First Ferries

First Ferries

In looking over the records, we find that licenses for ferries were granted as follows: To George Davenport and Joshua Vandruff, for a ferry across Rock River, March, 1834; at the same date to George Davenport for a ferry across the Slough, and to Rinnah Wells for a ferry across Rock River. Jonah H. Case, Antoine LeClaire and W. F. Brashar were granted a license to run a ferry across the Mississippi to the Iowa shore in March, 1835. Nathaniel Belcher was granted a license to establish a ferry across the Mississippi at Port Byron in March, 1837. In October, 1837, a ferry feud had arisen. John Wilson, owner of the main ferry between Stephenson and the Iowa shore, made an application to the County Commissioners for an “order vacating Henry Powars’ ferry.” The order was granted in 1838 “for the in-sufficiency of his boats, the want of hands, and for ferrying beyond the limits.”


Early Settlements of Rock County 


Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

1 thought on “First Ferries”


    Found you serendipitously on this Thanksgiving Day 2020.
    Our Illinois Biddles came to Pike County in the 1820s, settling in Griggsville, and my grandmother’s Sawyers family in Scott County, and Bluffs.
    I am a “vessel historian” and builder of models of unusual ships.
    Lately, I learned that my g/g/grandfather, Jonathan Biddle in 1880 operated (and owned?) the steam ferry Zachariah Biddle from Griggsville Landing, south of Valley City, Illinois (where my Dad and his father were born.
    Seeking further descriptions of that ferry, and ideally photographs. I have seen mentions of ferry licenses, but have yet to find a repository with those license documents which may have been preserved.
    This ferry is the only vessel yet identified with a direct connection to our branch of the Biddle family tree.

    Bless Your All on this day of Remembrance

    Randle McLean Biddle
    Star, Idaho
    (Age 75)

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