Steamboat People, Page 1


Doc Hawley at the NATCHEZ calliope Oct 1989.

Steamboat Natchez Youtube

Published on Feb 4, 2016
Captain Clarke "Doc" Hawley gives a Louisiana Cultural Vistas tour of the Steamboat NATCHEZ.

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Photo of Captain J.R. Peterson taken with passenger Erba Heckel in front of the DQ pilot house Aug 26, 1938. I also have a letter from Capt. P. to Erba and her sister Elizabeth dated Sept 18, '38 thanking them for this photo and apparently some others that I don't have. I suppose it's possible that the woman in the picture is Elizabeth instead of Erba but I'm going with my first choice . . .

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Caption from

THE REFLECTOR September 1990, page 35:

"The late Ray Samuel pictured in his home, 1225 Washington Ave., New Orleans, last October, by Dave Thomson. Our June 1990 issue, page 47, carried the obituary for Ray, who died Monday, April 16, 1990, age 75. The framed oil painting is of Capt. L.V. Cooley's cotton sternwheeler AMERICA, which appears on our back cover as the WINFIELD SCOTT."

Ray Samuel co-authored TALES OF THE MISSISSIPPI with Leonard V. Huber and Warren C. Ogden - Published in 1955 by Hastings House, New York

"I spent a couple of days with Ray Samuel in New Orleans during October of 1989 and took the attached photo of him in his home in the Garden District. Ray may have been the biggest collector of artifacts from Louisiana history with an emphasis on steamboats. I bought a few things from his history shop in the Garden District but couldn't afford some of the truly amazing things that he owned including a large mirror from a steamboat cabin with slots in it for advertising from steamboat men and merchants etc. to place their promotional cards and broadsides etc. The mirror was "full up" with original cards.

The painting of the cotton packet AMERICA ended up being bought a couple of years ago by Terrell Dempsey, a Hannibal attorney who wrote a book called SEARCHING FOR JIM about Slavery in Hannibal, Missouri during and after the time that Sam Clemens lived in town. I provided a number of illustrations for the book."

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Fred Way Jr. aboard the Washington, autographed.

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Tom Greene from the Aug '45 YANK . . .

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Mary Greene at the helm of the Gordon C. Greene from the '45 YANK. steamboat people

Photo of an unidentified pilot taken in St. Louis, perhaps in the 1880's, it's not dated and there's nothing on the Elite studio online. Note anchor design buttons on his coat. Had to pay a handsome price on eBay, thankfully (I guess) nobody outbid me. I scanned it large, retouched the worst blemishes from face and uniform and it by half. Jim Hale suggested that he could be an Anchor Line pilot but anchors on buttons for nautical uniforms have been common for centuries.

In Chapter 25 of Life on the Mississippi Mark Twain commented on how uniforms were a surprise to him when he revisited the Mississippi River and steamboating in 1882. In the pre-Civil War era the officers wore civilian dress: Uniforms on the Mississippi! It beats all the other changes put together, for surprise. Still, there is another surprise - that it was not made fifty years ago. It is so manifestly sensible, that it might have been thought of earlier, one would suppose. During fifty years, out there, the innocent passenger in need of help and information, has been mistaking the mate for the cook, and the captain for the barber - and being roughly entertained for it, too. But his troubles are ended now. And the greatly improved aspect of the boat's staff is another advantage achieved by the dress-reform period.


Eddie Bayard of New Orleans is a jazz musician and was leader of The Bourbon Street 5 when it played on the maiden voyage of the Mississippi Queen which began on July 20, 1976.

Eddie kindly bestowed this field drum, especially made for that first year of cruising that coincided with the Bicentennial year. It was carried by drummer Ronnie White when the group played on deck or marched on shore.

Eddie wrote "Most of my stuff washed out with Katrina, but the drum was safe upstairs."

The drum was specially customized with the text:

"THE QUEEN'S OWN" (band)
and the names:

CAP (Captain Ernest Wagner)
BETTY (Betty Blake, tireless promoter of the Delta Queen Co.)
EDDIE (Eddie Bayard, cornet)
BILL (Bill Coburn, trombone);
FUZZY ("Fuzzy" Ballard, clarinet)
VIC (Vic Tooker, banjo and calliope player).
RON (Ronnie White, drummer)
STAN (Stan McCauley, piano)
DAVE (Dave Jacobs, bass)

Attached photo of the drum here at home and a photo of The Bourbon Street 5, also provided by Eddie Bayard.

