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Biography of Capt. John Burgess Davis

When the great West was young the Mississippi River, as the principal gateway to it and almost the sole means of conveying its products to the out-side world was the center of commercial life. Men who followed the river were participants in stirring events and their work was fraught with an importance in the eyes of the public that we of today can little realize. To be a steamboat captain in the fifties and sixties invested the individual with a dignity as great as that accorded to the average railroad magnate nowadays. Captain John Burgess Davis earned his title when the great stream was at its best, and there were few who won greater honors than he for his calling. Among his most notable achievements was the taking of the first boat up the Minnesota River to Big Stone Lake; thence into the Red River of the North, and the construction of the first wing dam on the Mississippi. The boat he took into the Red River was the “Freighter.” It was in 1859 that he navigated through Big Stone Lake into the Northern stream. The first wing dam was built some years later, in 1873, when he was in charge of a Government fleet, and it was located three miles below St. Paul, at Pig’s Eye Island. This method of improvement, which he was the first to use on the Upper Mississippi, has since been generally adopted and has done more than any other device in giving a uniform channel for steamboat navigation. Captain Davis was born to the vocation he followed with success. His father, Thomas Bodley...

Biographical Sketch of David Ford

DAVID FORD. – This highly esteemed citizen, a portrait of whom is placed in this history, was born in Indiana July 27,1837. After his marriage to Miss Mary Medler, October 11, 1857, he was occupied at his home until the war of the Rebellion, in which he served as a soldier in the Union army, bearing an honorable part, and making a brave record up to the battle of Kenesaw Mountain, where he received a wound which made him unfit for service. He belonged to Company A, Eighty-fourth Indiana Volunteers. In 1872 he came to Missouri, and five years later to California. A year’s residence in the land of gold and semi-tropical fruits convinced him of the desirability of removing to Washington; and two years at Yakima led the way to his residence at Ellensburgh. There he was very active in all of the best enterprises, being a trustee of Ellensburgh Academy, and treasurer of the church with which it is associated, and a prominent member of the Grand Army of the Republic, James Parsons Post, No. 11, holding the office of quartermaster. The home which he left is a mile and a half from town, on a farm consisting of one hundred and sixty acres of the best of land. The house is superior, and all the accommodations are such as to make comfortable his family of wife and six children. His death, which took place in 1887, was universally deplored; and he left a place in society which cannot be...

Biography of Hon. William Lair Hill

HON. WILLIAM LAIR HILL. – The distinguished lawyer, author, versatile writer and thorough student whose name introduces this sketch was asked to furnish such data as might contribute in its production; and he diffidently and reluctantly responded. Among other hastily prepared notes, he answered: “Have lived an honest a life as my environments seemed to allow, mainly for the reason that, according to my hereditary creed, one who is not at least indifferently honest, cannot be very happy. In all my laborious life the one single fact in which I have the slightest pride is that, like Jim Bludsoe, I ‘never flunked,’ even when I thought the laboring oar in work or responsibility was unjustly given me.” Again: “Was a radical Republican from the time of the organization of that party, but really had no particular views on politics except bitter hostility to slavery.” As to his literary tastes, he said: “I have always had a passion for the study of languages; and, though I never had proper advantages at school to gratify that desire, I have employed numbers of private tutors, and have given much time to the acquisition of that branch of learning. I have a reading knowledge of Greek, Latin, French, German, Spanish and Italian, though I will not pretend to any great proficiency or degree of scholarship in any of them. I have been an incessant worker all my life. I have no faith in any genius but that genius which owes its existence to persistent, concentrated and methodical labor, nor in any gospel that promises success without unremitting toil. I put no trust in...

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