The Material Culture of Steamboat Passengers - Archaeological Evidence from the Missouri River (THE

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Unformatted text preview: The Material Culture of Steamboat Passengers Archaeological Evidence from the Missouri River The Plenum Series in Underwater Archaeology Series Editor: J. Barto Arnold III Institute of Nautical Archaeology Texas A&M University College Station, Texas Maritime Archaeology: A Reader of Substantive and Theoretical Contributions Edited by Lawrence E. Babits and Hans Van Tillburg The Material Culture of Steamboat Passengers: Archaeological Evidence from the Missouri River Annalies Corbin The Persistence of Sail in the Age of Steam: Underwater Archaeological Evidence from the Dry Tortugas Donna J. Souza A Continuation Order Plan is available for this series. A continuation order will bring delivery of each new volume immediately upon publication. Volumes are billed only upon actual shipment. For further information please contact the publisher. The Material Culture of Steamboat Passengers Archaeological Evidence from the Missouri River Annalies Corbin University of Idaho Moscow, Idaho Kluwer Academic Publishers • Boston • Dordrecht • London • New York Moscow eBook ISBN: Print ISBN: 0-306-47171-X 0-306-46168-4 ©2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers New York, Boston, Dordrecht, London, Moscow All rights reserved No part of this eBook may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording, or otherwise, without written consent from the Publisher Created in the United States of America Visit Kluwer Online at: and Kluwer's eBookstore at: This book is for Ed, Niki, Bill, and Daisy and is dedicated to the memory of Dr. E. B. Trail, dentist, historian, and the first Missouri River steamboat buff to make an active call for the protection of western river steamboats This page intentionally left blank. Foreword For many years, one of my favorite classroom devices in historical archaeology was to ask the students to imagine that they had to make the choice between saving—from some unnamed calamity—all master’s theses or all doctoral dissertations in anthropology, but not both. Like good students, they usually looked to their Ph.D.-holding professor and chose the dissertations. Much to their surprise, I would respond that the theses would win without even taking time to ponder the issue. The issue is clearly one of often naïve and rarely eloquent theses full of good primary data versus sometimes more sophisticated and better written works full of irrelevant theory and meaningless statistics. Perhaps this is an overstatement of the situation, but it is not too far off the mark. The University Microfilms International efforts to make the titles of dissertations in North America and the English-speaking portions of Europe available through Dissertation Abstracts is commendable. With only one minor exception, dissertations in historical and underwater archaeology in the United States are to be found listed in Dissertation Abstracts and thus are available for purchase. Unfortunately, there is no comparable source for the multitude of institutions producing masters’ theses in historical and underwater archaeology. If the subject matter is clearly anthropological and predates 1977, the title might be in McDonald (1977). If by chance the work was conducted in Virginia, it would probably be listed in Wittkofski (1991). What is needed in the field of historical and underwater archaeology is a current finding aid for titles in graduate studies. This is a worldwide problem, not one just involving Great Britain, Australia, and English- and French-speaking North America. One fortunate enough to find a likely title must then face the frustrating task of obtaining a copy through interlibrary loan, which involves the strangely possessive charter of the librarian controlling the thesis. “We cannot send a copy because it might be lost “ (in spite of having two copies), “No, we cannot make a copy because that might damage the original” (why not use the second copy?). Ultimately, one finds a colleague who vii viii Foreword finds a student to go to the library in question and make a copy on the multitude of copy machines available on every floor. If this sounds all too familiar, it is because we have all been through the process in one way or another. For the agency archaeologist in a small town who must depend on the local public library for interlibrary loan, the frustration is increased many times over. Is there a solution beyond going after a federal grant to compile a bibliography every few years? One solution is to publish quickly those theses worthy of publication. Every so often, a thesis comes along that contains not only the useful and extensive data of a typical thesis but is written in a mature way with reasonable theoretical elements more typical of a dissertation. The thesis written by Annalies Corbin is one such work. We clearly need to publish more theses of this quality. This work is doubly useful because it involves and is valuable to both terrestrial and underwater archaeology. There are several factors making this thesis unusual and valuable in historical and underwater archaeology. The most obvious is the difficulty in assigning it to one or the other of the two fields. The rich array of artifacts so thoroughly enumerated is typical of a terrestrial site, yet it was the hazards of shallow water navigation that put them in storage for later excavation. The preservation was not bits and pieces, as we so often find in terrestrial sites, but the complete contents of the various boxes and trunks, labeled “artifact sets.” What makes this compilation even more useful and of inestimable value not only to archaeologists but to social anthropologists working with nineteenth century culture is the ability to identify the people who lost the various containers. Corbin has not only been able to identify all but one of the numerous individual owners but has gleaned facts of their “social persona” (Goodenough, 1965:7) including traveling family groupings. As she expresses it, this is a study of the “types of people who used river transportation for westward migration.” The generous use of photographs, a full listing of the artifacts from both the Bertrand and the Arabia, and the excellent artifact preservation make this volume a valuable contribution that will become a standard reference manual for many years to come. The artifact