Captain Wallace A. Preston
Captain Wallace A. Preston, of St. Joseph, Mich. For nearly a third of a century, Captain Preston has been at the head of one of the industries of that city, and which he continues to direct, and of which he is the owner, namely, the Champion Planing Mill, with which is connected a large lumber yard, and where is extensively carried on the manufacture of building materials. He has but recently retired from the office of mayoralty of that his native city, the duties of which office he performed to the satisfaction of his fellow-townsmen, and with credit to himself.
He descended from one Joel Preston, of Puritan stock, who was a native of Massachusetts, and served in the Revolutionary war. Our subject's parents were Fowler J. and Ann Jennette (Loomis) Preston, born in Massachusetts. Fowler J. Preston was a builder and contractor, and settled in St. Joseph in 1829; a man of energy and force of character and determination, he was a useful citizen and one of prominence in the early history of the village. He became the first sheriff of Berrien County, and at his death, which occurred November 30, 1843, he was mourned as a public loss. His widow passed away February 20, 1892, at St. Joseph, on the eightieth anniversary of her birth. She was generous and kind, a worthy helpmate, and her highest ambition seemed centered in her own family, being always attentive to the care of her children and their welfare.
Our subject was born in St. Joseph, October 22, 1842, and here grew up, receiving only a limited education; as he was left fatherless when an infant, he had to do early for himself. He early evinced a love for the water, and when but thirteen years of age went sailing on the Kingfisher, a small fishing schooner that was engaged in the fishing trade about St. Joseph. For a time he clerked in a store, but, with little exception, he sailed the lakes until the fall of 1862, when possessed of that patriotism that led his paternal grandfather to battle for his country, young Preston went to New York City, and entered the navy, serving throughout the war. He was assigned to the steamer Proteus, commanded by R. W. Shoefelt, who had a roving commission, allowing him to go anywhere, as he was after the blockaders. They were in the East Gulf squadron, with headquarters at Key West, Florida.
Some of the principal boats on which young Preston sailed before the war were: before the mast on the Experiment, a freight schooner, that was in the trade between St. Joseph, Chicago, and Milwaukee; the Robert B. King, a lumber schooner on Lake Michigan; the Belle Stevens; the Minnehaha, a grain vessel running from Chicago to Oswego; the Thomas B. Kingford and the Persia, both grain vessels, in the Chicago and Oswego trade; the Melvina; the schooner Sr. Wm. Wallace; and the William Tell, the last two being in the lumber trade between Chicago and Muskegon. After the war Captain Preston bought and sailed the schooner Fish Hawk, the principal business of which was between St. Joseph and Milwaukee. He sailed on these vessels in different capacities, from before the mast, all along the line until he became captain.
On January 18, 1875, Captain Preston was married to Miss Mary E., daughter of William P. King, of Benton Harbor, and a native of Berrien County. To this union have been born the following children: William W., Loomis K., Maude E., Arthur G., Nathan E. and John D. Mrs. Preston is identified with the First Congregational Church.
Captain Preston has long been identified with the business interests of his native city, where he is highly esteemed as a citizen and public servant, having variously served the people, and has been closely identified with the city's growth and progress. He was for two terms treasurer of the city; in 1880 was president of the village, and in 1893 was chosen mayor. He was a member of Pomona Lodge No. 281, F. & A. M., and is a member of Burnett Lodge No. 119, I. O. O. F.
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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.