Missouri Death Records, 1834-1931 about Isaiah Sellers Name: Isaiah Sellers Death Date: 6 Mar 1864 Birth Date: abt 1803 County: St Louis Death Location: Menphie Town (Memphis, Tn,msh) Race/Ethnicity: White Age: 61 Gender: M (Male)
ISAIAH SELLERS/MARK TWAIN/1802-1864
Isaiah Sellers Biography
Dictionary of American Biography, Vol VIII
Platt to Seward
Edited by Dumas Malone
Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York 1935
(c.1802-Mar. 6, 1864), pioneer steamboat pilot, was born in Iredell
N.C., lived and died on the Mississippi, and was buried in St. Louis.
Uncertainty clouds the time and circumstances of his removal to the
Mississippi Valley. According to Mark Twain’s Life on the Missippi
made his inaugural river trip in 1811, "the year the first steamboat
disturbed the waters of the Missippi," but it has also been said that he
west in 1825 "when he was quite a young man" (Darby, post, p.213). His
diary (Gould, post, p. 600) shows that he engaged in the commerce of the
lower river from 1825 to 1828, shipping first from Florence, Ala., on the
Rambler, next on the General Carroll, and then on the President. While he
was on the Carroll he introduced bell-tapping as the pilot’s signal to
soundings, a decided improvement over the shouted commands theretofore
employed. Joining the Jubilee, he piloted his first steamboat to the
river, and in 1836 at Pittsburgh he took charge of the palatial Prairie,
first boat with a stateroom cabin to visit St, Louis. As pilot of the J.
White II, he made perhaps the most noteworthy of all steamboat runs on the
Mississippi. Leaving New Orleans on May 4, 1844, he brought the White to
Louis in record time of three days, twenty-three hours, nine minutes.
mark stood for a quarter century, and by that time cut-offs had shortened
river’s course and refueling from barges had come into vogue. According
the diary, Sellers introduced in 1857 the signal for meeting steamboats, a
distinction freely accorded him by river historians (Hyde and Conard,
p. 1922); although the United States Bureau of Navigation has no records
verify this, it recognizes that rules and signals later approved by
"had their source in such men as Isaiah Sellers." While he frequently
as steamboat master, he preferred the post of pilot, the ninth renewal of
pilot’s certificate being issued in St. Louis, Feb. 25, 1862. River
disasters were common occurrences, but not once did Sellers vessel figure
an accident. This remarkable record won him the confidence of business
and caused women passengers to wait for the Aleck Scott, long his boat.
years on the Mississippi made him an authority on its habits and changes.
other riverman knew landmarks so well as he, and none could point out more
curiosities of nature to admiring passengers. Under the nom de plume of
Twain, which Samuel Langhorne Clemons (q.v.) later appropriated, he was a
contributor to the New Orleans Daily Picayune before Clemon’s took to the
pilot’s wheel. Indicative of his rank on the river were the honors
him when he died of pneumonia at Memphis on a downstream run. When the
von Phul returned his body to St. Louis, flags on all steamboats along the
levee were at halfmast, as they were again seven days later when he was
buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery. His wife Amanda had died twenty-one
before. The marble monument he ordered for his grave—a pilot on watch at
wheel—testifies to his high regard for his calling. Tall, dignified, and
ruggedly handsome, with hair that in his later years was still "black as
Indian’s," he was, wrote the second, if better known, Mark Twain, "the
patriarch of the craft."
(S. L. Clemons, Life on the
Missippi (1883); E. W. Gould, Fifty
on the Mississippi (1889); J. F. Darby, Personal Recollections (1880);
William Hyde and H. L. Conard, Encyc. Of the Hist. Of St. Louis (1899),
IV; J. T. Scharf, Hist. Of St. Louis City and Count (1883), vol. II;
Evening Gazette (St. Louis), May 9, 1844; Daily MO. Democrat (St. Louis),
Mar. 10, 11, 1864; Mo. Republican (St. Louis) Mar. 10, 18, 1864; records
of Bellefontaine Cemetery; information from Iredell County, N. C., county
court, U. S. Bureau of Navigation, and C. J. Armstrong, Hannibal, Mo.)
