Letters Home #12

By Bamber Wright

This letter was written by Emma Hauenstein Marshall to her father in Tuscumbia. The Hugo mentioned was the steamboat John R. Hugo, owned by Capt. Robert M. Marshall. The Frederick was another steamboat owned by William Hauenstein, built in Tuscumbia in 1883.

Oct. 11, 1896
Council Bluffs, Iowa

Dear Father,

The Hugo was eighteen days making the trip up here from Osage City and ten days after we got on at Kansas City. There were two of the government's steamboats starting up the same time but one had to turn back about halfway on account of low water and the other one burned her boiler so the Hugo had to make two trips back down the river to bring the disabled steamer and the other boat's tow up. We have been here just three weeks today and the Hugo is the only steamboat at work. There is not much to do, and one boat can easily do all the work.

When we came up, they thought they would get through up here this fall and move down to Atkison, where they go next but it will take them longer than they thought.

They have men at work building ways to pull the boats out of the river as soon as the cold weather sets in. I don't think it gets very much colder up here than it does in Missouri. We have had a few frosts here but no ice yet and I seen in the papers from home you had your first frost the same night we did.

The wind blows here a good deal and blows very hard some times. It is several miles to the hills on each side of the river so the wind has a fair show. Ever since we reached the Iowa line there has been a unbroken chain of hills from one to three miles back from the river. In places they are so steep that not a particle of vegetation grows on them. Some are all sand. One particular thing about them, there is not a single rock to be found on any of them. All the rocks the government use have to be shipped in on the rail road.

The boat yards are about three miles from Omaha and Council Bluffs. They are both right nice cities, though I have not seen very much of them. Bob is busy nearly all the time and don't have time to run around. He is talking some of staying up here all winter but I hardly think he will. Mr. Shoenen's daughter came up on the boat and was married last Sunday night to a young man from Osage that works on the office boat. She is boarding now about a mile from the yards.

Mr. Castrop and his wife came up on the Hugo but started back for home the next day after they got here.

The Frederick has been working for the government at Osage for about two months but I think they are about through down there.

I had a letter from Gusta a few days ago and she tells me Mrs. Abeel has come back. I am glad to hear it, as you two old folks need someone to take care of you.

Have you sold your sheep yet? I hope so as they make too much work for you. You ought to keep only one horse and one cow and a few chickens and rent your place out. Try to take things easy in your old days. You have only your two selves to do for and why load yourself down with so much work and worry, and deny yourself the necessaries of life. If Bob and I live to be as old as you, we expect to live in ease and comfort.

It will not be long now till election. Bob can't be there to vote but I hope you will vote for John Blackburn and do all you can for him among your German friends. He is a good man and if he gets elected will move down to Tuscumbia and we would like to have them for neighbors.

They do not like living on the prairie as it does not seem like home to them. Besides, it is hard work for him to make a living on the farm the way everything is selling.

I hope you will do all you can for him for I would like to see him elected.

I have only had one letter from home since we have been gone but we get the papers. I seen where Phil and May went to the fair in ST. Louis. I hope they had a good time. I had a letter from Sill Sone the other day and he is thinking of going back to school after Christmas. Bob and I are both well. We had a chill or two when we first came on the boat but are feeling very well now. I hope you are all well and that I will hear from you soon.

Council Bluffs, Iowa
c/o Hugo