John Drackett is well known among lake fraternity as a shipbuilder of considerable note. He was born in 1832, at St. Albans, England, a son of Phillip and Elizabeth Drackett, and there received his education at the hands of paid tutors, as was the custom in some parts of England, the expenses being one penny per week. The father was a contractor, and John worked with him a number of years.
In 1851 our subject removed to the United States, locating at Cleveland, Ohio, where he went to work in the shipyard of Roderick Calkins, on Whiskey Island, serving his apprenticeship there and remaining until 1857. In that year he built the sloop Trial for trawl fishing, which was so much in practice in the English Channel. He then went to work for Tinsdale & Johnson, remaining two years; in 1860 went to Pigeon River under contract with M.R. Calkins, and superintended the building of the schooner Frank Crawford; in June, 1861, he returned to Cleveland and entered the employ of Stephen & Presley, afterward going to the yard of Peck & Masters to superintend the construction of the schooner Golden Fleece and tug I.U. Masters, the steamers Toledo, Arctic and Pacific, and tug Matamora. He then took jobbing work on the Cuyahoga river for Stephens & Presley, Quayle & Martin and Alva Bradley, in the meantime building the tug Winslow. In 1867-68 he worked in Gibraltar for R. Calkins, and built the schooner Jane Ralston; in 1869 went to work for the Lafrienier Bros., as foreman on the propeller Roanoke and schooner William Grandy. In 1870 he united with Church, Eaton & Co., and bought a dry dock at the foot of St. Paul street, but that fall sold out his interest, and in the spring of 1871 he went to Black River to work on the schooner Thomas Gawn, and the steamer Sarah E. Sheldon; in 1872 he again went to work for Lewis Lafrienier, this time on the schooner S.H. Foster and steamer Cormorant; in 1873 went to Saginaw and built the steamer J. Davidson. In 1874 he removed to Detroit, and entered the employ of Clark, building the J. Pridgeon, Jr., and, in 1875, the passenger steamer Pearl. In 1876 he entered the employ for A. Bradley on contract work, on which he was engaged four years; in 1880 built the steamer Henry Chisholm, which at that time was the largest on the lakes. In 1881 he went to Toledo and built the big schooner David Dows, the only five-masted schooner on the lakes, and the schooner Marvin for the Bailey Bros. In 1882 he went to work for the Globe Dry Dock Company, on the Continental and magnetic, and after working two years as foreman for William Radcliffe, he returned to the employ of the Globe Dry Dock Company, and worked on the steamer H.J. Johnson, and George Presley, two ferry boats, Superior and Duluth, the steamer Atlanta, also some scows, and superintended the construction and sinking of the first water works cribs for the city of Cleveland. He also assisted very materially in the rebuilding of the Cleveland Dry Docks. In 1896 he was called to Toronto, Canada, to superintend the launching of two large steel steamers. He was virtually retired from active work, but is often called on surveys. He is a member of the I.O.O.F.
In 1854 Mr. Drackett was united in marriage with Miss Mary Lewis, and their children are: Philip W., John R., Daniel C. (a sketch of whom follows), William B., Miranda M., Helen E., and Effie M. Mr. Drackett's mother died in 1897 at the age of ninety years. The family residence is at No. 492 Franklin avenue, 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.