Robert Leitch, a marine engineer of considerable experience, was born August 3, 1837, in county Antrim, Ireland. He is the eldest of eight children born to David and Elizabeth Leitch, the others being: Thomas, at present a marine engineer on the steamer Maine, resides in Buffalo; Eliza is married to William Herdman, who is in the employ of the Grand Trunk railway at Air Line Junction, Ont.; David is a farmer, and resides at Air Line, Ont.; Frank is a stationary engineer employed by Car Bros., of Buffalo; Annie is married to Ruben Appleyard, and resides at Stone Ridge, Ont,; Ester was married to her cousin, William Leitch, and died in 1889; and John (unmarried) resides with his father near Welland, Ontario.
When seven years of age Robert Leitch came to America with his parents, who first settled in Dunnville, Ont. From that place they moved to Welland, Ont., and from there, at the age of nineteen years, he shipped on the tug L.N.G., engaged in towing on the Welland canal and Chippewa creek. He then went in the steamer Ocean, running to Montreal; then (in 1874) went on the tug Agnes McMann, towing rafts from Collin's Bay to Lachine, near Montreal, after which he was on the tug Sam Perry and H. Kneeland, owned by Harvey Kneeland, of Port Dalhousie.
After one season (1880) as engineer of the tug Jessie, running on the Detroit river, he entered the Grummond's line, and remained about three seasons. He then returned to Welland and spent one year (1886) on a farm; but being more inclined to follow a sailor's life than that of a farmer, he soon went to Buffalo and shipped on the tug Holloway for the seasons of 1887-88-89, afterward, for 1890, on the tug Samson, engaged in towing lumber rafts from the upper ports to Tonowanda. There he accepted the position as chief engineer on the Oscoda, and remained two seasons. In 1893 he went to the Viking, owned by Gilchrist & Co., of Alpena, as chief engineer, and has since remained in that position.
On January 5, 1887, Mr. Leitch was married to Miss Sarah J. McDowel, daughter of John and Rebecca (Wilson) McDowel, natives of country Tyrone, Ireland. Mr. And Mrs. Leitch had four children: Anna Isabel, born September 26, 1877; Elizabeth Mabel, born July 27, 1879; Andrew Thomas, born February 6, 1881; and Harry Mortimer, born September 1, 1886. Mr. Leitch is a member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association No. 1, of Buffalo, N.Y.; also of the F. & A.M.; DeMolay Lodge No. 498, of Buffalo, N.Y. He is a member of Park Presbyterian Church, of Buffalo.
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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.