URLs for Books

Your last ebook:

You dont read ebooks at this site.

Total ebooks on site: about 25000

You can read and download its for free!

Ebooks by authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 
Boyton, Paul / The Story of Paul Boyton Voyages on All the Great Rivers of the World
Produced by Jerry Kuntz as part of the Lawson's Progress
Project. Digitization effort dedicated to Enid Fiatte.





To my beloved and gentle wife, whose patience and help have enabled me
to present the public the story of my life. --Paul Boyton


CHAPTER I.-On the Allegheny. First Attempt at navigation. The Grey
Eagle. Voyage on a coal fleet.

CHAPTER II.-College days. Bruce's dam. The Fort of the Wild Geese.

CHAPTER III.-In the U. S. Navy. A voyage to the West Indies. Diving for

CHAPTER IV.-Wrecking with Captain Balbo. In the hull of a slaver. A
swarm of sharks. Joining the Mexican revolutionists.

CHAPTER V.-Entering the life saving service. Grateful people. In the
Franco-Prussian war. Failure of the Cuban expedition.

CHAPTER VI.-As a submarine diver. The Diamond fields of Africa. A
floating Hell. An escape at Malaga.

CHAPTER VII.-The rubber dress. Overboard from the steamer Queen. Landing
on the coast of Ireland.

CHAPTER VIII.-Arrival in Queenstown. The first lecture. In Dublin.
Appearance before Queen Victoria.

CHAPTER IX.-Voyage across the English Channel. Pigeon dispatches.
Landing in England.

CHAPTER X.-In Germany. A voyage down the Rhine. Through the whirlpool of
Lurlei. The press boat.

CHAPTER XI.-A short run on the Mississippi. The funny Negro pilot. Down
the Danube and the Po. Attacked by fever. Lucretia Borgia's castle.

CHAPTER XII.-Voyage on the Arno from Florence to Pisa. Narrow escape
over a fall. Down the Tiber to Rome. Across the bay of Naples. Knighted
by King Victor Emmanuel.

CHAPTER XIII.-The Straits of Messina. Attacked by sharks. Whirlpools of
Scylla and Charybdis. Lake Trasimene.

CHAPTER XIV.-Quick voyage down the Rhone. The smugglers' chain. The
gambling palaces of Monte Carlo. Down the Loire. In the Quicksands.

CHAPTER XV.-On the mysterious Tagus from Toledo to Lisbon. Over great
falls and through dark canons. Ancient Moorish masonry. The villianous

CHAPTER XVI.-From Europe to Africa, across the Straits of Gibraltar.
Preparing for sharks. Contrary currents and heavy overfalls. Landing
at Tangier.

CHAPTER XVII.-Paddling in the ice floes on the Allegheny. Down the Ohio
to Cairo. Queer characters. On the Mississippi. Strange sights and
sounds. The comical darkies. Alligators. "Dead man in a boat."

CHAPTER XVIII.-Voyage on the Merrimac. Some peculiar people. A rough
trip down the Connecticut. Lost in a Snow Storm. A winter in Florida.

CHPATER XIX.-Off for South America. An officer in the Peruvian service.
Placing torpedoes. Caverns of the sea. Inca Tombs. An escape from
prison and rescue from a lonely island.

CHAPTER XX.-The Upper Mississippi. The German Doctor and the negro
boatman. Arrival at Cairo. Hunting and fishing.

CHAPTER XXI.-The longest voyage. Down the Yellowstone and Missouri.
Thrilling adventures through the western wilds. In the tepees of
the Indians. Caving banks, snags and mud sucks. Camp of the Rustlers.
Arrival in St. Louis.

CHAPTER XXII.-Hunting in Southern bayous. An interesting voyage down the
Arkansaw. Haytien insurgents. Down the Sacramento. A night on Great
Salt Lake. Down the Hudson. In the ice on Lake Michigan. Catching seals.

CHAPTER XXIII.-Boyton to-day.


One bright day in July, 1858, two women carrying well filled market
baskets, were crossing the old Hand Street bridge that spans the
Alleghany River between Pittsburgh and Alleghany City, Penn.

"Oh, Mrs. Boyton, do look at that child in the middle of the river
paddling around on a board."

"Well," said the one addressed as Mrs. Boyton, "I'm glad it is none of
mine. My son Paul, loves the water dearly, but I took the precaution to
lock him up before I started for market."

