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Haydon, William W.
Memoranda of the Bends, Places, Landings &c on Mississippi River Between St. Louis & New Orleans. W. W. Haydon.

Undated circa mid 1850’s -1860, 16mo, 67 pages, plus blanks, text written in ink in a legible hand in a contemporary pocket diary, which is bound in a full leather wallet style binding, very good clean condition. Accompanied by a related partially printed and manuscript document which is dated 1861.

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A personal directory compiled by Mr. Haydon, a steamboat pilot, of all the bends, landings, plantations, settlements, and other geographical features along the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Haydon apparently never completed his list for points below Vicksburg.

        This volume is of interest because Samuel Clemens was a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi at the same time as Haydon and the two may have known each other.

        William Haydon had been a pilot on the Mississippi River as early as 1853. The collection includes an 1861 document, partially completed in Haydon’s hand, it is an attestation (unsigned) that Haydon, a steamboat pilot is entitled to a renewal of his license for a year. The fact that this United States federal form is incomplete can be explained by the fact that Haydon, like his colleague Samuel Clemens, the future Mark Twain, joined the Confederacy. On August 26, 1861 Haydon enlisted a a Sergeant in Co. C. (Capt. Thompson Alford’s Co.) of the 3rd Regiment, 2nd Division (Genl. W. E. Green) of the Missouri State Cavalry (CSA). He was discharged in December 1861 apparently for the purposes of joining the Confederate forces as a river pilot.

       The volume, essentially a directory, lists by name the key spots that a steamboat pilot would use to gauge his location on the river. Haydon notes many family names, a Railroad Depot, homes, plantations, landings, the residences of various widows, rivers and other topographic features.

        At the top of most of the pages Haydon gives two points, and which side of the Mississippi they were on followed by all the notable reference points between those two locations. For example page headings read: “From Columbus to Head of Is(le) No. 8 Ky side; Foot of New Madrid Mo side; from Watson’s point to Head of Ky & Tenn side; From Barfields Pt. to Osceola Ark Side; From Memphis to Foot of Cow Isl, Tenn side; from Hoseshoe Isl to Island 65 Miss side; From Laconia to Montgomery’s Pt. Ark side. The last page is “F[rom] Mouth of Yazoo River to Vicksburg Miss.”

       Samuel Clemens knew, by heart, these same landmarks. In his Life on the Mississippi, he wrote that a riverboat pilot “was the grandest position of all” at a great salary. As Twain described it, the pilot’s prestige exceeded that of the captain. The pilot had to acquaint himself with “every old snag and one-limbed cottonwood and every obscure wood pile that ornaments the banks of the river for twelve hundred miles… and … actually know where these things are in the dark.” When Clemens was apilot in training from 1857-1859 between St. Louis and New Orleans, he studied the Mississippi, learning its landmarks, and how to navigate its currents effectively, just as William Haydon did. Clemens obtained his pilot’s license in 1859, and like Haydeon was a pilot on the Mississippi until the Civil War began and also joined a Missouri State unit in opposition to the Union. Clemens, however, only served for two weeks before quitting the military and leaving for Nevada Territory to engage in newspaper work. It is quite likely that Haydon and Twain either knew, or knew of, each other. Orion Clemens, Samuel Clemens’ brother, and Secretary of State of Nevada Territory, is known to have written a letter to Mrs. William Haydon in 1863.