Ancestry Stories

Hi Nori,

I just happened to stumble across your site, after doing a google search for "riverboat pilots from St.Louis". I'm from St.Louis, but living here in the Chicago area because of my work. I lived near Kingshighway and Chippewa until I was about 7, when my parents moved to Sunset Hills in 1961, where they've been ever since. Your site is really great, and I must commend you on it! Thank you so much for it!

I have some questions for you....but first, my story.......... My great-grandfather, "big Louie" MAURATH lived to be nearly 100 years old. I sat on the lap and talked to a man who was born in the last year of the Civil War - imagine that! He told us many stories about his family and family history. His father, Felix MAURATH, came from the Black Forest, Germany at age 18 in the year 1832 and ended-up in Cincinnati, Ohio where he became a riverboat pilot on the Ohio river, along with his cousin Bernhardt MAURATH, who later left the river life and moved to and stayed in Newark, Ohio. Felix's interest in river life was probably formed back in Germany, as he lived on the famous Rhein river, between Germany and France. Felix's travels on the rivers often brought him to St.Louis often, and he fell in love with the area, and first settled in a place called Prairie Ridge (which is now part of O'Fallon, Illinois). We don't know why he went there, as it was a good distance from the river. This was in the mid-1830's. In 1839, he married a French girl named Barbara JACOB, who was from an area on the French side of the Rhein river, not far from his home village - and, they were married in a gala wedding in the Old Cathedral. In 1840, he bought a lot from the Soulard and Chouteau families on Buel St. (now called S.10th St.) at Park, right behind St.Vincent DePaul Catholic Church, of which, he and his family were members. They lived there until 1864, during the Civil War and great drought, when he moved his family to a 200 acre farm near Millstadt, St.Clair County, Illinois, where he lived the remainder of his life. He died and was buried there. Felix and Barbara had one son Denis, who was killed during the Civil War. She died right after Denis' birth, and Felix married her younger sister Josephine JACOB, and they had 12 children.

So, from the 1830's until 1852, Felix was (supposedly) a riverboat pilot. For some reason, in 1852, he left the river life and became a drayman in St.Louis. Big Louie often told us the story, of how his father had to watch the waters for debris and even herds of buffalo swimming across the Mississippi near St.Louis. He also told stories of the various cargo and passengers that he hauled. One story I remember (but not details), is the bringing of a large church bell up the river for a Lutheran Church in St. Louis.

I have a problem though (and I hope I'm not rambling on too much here and boring you), but I can't find any records of Felix's supposed river life. The only thing I've been able to find, is in the old St.Louis directories, where he is simply listed as "riverman". His original name when he came from Germany, was Felix HAUNSS (which was often mis-spelled as Haungs, Haengs, Hangs, Hanks, Hountz, etc.) He changed his name in 1840 to MAURATH (it's a long story), which has also been mis-spelled as Marat, Merat, Morat, Murat, Myrot, etc. And also, his name Felix was sometimes listed as "Philip".

Okay, after all of this, simply....can you please tell me where I can go to find out who he worked for, which boat he was on, etc.? I've already written a couple of times to the Mercantile Library, when they were still in downtown and also after they moved to UMSL - but no help from them. And I've contacted other supposed sources of riverboat people, but no luck. I'm praying that you can help or guide me. I know it's because they probably mis-spelled his name or something like that. Thanks for whatever you can do or whatever you can tell me.

John Louis Maurath
Email John

P.S. Felix Maurath was a brother-in-law to Joseph CLEMENS (also from St.Louis), who claimed to be related to Sam Clemens ("Mark Twain"). Joseph and his family later moved to West Point, Iowa.

I've listed our ancestors who served in the Civil War at the following sites. Be sure to have your sound turned up on your computer.

If you go in through the main site at , then click on "Civil War Portrait Gallery" on the left in the blue field.

I'll be posting more, so keep an eye on the site. Please be sure to post information on your own families, or about any veteran you know about. Thanks.