This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Buy it on Amazon Listen via Audible FREE Audible 30 days


Is located on the bank of the river in Illinois, immediately opposite to Davenport, and is a large and flourishing city, with a population of about twelve thousand inhabitants. It has fine public buildings, elegant churches and residences, substantial business blocks, extensive manufactories and elegant water works. The city is lighted by electric lights, from high towers, that cast their refulgent rays over the entire city, which makes it the finest lighted city in the west. There are two daily papers, (morning and evening) _The Union_ and _The Argus_, both enjoying the privilege of Press dispatches, and both issue weeklies. _The Rock Islander_ is also published weekly, and all have the appearance of great prosperity. The professions are represented by men of fine ability, including some of wide reputation. The banking business is done principally by two National Banks, that have a deservedly high reputation, and are doing a large business. There are two first-class hotels–the Harper House and Rock Island House–and several of less pretentions. The city has large coal fields, in close proximity, with railroads running daily to and from the banks, by which the three cities are supplied.


Is located two miles up the river from Rock Island, but connected with it by street railways. It has a population of over 8,000 inhabitants, and is extensively known from its many manufacturing establishments, which are supplied with water power from a dam across the river from the Island.


When the writer first visited this most beautiful Island in the Mississippi river, then and now known as Rock Island, the ground on which the triplet cities of Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline now stands, was covered with prairie grass, and apparently a sterile waste as regards to the two former, whilst the latter was principally covered with timber. Now how changed! Then the site of Davenport was claimed to be the most beautiful on the west bank of the Mississippi, between St. Paul and St. Louis by Black Hawk and his confreres, who had traveled up and down the river in canoes, whilst his judgment was confirmed by thousands of passengers who viewed it from steamboats in after years. Now


are widely known as the leading manufacturing cities of the great west, with railroads stretching out from ocean to ocean, and although the Mississippi makes a dividing line, they are united by a magnificent bridge, which makes their intercourse easier than over paved streets.

Rock Island, at that time, was excluded from settlement by the orders of Government, as it had been reserved, on the recommendation of Hon. Lewis Cass, whilst he was in the Senate and Cabinet, as a site for a United States Arsenal and Armory. Fort Armstrong was situated on the lower end of the Island, and was then in command of Col. William Davenport. The Sac and Fox agency (Maj. Davenport, agent,) stood on the bank of the river about half a mile above the Fort; next came the residence and office of Antoine Le Clair, United States Interpreter for the Sam and Foxes, and a little higher up, the residence, store- house and out buildings of Col. George Davenport, who had by an act of Congress, preempted a claim of two hundred acres of land running across the Island from bank to bank of the river. The Island is about two miles long, and being at the foot of the rapids has the best water power on the river, capable of running a much greater amount of machinery than is at present in operation. The entire Island is now owned and occupied by the Government, (the heirs of Col. Davenport having sold and deeded their interest), and is now used as an


which are destined to be in the near future, the most extensive works of the kind probably in the world. Indeed, army officers who have traveled extensively in the Old World, say they have never seen anything to compare with it, in elegant grounds, water power and buildings, and with such facilities for moving anything to and from the Arsenal. These works were commenced under the supervision of Gen. Rodman, the inventor of the Rodman gun, and since the death of the General, D. W. Flagler, Lieut. Col. of Ordinance, has been in command, and a more efficient and better qualified officer for the place could not have been found in the army.

There are already completed ten massive stone buildings, which are used for work shops, storage, etc., officers’ quarters, both durable and comfortable, and many other buildings. The former residence of Col. George Davenport, (the House in which he as killed for money many years ago) built in 1831, of solid hewed timber, and afterwards weather-boarded, still stands unoccupied.

The Island is mostly covered with trees of different varieties, which are kept neatly trimmed, and is laid out like a park, with wide avenues extending its whole length, which makes the most elegant drives and shady walks for the thousands of visitors who flock to the Island to feast their eyes upon its magnificence.


Is located at the foot of the Lower Rapids, 139 miles from Rock Island, and bears the name of the distinguished chief of the Sacs and Foxes. At our first visit there, in 1832, there was a long row of one-story buildings fronting on the river, that were used by Col. Farnham, agent of the American Fur Company, as a store and warehouse– this being the principal depot for trade with the Sacs and Foxes, who were then the sole proprietors of the country and its principal inhabitants, with the exception of a few individuals who had got permission to put up shanties for occupation during the low-water season, while they were engaged in lighting steamers passing up and down the river, but unable to cross the rapids while loaded.

At that day the old chief, Keokuk, boasted of having the handsomest site for a big village that could be found on the river, and since that day it has grown to be a large and elegant city, with wide streets, fine public buildings, nice churches, school-houses, elegant residences, extensive business houses, wholesale and retail stores, manufactories, and a flourishing Medical University with elegant buildings, which has been in successful operation for more than twenty years. The United States District Court for Southern Iowa is also located here. The city is well provided with good hotels. The Patterson House, an immense building, five stories high, being chief, which has always ranked as first-class-with a number of hotels of smaller dimensions, but well kept–affording ample accommodation for the thousands of travelers that frequently congregate at this place. The various professions are represented by men of fine ability–some of them of wide reputation. They have two daily papers, _The Gale City,_ and _The Constitution_, which are ably conducted.

A fine canal, running the entire length of the Rapids, from Montrose to Keokuk, has been built by the United States, through which steamboats can now pass at any stage of water–but designed more particularly for low water–so that there is no longer any detention to lighten steamboats over the Rapids.