After observing the child, who was evidently enjoying his aquatic sport,
for some time, the two women proceeded on their way. On reaching home,
Mrs. Boyton, with a feeling of remorse for keeping her young son so long
in captivity, went up stairs to release him, and to her consternation
found that he had escaped. Three minutes later an excited woman stood on
bank of the Alleghany, vigorously waving her hand and hailing the
youthful navigator. The forward end of the one by twelve inch board was
reluctantly headed for shore, and slowly idled in. As the child reached
land, he was grasped by the angry and anxious mother, who beat a merry
tattoo on a tender portion his body with a shingle.

This was not the first time that the young hero had received punishment
for loving the water. His home was within one block of the clear and
swift flowing Alleghany; and whenever he could escape the vigilant eye
of his mother, he was found either on the bank or in the water. One day,
Mrs. Boyton, who had a continual dread of his being drowned, was going
on a visit, and she determined to secure Paul against accident. She took
him upstairs, undressed him and removed his clothes from the room. She
locked the door and went away content.

The day was lovely; the water lay clear and blue in sight and Paul could
hear the delighted cries of the boys as they plunged into its
refreshing depths. The temperature was too strong. Paul searched the
room carefully and to his joy, discovered a pair of his father's
drawers. He got into them and tied the waist-string around his neck.
Then forcing a window, he slid down the convenient lightning rod like
a young monkey, and was found in his usual haunt by his astonished
mother some hours later. From this time on, she gave him more liberty to
follow his natural bent. From early May until late in October, when not
at school, Paul spent most of his time in the water.

In those days, driftwood, consisting of slabs, logs and boards, were
continually floating down the river from the headwaters, where the
great forests were being cut down. When he saw a nice piece of wood,
Paul would cut through the water like a young shark, and swim with it
ahead of him to the shore, where his lumber pile was a goodly sized
one. He kept his mother's cellar well supplied with firewood and sold
the surplus to the neighbors; the proceeds of wich were devoted to
gingerbread and even at that early age to the abominable roll of
tobacco known as the "Pittsburgh Stogie."

Great rafts of lumber were coming down the river daily and a favorite
amusement when he saw one, was to run up the river bank about a quarter
of a mile, swim off and board it. In this way he became acquainted with
many of the hardy "buck-tail" boys who piloted the huge rafts down the
river. His knowledge of the different bars that were formed by the
bridge piers was utilized, and often proved of great assistance to
his friends, the raftsmen. One day, he boarded a raft, the captain of
which was evidently a stranger to the channel in the vicinity of
Pittsburgh, and Paul saw that it was certain to run aground. He told the
captain and was so earnest in his manner, the course was ordered
changed. Less than 500 yards further down, the ugly bar showed up not
five feet from the side of the raft, as it went gliding by. The
raftsman insisted on keeping the little fellow by his side until he
was safely moored to the Pittsburgh shore; then as a reward for his
services, presented Paul with a little flat boat about twelve feet
long by five feet wide and ordered two of the crew to tow it with a
skiff to the Alleghany side.

The generous present was most joyfully and thankfully received, for
Paul's sole and only ambition for a long time had been to own a boat.
As the two sturdy oarsmen with the boat in tow, neared the Alleghany
shore, Paul stood erect in the stern, his eyes shining with triumph
and satisfaction, and loudly hailed his playmates to come and see his
prize. It is safe to say, that no commander of a vessel, ever viewed
his craft with more pride, than Paul did his little flat-bottom boat. He
named her "Gray Eagle." He was ever tired of overhauling, scrubbing
and cleaning her. All the money realized by the capture of drift-wood,
was devoted to the purchase of paint. He selected and shipped a crew
from among his playmates. They were soon able to drive her where they
liked upon the river with long poles and paddles, and many a successful
battle royal was fought with their old enemies across the river, the
Pittsburgh boys. The "Gray Eagle" was generally half loaded with
nice, round stones that served as ammunition.

