Captain William Markus McGrain
Captain William Markus McGrain has been a reliable mate and pilot of a good class of steamers for the last ten years, and is always attentive to the duties of his office. He is the son of William and Martha (McKee) McGrain, and was born September 27, 1861, at Vermilion, Ohio, the birthplace of so many of the most notable captains and owners of lake vessels in times past. His father was born in Dublin, Ireland, emigrating to the United States about the year 1848, and first locating in Cleveland. Ohio, where he opened a shipsmith shop. He did an extensive business in ironing vessels, among them those of the Bradley fleet. Martha (McKee) McGrain, the mother, was a native of the State of Pennsylvania, removing with her parents to Cleveland, where she met and married Mr. McGrain. During the next few years Mr. McGrain carried on blacksmithing business in Clyde, Norwalk, Lagrange and Sandusky, finally settling down at Vermilion, where he again opened a shipsmith shop, carrying on business there for over twenty years and acquiring some vessel interests, notably in the scows I.U. Masters and Q.B. Conklin. It was there that his son William was reared and attended school, working with his father in the shop in the meantime, until he was fifteen years of age. The other members of the family who followed the lakes are John G., an engineer in one of the Minnesota steamers; George F., now mate in the steamer Henry Chisholm; and Joseph P., mate of the Griffin.
In the spring of 1876 Captain McGrain commenced his lakefaring life in the schooner Anna P. Grover as boy, with Capt. Russell Pelton, remaining in her two seasons and part of the third, when he shipped in the steamer D.P. Rhodes as seaman. In 1879 he transferred to the steamer Charles Wall, closing the season in the steamer East Saginaw as wheelsman, holding that berth until the close of the season of 1880, and passed the next season in the Sophia Minch. In 1882 he was on the Onoko, and on the A. Everett and Cumberland the next two seasons respectively, and in 1885 he shipped as wheelsman in the steamer City of Rome, joining the steamer Wocoken the next spring as second mate. In the spring of 1888 Captain McGrain was appointed mate of the steamer J. H. Devereux, closing, however, as mate in the E.B. Hale. The next spring he was appointed mate of the new steamer Pontiac; 1890, mate of the Corsica; 1891, mate of the steamer Joliette; 1892, mate of the John Harper; 1893-94, mate of the W. L. Wetmore; 1895, mate of the steamer George Presley; 1896, mate, of the steamer St. Paul; 1897, mate, of the Victory, and in 1898, of the steamer Bulgaria, which he laid up at the close of navigation.
In January, 1890, Captain McGrain was wedded to Miss Margaret, daughter of R. M. J. and Ellen (Burns) McKisson, of Northfield, Summit Co., Ohio, and a cousin of Mayor R. McKisson, of Cleveland. Ellen Martha, the only child born to this union, died at the age of 5 years. The family residence is at No. 221 Burton street, Cleveland, Ohio. Socially the Captain is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.