American River Pirates and Their Influence on Pioneer Life Essay examples

1918 Words Dec 23rd, 2010 8 Pages
“When I think of pirates, I think of the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Aden. I don’t think of the Ohio River.” (Lepper) Mark Twain lived during a time when hearing someone’s relation of a river pirate in America was typical, and stores along the rivers were frequently being pillaged. He had much experience on the rivers due to his early profession, and witnessed first-hand the crimes that they committed. Twain expressed his thoughts toward piracy through his literature, written around the time that these greedy bandits took place. In the late 18th century, river pirates roamed the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, hunting for pioneers traveling down the river with their cargo. A common location for them to reside was a large tavern referred …show more content…
(Davis) Another gang of pirates that took up temporary residence in Cave-In-Rock and spread terror throughout the surrounding region was the Jim Wilson family. At the turn of the century he brought his family here when he discovered it while looking for shelter during a heavy storm. Soon after, he began a tavern named, “Wilson’s Liquor Vault and House of Entertainment”. This pub attracted many gamblers and thieves, who eventually became his gang of robbers and murderers. They used the tavern to draw passerby, and then they would kill the travelers and Wilson’s gang would sail the boats to New Orleans and trade the cargo for money. After a while, suspicion began to rise in the town since many valuable cargoes that had the left upper Ohio port were never heard from or seen again. Much of the gang fled, and the others that were found were arrested. Ultimately, Wilson was killed by one of his own men in exchange for reward money, just like what happened to Mason, the previous Cave-In-Rock river pirate. (Ailinani) The third and final of the most powerful river pirates to occupy Cave-In-Rock were the Harpe brothers. Even though they were referred to as brothers, they were essentially just cousins. (Weiser) Micajah, named Big Harpe, was the oldest and Wiley was the youngest, called Little Harpe. Renee Valois refers to these two as America’s earliest serial killers. They took extreme pleasure in torturing and slaughtering people.

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