Submitted by scott on Mon, 11/30/2020 - 10:43

Sam meets Horace Bixby and learns the river.  He pilots steamboats on the lower Mississippi until the onset of the Civil War. At which time he heads to the Nevada Territory with his brother Orion.

  • Mon Feb 16, 1857

    February 16, 1857: Monday– Sam boarded the packet Paul Jones (353 tons), on its way from Pittsburgh, for passage to New Orleans, commanded by Hiram K. Hazlett and piloted by Horace E. Bixby (1826-1912) and Jerry Mason.  Sam claimed in his autobiography that his intention was to travel to the Amazon, but could not find passage once in New Orleans. His other longtime dream of becoming a steamboat pilot then took over and he approached Bixby about becoming his assistant. Bixby had a sore foot, which made standing at the wheel painful, so Sam did “a lot of steering” for him.

  • Tue Feb 17, 1857

    February 17 Tuesday – The Paul Jones was “heavily loaded with ordnance for the Baton Rouge arsenal” [Branch, “Bixby” 3]. As the boat neared Louisville it ran onto rocks near Dick Smith’s wharf and stuck for more than 24 hours.

  • Sat Feb 28, 1857

    February 28 Saturday – The Paul Jones reached New Orleans.  I went to Horace Bixby and asked him to make a pilot out of me. He said he would do it for five hundred dollars, one hundred dollars cash in advance. So I steered for him to St. Louis, borrowed the money from my brother-in-law, and closed the bargain

  • Wed Mar 04, 1857

    March 4 Wednesday – Commanded by Patrick Yore and piloted by Horace Bixby, the Colonel Crossman (415 tons) left New Orleans with Sam aboard bound for St. Louis 

  • Sun Mar 15, 1857

    March 15 Sunday – The Colonel Crossman arrived in St. Louis [Branch, “Bixby” 2].

  • Wed Apr 29, 1857

    April 29 Wednesday – Sam left St. Louis on the Crescent City (688 tons), bound for New Orleans. Bixby and Sam would make this run on the Crescent three times [Branch, “Bixby” 2].

  • Fri May 22, 1857

    May 22 Friday – The Crescent City left St. Louis bound for New Orleans, with Sam as the official cub pilot.

  • Sun May 31, 1857

    Sam visited the French market in the morning. He wrote of it the next day to Annie.


  • Tue Jul 07, 1857

    July 7 Tuesday – Crescent City arrived St. Louis.