The Mississippi Queen was built by Jeffboat Inc. in Jefferson, Indiana, from 1973 to 1975 and launched on November 30, 1974. Until her christening on April 20, 1975, in Louisville, KY, she was referred to as "Hull 2999." - Dave

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Jazz Band Bourbon Street.

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Jim Swift (long time editor of the Old Boat Column for The Waterways Journal) and myself in the St. Louis office of the WJ in October, 1988. The steamboat ambiance is strong in the office with photos, paintings and at least one model as I recall. Jim was always a fun person to visit with in St. Louis and up at Keokuk during the Midwest Riverboat Buffs gatherings.

Included is a link to a posthumous collection of Jim's writings published by Jack Simpson who was the editor of the Waterways Journal when I visited there in '88.

Backing Hard Into River History
by James V. Swift
384 pages. 198 illustrations. Hard cover. Nonfiction. Little River Books. It covers the last 100 years of river development and the towing industry; the 112-year history of The Waterways Journal, known affectionately as the "riverman's bible" and the author's 60-year love affair with both.
Link to Chapter 13 of Jim's book:

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Forgot the captain of the SPIRIT OF SACRAMENTO took this photo some eight years or more ago with the DELTA KING looming out front through the pilot house window.

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John Fryant, the most accomplished steamboat model maker in the world (left) with the late Ralph DuPae (steamboat photo maestro for the Murphy Library) in Fryant's basement workshop. John was in the process of building a large scale sidewheeler here.

Below are John Fryant's memories on the photo of himself with Ralph DuPae. - Dave

Wonder who took that one?

My Wife, maybe. It was in the basement of our little house in Virginia during the time I was building the Rob't. E. Lee model for Mud Island in Memphis.

I would date it about 1979 or 80.

The late Michelle Kingsley was around at that time - maybe she took the shot.

Lady Captain Anna G. Grimison Skagit River Company Seattle One Third for NORI

Attached 1939 press release photo of the lady president of the Seattle based Skagit Navigation & Trading Co. and how she and her son were virtually held up at gun point for $500.00.

Biographical material from online resources about Anna G. Grimison, her father Capt. Henry H. McDonald and his steamboat line which she eventually took charge of follow the news item.




(LA PORT CL ST) 1-2-39


Anna G. Grimison in the 1940 United States Federal Census:
Born about 1881 in Canada of English descent
Has resided since 1935 in Seattle, King County, Washington


Anna's Papa:
Capt. Henry H. McDonald (1857-1924)

A native of Nova Scotia, McDonald came to the Puget Sound in about 1886 and with his sternwheelers and steamboats like the GLEANER and the SKAGIT CHIEF.
McDonald fought a successful 15-year battle with Great Northern Line's James J. Hill to compete for freight shipped to and from the Skagit River.

McDonald's daughter Anna G. Grimison later became president of her father's Skagit River Navigation & Trading Co. and gained fame as a steamboat captain in the Tugboat Annie mold.


I located the following from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse magazine the LANTERN Summer 2012:

"For 34 years La Crosse native Ralph DuPae crisscrossed the country asking steamboat photo collectors to share a copy of their prints. When DuPae died in 2008 at the age of 83, his passion was responsible for the world's largest collection of steamboat photos."

Ralph DuPae, right and Dave Thomson left aboard the GEO. M. VERITY during reception night on a Friday for a Midwest Riverboat Buffs weekend at Keokuk, Iowa in October 1988. "I talked to Ralph for over an hour over the phone the day before he passed on. Ralph shared many hilarious and amazing true stories of his life in the Navy during WW2 and the way he said "Good bye" to me at the end of the conversation had a profound implication.

The next day Ralph's wife Kathleen called me to tell me of his passing and we talked about him and their lives together for a long time then and in subsequent conversations. Ralph and Kathleen were very hospitable to me during my visits to La Crosse, they always welcomed me as a close friend and it was a pleasure and honor to spend time with them."

add to river room
DT on Sun Deck added to new Delta Queen page

added to illustrations 18

J.S. postcard added to photos4


Captain Doc Hawley conversing with Alan Bates on the Muskingum River excursion sternwheeler VALLEY GEM.


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*