The "Eagle" would be carefully poled up the Alleghany shore against the
current, then headed out and vigorously paddled towards the Pittsburgh
side. Nearing the enemies' headquarters a skirmish would be opened by a
shower of stones sent into their ranks. If the Pittsburghers were not
sufficiently numerous to repel the invasion, the "Gray Eagle" was
landed. The majority of the crew pursued the flying enemy up the
back streets, while the balance remained and hastily loaded up the best
of the driftwood from the piles gathered by their antagonists. When
their cargo was secured, the skirmishers were called in. All leaped
aboard, and the "Eagle" headed for Alleghany, where the wood was
carefully stored, far beyond the reach of a probable invasion by the

About this time a new enterprise opened for the commander and crew of
the "Gray Eagle." The city commenced to pave the streets with large
round stones called "Pavers," many of which were found in pockets at the
bottom of the river. One day a contractor met Paul on the bank and said:

"Say, son, could not you boys gather a lot of pavers? I will buy them
from you and give you thirty cents per hundred."

The offer was eagerly accepted. Next day the "Eagle" was anchored with a
piece of rail-road iron, over a pocket, and the crew engaged in diving
through the transparent water to the bottom, where they would gather one
or two pavers, return to the top, and drop them into the boat. Paul
had much difficulty in teaching his companions to keep their eyes open
while under water. This occupation was pursued with varying success
during the summer months of '59. The contractor came down every week to
cart the "pavers" away; and many a dispute the boys had with him over
the count. The dispute was generally decided by the carts driving off,
and the contractor paying whatever he pleased. The boys discovered a
rich pocket right near the old Aqueduct bridge. They worked it
enthusiastically and were loath to leave such a find, until they had
overloaded the Eagle. When all the divers climbed aboard, the additional
weight almost swamped her. The strongest swimmers were compelled to go
overboard and resting their hands gently on the gunwale, they propelled
her by swimming toward the shore. They had not proceeded far when the
bottom of the well-worn "Eagle" fell out and the cargo disappeared.
While the boys hung on to the framework of their wrecked craft, their
enemies across the river observed their predicament and sallied forth
in a skiff to chastise them. The Alleghany boys swam for their own shore
as rapidly as possible. On gaining shallow water, they faced about on
their assailants and a battle was fought that was long remembered by the
inhabitants on both sides of the river. In the meantime, the wreck of
the "Gray Eagle" floated gently down to the Ohio, where the powerful
current caught it and hurried it off to the southward.

After the loss of the "Eagle" the boys resumed their old sport of
swimming and gathering wood. About this time, owing no doubt to
the complaints of the riverside inhabitants, the city authorities
determined to stop all further rows and displays of nudity. The orders
against naked bathing were strictly enforced by a constable named Sam
Long. Before the boys got thoroughly acquainted with him, he often
captured an offender's clothing, which he detained until the boy came
ashore. Then Sam would escort him to the Mayor's office to receive a
stern reprimand, or his parents would be compelled to pay a small fine.
Paul was never caught, for he was always on the outlook for the watchful
Sam. On the constable's approach he would swim rapidly to his wardrobe
which always lay conveniently close to the water. As it was neither
weighty nor large, he would pile it on his head, tie it with a string
under his chin; then swim swiftly off to the first pier of the bridge.
This was fully fifty yards out in the stream, and here Paul would sit on
the abutment rocks until Sam's patience was worn out and he would
depart. Then Paul would swim leisurely to the shore, dress himself and
go home.

Paul's elder brother, Michael, was a studious sedate boy who took no
pleasure in the sports and adventures of his aquatic brother. But
Paul's glowing descriptions of the pleasures of plunging and paddling in
the cool, clear river, at last induced Michael to join in the watery
gambols. One warm afternoon he accompanied his brother to the riverside.
Paul slipped out of his clothes and was soon disporting himself
in the refreshing water, while he shouted encouraging remarks to his
hesitating brother to follow his example. Michael slowly disrobed and
cautiously stepped into the water. He was no swimmer; but being
surrounded by Paul and his companions, he grew bolder, waded farther out
from shore, where he was soon enjoying himself as heartily as any of

Suddenly the cry of "Sam Long" was raised. Many of the boys seized their
clothing and disappeared in the direction of their homes. The hardier
swimmers, with Paul, struck out for the abutment on the pier in their
usual way and poor Michael was left alone. Sam gently gathered up
Michael's clothes, and retired to a lumber pile where he leisurely
seated himself and waited for the owner to land. Michael had often heard
of the terrible Sam Long so he did not go ashore, though Sam called him
frequently. At last growing weary, the constable walked away with
the captured wardrobe. As he disappeared, Michael started on a dead run
for home. His clothes were recovered; but it was some time before
Michael was inclined to calculate how many cubic feet of bread Paul
would consume in a week, or to reckon how much time he lost from his
studies by going into the water, as had been his custom. It is needless
to add that it was many moons ere Michael went swimming again.

