Letter: Eagle Boat Store
Regarding Keith Norrington’s Old Boat Column of 8 June 2020, “The Eagle Boat Store.”
The operators of Ward & Brady, the predecessor to the Eagle Boat Store, were retired steamboat captain James Ward, his son Thomas H. Ward and Bernard S. Brady.
England-born James Ward, 35, was counted twice on the 1850 census, first on 20 August as head of a household in St. Louis City’s 6th Ward; his occupation, “Riverman.” One-year-old son Thomas was also in the household.
On 9 September, James Ward was counted again as Captain of his steamboat Excelsior, tied up on the Mississippi River levee fronting the city’s 4th Ward. Also counted on the Excelsior were three passengers of note:
GRANT Hugh S. Male 28 b. Ohio Occupation: “Army”
GRANT Julia Female 23 b. Missouri
GRANT Frederick Male 4/12 b. Missouri
Hugh S. Grant was Ulysses S. Grant, 1843 West Point graduate, Mexican-American War veteran and future U.S. president. Julia Grant, his wife, was the former Julia Boggs Dent of St. Louis. Infant son Frederick Dent Grant was their first child.
The Grants likely were traveling to Detroit Barracks, Mich., where Ulysses Grant was posted to the Army’s 4th Infantry Regiment. After an earlier visit home to St. Louis, Julia Grant recalled in her memoirs that she and Ulysses had returned to Detroit by traveling up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to LaSalle, Ill.; then, she wrote, by canalboat to Detroit. Perhaps they were repeating that route by starting up the Mississippi on the Excelsior?
Lt. Col. Cletis E. Ramsey, USAF (Ret.)