Sullivan, Indiana Union
The following article is a reprint of an article which was taken
an old paper printed in this area many years ago, the original of
which was taken from the Sullivan, Indiana Union, and contains
history relative to York, Illinois, in this county:
Back in the good old days before the Civil War, when the South was
waxing rich under slavery, and the navigable rivers were the main
arteries of traffic, a thriving commerce was carried on between the
river towns of the South and those of the North.
In the good old steam boat days, the rivers were dotted with
steamboats and barges, both large and small. Most all of the
towns were growing and prospering until the building of the
when most of them were cut down in their youthful bloom. Some
these once prosperous places are like some of the great steam boats,
sleeping beneath the mighty currents of the ever-hanging rivers.
Some of the old river cities still exist as a token of the mighty
past surrounded by the romantic ties of its past which are dear to
When one visits that quaint sleepy ole river town known as "Old
York," one can realize how unkind are the tragic hands fate.
hardly relize that he is walking the streets of a village that is a
crumbling relic of a young metropolis when steam boating was in
flower, in the bygone days before the railroads, when all the roads
led to the busy flourishing young city known today as "Old York."
"Old York" in its youthful bloom is said at one time to have been a
better town than Terre Haute which would have suffered the same fate
of "Old York" had it not been situated such as to be favored by the
railroads as an important center, a thing which hung the crepe on
thriving young city known as "Old York."
Step back with me over a span of seventy-five years and we will go
aboard the fastest steamboat that ever rode the bosom of the Wabash
and we will again walk the sidewalks of "Old York."
Here we are on the Zanesville. She is bound of York after a
wheat and corn. As this fast boat, which was built on the
river in Ohio, speeds along, the darky deck hands seem happy as they
are crooning those old southern melodies.
In looking over the Zanesville we go into the cabin with its
bar room, sleeping room and dining room. We go up by the Texas
is the officers headquarters, and on up to the pilot house where the
pilot stands holding the big wheel which guides the boat. The
must know the river and be able to steer his boat by day or night.
We learn that the captain is the main boss on the boat. The
the loading boss. The boatswain is the carpenter and the clerk
record of all business. The boilers are fired by a fireman and
engine is run by the engineer, according to the orders of the pilot.
On our way up the river we pass the "Romeo", the "Caroline" and
"America". The river is high and the big steamboats are taking
advantage of it.
Darkness has fallen and the Zanesville is rounding the bend and we
shall soon be in "Old York". There is already one big fine
at the wharf. It is lighted up and so beautiful. We read
in big letter the "Prairie City" and it sure is a floating palace
with a blue and red light on its smokestack. A colored
playing sweet string music and the officers and their wives are
The Zanesville is now tied and we are on the wharf ready to view the
enterprising young city. We pass the two big three-story
where the steamboats load up and unload, which are owned by Hodge
McKinley, R. P. Over, L. D. Shultz, R. L. Delaney general store, the
large packing houses of L. D. Shultz and R. P. Over, Barker Bros.
plow-makers establishment, the two big cooper shops owned by Holmes
Bros. and George Berry and son, Rook Bros. wagon and buggy shop,
Richard Thailey and John Ketchum wagon and blacksmith shops, Freeman
and Richardson large general store, two livery stables owned by
Pritchard and Stevers, four hotels owned by Ayers, Pritchard, Parker
and Styles, two large churches, Protestant, M. E. Church and
Presbyterian, the large grist mill owned by George W. Woods, J. B.
Richardson Saw and Lumber Co., Dr. Charles P. Goram's Drug Store and
Jacob Dotson's thrifty grocery store with its saloone in the rear.
Before arriving at our hotel where we shall retire, we pass the
offices of Dr. McCord, a Dr. Martin and the Gabe Barker Undertaking
establishment. We can imagine ourselves loitering around the
wharf waiting and watching for the big steamboats in that mellow
moonlight that Paul Dresser sang about where you can see the candle
lights gleaming through the sycamores so far away. We visit
loiter around this hustling and bustling river wharf, we see so many
steamboats large and small come and go.
There is that floating palace known as the "Starlight," also the
"Pocahontas," the William Knox", and the "Curlew" with its big
smokestacks. We see the James Gray of Prevo Landing, also a
boat. Yes, and there is the "Mason" which is a sidewheeler,
"Oil Exchange" a freighter and the "Buskirk" a big Vincennes boat.
Hudnut's big boat, the "Rosedale" is loading on a cargo of corn.
The "Ida Lee" and the "Janie Rea" are fine boats being expected from
the South. The "Bellegrade" and the "Crown Point" owned by
and Agnew of Vincennes are loading a cargo of pork bound for
Evansville. The Swallow, Abhind, Michigan and the Musselman
The Izetta, the largest boat brings a cargo of sugar from New
The Daniel Boone, a southern boat, unloads a cargo at Terre Haute
starts homeward bound on an inky black night. The pilot of
in attempting to run a blind chute, ran his boat aground where she
set until the next flood of the Wabash when the boat contined the
journey back to "Dixie."
Some of the famous old river pilots who were the big chiefs of the
steamboats, who obtained a princely salary and were the admiration
and ambition of every boy, were Clark Hall, Harry Lewis, Bill Davis,
Preston Burris and Felix Anderson. These men knew the Wabash
from Evansville to Lafayette like a book.
Suppose we take a steamboat for Terre Haute. We shall go
"Advance" as we hear its shrill whistle. This is a Vincennes
which runs on time like a train. Our fare is two dollars one
with board included. On our way to the Narrows our first stop
pass over the bones of the "Reindeer" and the "Phoenix" which rest
today in their watery grave and their bones may yet be seen in low
The Reindeer is said to have a very valuable cargo, especially could
it be raised from its watery grave, as it contains twenty barrels of
whisky which would be mighty mellow with age now. The
of our home-owned boats, ran on a snag near Hutsonville where she
also foundered, and her bones may be seen in low water as a grim
reminder of those good propsperous steamboat days before the whistle
of the iron horse was heard in the land, when people far and near
business in our ill-fated city and tread "On the Sidewalks of Old
The old newspaper clipping from which the foregoing was reprinted
sent to us by Leola Elliott of West York, Ill.
"Our Little Town"
I like to live in a little town
Where the trees meet across the street.
Where you wave your hand and say "Hello"
To everyone you meet.
I like to stand for a moment
Outside the grocery store
And listen to friendly gossip
Of the folks that live next door.
For life is interwoven
With friends we learn to know,
And we hear their joys and sorrows
As we daily come and go.
So I like to live in our little town
I care no more to roam,
For every house in our little town
Is more than a house, it's a home.
Westfield Review, 1968