighbor or friend he religiously kept it.  It was this phase of his sterling character that won and retained for him a large circle of friends all over the county who will read of his death with regret.


In 1856 he was joined in marriage to Mrs. Paulina Cosley, daughter of Mrs. Lucinda (Grandma) Harmon, of this place.  Two children, Samuel and Andrew, came to bless this union.  Of the children but one (Samuel) survives him, Andrew having been killed a number of years ago in a railroad wreck in New Mexico.


Of the comrades who served with Mr. Cheesman in the army, but four remain in this locality, vix. Harry and Walker Wilson, Elmer Reed and Wm. Horton.


The  JOURNAL extends its profound sympathy to the widow and relatives in their bereavement for in Mr. Cheesman’s death it feels a personal loss since he was a constant reader of its columns


Transcribed by Mary Sue Chatfield


Articles From
Transcribed by Connie (Dobson) Putthoff

9 April 1925


The death of Samuel CHEESEMAN removes one of our oldest, native born citizens, he having been born here in the Fall of 1858. His father was Mike CHEESEMAN, an old stage driver and steamboat mate.



Cooper, Elishia


1880 Federal Census

Elishia Cooper 56

Occupation: attends Government Light on Mississippi river

Children: Emily 49, William 16


History of Lee County, Iowa 1879”, Montrose Township, Page 759:


COOPER, ELISHA, carpenter, Montrose; was born in Kanawha Co., Va., in 1824; he came to Muscatine, Iowa, in 1843; in the spring of 1844, he removed to Dahlonega, Wapello Co., where he resided till 1847, when he removed to Lee Co.; he located permanently in Montrose in 1850.  He married in 1852, Emily Carlin; they have had four children, three of whom are living—Laura L., Lee and William G.; Manfred, the oldest, died, aged about 2 years.


D. C Davis


Nauvoo records

The members of the High Council elected at the October conference, met and organized at W. D. Huntington's, where Harlow Redfield was restored to fellowship; and voted that this High Council disfellowship any and all persons that shall hereafter carry over or ferry across the river, any people or freight to the injury of said ferry from Commerce to Montrose. Voted that the Horse Boat be repaired from the moneys received on sale of lots in Nauvoo, and that D. C. Davis be master of said ferry boat for the ensuing year.

Davis, Frank,  Pilot


Capts Farris


Farris (Faris) (1889 Lee County Directory)



Joseph Farris

Father of Eugene Farris

Occupation: steamboat man



Eugene Farris

Born Oct. 21 1854 Ms.

Occupation: steamboatman

Married: A. U. Ruth

Children: Ruby Emily B/ 8-24-1892 Keokuk


 Charley Farris

Born: Jan 29, 1850 On a canal boat near Zainesville, Ohio

Moved to Montrose 1868

Occupation: rapids pilot, Captain

Father: Robert Farris

Boats: Silver Crescent, Keokuk, and Columbia

Married: Edith Keil

Children: Clarence, Robert, Nellie

Died: Jan 12, 1933 age 83


Chapter V

Burlington Saturday Evening Post

E. H. Thomas


“I am of the opinion that Captain Charley Faris is the only person now living who can give us the story of navigating the Des Moines, and we shall expect him to do it.  Charlie got his feet wet at a very early age, contracted the water disease and went on to the boats as a cabin boy.  His father, Robert Faris, who died a few years ago at Farmington Iowa, knew more about the Des Moines river than any one of his time.  As a pilot he navigated the stream for many years.  Later on, on the Mississippi, he became a pilot and then a captain.” 


C. H. Faris was the Steamboat agent for the “Diamond Jo Line” in Montrose.







-- TO --

St. Louis and Return.


-- ON --

Monday, April 25, '98

Notice the Very Low Rates:


Fare for Round Trip

Lv Keokuk 6.00 a. m.


Lv Warsaw 6:30 a. m.


Lv Canton 9:30 a. m.


Lv. LaGrange 10:00 a. m. $2.00
Lv Quincy 12:00 - m. $1.50
Lv Hannible 2:00 p. m. $1.00
Lv Louisiana 5:00 p. m. $1.00
Lv Clarksville 6:00 p. m. $1.00


>>>>> Tickets good to return until April 30.



Robert Farris

Father of Charley Farris



Chapter III

Burlington Saturday Evening Post

E. H. Thomas


  “The Badger State hit a “nigger head” on the Ottumwa, Iowa rapids and went down about the year 1854.  She was then navigating the Des Moines river.  Robert Faris was her captain and pilot and Charley Faris, his son, who is still on the river, was a cabin boy.  She was raised and went to St. Louis for repairs.  Later on, in 1868, she struck the wreck of the Altoona and went to the bottom again.”

  • It was Charley Patton who was the cabin boy.

