Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Captain Chubb and the “Scientific River Gamblers”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 15, 2015

Thomas Chubb was a rather legendary and not-altogether-savory character in Galveston in the nineteenth century. He did have his moments, though. I recently came across this mention of him in the Palestine, Texas, Trinity Advocate, August 11, 1858, p. 1:




I wish I could identify the boat involved here, but the reference to “Capt. Scott” doesn’t flag anything so far.

Added: Re-reading this account, I don’t think it happened on a Texas boat, although the town whose newspaper it appeared in, is near the usual head of navigation on the Trinity RIver in east Texas. I had seen a previous reference to three-card monte being the hot new scam on the boats running between Galveston and Houston on Buffalo Bayou about this same time, but I don’t think this particular event was on either of those streams.

_________ GeneralStarsGray

6 Responses

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  1. Sorn Jessen said, on February 15, 2015 at 5:59 pm


    This is interesting. Just curious, what does this except say about the power of social ostracism in 19th century America?

    • Andy Hall said, on February 15, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      Hey, Sorn — long time no read.

      In this case, social ostracism served as a form of rough-and-ready justice for an offense that might be difficult to prosecute in court, as the victims and witnesses were travelers, hard to prove cheating, etc. Nobody, in 1858 or 2015, is too upset about the fate of Farley, who was substantially inconvenienced by being put off the boat at a nearby landing, but (apparently) was otherwise unharmed. He had it coming; good riddance.

      On the other hand, this relatively benign case of social justice is the same one that, in the case of more serious offenses, leads to mob rule and lynchings. It’s all on a continuum.

      • Sorn Jessen said, on February 15, 2015 at 6:33 pm

        Thanks Andy, — I sort of fell off of your radar for a bit.

        I like the idea os the enforcement of social norms existing on a continuum. There’s a lot more we could say about how social conventions enforce the unwritten rules of law. Sometimes by the force of social pressure and sometimes through violence. It’s something I’m grappling with as I make my way through the story of July 4, 1865.

        Thanks again.

        • Andy Hall said, on February 15, 2015 at 8:14 pm

          The other thing I notice is that Chubb didn’t interfere when Farley and his associates were fleecing the Texans in the usual games of chance; it was when they began with three-card monte that it went beyond the pale and he stepped in. There’s a boundary there, too.

  2. Reed (the original, accept no substitutes) said, on February 17, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I’m sorry I can’t help identify the boat or the Captain.

    But I must say that “Captain Chubb and the ‘Scientific River Gamblers'” would make a fine title for someone’s steampunk graphic novel.

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