Meigs (Meiggs) Family History and Genealogy


Major Montgomery Meigs

Montgomery Meigs (#768) was born in Rouses Point, New York, on February 28, 1847, to Montgomery C. and Louisa (Rodgers) Meigs.

Meigs spent two years at the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University and a like period at the Royal Polytechnic School in Stuttgart, Germany. He completed his college education In 1869. Meigs worked for three years for the Northern Pacific Railroad as a surveyor and then for the United State Government as an engineer. He was assigned to improve the Mississippi navigation system from St. Paul to the mouth of the Missouri. For over 53 years he worked at this task. He retired in 1926.1

Meigs was well known on the river. J.M. Turner relates how he met Meigs. "I sent my mate out in the morning to get him [Captain Owens, a river pilot] and found he was going to run the Bella-Mac in first [river locks]. I was already out in the river and so went on down into the canal doing my own piloting. The Bella-Mac was then compelled to remain two hours at her landing--this was on account of giving me time to get through and vacate the only landing for her. I arrived a the middle lock and had two quarters of my raft through and my third quarter was ready to go into the lock when Major Meigs arrived and ordered me to back my boat and raft up the canal, out of the way of the steamer Bella-Mac, who arrived with both of her rafts. I asked Major Meigs why. He said I had violated the rules of the canal by passing another raft in the canal. I told him that I supposed the first boat or raft at the locks had the right of way and refused to back my boat and raft out. Then he said: 'I will have this other boat back you out.'

"I warned him that if the Bella-Mac tried to pull us out, there would be a fight. He then said he would see who was running the canal and started for the other boat...Major Meigs was gone about a half hour and came back to the locks and the gates began to open. In about two hours I was through the locks and then passed down to the lower locks but saw no more of Major Meigs…."2

Meigs was the inventor of the "canvas cofferdam" for foundation work and similar construction and has built and designed many steamboats and dredge tenders. "In 1898, [Meigs] proposed a new method of improving county roads by using oil with a sprinkler to make a watertight surface and lay dust, which attracted wide attention."3 Of course, today, oiling roads is very common

He married Grace Lynde on January 3, 1877, and died on December 9, 1931, in Keokuk, Iowa.





Mary Adams



Louisa Rodgers



Grace Sophronia




Alice McKinstry



Cornelia Lynde




Emily Frances Fay


1. New York Times, December 10, 1931, page 25, Col. 4.
2. J.M. Turner, "Rafting on the Mississippi," The Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 24, 1940, page 63 & 64.
3. J"Who Was Who in American," Volume 1, The A.N. Marquis Co., Chicago, 1943, page 828.


Copyright (c) by Rick Meigs