Wapello, the head chief of the Fox tribe, was born in 1787 at Prairie du Chien, in the present state of Wisconsin. Short and stout in physical stature, with a kindly visage, Wapello entertained friendly relations with white settlers throughout his life, signing treaties with them at Fort Armstrong on 3 September 1822; at Prairie du Chien on 15 July 1830; again at Fort Armstrong on 21 September 1832; at Dubuque, Iowa, on 28 September 1836; and at Washington, D.C., on 21 October 1837.
In 1829, he led his tribe to Muscatine Slough on the west bank of the Mississippi River and later settled near the present site of the town of Wapello, Iowa. In 1837, Wapello accompanied the renowned chief, Keokuk, and Indian agent General James M. Street on a tour of northeastern and mideastern states. During -this trip, Wapello made an eloquent speech at Boston, wherein he expressed friendly sentiments towards white settlers and reaffirmed his desire to continue harmonious relations with them.
While on a hunting trip near Ottumwa, Iowa, Wapello died on 15 March 1842. He was later buried in accordance with his oft-expressed wish that he be laid to rest alongside his good friend General Street.
R. K. Evans was completed in April 1941 at Port Arthur, Tex., by the Gulfport Boiler and Welding Works (Gulfport Hull No. 167), for the General Motors Corp., of Cleveland, Ohio. Acquired by the Navy for service as a net tender, renamed Wapello, and designated YN-56, the ship successfully completed her trials on 6 June 1941 was placed in service on 9 June 1941. Six days later, the ship arrived at the naval station at Key West, Fla., for conversion and fitting-out.
On 26 June 1941, Wapello set sail for Cuba, in company with tug Umpqua (AT-25), and arrived at Guantanamo Bay on 28 June. Escorted by cargo ship Vega (AK-17) from Guantanamo Bay, Wapello cleared the Panama Canal Zone on 10 July for San Diego, Calif., arriving on the 22nd in company with her escort, then, convoyed by oiler Ramapo (AO-12) from the west coast to the Hawaiian Islands, Wapello arrived at Pearl Harbor, T.H., on 27 August after a ten-day passage from San Pedro, California.
While attached to the 14th Naval District, the ship tended harbor nets through the Japanese attack on 7 December 1941 and the remainder of the crucial year, 1941. She remained at Pearl Harbor for the duration of hostilities, and was reclassified as a net tender (tug class) YNT-24 on 7 April 1942.
After the end of the war in the Pacific, the need for the ship's services decreased, and Wapello was declared surplus. Placed out of service at Bremerton, Wash., on 23 October 1946 and stricken from the Navy list on 21 November 1946, the ship was turned over to the War Shipping Administration for disposal on 3 May 1947.
Robert J. Cressman