Wiggins Ferry Company

City: Illinoistown (East St. Louis)

County: Saint Clair

State: Illinois

Ferry service across the Mississippi River from Illinois to St. Louis began in the 1790s. After purchasing a partial interest in an existing ferry, Samuel Wiggins was authorized by the Illinois General Assembly in 1819 to operate a ferry across the Mississippi River from his land near Illinoistown (later East St. Louis). Wiggins subsequently purchased the remaining shares of the earlier ferry and by 1821 was sole proprietor of the ferry from Illinoistown to St. Louis. He continued to operate the ferry until 1832 when he sold his interest to a joint stock company calling itself the Wiggins Ferry Company. Samuel Wiggins’ brother, William C. Wiggins, was one of the new owners of the Wiggins Ferry Company, and served as the operation’s manager for about thirty years beginning in 1822. In 1853 the Wiggins Ferry Company was incorporated by an act of the Illinois General Assembly, with William C. Wiggins, Andrew Christy, Adam L. Mills, Louis V. Bogy, and Napoleon B. Mullikin (Mullekin) as owners. From the incorporation of the Wiggins Ferry Company in 1853 until 1869, ferry boats were the sole means of connecting the city of St. Louis with the railroads on the east and west sides of the Mississippi River. In the 1870s bridges and tunnels connecting Illinois and Missouri in the vicinity of St. Louis began to be completed, causing the eventual decline of the Wiggins Ferry Company, which was sold in 1902. Lincoln & Herndon represented the Wiggins Ferry Company in 1858 in Wiggins Ferry Co. v. Steamer Ocean Spray.

Agnes Wallace, “The Wiggins Ferry Monopoly,” Missouri Historical Review 42 (October 1947), 1-19; William Hyde and Howard L. Conard, eds., Encyclopedia of the History of St. Louis (New York: Southern History, 1899), 3:1863; W. P. Anderson, Anderson Family Records (Cincinnati: W. F. Schaefer, 1936), 156-57; “An Act to Authorize Samuel Wiggins to Establish a Ferry upon the Waters of the Mississippi,” 2 March 1819, Laws of Illinois (1819), 104-5; “An Act to Incorporate the Wiggins Ferry Company,” 11 February 1853, Private Laws of Illinois (1853), 193-98; Daily Missouri Republican (St. Louis), 26 November 1853, 2:1, 6; Wiggins Ferry Co. v. Steamer Ocean Spray, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009), https://www.lawpracticeofabrahamlincoln.org/Details.aspx?case=137607.