Wiggins Ferry Co. Issued to Estate of Samuel B. Wiggins and Signed by Wm. Wiggins - Transfer ReceiptInv# AG2622 Stock
Stock issued to Estate of Samuel B. Wiggins and signed by Wm. Wiggins. St. Louis, Missouri.
William C. Wiggins founded the Wiggins Ferry Company in 1818, and built an empire transporting people to and from St. Louis. By the 1820s, Wiggins had a fleet of ferryboats with names fit for battleships, such as "Sea Serpent", "Rhinoceros", and "Antelope". He had even experimented with ferries powered by horses on treadmills. In 1830 Wiggins upgraded to steam power, with the St. Clair and Ibez ferries making two regular daily river crossings.
Winter river crossings in 1839 became easier thanks to the "Icelander" and its pointed, ice-smashing iron hull. Despite some setbacks—including an 1851 ferry explosion and the loss of four boats to an 1864 ice floe—the Wiggins Ferry Company kept expanding as St. Louis did the same.
By the early 1870s the company was averaging river crossings of 1,500 people, 10,000 bushels of coal, and 750 wagons each day. Samuel B. Wiggins inherited the business from his father and the company's stock cracked $1 million just as the Eads Bridge, St. Louis's first bridge across the Mississippi River, was rising in the middle of the river. Wiggins cut prices and managed to stay afloat for decades longer.
In 1893, the Wiggins Ferry Company was sold to the Terminal Railroad Association, a collective made up of St. Louis's largest rail companies. They kept the still-profitable ferry going, but the ferry business was surviving on borrowed time.
When the Municipal (later MacArthur) Bridge opened in 1917 as a toll-free passage across the Mississippi River, Wiggins was doomed. The last of the Wiggins ferryboats, the "Julius S. Walsh", finally stopped running in the early 1930s. Its two captains, Samuel Hindenberger and Christian Ingold, had been with the ferry company since the 1870s.
In their thousands of trips across the river, they witnessed the levee without a bridge turn into a levee with four, and watched as a riverfront crowded with steamboats saw fewer and fewer arrive each day. The industry they'd known for half a century had finally vanished, and they were the last survivors.
A stock certificate is issued by businesses, usually companies. A stock is part of the permanent finance of a business. Normally, they are never repaid, and the investor can recover his/her money only by selling to another investor. Most stocks, or also called shares, earn dividends, at the business's discretion, depending on how well it has traded. A stockholder or shareholder is a part-owner of the business that issued the stock certificates.