Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Seeking Information From Fellow Bloggers- Boot Makers

2:05 PM


Archives, Libraries, historical societies and other people have helped me to get a handle understanding the Arabia Steamboat Museum's collection.

I just snapped this photo of the reading room at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester Massachusetts where I have been talking with staff about the Steamboat Arabia. And just like you, they are amazed at the collection in Kansas City and research has only scratched the surface what lessons this vast collection of artifacts taken from one sunken steamboat called Arabia can tell.

As you can see- lots is going on. There's a man on the left who is reading vintage newspapers in bound volume, others are reading books and making entries in their computers. And I hope to dive in with the rest of them to follow the paper about the world of the 1850s.

Can anyone identify the tools in this ambrotype?
I titled this posting as "Seeking Information from Fellow Bloggers." When you see this title, it means I need your insight so do email me your guesses, web links or other info.
Thank you for your help,

Friday, April 26, 2013

8:44 PM

I’ve discovered bloggers who never visited the Steamboat Arabia Museum or even heard about the sidewheeler are following my blog. They know the steamboat sank, September 5th but not much more
.Above- House of Representatives William A. Richardson, of Illinois introduced a revised Bill for Organizing Nebraska Territory (HR 353) on February 2, 1853 which was revised a final time on December 14, 1853, by Senator Augustus C. Dodge of Iowa. Collection of Matthew R Isenburg.

Per Wikipedia- The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opened new lands, repealed theMissouri Compromise of 1820, and allowed settlers in those territories to determine if they would allow slavery within their boundaries. (READ MORE)

I’ve discovered bloggers who never visited the Steamboat Arabia Museum or even heard about the sidewheeler are following my blog. They know the steamboat sank, September 5th but not much more.
One hot day in the early 1990s, Greg Hawley sent me a letter with this newspaper announcement from The Daily Missouri Democrat, dated September 11, 1856. This consignee list opened a doorway and helped me eventually solve the mystery what Arabia’s last trip to the upper Missouri River was about.
ARABIA- The Officers of this boat which was lost in the Missouri last Friday, arrived yesterday on the Tatum.  From them we learned that the sinking was a very sudden affair. The snag struck her forward of the boilers, pierced its way into the center of a lot of freight and lifted the deck several inches above its proper level. As soon as the boat was brought again under control, she was headed for the bank, but sank when she was about the distance of her own length from it. Two minutes only, elapsed from the striking until she sunk. Of course the alarm and confusion which always attend the like sudden disasters, prevailed here, but the fears of the passengers were allayed by the presence of mind displayed by her officers. We are glad to know that the only life lost on this unfortunate occasion was that of a mule, which would have been saved, but for own obstinacy.
Is it really a matter to be wondered at, how quickly boats which sink in the Missouri, disappear as a general thing. When the men left this boat on Sunday morning, the water had reached her hurricane deck, on the starboard side, and it is supposed she will now be entirely out of sight. The river is not rising, but the boat is sinking in the sand. The Arabia was insured for 10,500. We are indebted to Mr. James Spencer, one of the clerks, for the following statement of their freight and its destination:
Kay & Bailey                                       1 box merchandise                          St Joseph   
Donnell & Saxton                             8 box merchandise                          St Joseph  
J H Cook                                               3 box merchandise                          St Joseph  
Thomas Connelly                             3 box merchandise                          St Joseph  
E & Y [F] Impey & Co                       227 packages                                     Savannah
R Zimmerman & Co                         1 sawmill and fixtures                    Browsby Landing
G W Brown                                         10 barrels of Whiskey                     Iowa Point
Mc Allister, Orace [Crane] & Co   7 packages                                        Iowa Point
Gaines, Strickland & Co                 4 packages                                          Iowa Point
John O’knoll                                        2 packages                                         St Stephens
H D Kirk                                                                1 package                                            St Stephens
Hawk & Dillion                                   1 package                                            Hemmes Landing
Tootles & Armstrong                      5 packages                                          Linden
Smith, Brown &                McAlister            9 Package                                            Linden                 
Steamer Ben Bolt                             1 cook stove                                       Linden
Hall & Baker                                        (?) Barrels Ale                                    Nebraska City
D Seigel                                                11 packages                                        Nebraska City 
J Garside                                              (?) packages                                       Nebraska City
Tootles & Green [Greene]           30 packages                                        Glenwood
Allen                                                      11 packages                                        Bellevue
Sarpy & Kippy                                    3 packages                                          Bellevue
L M Peckham                                     1 package                                            Bellevue
B Lovejoy                                            2 packages                                          Bellevue
F M [T M] Boyer                                               1 package                                            Council Bluffs
Stutsman & Donnell                         55 packages                                       Council Bluffs
Thompson & Butts                          15 packages                                        Council Bluffs
Milton Rogers                                    13 packages                                        Council Bluffs
Cassady & Test                                 1 package                                            Council Bluffs
Babbitt & Robinson                          4 packages                                         Council Bluffs
C Gore                                                  2 packages                                          Council Bluffs
Keys & Co.                                          54 packages                                        Council Bluffs
J R [J E] Washington                        20 packages                                        Council Bluffs
Tootles & Jackson                            106 packages                                     Council Bluffs
Geo Doughty & Co                          21 packages                                        Council Bluffs
J Jones                                                  22 packages                                        Omaha
O B Smith                                            9 packages                                          Omaha
Tootles & Jackson                            5 packages                                          Omaha
H W Richmond                                  1 package                                            Omaha
A Sheldon                                           1 package                                           Omaha
Schneider & Hardford                    4 packages                                          Omaha
W Shirids                                             6 packages                                          Omaha
M Handon                                           28 packages                                        Omaha
Armstrong & Clark                           357 PCs Lumber                                                Omaha
Stutesman & Donnell                     202 packages                                     Omaha
Willimson & Roach                           5 packages                                          Omaha
Keiler [Keller]                                    20,000 Ft Lumber                             Florence
Blackbird Mission                             29 packages                                        Blackbird Hill
Burnes, Roberts & Co                     100 packages                                     Sioux City
D O Shea                                              3 packages                                          Sioux City
Tracy & Papin                                     720 packages                                     Logan
Tracy & Papin                                     2 Houses                                              Logan
J Harri                                                    20 packages                                        Logan
“Since reporting on yesterday the sinking of the Steamer Arabia in the Missouri River, we have learned some particulars touching insurance upon her hull and cargo. Our information is only partial and does not include the amounts of policies existing in the St Joseph Insurance Company, and in other offices in towns in that region.  The following amounts are set down to offices in this city.
On the Hull                         American Insurance Co.                                1,000
Merchants   Insurance Co             4,000
On the Cargo--                  Floating Dock Insurance Co.        8,000
                                                 St Louis Insurance Co.                   about 400
                                                 Lumberman’s and Mechanics    1,800

