Ancestors Had Early Boats On
Washington, Streator, Illinois
July 22, 1963
Thank you for sending me the address of. Mrs. Blake (Florence) 0. Grieves
of Lacon and for sending my letter on to her. I enclose reply to my letter
- for your I shall get copies of the Lacon Home Journal when the articles
I had no idea when I wrote youthat you would publish my letterin your July
24 Issue, or I wouldhave written you a better letter. I am going to write
you one now, although it may be too substitute it for the first letter.
For several years I have been trying to get information on my grandfather's
and great-grandfather's steamboats, especially the names.
I hope that some reader of the Henry News-Republican can enlighten me. To
date, I know the names of only 2 - the "Comet"
and the "Garden City".
The Comet WAS the first steam-boat at Brownsville, Pa. That was in 1813.
Henry Shreve, the inventor, operated the diminutive, 25-ton boat, but my
great grand-father furnished the money to build it. He owned the "Kimber
Glass Works" at Brownsville on the Monongahela River.
Many early flat-boats, keel-boats and steamboats were built there.
My great-grandfather, Abraham
Kimber (born 1791 in Brownsville), went into the steamboat business
soon alter 1813. He was a steamboat captain; he owned and operated early
steamboats for many years and retired from the rivers in 1840.
I know his boats were among the very early ones to come up the Illinois
river to Hennepin and I have often wondered if he was owner or part owner,
of the "Caroline"
of April 1831, or the "Traveler" of Sept, 1831, or the "Sovenir"
which brought troops of the Black Hawk War to Hennepin in Dec, 1832, or
which came to Hennepin In 1836.
The ''Frontier" was a 63-ton boat which made the record time from
St. Louis to Galena,
a 400 mile trip in 1836.
Abraham Kimber's two sons,Isaac, (my grandfather), and Joseph. and his
two sons-in-law, Eli
R. Mills and Herman
Price, were also In the steamboat business for many years.
was the engineer on many of the boats which came up the Illinois.
His brother, Joseph, was also a steamboat engineer, but in later years
spent much of his lime on the Missouri River.
Herman Price usually acted as captain on boats owned by Price and Eli
Mills, while Mills was the clerk. But when Price was off the boat , Mills
acted as captain.
I have a great deal of information about the seven steamboats owned by
Price and Mills between l835 and 1854, such as date when built, dimensions,
The names of these boats were:
1. The "Delaware,"
built in 1835
2. The "Mayflower,"
built in 1840 at Brownsville, Pa,
3. The "Lehigh"
built in 1841 at Pittsburgh.
4. The "Anglo
Saxon," built in 1846, at Brownsville, Pa.
5. The "Connecticut,
" built In 1848 at Shousetown on the Ohio River, fourteen miles north
6. The "Hibernia
No. 2" built In 1847 at Shousetown.
7. The "Garden
City" built in 1853; at "Shousetown, Pa. (Shousetown, Pa.
was re-named Glenwillard about 1915).
At least four of these boats. No.
2, 4, 6 and 7, came to Hennepin.
John Swaney began his years of
service on steamboats as second
on the Anglo Saxon. Isaac
Kimber was often working as engineer on the same boats as John Swaney.
Eli R. Mills, after selling his interest in the Garden City to Isaac Kimber
early in November, 1854, came off the river, a very sick man, and died
the next August (1855) at his home near Magnolia. Ill.
This boat burned on the Mississippi on Jan. 14, 1855, about 35 miles below
Napoleon, Ark. Soon afterward. Isaac Kimber and his brother-in-law, Hermon
Price, had a very fine boat built in St Louis which they named the "Garden
City," It was a fast boat and one of the "Five Day Line,"
which was a group of packets making the round trip from St. Louis to La-Salle
in live days instead of the
time of one week.
The first Garden City was also a fast boat for those days. The "Pittsburgh
Gazette" news paper, under-date of June 8, 1853, said: "The
Garden City, Herman Price, master, went from St. Louis to La Salle, 302
miles, in 21 hours and 55 minutes; quickest of record. She is a Pittsburgh
While the .second Garden City was making trips on the Illinois river,
my grandfather, Isaac Kimber, was also part owner of two other good steamboats,
the names of which I wish I could discover. I know that Hermon Price was
part owner of other big boats not listed above, one of which was the "Allegheny,
but I do not know if Isaac Kimber was part owner of that boat or not.
My great-grandfather, Abraham. Kimber, retired from the rivers in 1840
and purchased a home and many acres of timber, land, six miles southeast
of Hennepin and three miles, south of Florid.
The timberland was home and the river two the west. He died in 1852 and
he and his wife, were buried In the Quaker graveyard near the first little
brick Meeting House,
Isaac Kimber and Hermon Price continued in the steamboat business for
at least 30 years until the spring of 1861, when the rivers were closed
to commercial traffic because, of the Civil War.
After leaving his steamboats, Hermon Price resided on his farm near Magnolia,
Ill., for thirty years before he died in 1891, and Isaac resided on his
farm six miles southeast of Hennepin for 24 years before he died.
The huge, old bank-barn built there by Isaac Kimber more than a hundred
years ago, Is still standing. I recently took some pictures of it.
I have old photographs of Isaac Kimber. Hermon
Price, Eli R. Mills and "Hibernia"
steamboat. I also have a picture of the S. S. Mayflower and wish I could
find a picture of the Garden City.
Abraham Kimber and wife and Eli Mills and wife (who was Elizabeth Kimber)
are burled in the old section of the Society of Friends (Quaker) graveyard
near the grave of Benjamin Lundy. The cemetery is near and west of the
John Swaney school, between Magnolia and McNabb.
Bertha F. Rogers