George Waterbury was born in Hullsville, Walpole Co., Ontario, January 31, 1859, his parents being Canadians. His father was a ship-builder by trade, and built a number of vessels at St. Catharines and Burlington, Ontario. From the latter place he moved to Detroit in 1866, and then to Milwaukee, Wis., on the propeller Lac la Belle in 1868, after she had been raised from the St. Clair river, where she was sunk, and later rebuilt at Detroit. On reaching Milwaukee he engaged with the Engelmann Transportation Company as general superintendent, which position he held for twelve years, or until the line sold out, then removing to Dakota. He remained there a number of years, and then went to Pensacola, Fla., where he built a boat for himself, naming it the E.W. Menefee. Finally he removed to Memphis, Tenn. where he now resides.
At the age of fourteen years George Waterbury, the subject of this sketch, graduated from the public schools of Milwaukee, Wis., and, having a liking for the life of the sailor, he shipped as oiler on the steamer Flora, remaining on her until her machinery broke down, after which he learned the machinist's trade, serving nearly two years in the shop. He then went as oiler on the steamer J.A. Dix, and remained on her four years, the third year being second engineer. In 1879 he was appointed chief engineer of the steamer Cormorant, of Cleveland, following this with two years on the steamer William A. Barnum, finishing the season on the steamer Minneapolis. Both of these vessels now lie at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. The next year he went as engineer on the propeller Oneida, and was in her the winter the propeller Michigan was lost on Lake Michigan. He remained on the Oneida two seasons, and she was lost on Lake Erie by fire some time after he left her. He then served two winters on the propeller Roanoke plying between Milwaukee and Grand Haven; the Roanoke was burned on Lake Superior four years after he left her. He was second engineer in the propeller Garden City the last season she was owned by the old Northern Transportation Company, a line of fine boats now gone out of existence, with but a few relics left to distinguish the larger class of boats of those days. The following season he was on the propeller Oneida, and in 1887 brought out the steambarge Missoula, remaining on her one season. She foundered on Lake Michigan in 1895. In 1888 he brought out new the steamer E.P. Wilbur, and remained in her until fall, when he went home sick, but finished the season on the J.C. Pringle. He then went to Caryville, Fla., and assisted his father in the construction of the Menefee, which boat he engineered for eighteen months; later she foundered at Pensacola. Going north again in 1890, he took an appointment in the steamer Australasia, which foundered on Lake Michigan, in 1896, on account of fire. He remained in her part of the season, finishing with the steamer Philip Minch, and continuing in the Minch until June of the following season. He then went as engineer of the Marina, and in the summer of 1892 he brought out the steamer Maritana, in which he remained four years. Mr. Waterbury then went to work for the Cleveland Ship Building Company for some time, and later as chief engineer in charge of the machinery of the large new building in Cleveland, called the American Trust Building. While he has been at one time or another engineer of a number of steamers that have been burned or lost by collision or foundering - these disasters occurred after Mr. Waterbury had severed his connection with these vessels. At this writing Mr. Waterbury is chief engineer of the steamer Pontiac, owned by the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company.
Return to Home Port
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.