Captain William Kynaston
Captain William Kynaston, who has been lighthouse keeper at Milwaukee for the past twenty-seven years, is the oldest lighthouse keeper on the lakes, and, though he has reached the ripe old age of four score years, is one of the most faithful and capable men in service. He has had a wide experience on the seas, and his long and active career has been full of stirring incident and shifting fortune. He was born in Liverpool, England, in 1818, and began his seafaring life at the age of twelve years as an apprentice aboard a vessel. In the winter of 1835-36 he came to the United States, and in 1837 he entered the United States navy, and for three years cruised in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, and in 1840 he was paid off at the Charleston Navy Yard, Boston. For two years he was engaged in the American merchant service on the seaboard, coasting in winter and sailing to Europe in the summer.
Captain Kynaston first visited the lake regions in 1842, shipping May 1, before the mast in the brig Hoosier. In the winter he went to Quebec and thence to sea. Returning to the lakes, he was in 1843 cast away in the ship Superior, the last full rigged ship on the lakes. That year he entered the employment of Mr. Reed, of Erie, and was with him until 1847, spending the winters on the seaboard. In June, 1847, he removed with his family to Milwaukee. He followed the lakes for three years, and in 1849 was captain of the schooner Henderson. He became an Argonaut, in 1850, reaching California overland. His stay on the Pacific coast was brief, for in 1851 he returned to the East, via the Isthmus of Panama, reaching New Orleans in March of that year. The trip was full of perils, and Captain Kynaston narrowly escaped death. Returning to the lakes, he, in 1851 became master of the Baltic for Anson Eldred, and in the following years commanded several other vessels. In 1866 he began a service as pilot of the Johnson, which continued five years, and until his appointment, in February, 1871, as keeper of the lighthouse in Milwaukee. During his long and continuous service in the capacity the lights of the lakes have from time to time been greatly improved. The Captain has been instrumental in saving the lives of many people, and has received the official recognition of the government for his gallant services. He is regarded as one of the best informed and most efficient keepers on the lakes.
In politics he was formerly a Whig and since a Republican. He has been twice married. In 1846, he was married in Erie to Miss Irene Merwin, by whom he had four children as follows: John B., a land agent at Milwaukee; William A., a fisherman; Irene, deceased; and Charles T., deceased. The mother of these died June 7, 1860. Captain Kynaston's second wife was Miss Emma Howder, of Lockport, N.Y., by whom he has three children: Nellie; Frances, who died in 1870; and Raymond Moss, who was drowned off the pier, September 25, 1880. The Captain is one of the hale old men, and at the age of eighty can write like print. He is well known to the lake men, by whom he is universally esteemed.
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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.