Cheryl Sellers Peacock
I believe we have another short extract - but, this has most info=
But,. Do We have his kids in MO , probably in these MO Counties?
WHO - WHERE =
MY GOODNESS - IF SELLERS don;'t Study/Research/Send This INFO =
WHO do you think will Do and Continue?
AND , How Did You Get this INFO?
SOMEONE cared enough to Research and Find and Type and Copy and Send
SEEMS, we could Care Enough to Continue !
1864 Mar 06 - Capt. Isaiah Sellers died at Memphis,
TN; senior of the lower
Mississippi pilots, age 61; funeral at home of his nephew, Isaiah W. Hood.
[Missouri Republican, St. Louis, MO, 10/17 Mar 1864; see 1830 Livingston
Co., KY for marriage to Amanda M. F. Welch]
Isaiah Sellers was a person of real importance in the life of
War St. Louis and the lower Mississippi River. He lived and died on the
River. He was one of the greatest pilots the Father of Waters ever knew.
Sellers contributed river news to the New Orleans Picayune and he would
Twain". Mark Twain was an old river term used by leadsmen to signify 2
feet, which meant safe water. Samuel Clemens took over the pen name of
after the death of Capt. Isaiah Sellers. Capt. Sellers introduced
bell-tapping as the
signal to take soundings. He devised many rules for river navigation. A
Isaiah Sellers' distinctive monument in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St.
Louis appears in
the St. Louis Globe-Democrat 25 Jul 1935.
"The Tombstone of The Original Mark Twain"
The Gravestone in St. Louis Mo., of steamboat Captain Isaiah Sellers
first used the nom de plume Mark Twain, which was adopted by writer Samuel
Clemens to show his admiration for Sellers. For years before his death,Capt
Sellers carried his tombstone with him aboard his ship.
"Ripley's Believe it or Not"
St Louis Missouri..........i've seen the monument online before.
there are several hits on his name "Isaiah" via google.com
i'm sure you'll be able to find the picture now. it's quite unique.
here's one more site.......
dawn Marie Sellers
great-grand daughter to Davis Sellers..........
IOWA 32nd Company F
Charlotte Sellers <email@example.com>
Sellers, Isaiah b. 1802. d. 1864.
Captain Sellers, the most famous of the steamboat men plying the
between St. Louis & New Orleans, was the the first man to use the
pseudonym "Mark Twain."
Charlotte Sellers <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: American National Biography v19 pg 631:
Isaiah Sellers b 1802 Iredell Co, NC
- parents not known
- wife Amanda (maiden name unk) d. 1843
- two children (names not given)
IS was reported to have kept a diary from about 1825 when he started
as a steamboat pilot in Alabama and through his 36 years as a premier
pilot on the Mississippi between St. Louis and New Orleans starting in
1828. ANB reports the fate of the diary is not known. [Isn't that
always the way with diaries!]
ANB lists various additional sources of info on IS, including his
obits in the St. Louis Daily Missouri Democrat and the Missouri
Republican, both 10 March 1864. The report says: "He died from
pneumonia in Memphis. ... When his body was returned for burial in St.
Louis, the flags on all docked steamboats were flown at half mast.
His grave in Bellefontaine Cemetery was marked by a large white marble
monument that depicted a tall man in frock coat and cap standing at a
IS shared his legendary river knowledge in the Picayune (New Orleans
newspaper) under the pseudonym Mark Twain from around 1850 until a
young river pilot named Samuel Langhorne Clemens made fun of them.
ANB reports Clemens (who began using Mark Twain as a pen name only
after Sellers's death) "later regretted having insulted so
distinguished a man."
The bio described Sellers: "Tall, erect and handsome, with dark hair
that he retained to his death, Sellers was a striking figure. By all
accounts he was unfailingly gracious and modest."