Growing up in the 1850s- an analysis of a tintype 03

8:36 PM

Welcome back to my blog. The image above is not a tintype, but a miniature of Henry Chouteau (painting on ivory) in a daguerreotype case from the St. Louis Photographic Gallery for Thomas Easterly.

I bet your perplexed why I am using the example above to make a point about the tintype of the child holding the flint lock rifle.

Often, there is question if the image was later put into a photographic case and that is why my tintype and clothing expert have different dates when this child was photographed. If you recall in my last 2 blogs, my tintype expert based her analysis on the mat was patented in 1861 and my clothing expert said the style was a passing fad in 1851-1854.

I am revisiting this topic again after receiving another email from Joan, who wrote,

That topknot hair thing really was quite a short-lived fad, and I lean more 
to a closer date for the tintype than to think the hair was done that way 
long after the fad had passed. 
I can see 1856 - 7 at a reach--but never into the '60's 
Did they never mount a tintype AFTER the fact? 
I replied 
Hi Joan, 
Yes, Matthew wondered if the case was a later additon. The case had an 1861 mat. I see 1856-57 too....The good part is the date has narrow down to only a few years- very impressive! 
  And That reminded me of my query with the minature above. I've used this before in my early blog, Salesman's Journal: Glassware, Queenware, Chinaware and Pottery 10  where I wrote

Henry Chouteau (1805-1855) who was the Pacific RR Executive died [in the railroad accident at the Gasconade Bridge]- Fannie Deavers' (mother of Julia Deavers Chouteau- widow) took a trip to Paris in 1857 and had a mourning miniature dated 1855 made by Millet (famous for his haystack paintings) and once back had Thomas Easterly, a St Louis daguerreotypist [photographer] mount it in a daguerreotype case- (see below- miniature that included a note and copy of Fannie's passport dated 1857) 

I couldn't believe that this was painted in France....I mean traveling to France was a very big trip and dangerous too...However, I brought this minature to a reliable source to Robin Jaffee Frank who wrote a book on minatures, 
Love and Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures (Yale University Art Gallery)

 I took these photographs in the lab while Robin Jaffe Frank took a closer look under the microscope. She concluded that the quality of painting was excellent, but as a representative of Yale, she could not verify if the painter was the Millet who was famous for the paintings in France but gave me the name of an expert who could. 

Unlike the tintype, the miniature of Henry Chouteau had the note (ephemeral piece) that allowed me to research the image. I have found support verifying Fanny's trip to Paris, but in 1857 not 1855. Without the note, this would have been just another nice looking miniature of average looking man and thrown away years ago. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013


4:06 PM

Manufactured by Ford & Co. (Goodyear's Patent.)
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Metallic Rubber Over Shoes

It was my lucky day to find this 1850s trade card at the 33rd Ephemera Society's Conference. And yes, this is the company that manufactured the same rubber shoes in the Arabia Steamboat Museum. One Trade Card can tell a big story.