It was the custom then, as it is at present, to run enormous tows of
coal barges, propelled by a powerful tug, from Pittsburgh to New
Orleans. These grim and heavily loaded fleets had an intense fascination
for young Paul. Many and many a day he spent in assisting the inland
sailors in lashing boat to boat and diving overboard after spars, etc.,
that had slipped into the river. He often dreamt of the time when he
would be large enough to go down the mighty Ohio and the great
Mississippi. He made many friends among the coal men and eagerly
devoured their stories of danger, of voyages down the river and of the
comical "darkies" in the far off south. Time after time he implored
permission from his mother to go away on one of those barge trips, but
she would never consent. One day while assisting as usual on a fleet
that was about to depart, a great, dark whiskered man named Tom, who
was his particular friend, said: "Why don't you come with us, Paul? We
will take good care of you and bring you safe hme again."

The temptation was strong, but the thought of his anxious mother
deterred him. Tom still urged and the wonderful stories he told
about brilliant New Orleans and the mighty "Father of Waters" rapt
Paul's attention so that he did not at first notice that the tug "Red
Lion" was driving the huge fleet of barges ahead of her. Would he jump
into the river and swin ashore or would he go ahead?

"He who hesitates, is lost."

"Paul remained on board. Tom took him to the lookout far ahead on the
tow and Paul forgot all about home and gave himself up to the delight of
watching the swiftly passing banks while he listened to the swish, swish
of the water as it beat against the bows of the barges. He was seated
with the men on the watch, who passed the time telling stories and
laughing at rough jokes. When it was getting late his big friend Tom,

"Now Paul, it's time you turned in. There's your bunk," pointing to a
shelf in the dark and damp look-out house. Paul prepared to retire while
the men continued their stories. The river-men of that time were rather
given to profanity, so their yarns were freely interspersed with oaths.
Suddenly Tom said in a loud whisper:

"Dry up! Don't you see the youngster is saying his prayers?"

A hush fell on the group, all looked around. Paul, kneeling on the damp,
dirty beam alongside his bunk, was repeating the prayers learned at
his mother's knee.

With the return of daylight, the remorseful feeling of a runaway boy
came strongly upon him and Paul thoroughly realized how cruel he had
been to his dear mother. He begged his friend Tom to get him back or to
send a letter home. Tom dissuaded him from returning, but helped him
write a letter which was posted at Wheeling, Va. This informed his
mother that he was safe and would be taken good care of. Much relieved
in mind, Paul was soon enjoying again the beautiful scenery and bright
sunshine along the Ohio. His work was to carry the coffee to the forward
men on the lookout, and to help in many other little ways.

When nearing Evansville, Indiana, about seven hundred miles below
Pittsburgh, a great shock was felt on the fleet, and a shower of coal
was sent flying into the air. The cry "Snag! Snag!" was heard on all
sides, the big engines of the "Red Lion" were stopped and reversed and
the headway of the fleet was checked, as it slowly swung to the shore.
All hands rushed to the damaged barge and found that a snag, a sunken
log, had penetrated the bottom. Fearing that she would go down and drag
other barges with her, she was detached and a line passed to the shore,
then luckily near. A crew shoveled the coal from the ugly rent. The snag
was cut away and vain attempts were made to pass a tarpaulin under and
so stop the hole. Paul stood near his friend Tom, and suggested that he
dive under, take a rope with him, and so enable them to pass a
canvass below.

"Do you think you can do it without drowning?" said Tom.

"I am certain," was the response.

Tom handed him the end of a rope. Without hesitation Paul sprang into
the water and dove under the then sinking barge. The rope was hauled up
and another passed to him with which he repeated the operation. Two
ropes were fastened to the tarpaulin, two more fastened to the
other corners. The canvas was lowered into the river and the men on the
opposite side hauled it under the ragged hole. As the canvas covered it,
the inflow of water was instantly checked. With a loud cheer, the crew
sprang to the pumps. When the water got low enough, the carpenters
nailed planks over the hole. The barge and the valuable cargo of coal
were saved. In less than three hours from the time the snag had
struck, the injured barge was again lashed to the fleet and on her way
down the Ohio. Paul was the hero of the hour. The Captain of the "Red
Lion" solemnly transferred him from his damp and grimy quarters on the
head to the comfortable cabin and pilot house. He confessed to the kind
Captain that he had run away from home and how anxious he was about his
mother. That day the Captain wrote a glowing letter to Mrs. Boyton and
posted it at Paducah, Kentucky. From that time, he took great pleasure
in teaching Paul how to steer, and many other arts in river craft.
Paul keenly enjoyed this first voyage down the Mississippi. The strange
scenes on the river were of deep interest; but he never tired of
watching the slaves, either at work in the fields, or at play on the
banks of an evening.

