J. A. Eaton
Feb. 7, 1914
HARDY PIONEER TELLS OF FERRY BOAT DAYS
Mr. and Mrs. J. A, Eaton, venerable Couple Recite Experience of Days Gone By
A visit full of entertainment and pleasure this week at the comfortable home of
Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Eaton, 1512 East fifth Street, a bride and groom of sixty
years ago, (their anniversary falling on February 2), revealed many delights and
exciting incidents which the happy couple experienced during their long wedded
life. Both are in excellent health, and comfortably seated last night beside a
large baseburner, Mrs. Eaton “piecing together the small blue and white squares
of a beautiful old fashion quilt, told of the days when the now aged husband was
captain of the “Ida May” at that time one of the most popular boats of the
Mississippi. Mr. Eaton was in a talkative mood and his face lighted up as he
told of his experiences with his “pet” “I was in my prime in those days,” he
said, “and those were great steam boating days too.”
Ferry Captain 12 years
“the twelve years I spent as captain and pilot of the little craft were twelve
of the happiest years of my life, and If I do say it myself, I never had an
accident in all the time. I bought my half interest in the little vessel from
old Captain A. Davidson, now deceased. In 1879, and continued the ferry until
the bridge was open to traffic in 1891. The other half interest in the boat was
controlled by S.G. Stein, Sr.. Some days business was poor especially on stormy
days, but the slack was amply made up on a circus and show day in Muscatine, and
on one occasion I remember I brought over as high as nineteen teams in one trip.
On one show day, I think it was the time when the great Forepaugh circus was
scheduled to appear here, I took in a high as a hundred dollars. And speaking of
the circus reminds me that was the day of the big fire at the Chambers mill,
near where Huttigs factory is now. That was an awful fire, and I was on the
Illinois side loading on passengers who were coming over for the circus, when I
first noticed the blaze. The fire was small then, but inside of ten minutes the
entire mill was wrapped in flames. The blaze was so fierce hat the water in the
creek boiled, and the bridge over which the circus was to pass burned out, so
that there was no performances. An immense crowd witnessed the fire which
occurred at eleven o’clock in the morning.
A FUNNY EXPERIENCE.
“ One experience I’ll
never forget took place on the Ida May while I was captain. It was a funny
experience too, and as I think of it, I can’t help but look on the humorous side
of it and enjoy another hearty laugh. It was a custom in those days, for various
parties to take river pleasure trips on the ferry up or down the river whichever
the direction may be in which the boat had business. We did a good deal of
towing in those days. On this particular day, which was during the last year or
two of my ferry experience, a party of twelve young married women boarded the
boat for one of there little trips, expecting to return before evening as my
trips were generally short ones. I had promised Captain Arnold to tow a barge of
stone from the quarries up near Montpelier so that I could meet it. After we
started, one of the party of women asked me how long it would take to make the
trip, and when I told her that it all depended on whether I had to go to
Montpelier, in which case, I would not be able to return until perhaps the next
day, she was frantic, and told me that she had left her small baby with her
husband at that time a prominent Muscatine grocer. Well, it happened that I met
the barge near Fairport, but on the return as we enter the Iowa chute, a
terrific storm arose and struck just before we came to Geneva Island. It was one
of the worst storms I ever experienced, and it grew so dark that I could not see
the water. We tied up near the island and it was not until mid-night we found
the faithful husband and tiny baby, anxiously concerned as to the wife and
PRISONER ESCAPES FROM HIM.
“Before I went in to the
ferry business I spent one year just previous as marshal, and four years before
that as sheriff of Muscatine County. We lived in the old jail building, and my
wife and I took care of the prisoners. It was as sheriff that I had another
interesting experience which resulted in the escape of the only prisoner that
ever got away from me. The Keokuk county people did not have a jail, so they
asked me to keep their prisoners for them. This prisoner that escaped was one of
those from Keokuk county and was awaiting trial on the charge of stealing a pair
of boots. I had been called away to Wapello for the day, and left my wife in
charge. It was another bad, stormy day, and I can still hear the rain beating
down on the roof of the jail. Of course, the prisoners realized that I was gone,
and this particular Keokuk county prisoner told the others he was going to get
out and if they wanted to they should follow. He fashioned a saw from a common
case knife, which he had in his possession, and sawed the lock off the large
door. Because of the rain pattering on the roof, my wife could not hear the
sawing, and he got away. None of the other prisoners tried to escape. As soon as
my wife, however, discovered he left she hastened down and locked another door.
The man was never found.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Eaton
are much younger in appearance than in years. Mrs. Eaton was but eighteen when
she was married and the groom in his twenty first year. They are the parents of
seven children, who with their families are the following:
Mr. and Mrs. D.T. Eaton and son Arnold; Mr. and Mrs. Cal Eaton, Mr. and Mrs. A.