The Manufacturer was Ford & Co. in New Brunswick who made the shoes with Goodyear's patent- The Agent was Breeden & Brother in New York City who wholesaled the shoes- and which St Louis store sold them to the Arabia's consignee is still an unsolved mystery.


Photo courtesy: Greg Hawley's book, Treasure in a Cornfield.

For those fascinated by Arabia Steamboat Museum's rubber over shoe display, you may want to make another trip after reading my blog. There were many companies making Rubber Over Shoes, and not all used Goodyear's formula.

Charles Goodyear's Patent 3633 for Improvement in India Rubber- Interesting reading so hit the link.

Before buying the card, I googled on my I-Phone Breeden & Brother ensuring they were at the same address and yes, they were manufacturing their shoes in Scotland. That's pretty exciting!

New York Daily Tribune Sat June 28, 1851
Notice- Buyers of FORD & CO's celebrated Metallic Rubber OVER SHOES, are informed that the recent fire at their warehouse did not destroy the buildings containing the machinery; the detention therefore will be but three or four weeks, when all will be rebuilt and in full operation.
We soliett an examination from the trade of the stock now in the store, amounting to over 200,000 pairs comprising all the various styles. Dealers may rely on having their orders promptly filled as usual.
Breeden & Brother Sole Agents
245 Pearl St. & 29 Cliff St.


Christoper Meyer, Henry Lee Norris and John Ross Ford, all American citizens, formed the North British Rubber of Scotland. The machinery for the rubber over shoes was shipped to Glasgow in October 1855 and manufacturing began in Edinburgh by 1856.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Sweet Pickles, Wells, Provost & Co. 215, 217 & 219 Front St. Wholesale Depot, New York."

7:09 PM

Anna F. Macomber from New Bedford, Massachusetts rests an ear of corn on the table and pretends to eat a pickle. Daguerreotype: circa late 1850s - early 1860s from Collection the of Elizabeth B. Isenburg

The glass jars of pickles in the Arabia Steamboat Museum are something to see. It was a miracle they survived and visiting the museum, you can find out why.

Greg Hawley's book, Treasures in a Corn Field, describes the wonderful ephemeral treasure, 
"With the darkness closing in, we hoisted the day's final box from the cargo hold and gently set it on the main deck. When we lifted the lid, we discovered beautiful "Cathedral" bottles containing bright green pickles. Each bottle carried an oval label made of lead foil which read, "Sweet Pickles, Wells, Provost & Co. 215, 217 & 219 Front St. Wholesale Depot, New York."
Just how were sweet pickles made? For the answer I went to my library and pulled out my 1851 cookbook, Cook's Own Book and found the recipe below. Although this recipe was intended for the family cook, it was most likely the same as the mass produced jar above. Even then, people were looking for convenience.

The recipe calls for fine loaf sugar. Unlike today, when we buy granulated sugar, people then bought their sugar in cones or loafs. The recipe says to use fine loaf sugar, here's a refined white cone made of dark molasses (raw sugar cane).

I found another free google book The Chemical News and Journal of Industrial Science 1919 and although this book comments on the sugar industry in England factories in 1854, I learned sugar was made either from sugar cane or beetroot (better known as Sugar Beets that contain a large amount of sucrose). Many thanks to Wikipedia, I can show a stretch of the sugar beet and the sugar loaf.

I was happy to find out a little more about Wells, Provost & Co. too.

The California Digital Newspaper Collection has online newspapers dating as early as 1846 to present and in the edition Daily Alta California, Volume 6, Number 132, 25 May 1855 — COMMERCIAL. [ARTICLE] reports that this firm is importing goods into San Franciso before the Arabia sank.
"At private sale we report the following: 400 dozen assorted Pic Fruits, 100 cs hf gallon Brandy Peaches, 396 ct hf gallon Pickles, all on private terms; and at auction the following lots of fresh goods, packed by Wells, Provost &. Co."

Then on a free ebook from Google called The Seal of Safety: Year Book of the Max Ams Machine Co. published 1915 By Max Ams Machine Company, where I read their
Business was so good that Wells, Provost & Co. sent their product in kegs and barrels in 1858 and bottled there. By 1860, they opened their own cannery since the fruit trees were old enough to bear fruit (The Seal of Safety page 27).

Who would ever believe this glass jar holds so much history- So next time you're having a sandwich, you have lots to say to your friend about that pickle laying on your plate.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What if Arabia didn't hit the snag in 1856? Part 2

4:40 PM

Above: Levee in St. Louis 1857 Ballou Pictorial Drawing Companion

Today I am continuing my blog, "What if Arabia didn't hit the snag in 1856?" by posting from the Rail and River Transportation Report.

