Captain John W. Rabshaw
Captain John W. Rabshaw was born in Buckingham, Ontario, May 18, 1858, a son of Gideon and Catherine Rabshaw. He moved to Cleveland with his parents when seven years of age, and received his education at St. Patrick's school in that city.
Captain Rabshaw commenced sailing June 3, 1871, on the schooner General Winfield Scott, and the year following he went with Capt. John McKay on the propeller Concord, where he remained two seasons. In the spring of 1873 he shipped on the steambarge Superior, and in 1874 on the passenger steamer Munster, which was lost sometime later on Lake Superior with all hands on board. He remained on the Munster three seasons as second mate, closing the last season, however, as mate of the schooner Colin Campbell. In the spring of 1877 he shipped on the bark J.S. Austin; and in 1878 on the schooner Empire State, which was lost on Long Point, Thunder Bay island, that fall. She struck at 7:30 p.m. and broke in two at twelve o'clock. The crew took to the rigging where they remained in the most perilous position until nine o'clock next day. They were taken off by two fishermen in a clinker boat. The boatmen could not make the island with safety, hence too the rescued men to Alpena, Mich. Capt. Archie McHenry was master of the Empire State at this time. The names of these two brave fishermen have passed out of mind. In the spring of 1880 Captain Rabshaw shipped on the schooner Francis Palms as mate; in 1881, as mate of the schooner David Dows; in 1882, as mate of the schooner Camden; in 1883, as mate of the schooner H.G. Cleveland; in 1884 and 1885, as mate of the schooner Charles Wall; in 1886, as mate of the schooner Leonard Hanna, which berth he held two seasons, with the exception of the last trip he made in the fall of 1887, when she was lost on the North Fork with a cargo of ore from Escanaba. Captain Rabshaw designates the Leonard Hanna as having been the smartest schooner on fresh water.
In the spring of 1888 Captain Rabshaw was appointed mate of the steamer Robert R. Rhodes, and the following season mate of the steamer Corona. In the spring of 1890 he was appointed master of the schooner Verona, which was sunk by the steamer Cambria, near Ashtabula harbor in August; he finished that season as master of the Ironton. In 1891 he shipped as mate of the steamer Emily P. Weed, closing the season as master of the propeller John C. Pringle. The steamer Saranac was his next boat, on which he held the berth of mate one season. In 1893 he was appointed rigger at the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago, and with a force of three hundred men handled all the heavy machinery in the mechanical engineering department. Testimonials he has preserved from the superintendent recite that his work gave general satisfaction, and was done in a workmanlike manner. In the spring of 1894 Captain Rabshaw was appointed master of the passenger steamer John Gordon, plying in the excursion business out of Chicago. The next season he stopped ashore and engaged in business on his own account. In 1896 he was appointed mate of the steam monitor John Ericsson. In the spring of 1897 he was appointed master of the schooner H.P. Baldwin. He superintended the repair work on the Baldwin, and has improved her condition very much.
Captain Rabshaw is a man of great strength, and stands over six feet in height. During the winter months he has a class in training for athletic sports, especially in that of wrestling, in which field he has gained many notable victories. He was a teacher of athletics in the Union Business College in Cleveland in 1879, and graduated some cunning wrestlers. The Captain is not a married man, but lives with his parents at No. 108 Whitman street, Cleveland, 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.