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George H. Peppers

Riverman


- from The Wheeling Register, Monday, March 31, 1879
 

PEARLY PORTALS PARTED.


The Demise of George H. Peppers.


It is with feelings of deep regret that we are called upon to chronicle the untimely demise of one of "Nature's noblemen," in the person George H. Peppers, who died at his residence, No. 721 Market street, Saturday morning last, after a brief illness of six days. He leaves a devoted wife, a large number of relatives and friends to mourn their loss. He was universally esteemed wherever known, high minded, honorable and generous to a fault. He leaves to the world a rich heritage which thousands living might envy and emulate -- an untarnished character.

Mr. Peppers was born in the State of Delaware on the 13th day of August, 1830 but, in the following year his parents, who were humble and industrious people, removed to Virginia and located on a farm about five miles above this city, at what is known as Glenn's Run. Here he spent his childhood and youth, working and receiving but a meagre education, such as the limited facilities accorded forty years ago. At the age of fifteen, George, by the death of his father, was left not only to care for himself, but to assist his mother in supporting and raising four younger children, and right manfully he did it. He began his career as a steamboatman in 1847, as a deckhand on the Old Brilliant, then plying between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati steamboat line. His intelligence and high moral character soon caused his promotion to the position of watchman and from that to second mate of the steam Cincinnati of the same line, Captain Kuntz commanding. The following year he was made chief mate of the Pittsburgh, and remained with this company until 1852 or '53 when the Union line of steamers began to ply between Wheeling and Cincinnati. He then entered the Union Line Company as chief mate of the Falls City, next on the City of Wheeling, remaining in the line until it dissolved.

From 1855 to 1860 he was mate of the Persia, John C. Fremont and other boats plying between Pittsburgh and New Orleans. In 1861 he ran the gauntlet of the Confederate guns at New Orleans, with the steamer Horizon. At that time all kinds of steam craft were being pressed into the Confederate service as transports. The captain upon learning that his boat was to be pressed "let go," and started up the river, when a cannon ball was fired into the boat striking above the "water line" and doing but little damage. During the war of the rebellion he was mate of the Liberty, Liberty No. 2, and other boats, with Captain John Booth, formerly of this city, but now of Cincinnati, and for a time he was captain of the Allegheny Belle. In 1866, and for a long time, he was in the Wheeling and Cincinnati trade, with Captains Fink and Muhleman, on the old Potomac. For several years he was chief mate of some of the largest steamers on the Mississippi river, among them the Mississippi, Natchez, and Thompson Dean. For the past few years and up to the time of his death, Mr. Peppers has been mate of the old and new Andes. He was a man of fine judgment, great energy and genial disposition, and a perfect type of physical manhood. During the entire thirty-two years of his life as a boatman he was never out of a situation, save from illness or stoppage of navigation. His death not only leaves a void in the home circle, which he loved with a child-like simplicity, but also in this large circle of friends. Often in the summer's twilight we have seen his neighbors and their children gather around him, to listen to his stories of boating in the olden time. His brother boatmen will miss him, his brothers in the Lodge will miss him. For many years he was a member of Franklin Lodge I. O. O. F., who will take charge of his remains. He has fallen like the giant oak, in the prime of his manhood and usefulness, but his memory will live long in the hearts of those who were the recipients of his kindness.

"There's a time when all earthly distinctions will end,When the world's fairest forms will all droop and decay,We may meet o'er the river as brothers and friends,When the world's fading beauty has all passed awayAll the fame and renown of this wide world below.All the pride of mankind must eternally fall,And the only distinction that God will bestow is, he who is best will be greatest of all."


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