Far West, a sister ship to the Key West

Louis Casavant (Jerseyville native), a successful performer

Mena “Minnie” (Bertman) Casavant center

Louis Casavant (shown) was born and raised in Jerseyville but later moved to New York and became a successful performer, who appeared in nearly 20 Broadway shows and traveled and performed throughout the country.

Louis was the oldest of three sons born to Louis and Mena “Minnie” (Bertman) Casavant. Minnie was the daughter of Frederick and Helena (Goetten) Bertman.

Louis Sr. was a watchmaker and owned and operated a jewelry store in the northern addition of the National Hotel, which sat on the northeast corner of State and Pearl Streets.

Louis Sr. passed away in 1875, and 12 years later, Minnie married Nicholas Buesen, a riverboat pilot.

In 1873, he co-piloted and clerked the Key West, the first steamboat to travel up the Yellowstone River to where it meets with the Powder River, near Terry, Montana. The Army financed the trip to determine if the river was navigable to that point in order to more quickly and easily move soldiers and supplies.

As hostile Sioux Indians were known to inhabit the area, General Forsythe and a group of soldiers boarded the ship at Fort Buford in North Dakota.

General Forsythe hired two French-Indian guides who claimed to know the area well. However, it soon became apparent they had lied. They were soon replaced by Luther Sage Kelly, better known as Yellowstone Kelly, to serve as their guide.

Early each day, Kelly would disembark the boat and then walk ahead, watching for Indians and hunting game. After he had killed elk or other game, he’d wait on the riverbank for the boat.

Nic spent much of his time as a riverboat pilot on the upper Missouri and Yellowstone River, and on one trip his passengers were the ill-fated 7th United States Calvary and their leader General George Armstrong Custer.

Nic died in 1922 and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Jerseyville.