Home > 000004. Beverly Earl Mattocks, 000005. Gladys "Opal" Deema Danner > Carl Kenneth Mattocks to Mark Raymond Mattocks, letter, 15 October 1996

Carl Kenneth Mattocks to Mark Raymond Mattocks, letter, 15 October 1996

Source: Carl Kenneth Mattocks to Mark Raymond Mattocks, letter, 15 October 1996.

[The book which is mentioned in this letter, which Mark had loaned to Carl, is: Walter S. Chansler, The River Trapper (Columbus, Ohio: Hunter-Trader-Trapper Company, 1928.)]


In reviewing this book many old memories were revived.

My family settled on the Wabash River during the month of April, 1932.

They resided South of Palestine and East of Flat Rock, IL, a few miles East of a small crossroads known as Heathsville.

My Father was a buyer of clamshells which were then used in the manufacturing of Mother-of-Pearl buttons.  We eked out a bare living.

During the Autumn of 1934 my Uncle Jimmy MATTOCKS, with a partner named Mike HICKSON, came into the area with a 100 yard seine which they planned to use seining the eddies of the river during the cold months as the fish would congregate there out of the running water.

My uncles experience in this field had been quite limited where his partner had never been engaged in this type of operation.

They took me with them and set up camp near a railroad bridge which crossed the Wabash near St Francisville, IL.

My duties were many:

1) Cooking
2) Mending the net
3) Cleaning fish
4) Delivering and selling the fish

While the bulk of the fish were sold to fish markets in Vincennes & Terre Haute, IN, I did peddle a great deal of them to farmers who would swap me chickens, eggs, corn, etc which I would then convert to cash in town.

I also learned that stationing my truck near a tavern would or could be quite lucrative.

My delivery truck was a 1924 Dodge pickup which I drove without the benefit of a drivers license.

The River froze over solid and that ended our venture.  Every thing was sold at disaster prices and we went up North to Northern Indiana where Uncle Jimmy & I worked as firemen and oilers on dredging operations.  I joined the Civilian Conservation Corps the next Spring.

Our memories sustain us.



October 15th, 1996


Three (3) cable type ferrys operated on the Wabash.

These were located at Riverton, IN, Russelville and St Francisville, IL and all disappeared during the 1940’s.

These were a simple device which consisted of a cable (wire rope) mounted just upstream of a crossing and the ferry was attached to this by a cable.

By angling the ferry using a hand operated winch the river current would force it to the opposite shore!

My wife and I revisited St Francisville during the year 1991 and found that some local operator now owned the railroad bridge which he had resurfaced and was charging a toll to cross.

A rough appearing tavern was located on the entrance into the town which was named “The Boars Den”.

I did not enter it as discretion is said to be the better part of valor —–


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