Captain John Lysaght
Captain John Lysaght, keeper of the life-saving station at Grand Haven, Mich., during the last ten years has been uniform in his efforts to rescue life and to relieve vessels in distress. Always cool and collected in emergencies, his work has been well directed, and the results attained redound to the credit of himself and his brave surfmen. He is the son of Captain Richard and Catherine (Yore) Lysaght, and was born at St. Joseph, Mich., on January 7, 1854. His parents were natives of Ireland, the father of County Clare and the mother of County Meath. The title of Captain here applied to the father is a military one, and was earned during the Civil war. He had been a soldier in the British Army for four years, stationed in the West Indies and Canada. When he dissolved his connections with that army in 1828, he came to the United States, locating in St. Joseph, where he opened a grocery store, which he conducted up to July 28, 1862, when he decided to take part in the struggle then going on between the North and the South. He sold out his business, and enlisted in Company I, 19th Mich. Vol. Inf., and owing to his qualities as drill master, he received a commission from the Governor of Michigan as captain of his company. His regiment was assigned to the Army of Kentucky, afterwards being transferred to the Army of Cumberland. He was with his regiment in the battle of Thompsons Station where it captured the colors of the 4th Mississippi Regiment, and at Stone river and McMinnville. After remaining in the front about a year he resigned on account of illness, and returned home, where he died in August, 1872.
Capt. John Lysaght, the subject of this sketch, acquired his education in the public schools of St. Joseph, and in 1872 shipped before the mast in the schooner Guide with Captain Whitney, transferring to the schooner Lizzie Doak, and closed the season on the Bessie Boalt, then engaged in the iron ore trade. During the next four years he sailed on the schooners Lizzie Doak, Nelson, Sunrise, Golden West, Eliza Gerlach, A.C. King and others. In 1877 he went to the Black Hills and gained some experience in a mining camp, but he is very reticent regarding the amount of his wealth obtained. On returning to the East he with some companions stopped at Fort Randall where they constructed a raft out of four slabs and an old door, with which they navigated the Missouri river. In the sprng of 1882 he became mate and supercargo of the scow Libbie Carter. During the previous years the Captain had become an expert boat-man and in 1883 he joined the Muskegon life- saving station as surfman, transferring the next year to the station at Big Point Sauble, and it was in March 1885, that he was promoted to be keeper of that station. During his incumbency the most notable work was a pull of twelve miles to the rescue of the crew of the tug Williams, which was destroyed by fire. In 1866 Captain Lysaght was appointed keeper of the station at Racine, Wis., where he remained until July, 1888, and where his crew made a good record, saving lives and property, including the schooner Howland, which they took to Chicago waterlogged, and the schooner Miami, with five lives. It was July, 1888, that he was transferred to the station at Grand Haven, where he is keeper at this writing, and where he and his crew have made a most enviable record among life savers on the lakes. The surfmen composing the crew at Grand Haven are William Walker, Jacob Van Welden, Peter Denean, John Dwiggans, Charles Robinson, and John Welsh, ranking in order named. The most notable relief afforded by Captain Lysaght and crew in 1889 was the rescue of seven small boats and thirteen men, schooner Fond du Lac and two men, schooner Eveline Bates and two men, schooner Una and three, schooner Rambler and four; in 1890, Laura Miller and three, Spanish Lou and two, J.W. Johnson and two; in 1891 a yawl boat and one; schooner Ellen Stevenson and three. On this occasion the Stevenson came down from a topping wave and split the surf boat; a part of the line ran out, but the crew succeeded in saving the lives of three people. In 1892 a capsized canoe and one man, schooner Mary Cornell and two, fish boat Magdalen and three, schooner Joseph C. Snit and seven, Hattie Leroy and three, Jessie Martin and two, Una and two, Archie McDougall and two; in 1893, tug John A. Miller and six men, schooner Wandered and three, steamer Nellie D.; 1894, schooner Pearl and two, Agnes L. Potter and one, Maria and two, Alert and two, and Antelope; 1895, schooner Henry C. Richards and eight men, Maria and one; 1896, schooner Nellie Johnson and four, a naptha launch and seven, capsized skiff and two, steamer Joe and four, schooner Indian Bill and one, Lena Behn; 1897, schooner Mary Dykes and two men, scow and five, skiff and one, launch Restless and two, Indian Bill and one; 1898, schooner Condor and two men, James H. Hall and four, and a naptha launch and three. It is useless to go into detail regarding other work of this crew of life savers. Captain Lysaght found the bones of schooner Orphan Boy six weeks after she disappeared, on January 1, 1895, four miles north of Big Point Sauble. She carried a crew of eight, who were supposed to have been robbed after being drowned.
Capt. John Lysaght was wedded to Miss Mary, daughter of Rev. Ezekia [sic] and Elizabeth (Hammond) Harney, of Ludington, Mich., the ceremony being performed on April 6, 1885. The children born to this union are: Agnes L., Alice Elizabeth, John W., Kathleen Mary and Jane Margaret. The home of these little ones has been beautified in many ways, and they keep it surrounded by a charming lawn studded with bright scarlet blossoms. Socially the Captain is a member of the Sons of Veterans.
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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.