At last the "Red Lion" and her tow were safely moored at New Orleans.
The Captain found a letter waiting from Mrs. Boyton requesting that Paul
be sent back by the first mail packet. While waiting her departure, the
Captain took Paul out to see the great city. Among many places of
interest they visited that day, the slave mart at the foot of the fine
statue erected in honor of Henry Clay, lived long in Paul's memory.
Numbers of slaves were to be sold. The Captain and Paul pushed their way
well to the front, so that they stood near the auctioneer. With
feelings hard to describe, Paul saw slaves disposed of, singly and in
parties. Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters were bid for and sold,
and the critical purchasers examined them as if they were prize cattle.
While the sale proceeded, Paul spelled out the inscription on the
monument which said "that if he (Henry Clay,) could be instrumental in
eradicating this deepest stain, slavery, from our country, he would be
prouder than if he enjoyed the triumphs of a great conqueror." Even to
his childish mind this seemed sadly inconsistent with the
surroundings. The auction concluded with the sale of three boys, who
seemed to be brothers, or at least close friends for they wept bitterly
when parted. As they moved away, Paul's eyes were full of tears at the
agony of the unhappy creatures, and turning to the Captain he said:

"Do you think this is right?"

"No," responded the Captain, "I'm darned if I do. It is an outrage and a
shame that human beings should be sold like cattle, but--Great Scott!
Did you notice what big prices they brought?" then added reflectively;
"I'm blessed if it wouldn't pay me better to run a cargo of them down
from Pittsburgh, than a tow of coal barges!"

Late that evening the Captain and Paul returned. As they approached,
they saw an excited crowd, pushing their way through near the boat.
They met the mate on the gang-plank keeping the people back.

"What's the matter?" demanded the Captain.

The mate explained that there had been a fight on the levee, and that
big Tom had been stabbed, he feared fatally. Paul rushed into the cabin
where his friend lay helpless and gasping.

"Tom, Tom!" he wailed.

"Ah! Paul, my boy," faintly responded Tom, "I fear I'm about to slip my
cable. I want you lo help me say a few prayers. Just ask the good Lord
not to be hard on me. I've been rough and careless all my life, but I
never meant to be really bad. You talk for me."

The doctor came in and pushed the weeping Paul aside. One half hour
later Tom had quietly floated out to eternity.

No one knew his full name or where his people were, so next day they
buried him, the entire crew attending the funeral, and fervent were
the prayers poured out then and often afterwards by little Paul for the
friend so much beloved and so deeply mourned.

The Captain secured passage for Paul on a Northern bound boat and bought
him many little presents ere wishing him God speed. Among them and
prized most highly, were two red birds and a young alligator. At five
o'clock that evening came the order: "All aboard! Haul in your gang-
planks!" Just then a weird musical chant was struck up by the slaves
working on the levee, which was answered by the boat's crew, as she
backed out into the river and headed away on her long northern trip.
Paul had snug quarters and spent much of his time feeding the red
birds and playing with his alligator. He saw great fun ahead in the
tricks he hoped to spring on his sisters and friends with the cunning
little reptile. Whenever the boat made a landing, he was always on deck
watching the negroes, as they rolled bales of cotton down the steep
bluffs or struggled with the refractory hogs who refused to come aboard.
The loud commands and fierce oaths of the mate made him feel very
grateful that he was not a roustabout. About five weeks from the time he
had so thoughtlessly embarked on the coal fleet, he stood hesitatingly
half a block from his mother's home, holding in his hand the cage
containing his red birds, while snugly stowed away in the bosom of his
shirt was his much cherished pet, the alligator. He was not sure of the
reception he would receive; but at length he steeled his nerves for
whatever was in store and made a rush for the house. The delighted
mother folded him in her arms and covered his face with kisses. His
brothers and sisters grouped around with words of welcome for the

"Thank God that you are safe home again, dear Paul," exclaimed his
mother, as she embraced him again and again.