Clemens/Twain wrote about IS in _Life on the Mississippi_, one of his
Both _Life on the Mississippi_ and _American National Biography_ are
available in your area, according to the Hawaii State Public Library
System catalog <http://www.hcc.hawaii.edu/hspls/> if you want more
It's a pretty interesting read!
Hope this helps.
Subject: [KYBARREN] MARK TWAIN
Continuing from the newspapers of the past, I found this article about a gentleman, Samuel Clemens - aka Mark Twain quite fascinating.
From the Wheeling (WV) Register, Tuesday, 20 Jan 1880, Volume 17; Issue 162; page 3.
"MARK TWAIN'S YOUTH.
His Early Days in the Cumberland River Valley and His Relatives of Today.
(Special from the) Glasgow (Ky) Times.
Recently, several different statements of the birth place of Samuel L. Clemens, or Mark Twain, as he is better known, have been given to the public accompanied by the statement that each was correct. One of the stories was to the effect that Twain was born in the neighboring county of Adair. Another in Fentress county, Tennessee, and another in Hannibal, Missouri. Knowing that it was one of the impossibilities for the celebrated humorist to be born in more than one of these places, we applied the inquisitorial pump to James Bryan, who, besides being a stanch business man and one of the foremost merchants of our town, is second cousin, by blood, of the renowned humorist.
Mr. Bryan says that Mark Twain was born in Tennessee, Fentress County. The report of his birth in Adair county is owning to the fact that his parents left there for Tennessee, only a few months before he saw the light. And the accounts of his having come into the world at Hannibal, Missouri, are explained by a similar removal to that point from Tennessee before he had been promoted to the dignity of breeches. Mr. and Mrs. Clemens, father and mother of the funny man, were married in Adair County, and lived there for some time. Many of Mark's nearest relatives are still residents of that section.
Ms. Clemens, the maternal ancestor of Mark, visited Adair and this place some two or three years since on a tour among her kinspeople.
Mrs. Clemens stated that Mark was always an incorrigible boy, filled with roving imaginations from his very earliest age, and could never be persuaded or forced to attend to his books and study his lessons as other boys did. When about fifteen years of age he one day came in from school and asked her to give him five dollars. On being questioned as to what he wanted with it, he said that he wanted to start out traveling with. He didn't get his five dollars, but he assured his mother that he would go, all the same, and forthwith really disappeared, nor did the good old lady ever set eyes on him again until he was grown.
Many of the most ludicrous scenes in his works are taken from real occurrences - embellished to suit - of his life. The steamboat scene in Col. Sellers adventures was witnessed by him while out on his aimless wanderings. His adventure with a dead man in his father's office, at Hannibal, Mo., was literally true. He had played "hookey"
from school all day and far into the night, and rather than go home and be greeted by a flogging, raised the window and climbed into the office with the intention of resting all night on a lounge there. His description of the horror creeping over him as he saw a ghostly hand lying in the moonlight; how he shut his eyes and tried to count, and opened them in time to see the dead man lying on the floor stiff and stark, with a ghastly wound in his side, and last, how he beat a terrified retreat through the window, carrying the sash with him "for convenience," is vividly remembered by every reader of "The Gilded Age." Mrs. Clemens asserts that the whole thing transpired as Mark recorded it - the man was killed in a street fight almost in front of Mr. Clemen's office door, was taken in while post mortem examination was held, and then left till next morning. During the night Mark came in, and the scene he has so ludicrously, but graphically depicted was enacted.
Mr. Clemens seems well nigh to have forgotten his kith and kin among the hills of the Cumberland, and it is little comfort for them to know that their illustrious relative has a summer villa on the Hudson, two or three winter residences in the cities, a rich wife and no end of money."
Sandi Gorin, Kentucky Colonel
President, South Central KY Historical & Genealogical Society Sandi's Website: http://www.gensoup.org/gorin/index.html