Captain James P. Stewart
Captain James P. Stewart is the eldest son of Schuyler E. and Mary (Harsen) Stewart, and was born January 27, 1860, on Harsen's island in the St. Clair river. The father was born in Rome, N. Y., coming west while still a young man, and becoming a farmer, but in 1866 he, in company with Charles Owen, built the schooner Sailor Boy, with capacity of about 100,000 feet of lumber, and he traded with her on the lakes as supercargo. After making good money with her, he sold her out after two years. Later he owned a grocery store in Algonac, and attended to that up to the time of his death, which occurred in 1889, when he was aged sixty-three years. The mother was born on Harsen's island, and was a daughter of Francis Harsen, an Indian interpreter for General Cass while he was governor of Michigan. The Island known as Harsen's was named after him. L. D., another son of S. E. and Mary Stewart, followed the lakes about seven years, and was second mate on the steamer George Spencer. He then stopped ashore and assisted his father in conducting the store in Algonac. There is a great-uncle, Stewart by name, living in Howell, Mich., who is 105 years of age.
Captain Stewart, the subject of this sketch, after spending a number of terms in the public school, began sailing in 1879, on the tug I. U. Masters, as wheelsman, with Capt. Frank Danger, holding that berth three seasons. In the spring of 1880 he shipped on the tug George B. McClellan, followed by a season on the Bob Anderson as wheelsman. In the spring of 1882 he joined the lake tug W. B. Castle, closing the season on the M. F. Merrick as wheelsman. The next season he shipped with Capt. Allen Fick on the steamer Alcona as wheelsman, and during the spring of 1884 he applied for and received first- class papers as pilot, and shipped on the steamer Columbia, with Capt. J. D. Peterson; in 1885 on the steamer Selah Chamberlain, with Capt. L. Lawless; 1886, on the steamer E. B. Hale as wheelsman, two months after which he was made second mate. In the spring of 1887 he was appointed mate of the steamer J. W. Westcott, and on November 7, while coming out of South Chicago with a cargo of wheat she struck a sunken pile, which made a hole in her bottom, and she sunk in twenty-two feet of water. She was raised and put in dry dock, and after being discharged was partially destroyed by fire. In 1888 Captain Stewart came out on the new steamer Robert L. Freyer as mate, with Captain Parsons, transferring in August onto the steamer John M. Glidden as mate, with Captain Young. In 1889 he sailed as pilot of the steamer Kalkaska, with Capt. W. W. Stewart. This boat made forty-seven round trips between Oscoda and Cleveland that season, and carried 32,900,050 feet of lumber, the largest one season's business on record.
In the spring of 1890 he was appointed mate of the steamer Edward Smith No. 1, with Capt. Bernard Townsend, holding that office three seasons. In 1893 he joined the William H. Gratwick as mate with Capt. Richard Jackson. The next season he came out as mate with Capt. Charles Marsden, and in 1895 as mate of the steamer Australasia with Capt. William Patterson, closing the season on the Viking with Capt. A. Stewart. In the spring of 1896 he was appointed master of the steamer White and Friant, owned by Capt. James Davidson. The next season he sailed as mate with Capt. Ed Thorp in the steamer John Owen. During the winter months for a number of years Captain Stewart assisted in attending his father's grocery store, and on December 19, 1895, he purchased the stock and since that date has conducted it with the necessary help.
On January 12, 1894, Captain Stewart was united in marriage to Miss May, daughter of John and Margaret Ritchie, of Algonac. The Stewart family homestead is located in Algonac, Mich. Captain Stewart is a charter member of the Odd Fellows lodge in Algonac, and as a beneficial investment carries a Michigan Mutual Life Insurance Company's policy.
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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.