Over the last two weeks, I have written about the obituary of Robert A. Ivey, prominent Suwannee County citizen, founder of Branford, and steamboat builder and operator. Today, we look at a letter from a long-time associate and friend, Dan McQueen.
Dan McQueen was a man of mixed ancestry (what was referred to as a “mulatto” in earlier times). Born a slave in Old Town in July 860, he began serving on Suwannee River steamboats at the age of 11 as a dishwasher on board the Wawenock. He moved up the ranks and eventually was a pilot and master for several steamboats, many under the ownership of Robert Ivey. In his spare time, McQueen also taught school in Old Town, where he was in later years known as “Uncle Dan.” In mid-December 1925, after hearing of the death of Captain Ivey, McQueen wrote a letter to Ivey’s daughter, Bertha George, and her husband (who was longtime mayor of Branford):
“Mr. and Mrs. F. H. George
“I just arrived last night from a trip around the coast, from Jacksonville with my boat and heard the sad news of Capt. Ivey’s death. Words cannot express the sorrow that I feel. I read, too, in the papers the life of Capt. Ivey and it recalls to my mind the years when I was an eye witness to the many things that he did to help me and other poor people in the time of need. He built up the traffic on the Suwannee River so that it gave hundreds of people employment, including myself.
“But bear in mind that the person who held to such principals and character as Capt. Ivey did, God has a place for him in His Kingdom, for God has said, ‘He who gives bread to the hungry and clothes the naked, I will in no wise cast away. I will give him the bread of eternal life and water to stay his thirst, he shall be with Me in My Kingdom’. So says the sacred word.
“I was Capt. Ivey’s pilot on his steamers, ‘Belle of Suwannee’, ‘C. D. Owens’, ‘Sam Piles (Pyles, EM)’, ‘C. U. Sheppard’, and the steamers ‘Robert’ and ‘Annie M’, the boat which he kept for the pleasure parties. I trust the good Lord we shall meet again in Heaven. Accept my sympathy in your Bereavement.”
Dan. W. McQueen
Other history next week!
Eric Musgrove can be reached at email@example.com or 386-362-0564.