Bits and Pieces
Life on the River
Civil War Boats
Wheeling W. Va.
Source: LDS Microfilm No. 0205533, Vol. 1, No. 138 (1
Jan 1884) - Vol. 2, No. 127 (20 Jun 1884), "The Daily State Journal",
Parkersburg, Wood county W. Va.
Issue dated Friday, 1 February 1884:
Lomas'. The Celebrated Case Near its Close. The first witness
in this case Thursday morning was Chas. H. Page, of Wood Co., who
was second engineer on the 'Scioto'.
He testified as to the signals he received from the pilot, and as
to his management of the boat. He stated that when the accident occurred,
he backed the boat with all speed toward the West Va. shore; that
he did not leave the engine room until the water drove him from his
place and the engine had ceased to turn the wheels of the boat.
"Cyrus Higgs, the engineer of the 'Scioto',
corroborated Page's testimony in every particular. He stated that
when he passed through the engine room to escape from drowning, the
wheels were still moving.
"John White, who was a saloon keeper of Moundsville, testified
that Keller came into his saloon on the day of the collison and got
a drink of whisky, but he also stated that he was not drunk.
"Mr. Chalfant, of Wellsville, O., was a passenger on the 'Scioto',
and escaped death by climing upon the hurricane deck. He gave a full
account of the disaster, which does not differ materially from that
of other witnesses.
"Mr. Hubbard was on the 'Scioto'
as engineer. His testimony was about the same as that of Higgs and
Page. John B. Cook was recalled, for the purpose of impeaching himself,
but his testimony was essentially the same.
"Daniel Malone, of East Liverpool, was no account as a witness.
He first stated that he was standing on the stern of the 'Scioto'
at the time of the collision, but at another time in his testimony
he placed himself somewhere else. Testimony of no weight.
"Moses McCann, engineer of 'Lomas'
was recalled and subjected to a severe examination. He has been on
the stand several times. Nothing new was brought out on his testimony.
"John McSweeney, of Wheeling, was next placed on the stand, for
the purpose of impeaching Moses McCann. He also testified as an expert,
he being a practical boat builder. The models of the two boats were
used frequently in the examination of this witness."
Issue dated Friday, 1 February 1884:
"The 'Scioto'-'Lomas' case will
likely close soon, as the Court wishes all the testimony to be in
by this evening."
Issue dated Thursday, 6 March 1884:
"An Incident of Keller's Trial. This is told by the 'Cincinnati
Times-Star' of Tuesday evening.
"Last year when Pilot David Keller of the 'Scioto'
was tried for manslaughter, the jury failed to agree. 'A very laughable
incident occurred during the trial,' remarked a gentleman this morning
who was present at the trial. 'A drawing of the boat's engines as
they were found after the 'Scioto'
went down, showing the position of the "cams", was in evidence,
and one of the attorneys explained to the jury, I was sitting behind
the jury, and had a good view of the drawing which the able attorney
carefully and scientifically (?) analyzed while he held it upside
down, neither he nor the jury knowing the difference.'"
Issue dated Wednesday, 26 March 1884:
"Mrs. Keller, mother of David C. Keller, arrived in this city
from Wheeling this morning to be present in Court this afternoon."
Issue date Saturday, 12 April 1884:
"Letter from Mrs. Keller. Her Touching Appeal for her
Son. 'Wheeling Journal'. The following touching appeal was made by
Mrs. Keller, mother of Dave Keller, to Judge Jackson, following his
conviction of manslaughter, and before his sentence. It is a most
eloquent and touching appeal, such as can only come from a mother's
"'Parkersburg, Feb. 25, 1884. To His Honor, Judge J. J. Jackson:
Dear Sir: - Pradon me for a few words before your Honor passes sentence
uon my son. I know you will not fail to consider what I say. You have
it in your power to vindicate the majesty of the law, and at the same
time relieve me from almost endless suffering and pain. I know that
my son never intended any wrong or crime. It was simply an accident
which resulted from following, as a pilot, a custom well and long
established among Ohio river pilots; but a jury has convicted him,
and it is left to your honor to affix the punishment. However, much
may be said, or may have been said to the contrary, David has been
a dutiful son, and has always been a stay to me in my declining years.
He is my only support. I beg of you, Judge, to affix a severe fine,
which he will willingly, cheerfully and faithfully pay if you will
give him a few months' time, but don't, please don't disgrace him
and me with a penitentiary sentence. If your Honor, in the dischage
of your high prerogative, feels that imprisonment is necessary to
atone for violation of law, please make the time as short as you can,
in consideration of all mitigating facts, and let it be in a county
and not a State prison.
"I write this with the fulness of a mother's heart, and I know
you will not turn to me a deaf ear, but feel sure that you will temper
justice with mercy.
"Believe me, Sir, sincerely yours, Mary A. Keller.'"
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