Ferrin, Joseph


1880 Federal Census

Ferrin Joseph 30


Occupation: Steamboat pilot

Wife: Edith 23

Children: Clarence 4, Robert 2, Charles 7m,

Other: Charlot Kiel Mother in law

Ac Kiel 2



Gerboth Henry


“A Raft Pilots Log”

Pg. 283

Walter Blair

Chief Engineers of the Rafters

Henry Gerboth…Montrose Iowa



River Boat Dave’s sight

Date: 02/23/2001 Hi David. I have enjoyed your sight but was not able to locate any info on the Adam Heine Steamboat. Can you point me to another site that might have info on steamboats used on the Mississippi river during the civil war. I received this info from my great grandfathers obit: Henry C. Gerboth, Montrose Iowa. "His experiences on the river included; during the civil war, considerable work on transport boats. He acted as engineer on the Adam Heine which was in the service of General Grant and from which he directed maneuvers of the army and navy." Any help would be appreciated. Thank you, Norma Key in Folsom CA



Charles Gillespie


Charles Gillespie lived in Keokuk according to the census records and became a pilot there in the late 1800's.  If I remember
correctly he was involved in saving lives in a riverboat fire that occurred in Keokuk.  The Deliles and  Speakes also lived there as early as 1860-1870.


Scott Schurwan research and married to descendant * see Speake



Goodnough Rufus



Born Dec. 25, 1816

Born: Chillocothe Ohio

Occupation: steamboat pilot

Married: Oct 1855, Nancy Harcheshell, Ark.

2nd wife: Lovina Wallace

Children: Fanny R.

Died: June 1897

Buried: Montrose



“Portrait and Biographical Album of Lee County, Iowa”, Chapman Brothers, 1887, Pages 321-322:  [Portrait of Capt. Goodnough on page 320.]



CAPT. RUFUS GOODNOUGH, an honored resident of Montrose, and an experienced and skillful pilot of the Mississippi River, is a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, and was born on Christmas Day, 1816.  He is the son of Asa and Elizabeth (Brown) Goodnough, natives respectively of Vermont and Ohio.  They were the parents of two children—Rufus, the subject of our sketch, and William.


     Capt. Goodnough turned his face westward in 1828, crossing the river to St. Louis, Mo., where he embarked on the steamer “Warrior,” and came up the river as far as Galena.  The country at that time was wild and uncultivated, and he well remembers the solitude of the lonely scenery along the banks of the Mississippi upon which now stand flourishing cities, before which are anchored the proud and beautiful modern craft that now navigate the Father of Waters.  During the Texas troubles, in 1835, he went to the Lone Star State, remaining about seven years and afterward returned to St. Louis, where he engaged as a pilot on the Upper Mississippi, occupying this difficult and responsible position for the next twenty years.   This included the date at which Ft. Sumter was fired upon by the rebels, and he resolved to enter the service of his country.  With the assistance of Capt. Gallend he raised a company of volunteers, which became Co. H, 6th Iowa Vol. Inf., and was appointed First Lieutenant.  He resigned his commission in the winter of that same year, and coming home proceeded to raise another company, enlisting his men in the 30th Iowa Regiment, in which company he served as Captain until April 9, 1863.  At this time, on account of ill-heath, being afflicted with asthma and bronchitis, he resigned and received an honorable discharge.  During his military career he participated in the engagements at Arkansas Post and Chickasaw and Mississippi Bayou.  He was never wounded while in battle, but on account of impaired health is drawing a small pension from the Government.


     Capt. Goodnough was married in October, 1855, to Mrs. Nancie (Pierce) Hardisshell, an Arkansas lady.  She remained the companion of her husband for a period of twenty-three years, and departed this life April 1, 1878.  Of this union there were no children.  He was the second time married in 1880, the lady of his choice being Mrs. Lovina Wallace, widow of John Wallace, and born in Iowa in 1840.  Of this union there has been one child, a daughter, Fannie R., the date of whose birth was Aug. 21, 1881.


    Capt. Goodnough is represented in many of the societies and orders of the present day, and is a great favorite among his brethren of the different fraternities.  He became a member of the A. F. & A. M. in 1856, and has filled the various offices of the Blue Lodge.  He also belongs to the Royal Arch and Council degrees; is a member of Joppa Lodge No. 136, at Montrose, Iowa, and the Royal Arch and Council degrees in the Potowonock Lodge at Ft. Madison, Iowa.  He is also connected with the Cascade Lodge No. 66, I.O.O.F., at Montrose, and is a Good Templar.  Besides this, he is also a member of the Knights of Labor Lodge at Montrose, and of the Tip Best Post G.A.R., at Montrose.  He also belongs to the Sir Knights of the Palm and Shell, and the Chapter of the Eastern Star.  Capt. Goodnough is a member in good standing of the Episcopal Church of Montrose, to the support of which he contributes liberally and cheerfully.  Besides his river interests he is the possessor of real estate inside the city limits of Montrose, and occupies a handsome and comfortable home.  As a river man he is exceedingly popular, and as a townsman is held in high respect by his fellow-citizens.  The portrait of Capt. Goodnough, which accompanies this sketch, will be viewed with pleasure by his many friends.

                                                            Transcribed by Mary Sue Chatfield



Collected and Transcribed by

Georgeann McClure


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