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James Baughn

Update on Devil's Island

Posted Friday, March 11, 2011, at 4:21 PM


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  • According to Corps of Engineer maps the water behind Devil's Island (Illinois side) is called Picayune Chute. The water East of Marquette Island has no name.

    -- Posted by riverdog on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 10:49 AM
  • Since the New Madrid quake was in 1809 & 10 these maps were before the earthquake.

    -- Posted by riverdog on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 10:50 AM
  • The New Madrid Earthquake happened in December 1811 into February 1812 (aftershocks went until a few days after Valentine's Day 1812) so neither of those images are from after the New Madrid Earthquake. The only image I've seen of maps which were made soon after the earthquake was a map which overlaid old images of the Mississippi River up until 1944. The Cape River Heritage Museum has it on display.

    -- Posted by AtheneBelle on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 2:20 PM
  • @riverdog. The correct dates for the New Madrid earthquake is December 16,1811 which was about 7.7 (using modern techniques of counting... which BTW, there is no good way to accurately gauge a historic quake, only current ones.) Major aftershocks occurred later in the day on December 16, January 23rd, 1812 and February 7th, 1812.


    -- Posted by AtheneBelle on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 2:51 PM
  • This website includes maps overlaid with historic river channels, but the maps only go as far north as Thebes:


    -- Posted by James Baughn on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 3:04 PM
  • Here's one of a blog that has an image of the Mississippi River Meander Belt. It also has an image of the same map the Cape River Heritage Museum has on display but sadly it's not that great of an image.


    James, I really think something on this is something that would be neat to see a series on. There's a good book ("The Earthquake that never Went Away" by Dr. David Stewart and Dr. Ray Knox) that documents a lot of the aftereffects of the 1811-12 earthquakes.

    -- Posted by AtheneBelle on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 3:48 PM
  • I bet this is the 1944 map that you're talking about:


    Scroll down and look for: Ancient Courses, Mississippi River Meander Belt, Cape Girardeau, Mo. - Donaldsonville, La.; Vicksburg: Mississippi River Commission, 1944; Plate 22 Sheet 1

    -- Posted by James Baughn on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 5:07 PM
  • The definative publication on the New Madrid earthquakes seems to be Stewart amd Knox' "The Earthquake America Forgot". It's full of details and stories of the area during and before the quakes.

    -- Posted by riverdog on Mon, Mar 21, 2011, at 6:42 PM
  • James, go back to the same site as before, alabamamaps.ua.edu/historicalmaps and instead of scrolling down, choose previous page on the upper lefthand side, then scroll down to mississippi river 25 to 41 above cairo. This will show Cape Girardeau and Devils Island in the year 1860. Hope this helps if you haven't already located this.

    -- Posted by theprof on Tue, Mar 29, 2011, at 11:34 PM
  • Additional background on Devils Island:

    I have seen numerous mention of an owner of the island and I would like to add my two cents worth for the record. I do not currently have the record of the year but at some point, probably in the ‘50s or ‘60s, the island came up for sale. A young bachelor and his father stepped forward as buyers. The son was Clarence Hoppe and his father. Clarence was the silent partner of H & S Equipment of Jackson, H for Hoppe and S for Sappington. Clarence lived near Friedheim in North Cape county and was a very hard working and ambitious farmer already by the time he bought the island. For many years I was Clarence’s insurance agent and carried his farm liability insurance on his holding in Cape county as well as on the island.

    Clarence told me once that his bank refused to lend him money to buy his first thrasher (when he was 16, so he borrowed from an uncle and repaid him after the first season. The bank lent him money until he reached 70 and they said he was too old to borrow the $100,000. he requested. It was only after he threatened to cash in one of his $100,000 CDs that the bank agreed. Clarence lamented that he was always too young or too old to borrow from a bank!

    Immediately upon buying the island the father and son began a thoughtful harvest of timber and cleared more land for crops. They sold timber every year the Hoppe’s owned the island. When Clarence died it was said that hundreds of acres had been cleared but one could not tell where because it had been so carefully thought out.

    My wife’s family picked up pecans from the pecan groves there and my father in law hunted on the island for decades.

    Clarence would drive his combine from Friedheim to Cape and police would close the bridge while he drove over the old bridge to McClure where he crossed to the island by barge.

    It should be mentioned also that the road and bridge that crosses to the island (when the river stage is low enough) was built entirely by Clarence. He would work through the night loading dirt, hauling dirt and unloading it to build up the dam high enough to then construct the road so that when the weather permitted he could get to the island by truck instead of by barge. He was stranded many times while planting or harvesting through a storm that prevented his return to the ‘mainland’. He had been told by the authorities they would not always rescue him but they never did refuse. Nonetheless he wanted to be selfreliant so he persisted in building the dam and road bed.

    Clarence and the few men like him didn’t live large and never knew excess. He once told me that his dad had taught him that every hour of sleep after midnight was worth two before so he always worked until 2 or so in the morning and was up by 5 or 6. That way his 3-4 hrs of sleep were equal to twice as many before midnight.

    I have known some truly great and grand men in my lifetime but I will certainly never meet another as great as Clarence Hoppe.

    -- Posted by Roger Bolin on Sun, Jan 6, 2019, at 11:55 PM