Biography of Captain David M. Tipton

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It becomes the sad duty of the officer in temporary charge of the Rock Island District to announce the sudden death, on September 22, 1904, of Captain David M. Tipton, Master of the United States Steamer Colonel A. Mackenzie, near Frontenac, in Lake Pepin. Seated in a chair in the pilot house, having but a few minutes before been at the wheel, he passed away in an instant, without previous pain or suffering, from aneurish of the heart.

Captain Tipton, who was about seventy-six years of age at the time of his death, was born on a farm on the Muskingum River in Ohio. At an early age he took to the river, soon became mate and afterwards pilot of the Northern Line Steamers on the Upper Mississippi River, and included in his knowledge the pilotage of the Rock Island and Des Moines Rapids, the Des Moines, Missouri and Illinois Rivers. He entered the service of the Engineer Department in 1873, serving as master and pilot from that time until his death, successively on the Montana, the General Barnard and the Colonel A. Mackenzie, with the exception of two years on the Joseph Henry, of the Light House Department. During his thirty-one years service on the Government boats he was always faithful, able and skillful, and his place will be hard to fill.

Captain Tipton had a host of friends, and his happy, genial manner and hospitable nature endeared him to all with whom he was associated, and his demise brings sorrow to many hearts. He was never married, but dearly loved the society of children, and was much beloved by them. He also loved animals, and a good horse or dog was a joy to him. In the language of one of his oldest friends “he was one of Nature’s gentlemen, – a rare combination of simplicity and shrewdness, of humor and tenderness, and a type of all a Mississippi River pilot ought to be. We shall never look upon his like again.”

Captain Tipton was held in great esteem by the officers and associates with whom he was connected in the improvement of the Mississippi River. On a letter sent from this office to Washington, making a request in favor of Captain Tipton, the following indorsement was placed by General A. Mackenzie, Chief of Engineers:

“In consideration of the long, faithful and efficient service of Captain Tipton, and the saving effected by his careful management of the property entrusted to his charge, the Chief of Engineers is pleased to approve the within request.”

Captain Tipton was buried at Chippiannock Cemetery in Rock Island on September 24, 1904, the funeral services having been con-ducted at the Rock Island Club, of which he was a member. Many of his friends acted as active and honorary pall bearers, and his remains were followed to the grave by them and a large number of other citizens of Rock Island and vicinity.

By direction of MAJOR C. S. RICHE, Corps of Engineers, U. S. A.

C. W. DURHAM, Principal Assistant Engineer. U. S. Engineer Office, Rock Island, Illinois, September 26, 1904.

Official: C. P. COMERS, Chief Clerk.

MLA Source Citation:

Biographical Publishing Company. Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock Island County. Illinois; Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co. Web. 25 January 2015. - Last updated on Jul 6th, 2011

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