descriptions contained in Appendixes A–G include data often neglected in archaeological reports such as the precise size and the manufacturer when known. In many cases, grouping the artifacts into the “sets” contained in one box tells a great deal about what a craftsman or homemaker of that period considered necessary for his or her work. The use of a typological classification created from two complementary systems and a knowledge of the occupation of the owners have resulted in a very high degree of artifact identification. This has been viewed in terms of a series of clearly stated, predictive hypotheses. This analysis has predictive value to others; it is not pursued just to prove a pet theory as is so typical today of many archaeological dissertations. Another major consequence of this publication is the additional research that it will spawn. The questions answered are far outnumbered by the questions Foreword ix that this work asks. Appendix H—a listing of Missouri River shipwrecks-should help to further research of other sites in what is in reality the interior of a major land mass. Corbin shows that even at the upper reaches of navigation on the Mississippi-Missouri system there are important resources that need to be identified, protected, and investigated. Even more important, these resources are vital to our study of material culture in general and to the study of the frontier in detail. To return to the original question, why save all master’s theses? The work published here provides a clear and concise example of why all theses in underwater and historical archaeology should be available in published form. REFERENCES Goodenough. Ward H., 1965. Rethinking Status” and “Role.” In The Relevance of Models for Social Anthropology, ASA Monographs, pp. 1–24. New York, Praeger. McDonald, David R., 1977, Masters' Theses in Anthropology: A Bibliography of Theses from United States Colleges and Universities. New Haven, HRAF Press. Wittkofski. J. Mark, 1991, Theses and Dissertations Relevant to Virginia Archaeology, Architecture, and Material Culture. Virginia Department of Historic Resources Bibliography Series, No. 3, revised. Richmond. RODERICK SPRAGUE University of Idaho Moscow. Idaho This page intentionally left blank. Preface At the annual meeting of the Society of Historical Archaeology in Atlanta in 1998, I was honored by an invitation from Plenum Press to submit my M.A. thesis for publication in its series on underwater archaeology. The invitation was especially gratifying for four reasons. First, publication of my thesis highlights the importance of the steamboat era in the opening of the American West. Steamboats made possible, at low cost and with efficiency, the transport of persons, their possessions, and goods of commerce to the nation’s interior. The study, then, deals with the transcontinental migration, which as an event helped define the American character. Second, as a report on historical, archaeology, my study of the Bertrand and the Arabia, two substantial steamboats that were in operation from 1856 to 1865, is instructive. Although Petsche (1974) and G. Hawley (1998) wrote important works on both vessels, neither linked the material remains with emigrant migration patterns. My study does precisely that. To establish a profile of the passengers, I analyzed the content of passenger boxes with a view toward gender, group dynamics, and socioeconomic status. I used documentary sources, photographs, and archaeological artifacts to help posit hypotheses about nineteenth-century emigrant travel. I suggest, on the basis of my interpretation of the evidence, a profile of the persons who used steamboats for migrating westward. Third, I believe that my thesis will be a useful reference manual. Petsche and Hawley did not specifically focus on the artifacts on the Bertrand and the Arabia. My work, by contrast, gives detailed archaeological and historical information about the artifact sets from the two vessels. That information is the heart of my work. Often, when archaeologists excavate sites in the American West, they find only fragments of many artifacts, and those material remains often leave the researcher with more questions than firm answers. Very fragile items—clothing, for example—rarely survive in situ. Thanks, however, to the high moisture content at both sites, the physical remains were well preserved. In the holds of the xi xii Preface two vessels were garments, tool handles, complete containers, and the preserved foodstuffs of the American West. The intact artifacts, numbering in the thousands, are an archaeologist’s treasure trove. Fourth, Appendix H, which is new for this publication, is part of a much larger project. From 1993 onward, I have collected information about vessels of all descriptions (barges, keelboats, mackinaws, ferries, steamboats, and early motorboats) in operation on inland rivers in the nineteenth century. The material makes up a database (presently 1,400 vessels) that I hope continues to grow with additional research and, when reasonably complete, will be published as a reference work. For the present, Appendix H contains a portion of that database to suggest the volume of steamboat activity on the Missouri River and the potential value of the database for historical archaeological sites. The organization of my study is straightforward. Chapters 1 and 2 serve as introductions to my work. Chapter 1, drawing upon established authorities, aims at providing a basic understanding of how and when steamboating came to the Missouri River; Chapter 2 reviews the salient details in the history of the Bertrand and the Arabia. Chapter 3 explains my research methodology and introduces a set of hypotheses about the types of people who used river transportation for westward migration. Chapters 4–8 contain detailed descriptions of the artifacts that I studied. Chapter 9 has a quantitative analysis of the artifact sets. Chapter 10, the conclusion, revisits the questions raised about the emigrants who were traveling west and suggests directions for further work on those issues. Appendixes A–G detail the artifact sampling from the two wrecks. