Excerpts from Mr. Roosevelt’s Steamboat”, by Mary Dohan:
“There was Captain Sarpy of St. Louis, with his family, who anchored on the evening of December fifteenth at Island Ninety-four, in the middle of Nine-Mile Reach, not far from Vicksburg, were the view of the river was especially beautiful and the landing good. It did not strike him as strange that only his vessel took shelter there; after all, other islands lay close, above and below, and as dusk fell, the family moved contentedly about the boat. A flatboat passed and those aboard waved, called out something. The Sarpys waved back. The friendly callers waved again with surprising heartiness, almost frenzy, as the current carried them away. Soon, on this overcast night, all vessels afloat save local ones familiar with each bend and turn and snag would tie up until day, but even as the light waned, a skiff appeared from the settlement on the opposite shore, being rowed hard against the stream toward Island Ninety-four. Curious—They did not come ashore, just called, working their oars. Captain Sarpy? Captain Sarpy! Word had been passed of his coming, and of the money he carried. Didn’t he know that Island Ninety four was Stack Island, the Crow’s Nest? Was he insane? Stack Island! Haunt of pirate gangs for years past, frequented until his death a few years earlier by Samuel Mason, one-time Revolutionary hero who formed one of the region’s most powerful pirate gangs. The island had a splendid view of the river for seeing potential victims approach; experienced rivermen passed it with rifles ready and watchful eyes.
Nervously, the Sarpy family lifted lines and dropped quietly downriver to Island Ninety-five, where other boats were moored and crews were armed. They relaxed.
Until the river convulsed and the crockery fell and the children cried and the crewmen leaped on to the deck, scrambling for safety in the dark. Here the shocks were weaker, the devastation less than higher upriver, but the continual roaring and the trembling of the earth and the frenzied motion of the vessel held them in terror until morning, when they saw on the river and on the shore the marks of the terrible visitation. They saw out on the river the floating trees and the matted rafts of debris, saw the swirling foam and the continuous heaving of the agitated stream, looked in awe at one another and then, at someone’s cry of astonishment, looked upstream. There was no Island Ninety-four. Where it had been were only swirling water and a mass of wreckage. No living being moved.
Not only islands vanished. What of a lake? A lake three hundred yards long and one hundred wide, of clear water and well stocked with fish, escaping in the night by two parallel fissures about eight yards apart. It had been Mr. Hunter’s and was not far from Little Prairie and was called Lake Eulalie.
What of Mr. Culberson’s smoke house and well, moved during the night to the other side of the Mississippi?”
“Scientists lost no time in speculating on the causes of the quake, nor did other less informed.”