S. Lawrence, and son , Harold; Mr. and Mrs. M. f. Eaton and son, Horace; all of
Muscatine, Mr. and Mrs. C.S. Bird and daughter, Miss Marie, and son, George of
Warsau, Wis,; and Mrs. C. T. Tyrell and sons, Lawrence and James Hoyt Tyrell, of
St. Paul, Minn., and Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Braun and son, James, of Kansas City,
Mo. The latter spending the winter at Palm Beach, Cal.
transcribed by Georgeann McClure
William Ewing was the engineer of the ferry “Ida May” from 1875 -1891.
1880 Federal Census first ward Muscatine, Iowa
William Ewing 31 head Steamboat engineer Penn.
Alice wife 31 keeping house Ohio
Jennie 9 at school Iowa
309 W. Third
A. J. Fimple
March 19, 1880
Death of A. J. Fimple
Readers of the Journal have had their minds prepared for the sad news that at a
late hour last evening Andrew A Fimple, one of our oldest and best known
citizens, departed this life. He had been suffering from a severe attack of
typhoid-pneumonia and for several days his death was almost hourly apprehended.
Mr. Fimple was born in Delaware county, Pa., Feb 19, 1814, and was consequently
aged 66 years and one month at the time of his death. He came to Muscatine in
1840, and for eight years kept a tailor shop, part of the time in partnership
with M. M. Berkshire. In 1848 he quit the business and with Giles Pettibone ran
the ferry-boat several years, after which he engaged partly in farming and
partly in managing a stone quarry on a tract of land owned by him a few miles
above the city; meantime, however, keeping his homestead in this city in the
same house where he resided for about thirty years.
Mr. Fimple was a frank, genial man, who endeavored to square his conduct by
“that old, old creed of creeds,
The loveliness of perfect deeds.”
And whose life was a blameless one--Although a non-church member, those who had
access to the inner temple of his thoughts know that he held in veneration the
teachings of revelation and had a genuine respect for true Christian character.
Politically, he was an unswerving Democrat, and was frequently nominated for
places of trust and honor, by his party, though by no means an office seeker.
The deceased leaves a wife and son Andrew.
The funeral will take place at 2 o’clock Sunday, from the family residence on
(once lived at 417 W. Third St. )
Old Settlers 1879
Captain Absalom Fisher
In Muscatine Tuesday, June 10th,1879, Capt. A Fisher, in the 71st year of his
Funeral at the family residence on Front street, to-morrow (Wednesday), at 3
p.m., under the auspices of the Masonic Fraternity.-- Friends are respectfully
Thus has passed away another of the old pioneers of Muscatine county. Capt.
Fisher settled in Muscatine in 1845 and formed a partnership with Levi
Goldsberry, under the name of Fisher & Goldsberry, brick makers and builders.
The present Commercial House, the old No. 1 school house, a portion of the Scott
House, and many other of the early brick buildings of this city were erected by
Mr. Fisher served as ferryman for many years, with the old ferryboats
“Muscatine” and “Decalion.” He afterwards purchased the little steamer Pearl,
which now lies sunk in a slough near New Boston. It was while guarding this boat
that he contracted his last illness a malarial fever.
He was a member of the Baptist church and sang in the choir for many years.
*The American house was a tavern. In 1852 before Capt Battelle left for
California. He sold the tavern to Captain Fry. Capt. Fry died shortly afterward.
See Capt. Battelle.
From Charles Braunworths memory
published by Randalman
“Next the ferry landing of the Northern Illinois, Petty bone (sic) Captain, Olie
Pyeatt, engineer, Smokie Zediger, pilot. Later the Ida May, Captain, A. Davison,
another good citizen, pillar at the M. E. church. Smokie Zediger, pilot, William
Ewing, engineer, Collectra, Jodie Hediger(sic).
Later Captain Eaton, pilot, George Arnold, engineer, Jodie Hediger, (sic)
Feb. 26, 1905
LAST SAD RITES
Funeral of Joseph Hedicker This Afternoon At His Home
This afternoon at the family residence, 304 East Second street, the funeral of
the late Joseph Hedicker was held at 2 o’clock. The services were conducted by
Dr, W. J. Beatty, pastor of the United Brethren church. Pieces of roses and
carnations were banked around the casket. Two songs were song by a quartet
composed of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Schoemaker, Mrs. Bert Hine and A. W. Hine. The
pall bearers were taken from the two lodges of which Mr. Hedicker was a member.
Those from the yeoman were Amos Hopkinsen, F. W. Swain, C. H. Garnes and from
the Modern Brotherhood of American Messrs. Norton, Connoers and Slight. The
internment was made in Greenwood cemetery.
The large, Swift and elegant
Ball, Master, will run as a regular packet between the above points, leaving Rock Island and Muscatine every Monday evening with
regularity, and reaching St. Louis in 40 hours. The Monongahela is the largest
and most conveniently arranged packet in the upper trade, and every pains will
be taken to accommodate passengers and shippers.
Muscatine C. WEED Agent
Muscatine High Bridge