Captain Lewis Hancock Powell
Captain Lewis Hancock Powell, the genial and successful commander of the steamer John Plankinton, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 14, 1856, a son of John Hancock and Isabella (Buttersley) Powell. His father was a native of Vermont, and his mother of Belfast, in the North of Ireland; she came to the United States with three brothers, who later returned to Belfast, where the family yet reside, and engaged in the wholesale book business. The sister remained in this country, and was married to Mr. Powell at Huron, Ohio, by her guardian, Rev. Samuel Marks. When John Hancock Powell was about three years of age he was brought west by his father, Albert Powell, who first went to Indiana, and afterward to Cleveland. Ohio, where, on what is known as Whiskey Island, he went into business, which he carried on successfully and which afterwards developed into what was known as the Powell Tool Company, the largest concern, of its kind in the country, at the same time owning several vessels; he remained at the head of the company until 1868, when he sold his stock and withdrew from the business on account of ill health, dying soon afterward.
John Hancock Powell commenced to sail when he was but twelve years of age, and followed the lakes many years; among the boats on which he acted as mate were the Invincible and the D. P. Dobbins. He is yet living near Ashtabula on his homestead farm, the mother having died in 1864. Their sons are both master mariners; Frank B. being in command of the steamer George Spencer, and Lewis H., of the John Plankinton.
Lewis H. Powell acquired a liberal education in the public schools of Cleveland, and in 1871 shipped on the scow Lime Rock, where he remained but three months, shipping then on the steamer William M. Tweed, as porter. In 1873 he became wheelsman on the steamer Annie Smith with Capt. M.H. Murch, transferring the next year in the same capacity to the steamer D.W. Rust, L.C. Butts, M.R. Warner and H.D. Coffinberry. In the spring of 1875 he shipped as wheelsman on the steamer Sarah F. Sheldon, holding the berth four seasons, and in 1879, after wheeling two months on the steamer Sparta, was appointed second mate, remaining with her until 1883, when he was appointed mate of the steamer J.S. Fay, closing the season. The next two seasons he joined the steamer Sparta as mate, and the next season became mate of the Siberia. In the spring of 1887 Captain Powell entered the employ of R.P. Fitzgerald & Co., as mate of the steamer W.M. Eagan, and after two years in that office he was appointed master of the Eagan, and sailed her two seasons. In the spring of 1891 he was appointed to his present command, the steamer John Plankinton. which he has sailed successfully nine consecutive seasons, and has had the good judgment not to lose vessel or man. He has eighteen issues of first-class papers.
Socially Captain Powell is a member of the Ship Masters Association. In Masonry he has reached the degree of Knight Templar; and is a member of the Eastern Star, Knights of Pythias, and of the order of Elks. During the winter months he retires to his farm near Ashtabula, Ohio.
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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.