In order to read these- Click on the Chart and it will be largest enough to read.

This is only the first six pages with the rest (God Willing) on the next blog. Many thanks go to my dear husband who helped to photograph and resize the charts (he'll get a good dinner tonight!).

The List of boats destroyed on the Mississippi River and its tributaries: From May 1, 1861, to the surrender of General Kirby Smith's army, and the cessation of hostilities, June 2, 1865.

What if the Steamboat Arabia didn't hit the snag in 1856?

9:19 AM

Above Civil War Hospital Steamboat on the Mississippi

Hello and Welcome to my blog. Since so many Civil War Reinactors visit the Arabia Steamboat Museum, I questioned: What if the Steamboat Arabia didn't hit the snag in 1856; what would have her life have been? 

It's a game or scholarly curiosity Civil Round Tables play. They ask questions....what if this & what if that...So, this blog goes out to the Civil War Round table of the District of Columbia who will be visiting Vicksburg in April 2013.  

So, let me expand the question today asking;
"If Steamboat Arabia was docked in St. Louis during the Union occupation, what might happen?" 
I'd love to be a fly on the wall to hear that conversation.

When the steamer sank she was last owned by two forwarding and receiving commission merchants who remained in St. Louis, and, like all merchants, their shipping business catered to the U.S. military (sending similar goods found in the Arabia Steamboat Museum).

Just look what I found- (click on the image to see the full image)

 This chart says it all and is a newly acquired pamphlet in my collection titled: REPORTS to the WAR DEPARTMENT by BREV. MAJ GEN. LEWIS B. PARSONS, CHIEF of RAIL AND RIVER TRANSPORTATION. St. Louis, Mo. George Knapp & Co., Printers and Binders 1867.

And read; "The amount of transportation furnished at St. Louis, Mo. during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1863, as per Report of Capt. Charles Parsons, A. Q. M. in charge of transportation at that post." The chart shows a comparison between trains and steamboats and steamboats transported more provisions and a third less troops than trains.

My own Great-grand father John Westly Duncan rode the side wheeler Sam Gaty north after the Battle of Shiloh. (April 6-7 1862). On his Iowa's unit trip back down the river, he had seen enough and was listed as AWOL in St. Louis. Thank heavens he did because many in his unit died from smallpox shortly after and I wouldn't be here. (This reports listed the Sam Gaty was lost to a snag in September 1863 at Island No. 62 near Vicksburg).

What would Steamboat Arabia's role had been (if she hasn't sunk) during the Civil War?
Which side would she be on- Union or Confederate?
Would she be transporting government troops, be a hospital or still in private hands?
Would she be burned to avoid being captured, sunk by enemy fire, commandeered by officers or would have survived the war?
I'd approach this, "What if," by finding a good source and I found one.

Above- In Memoriam- General Lewis Baldwin Parsons (he oversaw the western transportation in St. Louis during the Civil War.) His memoriam gives many details about St. Louis during the Civil War. Google Books has a copy on line (click on the cited book above & scroll up to page 1). Parsons had an interesting life, he lived near St. Louis where he was a lawyer and married there.

It is such a good pamphlet and when I read down the List of Boats Destroyed on the Mississippi River and its' Tributaries, I saw many steamboats that plyed the inland waterways with the Steamboat Arabia.

Here's some examples on the list-
Grey Eagle- May 9, 1861- Where: Rock Island Illinois- Collision with a bridge- Value $35,000- owned Galena, Ill.
New Era- June 22, 1861- Where: St. Louis- Burned accidentally- Value $6,500- owned St. Louis
Messenger- Dec 7, 1861- Where: 8 Miles below Rochester Ohio- Striking snag- Value $25,000- Cincinnati Ohio
Imperial, Hiawatha, Post Boy, Jesse K Bell- September 14, 1863- Where: St. Louis Levee- These boats were burned by Frazier and his accomplices, acting under instructions from rebel government.
In conclusion, I think Steamboat Arabia would have burned by the rebels. With that in mind, isn't it nice she hit the sang and sank so the merchandise ended up being artifacts in the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

My next blog will post the List of Boats Destroyed on the Mississippi River and its' Tributaries from  Capt. Charles Parsons, A. Q. M. Report. I had to be extra gentle with this because I didn't want to break the spine.

Older Posts

If you are looking at this blog,you’ve already been to the Steamboat Arabia Museum or planning a visit back... Who was waiting for these boxes? Who owned the Arabia? And what was the bigger picture doing business before the civil war? After years of research, I am finally writing up my findings. I'll be posting all forms of ephemera from my collection and others (documents, letters, journals, maps, newspapers, photographs as well as my frustrations...Your feedback is welcome. Who knows maybe one day, this will be an American Experience Documentary!