Date Posted：02/19/2009 6:33 AMCopy HTML
"Welcome To The Obituary Section Of Other Rivermen"
Funeral of Capt. Walter A. Blair
To Be Tuesday; Death Ends Colorful Chapter In Mississippi River Lore
Funeral services for Capt. Walter Atcheson Blair, 83, from the McGinnis Funeral Home at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday will mark the close of one of the most colorful chapters in Mississippi River lore.
A veteran of more than half a century's piloting on the broad stream he loved, Captain Blair died at his home, 2342 East Eleventh Street, Davenport, at 12:35 a.m. Sunday after an illness of six weeks.
From the time of his birth in Galena, Ill., Nov. 17, 1856, the captain had made the Mississippi river a part of his llife, his home always within sight of it when he wasn't at the wheel of a steamer. He was the son of Margaret and Andrew Blair, who moved to Princeton, Ia., in October of 1869. It was here that the romance of early day shipping on the Mississippi captured his interest and determined his course.
First River Job In 1878
His first river experience came in March of 1878, after a period during which he was a school teacher in Princeton, on the old LeClaire Belle. Although he returned to teaching for a short time, the river had won his first interest, and he obtained a pilot's license in 1882.
The following year he purchased his first boat, the J. W. Mills, first of a line of inland vessels which were to bring him recognition and acquaintances along the entire corse of the river both as a pilot and business man.
One of the interesting highlights of his career came when he formed a partnership with Capt. Samuel R. Van Sant, later governor of Minnesota. Together they operated seven boats in a rafting business. Four other boats owned by Van Sant were also kept busy. These were thriving days on the river.
Formed Packet Company
Moving ahead with the progress of shipping, Captain Blair associated himself with a group of Davenport business men and organized the Carnival City Packet Co., operating nine boats serving Davenport, Keokuk, Burlington and Quincy. Successful from its inception, the company served 125,000 passengers and carried 15,000 tons of freight annually. Among boats used were the Helen Blair, Black Hawk and Keokuk.
The enterprising captain saw the decline of river traffic with the growth of rail service, but never lost faith in the importance of water to transportation. He, himself, had retired as a pilot only with recent years and had watched with interest the steady progress of the river's comeback as a vital transportation factor following the completion of nine-foot channel project by the U.S. army engineers.
When construction work on the river in recent years created a demand for tow boats, he bought the "Fury", a one time government tow boat, and had handled tows for the contractors, thus contributing to navigation history when he was well beyond the proverbial three score years and ten.
Captain Blair married Elizabeth Bard in LeClaire, Dec. 7, 1882, and the couple made their home in Davenport. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church here, Trinity Lodge No. 208 A. F. & A. M., and Snow Lodge, LeClaire.
Besides his widow; a daughter, Mrs. Hugh T. Smith, Philadelphia, Pa.; two sons, George W. Blair, Mishawaka, Ind., and Bard B. Blair, Tulsa, Okla.; three sisters, Mrs. R. E. White, Monmouth, Ill., Mrs. Fred Wyman and Mrs. G. S. Johnson, both of Davenport; two brothers, W. H. Blair of Davenport, and A. L. Blair of Highland Park, Ill,; and three grandchildren, Mrs. H. E. Brucklin, Elkhart, Ind., George W. Blair, Jr., Winfield, Kan., and Frederick E. Blair, Mishawaka, survive. A son, Paul, died Nov. 2, 1898. Burial will be in Oakdale Cemetery.
W.F.Crane Rites Held At Residence (cancer/mouth)
Funeral services for W. F. Crane, 57, were held this afternoon at 2 o'clock at the family residence, 1615 Broad Street. The Rev. W. Q. Scruggs officiated.
Mr. Crane died Monday morning at 6 o'clock at his home after a three months illness. He had spent 25 years of his life on the river as mate, working for the West Kentucky Coal Company and for the Lee River Lines.
Interment was in Oak Grove Cemetery. Pallbearers were: J. C. Breidendach, Robert Moore, Robert Dallas, Sam Orr, Clyde Emerson, Thayo Furnan.
Captain Broadfoot, Retired Pilot , Dies
Captain Leslie R. Broadfoot, 60, of 1415 South Third Street, member of a family of river pilots, died Saturday afternoon at 1:10 o'clock after a long illness.
Captain Broadfoot was widely known among rivermen on the Ohio and other inland rivers, and operated as a master and pilot with the Fowler and other lines for many years. He was forced to retire several years ago because of ill health. He is survived by a daughter, Miss Anita H. Broadfoot; and sister, Mrs. Ethel Broadfoot Hoffman, Captain Nelson M. Broadfoot of Paducah, is cousin. Private services will be held Monday morning at 10:30 o'clock at Roth Funeral Chapel. Friends may call at Roth's preceding the rites. Burial will be in Oak Grove Cemetery.
Pallbearers will include Forest Crutchfield, Sam Felts, Harley Robinette, Ralph Bishop, Harry Lloyd and William Findley.
Captain Hilmar Lax, Steamboat Man 35 Years Dies
Captain Hilmar Lax, who had been employed by the Streckfus Steamers, Inc., for about 35 years, died suddenly last night at the York Hotel, where he resided. He was 45.
As a boy of 10, he joined the Streckfus Line at Paducah, KY., as a cabin boy under Captain John S. Streckfus, and worked his way up to the command of steamboats. He was Captain of the St. Paul for a number of years, and for a while also commanded the President and the Washington.
Last night at 10:30 he notified the hotel clerk he was ill and asked that a physician be called. While hotel attaches attended him, Dr. W. Antoine Hall, 1625 Tower Grove Avenue, on arrival found Captain Hilmar Lax on the floor of the bathroom dead.
His wife, from whom he had been divorced, Mrs. Gladys Lax, resides at 1319 Waldron Avenue, University City, with their two children; Hilmar, Jr. 13 and Jane, 9
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