"But what's this?"

She started back, for she had felt something squirming inside of his

"Oh, that's my dear little alligator," and Paul put in his hand and
pulled out his pet. His sisters ran screaming away. His mother
gazed sternly at him and said:

"Put out that ugly reptile!" Paul placed it tenderly on the floor beside
the red birds' cage and received from his fond mother a well merited
castigation. That evening, however, all was forgotten and Paul
entertained his family with stories of his adventures and was
doubtlessly looked upon by the little group, as a wonderful traveler or
a hardened young liar.

Paul's father, a traveling man, came home a few days after this. He had
a long consultation with his wife regarding the escapade of their
venturesome son. They came to the decision that they had better move
from the vicinity of the river and so wean him from his unnatural love
of the water. A week later found the family at the head of Federal
Street, about as far as they could get away from the river and still
remain in the city. Paul spent his last night before moving on one of
his friends' woodpiles; (his own had been pirated during his absence,)
and bitterly bemoaned the fate that took him so far away from his
beloved element.

A rigid discipline was now pursued in regard to Paul. He was given a
certain space of time to go and return from school. After that he
was expected home and made to stay there. He studied hard all winter and
advanced rapidly. But he had to cross a bridge going to and coming
from school. He would always stop to gaze into the water he loved so
well, even if had to run to make up for lost time. Spring came on
and the longing increased to enjoy again the piney smell of the newly
arrived rafts, to dive into the clear depths, and revisit his old
friends the "pavers." He took off his shoes and felt the water's
temperature. "In two weeks," he thought with rapture, "In two weeks I
can take a plunge."

In less than two weeks he enjoyed this plunge and finally remembering
that he had to be at home by four o'clock, he scrambled onto a raft and
discovered that his body was covered with some unknown, greasy, tar-like
substance. He could not get it off, and at last asked a raftsman, who
stood by, what it was:

"Why, son," answered the lumberman; "That is petroleum. Don't you know
that they struck oil at the head of the river and great quantities are
pouring into the Alleghany above. It will be a long time before the
river will be as clear as she used to be, and you, my little man, will
have a nice job getting that off your skin."

When Paul reached home, his mother's scrutiny revealed the fact that
something was wrong.

"Have you been swimming again, despite your promise?"

Paul murmured something that might be either "yes" or "no." His hat
removed, showed his hair quite damp further investigation revealed the
fact that his shirt was on wrong side out, while round his neck was a
well defined dark line from the oil cakes he struck while swimming
against the stream. His sister Teresa revenged herself that evening for
many a raid on her dolls by scrubbing him into the appearance of a
boiled lobster, so that he would be neat and presentable for school
next day. Even this lesson did not teach him. One warm day while on his
way to school, he lingered so long on the bridge that the tower clock
struck ten, and then he argued that it would be useless to go until the
afternoon session, when he could easily hoodwink his teacher with an
excuse. But the afternoon came, and the wild boy was still in the
water, too deeply interested in the navigation of a plank to realize
that he was playing "hookey" and risking its shady consequences. About
two o'clock he heard loud cries from the St. Clair Street bridge.
Looking up, he saw an excited crowd gathering. The object of their
excitement was a little boy who had waded out on a shallow bar above the
bridge until he had stumbled into deep water and was being carried away
by the strong current. Paul caught one glimpse of him as he
disappeared and springing from his plank he swam out with a strong,
steady stroke to his assistance. The crowd on the bridge shouted loud
cries of encouragement. As Paul reached the spot where the body went
down, he could find no traces of him. A man on the bridge shouted:

"A little farther down! A little farther down! I can see him at the

Paul swam in the direction indicated and at the cry, "there, there,"
dove to the bottom like a seal. He came directly on the body which
was doubled up against a large boulder. He grasped it by the arm and
rose with it to the surface. Loud ringing cheers from the crowd
above, encouraged him. He swam with one arm, supporting the body with
the other. They were being rapidly carried away down the stream, when
a boat which had been sent out, reached the almost exhausted boy. Paul
and the unconscious boy were taken ashore and conveyed to the back room
of a saloon where a doctor soon revived both. He then proposed that,
some token of recognition should be presented by the assembled crowd
to the brave little fellow who had made the rescue. Paul's hat was
taken and soon filled to the brim with silver. Then the two boys were
loaded into an express wagon and escorted by a policeman, they started
for home. When the wagon reached the house of the boy who had been
rescued, the policeman lifted him out carefully and carried him in,
while the mother's affrighted cries alarmed the neighborhood. The
officer assured her that there was no danger, so she grew calmer and
helped to roll her son into a warm blanket and tuck him snugly in bed.
The old grandmother, who was blind, heard the story and asked that
Paul be brought to her. Her trembling hands were passed over his face
and head. She blessed him fervently and then to the delight of the
grinning urchins, looking in at the door and to Paul's intense
embarrassment, she kissed him several times. At last the policeman
told him to come on and Paul and his silver continued their homeward
journey. When Mrs. Boyton saw her truant son under police escort, she
turned pale, but the officer called out, "Don't be frightened, ma'am,
he's all right. You ought to be proud of this boy," and he told her
the story of the rescue and handed over the silver. The mother's eye's
beamed with pleasure as she listened. She praised her gallant little
son and thanked the officer for his kindness. After he was gone she put
the silver carefully away and interviewed the hero, as often before,
with a shingle.

"Not only for playing hookey," she said; "but for going into the water
at all."

The little fellow rescued that day is Thomas McCaffery, now a member of
the Alleghany City Fire Department. Many years afterwards he gave Paul
a gold medal in remembrance of their first meeting.

In vacation Paul started out to look for work, for with all his wildness
he was industrious. He secured a place in a paper box factory at the
princely salary of fifty cents a week. His business was to lower great
packages of boxes from the upper story to the ground floor. He thought
how delightful it would be to go down himself on the rope. One day he
induced a small boy who worked near, pasting, to mind the windlass while
he descended by hanging on above the usual pits of boxes. The sensation
was novel and pleasing and it became exciting when the boy above leaned
over and shouted: "The boss is coming, look out for yourself. I'll have
to go." An instant later Paul and the boxes crashed together on the
bottom floor. The proprietor dragged him out of the ruin he had made and
assisted him energetically to the street, without even the hint of a

As Paul slowly and painfully wended his way home, a lady called him:
"Little boy, do you want a job?" Paul said he did and was put to work.
He had to sprinkle the street and keep the brick sidewalk clean in front
of her house. He was happily aided by a long hose, so that he thoroughly
enjoyed his new work and gave entire satisfaction. About ten days after,
Mrs. C., his employer sent him to escort her son to the house of a
relative living in Lawrenceburg, a village a few miles up the river from
Pittsburgh. She warned Paul to be careful of her little boy, who was a
delicate child about his own age and gave him street car fare to pay his
way up and down. Her last instructions were to leave Harvey at his
aunt's and return as soon as possible. When Paul was about to take the
car back, he thought of a pleasanter way, one in which he could save his
car fare, too. So he went to the river where he selected a large sized
plank and a piece of driftwood for a paddle. Then he piloted himself
down in safety and was back in time. A few days later, the trusty little
messenger was sent to Lawrenceburg to bring Harvey home. Instead of
taking the cars as instructed, Paul induced his charge to go with him to
the river. The little boy was very timid and refused to embark on a
steering oar that Paul found near the shore. A steering oar consists of
a plank securely pinned into a spar about thirty feet long and used on
stern and bow of a raft to guide it. Paul at last half forcibly seated
him on a block of wood on the steering oar and procuring a pole they
started on their voyage. All went well until they had passed under the
old Aqueduct Bridge. Then a crowd of Pittsburgh boys who were in a skiff
recognized Paid as the leader of their enemies from Alleghany and opened
up hostilities. Paul bravely kept them off with his pole and whenever
the chance offered propelled it nearer and nearer to his own side of the
river. When almost ashore they rammed the steering oar with the bow of
their skiff, struck Paul with the oar and tumbled poor Harvey into the
river. Paul never thought of himself; but seizing the son of his
aristocratic mistress, he swam in for the shore, then only a few feet
away. The Pittsburgh boys were satisfied with the prize they had
captured in the steering oar and towed it away to their own side of the
river. They were followed, however, by a shower of rocks hurled
by the infuriated Paul. A sad looking pair greeted the maid who
answered their ring. Paul turned young Harvey over to her, then sneaked
around to the alley to await developments. Hearing loud lamentations
coming from the direction of Mrs. C.'s room, he started for home
where he told his mother that the work was too severe for him and
fearing the lady would refuse to let him go, he left without bothering
her for a reference.

