Captain W. J. Lynn
Captain W.J. Lynn, master of the steambarge Canisteo for the early part of the season of 1897, was born in 1862 at Port Huron, Mich., at which place he also attended school. He is a son of Dennis and Helen (Melville) Lynn, the former a native of Brockville, Canada, and the latter of Ireland.
Dennis Lynn removed to Port Huron in 1851, going at once into the vessel agency business. After several years thus occupied he became marine reporter of that city, but he retired some time ago from active life, turning his business affairs into the hands of his son Daniel. The following is a brief record of the children of his family: James is employed placing plants for the General Electric Company, of Port Huron. Edward was for fifteen years in the employ of the Vessel Owners Towing Line of Chicago, but is now assistant manager for Messrs. L. P. & J. A. Smith at Cleveland, Ohio. Michael was a sailor for several years, then became a commercial traveler for Messrs. Sherman Jewett & Co., Cleveland, Ohio; he is now residing at Bay City. Daniel is marine reporter at Port Huron; he has the reputation of being a courageous life- saver, and has numerous medals, cups and other tokens received for such service; in the summer of 1892 he saved the lives of seventeen people at Port Huron, and he carries an elegant gold medal for saving the crew of the schooner Shupe, about three miles above the lighthouse at that point, in the fall of 1895; besides all this he is a great swimmer, tub racer and oarsman, having received the honor at Watkins Glen, N. Y., when but fourteen years old, of being the youngest oarsman in the National Regatta. Dennis J. was originally a dry-goods clerk, was afterward for five years master with the Vessel Owners Towing line at Chicago, and in 1897 served as master of the tug Record, owned by Berry Brothers, at Chicago, but in commission at Duluth. George was for three seasons chief engineer of the steamer Choctaw, owned by the Lake Superior Mining Company, but during the fall of 1896 served as chief engineer of the Flint & Pere Marquette freight boat No. 5, between Milwaukee and Ludington. Frank is employed as clerk in the Chicago & Grand Trunk railroad office at Port Huron. Nellie is the wife of William P. Boynton, chief engineer of the steambarge Canisteo, of the Tonawanda Barge line.
At the age of ten, W. J. Lynn began his sailing career as second cook on the steam barge V. H. Ketcham. He remained a season in that capacity, and the succeeding one was promoted to the berth of watchman on the same steamer. In 1874 he was wheelsman of the lake tug Gladiator; 1875 of the Crusader, and in 1876 of the Kate Williams. Beginning with 1877 he was wheelsman of the tug Andrew J. Smith, owned in Buffalo, for two seasons, with Peter Kenney as master, and was then for a half season mate of the same tug. He was next mate of the tug William A. Moore a half season, and for the season of 1880 was mate of the Canadian tug Kittie Haight. For 1881 he was second mate of the steamer Oceanica, under Capt. William Dickson, and mate the succeeding season; for the seasons of 1883-84-85 he was master of the tug Mollie Spencer, in which he owned a half-interest with his brother James J. She was burned, a total loss, off Chicago, between Evanston and the Marine Hospital, in August 1885. There was but one life lost, that of the cook, who became frightened, jumped off the fantail and was drowned. The Spencer was at the time filling a contract to tow the schooners John Kelderhouse and Oak Leaf from Snow Island to Chicago, carrying cedar. The remainder of that season the Captain was mate of the steamer H. E. Packer, with Captain Prindeville; 1886 mate of the steamer F. R. Buell, whence, after three months, he was transferred to master's berth in the steambarge Canisteo, in which he remained until the close of the season of 1896. He continued to sail her until June, 1897, when he took command of a new steel screw steamer, 300 feet over all, for the Niagara Paper Company, engaged in the pulp trade between Bay Mills and Niagara Falls.
Captain Lynn is a level-headed and careful navigator, and his record is devoid of serious accidents. On the 4th of December, 1896, he avoided one on Lake Michigan. He lost his rudder between Poverty and Squaw island, but saved his vessel by backing steadily into the wind for eleven hours, at the end of which time he was picked up by the steamer Elmer and towed into Manistique, Mich. On August 22, of the same season, he was the direct means of saving the lives of two persons, Frank Darby and Emily Thompson, who had been in a small clinker-built rowboat one whole night, at the mercy of the wind and sea. Both are residents of Toronto, and at that time were employed in the same dry-goods store in that city. They had gone out for a row the evening previous, and when some distance from the harbor at Toronto lost one oar, and in the gentleman's effort to recover it he lost the other one. The wind rising about that time they were blown out into the lake, and as the spray came into the boat Mr. Darby bailed it out with his hat. On his way up the lake from Oswego Captain Lynn discovered them about eight o'clock in the morning of the 22nd, and with great difficulty got them aboard his boat one at a time, as there was a tremendous sea running. They were both nearly exhausted, and were given a change of clothing, stimulants and refreshments. On the arrival at Port Dalhousie they were landed, and proceeded immediately to Toronto, where it was believed they were lost.
Captain Lynn was married, in January, 1892, at Mt. Clemens, Mich., to Miss Adele Dulac, daughter of Capt. William Dulac, a lifelong sailor, who is now manager of the Tonawanda Barge line at Mt. Clemens, and also controlling owner of the steambarges Norwalk, Charles A. Street and S. B. Pomeroy, and the towbarges Godfrey and Lothair. Captain and Mrs. Lynn have two children, John and George. Their home is at Mt. Clemens, Michigan.
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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.