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS My research would not have been possible without assistance from many people. I thank Sarah Tuttle, James O’Barr, and the staff at the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge for their suggestions and help with research on the Bertrand collection. I also thank Gregory, David and Robert Hawley, and Lynn Jenkins for their assistance with the collection at the Arabia Steamboat Museum, and for housing during my stay there I thank Carol Siegel and Chrissy and Danny Pearson. The staff at the Montana Historical Society were especially helpful as were the staffs at the St. Louis Mercantile Library, the Missouri Historical Society, and the National Archives in Washington, D.C. I also thank Jay Gaynor and D. Allen Saguto for their answers to my carpenter- and cobbler-related inquiries, and I thank Roderick Sprague and Karlis Karklins for their expertise about beads. Jack Scott is responsible for having created the beautiful map of the Missouri River region on page 4. Special thanks goes to Pay Guyette and the staff at Inter-Library Service at East Carolina University’s library for finding obscure printed sources and to Edward and Niki Corbin, Wendy Coble, Kent Hackmann, and Cynthia Schwenk for their suggestions and unfailing support. Preface xiii I express my appreciation to Bradley Rodgers, Donald Parkerson, and John Tilly for their help in the revision of my original M.A. thesis. I am especially indebted to Lawrence Babits and Douglas Scott for directing my research, patiently reading the early drafts of my thesis, and offering support and suggestions for turning it into a book. I acknowledge valuable support in my collection of information for my steamboat database. East Carolina University’s program in Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology helped in the infancy of the project, and the Department of History at the University of Idaho has more recently encouraged it. Kenneth Karsmizki at the Museum of the Rockies assisted with research in various printed and manuscript collections, and volunteers at the museum provided clerical help. My good friend Mike Cassler shared his steamboat research with me and provided hours of debate concerning Upper Missouri River steamboating issues. Financial support has come from Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen, who administered the J. Mack Gamble Fund, and from the Honorable John Calhoun Smith Memorial Fund, at the University of Idaho, for subventions for my doctoral dissertation research on steamboats on the Missouri River. A special acknowledgment goes to J. Barto Arnold III, the series editor, and Eliot Werner, editor at Kluwer Academic /Plenum. Both played a crucial role in encouraging this publication and took a great leap of faith in imagining it would be possible. I appreciate their guidance and suggestions. Finally, this text would have been impossible without the support and understanding of my family. Nelson and Anna were most patient with this process, even though it interfered with family activities for several months. I must thank them both for keeping me on track by asking each day, when they got off the school bus, “So how many pages do you have now?” What a reminder to keep on task. My husband Chip deserves the greatest thanks of all. He was gentle and patient with a very tedious and consuming process. His constant faith that I could Juggle my family, a book, and a dissertation was admirable. Without his support, this book would not have been attempted in the first place. This page intentionally left blank. Contents 1. Introduction: Westward Expansion toward Fort Benton, Montana Territory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1. 1.2 1.3. 1.4. 1.5. 1.6. Overland or by Sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Realizing Mullan’s Vision: Steamboats on the Missouri River . . . 2 The Development of the “Mountain Boat” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Time on the River . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Traveling West by Steamboat: The Passenger Experience . . . . . . 9 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 2. The Steamboats Arabia and Bertrand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1. 2.2. 2.3. 2.4. 2.5. 2.6. 2.7. 3. 1 11 The Building of the Bertrand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Disastrous Voyage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Excavation of the Bertrand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Building the Steamboat Arabia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Arabia on the Missouri River . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Salvaging the Arabia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 12 14 14 16 18 20 Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 3.1. 3.2. 3.3. 3.4. 3.5. 21 22 22 23 24 Introduction: Material Culture Studies in America . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Artifact Set . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Project Goals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Artifact Classification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Few Explanations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv xvi 4. 5. 6. 7. Contents 3.6. Hypotheses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.1. Hypothesis A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.2. Hypothesis B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.3. Hypothesis C . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.4. Hypothesis D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6.5. Hypothesis E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.7. Conclusion: Artifact Cataloging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 26 26 26 26 27 27 Bertrand Box 74 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 4.1. The John S. Atchison Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2. Box 74 Artifacts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2.1. Personal Utilization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2.2. Household Utilization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2.3. Child Utilization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.3. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 30 30 41 44 50 Bertrand FPC-8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 5.1. Annie and Fannie Campbell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2. FPC-8 Artifacts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2.1. Personal Utilization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2.2. Household Utilization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2.3. Child Utilization . . . . . . . . . ....
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