About this time the war of the rebellion broke out and the fever burned
fiercely in Pittsburgh and vicinity. Paul longed to join the great
bodies of troops that were being hurried to the front, especially so,
when he saw boat loads of his old friends, the gallant "buck-tail" boys
coming down the river to enlist. He spent all his spare time hanging
around the headquarters of the forming regiments. One day he asked
a recruiting officer if he needed a drummer boy. "You are pretty small,
sonny," said the soldier, "can you drum?" "No," said Paul, "but I can
learn mighty quick." Pleased with the answer, the soldier took him to
his headquarters and said: "Here is a little volunteer." Paul was
closely questioned and untruthfully assured the officers in charge that
his mother would be glad to get rid of him. That night he was
enrolled in Colonel Cass' Regiment. Next day he began his drum
practice, an exercise that was rudely interrupted by the appearance of
his mother, who lead the "warrior bold" home by the ear.


His parents now decided to send Paul away to school. The college they
selected was situated in the heart of the Alleghany Mountains about four
miles from the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was far from any water course
or river, and surrounded by a dense forest of pines. Paul's mother
accompanied him to the college. She told the faculty of his peculiar
passion for the water and the dread she had of losing him. Mrs. Boyton
was assured that her boy would be taken good care of. Paul was permitted
to escort her as far as the village where she took the stage for the
rail road again. Their farewell was most affectionate. Paul cried
bitterly, not only for the parting from his mother whom he loved so
well, but for the feeling that he was being exiled for all his crimes
and misdemeanors. The fall session had not yet begun so he had ample
time to become acquainted with the few boys who were already at the
college and to explore the dark pine woods that seemed a new world to
him. Paul inquired eagerly if there was any water in the vicinity. The
boys told him there was a place called the "swimming hole" about two
miles from the college. Next day he coaxed some of his companions to
show him the way. He found a pond, little larger than a hole,
surrounded by heavy vegetation and inhabited by a colony of frogs. He
was soon swimming in its depths and had induced two or three of the
boys to follow his example. Day after day he visited the hole and
made out to enjoy a swim; but he always thought longingly of the far
off, bright Alleghany.

One day a teamster who sometimes came to the college, told Paul of a
sheet of water that was much larger than the swimming hole. He called
it "Bruce's Dam." Next morning Paul and a Philadelphia boy named
Stockdale, who was his particular chum, obtained permission to go out of
bounds. They had managed during breakfast to appropriate a sufficient
supply of bread and butter for all day. They started out to find Bruce's
dam. A long and weary tramp they had over the mountains. They turned
aside often to chase the gray squirrels that abounded in that country,
and they wasted much time in a fruitless attempt to dig out a red fox,
that had crossed their path and shot down a hole in the ground. They
were so long reaching the dam that they thought they must have been
misdirected. They were about to return, when Paul suddenly said, "Hark!
I think I hear water!" They listened intently for a few seconds. A
sound again came through the woods. They struck out a little to the
right and were soon at the long-sought, dam. It was a body of water
about one hundred yards wide and five hundred yards long. Enormous pine
stumps protruded through the surface. There was a miserable looking
saw-mill situated at the lower end. Two men were employed in drawing out
logs and ripping them up into boards. Paul tittered a joyful cry as
he perceived that the water was both clear and deep. Hastily he divested
himself of his clothing and "Stockie" slowly followed his example. As
they stood naked on the bank, before their plunge, a snake shot out
almost from under then feet, and swam gracefully over the surface to a
stump a little distance off. That was enough for "Stockie," who resumed
his clothes. Paul did not like the idea of snakes in the water, still
he had traveled far for a swim and he was resolved to have it and so he
plunged headlong in. Round and round among the stumps he swam. He saw
several snakes and also a number of water lizards. After his bath, Paul
and "Stockie" went down to the mill and had some talk with the men
engaged there. The latter assured them that the snakes and water lizards
were perfectly harmless. This restored "Stockie's" courage. He agreed
to try the water before leaving, provided Paul would go in with him.
The two chums had a long, delightful swim and finally, as sunset
approached, they suddenly thought that they might be needed at the

Pages: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | Next |

Main -> Boyton, Paul -> The Story of Paul Boyton Voyages on All the Great Rivers of the World