G. P. Roth
G.P. Roth is a genial, broad-minded man, and as an engineer enjoys the fullest confidence of the people by whom he has been engaged since he attained to the rank of chief engineer. He was born at Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany, October 3, 1843, and is a son of Michael and Mary (Liebach) Roth, with whom he came to the United States in 1849, locating first in New York City. After eighteen months the family removed to Milwaukee, Wis., where the parents made their home up to the time of their deaths, the father passing away in 1871 and the mother two years later.
Mr. Roth, or "Phil," as he is familiarly known, acquired his education in the public schools of Milwaukee. At the age of sixteen years he determined to become a sailor, and his first berth was that of cabin boy in the side-wheel steamer Traveler, plying in the passenger trade between Chicago and Milwaukee under command of Capt. Barney Sweeney. In the spring of 1858 he shipped as porter in the passenger steamer Gazelle, the next season going as watchman in the steamer Sunbeam and learning to wheel at the same time, as, through his invariable good nature, he would relieve the regular wheelsman at times. He was thus able in the spring of 1860 to ship as wheelsman in the passenger steamer Comet, holding that berth throughout the season, and in the spring of 1861 he was appointed second mate of the same boat. During the next three years Mr. Roth worked in the engineer's department of the Goodrich Transportation Company at Manitowoc, Wis., with the purpose of becoming a marine engineer, and in 1865 he shipped as oiler in the passenger steamer R. N. Rice. He followed with a season in the steamer Orion as second engineer, with a license which he had taken out the previous winter, and in 1867 he was appointed second engineer of the steamer Sheboygan, after three years in that berth receiving promotion to the office of chief of the same boat, which he ran successfully for six consecutive seasons. In 1877 Mr. Roth purchased the side-wheel steamer Isabella at Oshkosh, Wis., and started for the Yazoo river, where he and his companions in the enterprise expected to make a fortune. They went by way of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers as far as St. Louis, where they were quarantined, and they eventually gave up the Yazoo river expedition, returning north up the Illinois river to Peoria, where they established themselves in the passenger and freight business, plying between that city and Beardstown.
The Isabella being finally sold, Mr. Roth returned to the lakes and was given the appointment as chief engineer on the steamer Chicago, of the Goodrich Transportation Company, in whose employ he had passed many seasons. In 1881 he brought out the new passenger steamer City of Milwaukee, and when she was sold to the Milwaukee & Grand Haven Co., he went with her as chief, running her five years. During this period he was chief of the winter boat of the line, and in the winter of 1883-84 was in the steamer Michigan when she was frozen in the ice in mid-lake, where she was confined forty days, the crew subsisting during the latter part of their imprisonment on very short rations. At the breaking up of the ice in the spring the Michigan sank, the crew succeeded in getting on the ice, however. They walked ashore, a distance of twenty-five miles, having no food for many hours, and arrived at Saugautuck, Mich. In the spring of 1886 Mr. Roth returned to the employ of the Goodrich Transportation Company as chief engineer of the Chicago, which he ran until the close of the season of 1890. The next spring he went to Cleveland and brought out new the steamer Atlanta, remaining in her until the twin-screw steamer Virginia was completed, when he brought her out as chief, and he has retained that office to the present time. Socially Mr. Roth is a member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, No. 77, at Manitowoc, and represented that body as delegate to Washington in 1896; he was presiding officer in 1897, and is now past president. He also belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Ancient Order of United Workman.
In June, 1863, Mr. Roth was united in marriage with Miss Annie Burkhardt, daughter of Philip Burkhardt, of Manitowoc, Wis., and their new and modern home is located at No. 414 Eighth street, that city.
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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.