Muscatine was first settled as a wood yard by Col. John Vanater, in July, 1834, and was laid out as a town by him in 1836, and called Bloomington. The county was organized in 1837, under the name of Muscatine, and Bloomington made the county seat. The name of the town was changed to correspond with that of the county in 1851. Its population at the last census was 8,294; present population not less than 10,000. Besides being the centre of a large trade in agricultural products, it is extensively engaged in manufacturing lumber, sash, doors and blinds, and possesses numerous large manufactories, oat-meal mills, and the finest marble works in the State. It is also the centering point of a very large wholesale and retail trade. It is situated at the head of the rich Muscatine Island, the garden spot of the Northwest, and is the shipping point for millions of melons and sweet potatoes annually.

Muscatine is a good town, with a good business and good newspapers. The _Journal_ and _Tribune_ are published daily, semi-weekly and weekly. Hon. John Mahin has been the editor of the _Journal_ since 1852, and there is no editor in the State whose service dates further back than his.


Soon after the close of the war and the discharge of the volunteer army, the writer, with some twenty others who had served through the war, formed a company for the purpose of laying out the town of Dubuque. One of their number, Capt. James Craig, being a surveyor, he was selected to survey the lines and lay out the town. About the middle of September, 1832, he started out from Galena with his chain- carriers, stake-drivers, etc., (stakes having been previously sawed and split on an island opposite, all ready for use), and in due time completed the survey. Blocks fronting the river on three or four streets back were completed, each lot receiving its stakes, whilst those farther back were staked as blocks, and not subdivided. A few of the original proprietors built and took possession at once. Among them were the Messrs. Langworthy, enterprising and energetic young gentlemen, who commenced business as grocers in a small way, with supplies for miners. Their faith was strong that adventurers would come in, and that the time was not far distant when the town would take a start, and in a few years become a populous city. Miners and prospectors soon took possession of claims in the immediate vicinity, and in one instance a claim was made and ore struck within the limits of our survey.

It was well known that the Indians had been in the habit, for many years, of visiting this portion of their country, for the purpose of getting their supplies of lead; hence the supposition of miners, who had long been engaged in prospecting for lead-mining, that lead would be found on this side of the river and in the vicinity of Dubuque. This caused a great rush to the new fields, of hundreds, who expected to strike it rich with less labor and expense. All were aware, however, that under the treaty just made with the Sacs and Foxes by Gen. Scott and Gov. Reynolds, they had no right to enter upon these lands, and stood in daily fear of being ordered off by United States troops. But their numbers steadily increased. At length the long expected order came. Major Davenport, Indian Agent at Rock Island, was ordered to go forward, and, with one company of infantry in two Mackinaw boats, commanded by Lieut. Beach, they landed near the mouth of Fever river (Galena) about the first of October. The Major came up to Galena with a letter from Col. George Davenport to the writer, to assist him in the discharge of his delicate duty. Word was sent to Lieut. Beach not to proceed up the river until the afternoon of the next day, as the sight of troops by the miners might make them hard to manage; otherwise, I assured the Major, he would have no trouble. We proceeded at once to a point opposite Dubuque, where we found a comfortable stopping place with the ferryman, and he being a man of considerable influence, I suggested to him the propriety of going over to Dubuque to send men to all the mining camps, requesting a meeting the next morning, at nine o’clock, of all the miners, with the agent, to hear what he had to say, and to assure them at the same time that his mission was a peaceable one, and that there should be no objection manifested to disobey the orders of the Government.

After the departure of our messenger we took a private room to talk over the programme for the meeting, when we suggested that, on assembling, the Major should make a little speech explanatory of his visit, in which he should express sorrow for the hardships it would be to leave their claims, with the hope that the time was not distant when all might lawfully return, etc. The Major said he was not a speech-maker, or a very good talker, but would read the orders sent to him to dispossess them, and see that they crossed the river.

After some discussion, the writer, at his request, wrote out a short address for the Major, and on going over the next morning, we met some four or five hundred miners at the grocery store, who had assembled to listen to the orders sent for their removal. There being no boards or boxes into which to improvise a stand for the speaker, a whisky-barrel was introduced, from the head of which, after apologizing to the miners for the disagreeable duty that had been placed upon the Major, and in consequence of his suffering from a bad cold, we had taken the stand to read to them his short address, and as most of them had spent the summer in the service of the Government as soldiers in the field, and had been honorably discharged, the Major felt satisfied that there would be no objection manifested by any one in the large crowd before us to disobey an order from the Government. After the close of the Major’s address, the question was put to vote by raising of hands. There was a general upraising of hands, which was declared to be unanimous for immediate removal. Owing to the good treatment received by the Major, he proposed to treat the entire party, and, to facilitate the matter, buckets of whisky with tin cups were passed around, and after all had partaken they shook hands with the Major and commenced Crossing over in flatboats.

At three o’clock in the afternoon we crossed over on the last boat, and took our departure for Galena. During the evening the Major’s report of how his peaceable removal of a large body of intruders from the west to the east bank of the Mississippi had been accomplished, was made out and mailed. But the further fact that all those miners had recrossed the river, and were then in their mining camps, was not recorded, for the reason that the Major had not been posted as to their intentions.

Owing to the provisions of the treaty, it was a long time before Congress passed an act for the sale of these lands, and confirmation to the titles of town sites, hence, many of those who had laid out the town of Dubuque had left the county, and at the time of proving up their claims failed to put in an appearance–the writer being one of them–whilst those who remained, with the Messrs. Langworthy, became sole proprietors–the latter having lived to see the town rise in importance, and at this time become one of the most populous cities on the west side of the Mississippi.