Captain Cyrus Sinclair
Captain Cyrus Sinclair has perhaps had as wide and varied an experience as any master on the Great Lakes, and is as well known as any navigator, although comparatively a young man, as regards the essential qualities - vigor and vitality of body and mind. He is at this time the representative of the well-known marine and fire insurance firm of C.A. McDonald & Co., doing business in the Rialto building, Chicago. He bears many of the finer traits of character so necessary in a business of that nature, honesty, integrity, and justice, which have caused many of the vessel owners on the American lakes to give in their adhesion to the firm which he represents.
The Captain was born in Simcoe, a town near Port Dover, Ontario, in 1846, and is the son of Capt. John and Agnes (Sinclair) Sinclair. Although his mother did not change her name, she belonged to another family of the same name, and being satisfied with her maiden name she was pleased to bear it through life. The father was born in the Shetland Islands in 1811, and came to the United States in 1842, first locating in Lockport, afterwards removing to Buffalo, out of which port he sailed a number of years, going thence to Simcoe and finally to Strathroy, Ontario, in 1847. He continued to sail as master until 1864, his last command being the schooner George B. Steel. He was then appointed keeper of the lighthouse at Fort Gratiot, Port Huron district, holding that position until 1878, when he resigned to give personal supervision to his real-estate interests in and about Port Huron. The family consisted of eight sons and one daughter, all living to take part in the celebrating of the golden wedding of their parents. All the sons are master mariners and all living but Peter, who was drowned off the schooner Zach Chandler, a day or two after the event above mentioned. The mother of the family passed to her last rest in December, 1880, and the father in October, 1887.
As may have been observed, Capt. Cyrus Sinclair was but three years of age when his parents became residents of Port Huron, at which place he acquired a good public-school education, and began sailing before the mast in various vessels when quite young. At the age of twenty-one Captain Sinclair applied for and was granted master's license and was appointed to the command of the tug John Prindiville. He is best known among the older vessel men as a well qualified master of river tugs, towing barges between Lakes Huron and Erie, and it is but right to say that some of the most prosperous owners on the lakes graduated from that branch of marine business. In the spring of 1871 he was appointed master of the steamer Iron City, plying in the oil trade between Cleveland and Buffalo in the interests of Frank D. Rockefeller. His first practical experience as a wrecking master was gained in 1874, when he entered the employ of George E. Brockway and placed in charge of his wrecking appliances, and stationed at Cheboygan, Mich., afterwards known as the Detroit Tug Association. He succeeded in floating many notable wrecks, recovering everything he undertook. In the spring of 1879 he entered the employ of Capt. James Davidson, and sailed the steamer of that name two seasons.
It was in the spring of 1881 that Captain Sinclair removed to Chicago, taking charge of the tug Martin and sailing her two seasons, after which he was appointed master of the tug Commodore. In the spring of 1886 he was chosen superintendent of the Chicago Tug line, founded by Capt. George B. Gilman, consisting of five tugs, and later on so well did he represent the line and push business that a pool was organized consisting of twenty tugs, and the captain was appointed superintendent of the entire fleet. In June, 1886, Captain Sinclair was appointed United States inspector of steam vessels for the Chicago district, and performed the duties of the office until 1894, when he resigned to accept the position he now holds as the wrecking master of the A.C. McDonald & Co., in the fire and marine insurance business in Chicago. Captain Sinclair owns a one-fourth interest in the steamer Phenix[sic], the other shares being owned by W. Rardon and James Davidson.
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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.