10:14 AM


Above- Brimfield Purchase- I love this engraving/litho- it was announcing war between Mexico and the US. I saw the original color painting while exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery.

First, this afternoon, I want to thank Kathy for taking the time to send me an email and especially thanks for making me one of your favorites (I wondered if I was a flash in the pan). I love feedback because I don’t want to lose my fellow bloggers and if I forgot to make a connection, then I would like to make it right. Also, I don’t know everything and that’s where collections like yours can fill me in. I don't mind a bit being corrected and everyone benefits.
I took on a monster project and although I am an excellent researcher, I panic when writing. I promised Greg Hawley I’d finish the book and after he died, I just had to find a way to keep me moving and the blog was the perfect outlet to organize my papers.
This morning while I was making my morning coffee, I thought I’d blog about my weekend.  My husband and I are both Paul Harris Fellows and so we do a lot of charity work.  We had a group of 24 from the  Oakland Museum of California  for dinner. They were major donors and dozens touring collections in New England.  We were on the tour list.
However, it worked out good because I went table to table peddling about the Steamboat Arabia and my research. I passed around Greg’s book, Treasures in a Cornfield, some occupational images and showed them a huge blow up of the St Louis Levee photograph and asked how many have ever visited the St Louis Gateway Arch? Then I lowered the boom and said this is what was there in the 1850s where the Arch now stands.
They asked me what drove me to take on such a big project and I said the collection is the greatest random sample of goods and it covers all the major issues during the 1850s- emigrants, settlers, Indians, slavery, two new towns (Florence & St John's City established for very different reasons), panic of 1857, civil war, Mexican war, Land Grants, Business practices----Just to name a few!
Two brothers, who were donors to the Oakland Museum were in the business of  importing fruits from China and they were incredibly interesting. They told me a story that when WWII broke out, their father owned the shipping business and their freight was on a boat headed to the US from china and it was diverted to a port in Australia and all the fruits spoiled on the boat. Because this was an act of war, the cargo was not covered by insurance and the family took a big loss. Enlarge by clicking on Image

This story I heard from the two brothers shows business practices do not change since (Without getting into too many details) Glover & Mather who can be seen on the Flow chart as having the Mail Contract had the same bad luck with their freight. During the Mexican War (before Arabia), they were sending freight to Mexico and the boat was sunk by the enemy. Later, Glover & Mather requested the US Government, via the House of Representatives, to pay for the loss.
Looking at the bigger picture- Steamboat Arabia was not the only steamboat which sinks during early September.The water level was so low in the Missouri River that shortly after Arabia sank, St Louis steamboat insurance companies refused to insure steamboat freight at any price for several months.


Insurance is a huge topic, but let me leave you with one of my CDV’s from an album I have of Phoenix Insurance Company’s Agents. Mr. Roach worked in St Joseph and he would write up a policy for insuring freight. Enlarge by clicking on Image