Robert E. Walker
Robert E. Walker was born in London, England, November 20, 1846. He came to America when quite young and located in Buffalo, N.Y., where he obtained his common-school education, and commenced to learn his trade, that of machinist, at the old King Iron Works, where he was employed about three years. He also worked for five years at Rouseville, Penn., in the machine shop of his father, Samuel B. Walker, who was well known among machinists, having been in the employ of the Shepherd Iron Works fourteen consecutive years, and who now resides in Crawford county, Pennsylvania.
Robert E. Walker commenced life on the lakes as second engineer of the steamer Raleigh, and was with her in that capacity part of the seasons of 1871 and 1872. In the summer of 1873 he worked at his trade in the rolling-mill of P.P. Pratt, at Black Rock, and in October was enrolled in the ranks of the Buffalo police force, as patrolman No. 117, station No. 1. From here he was transferred six months later to station No. 5, where he served one year, and at the end of that time becoming dissatisfied with the work, he returned to his trade, obtaining employment in the Boston Iron Works, located at Franklin, Penn., as foreman.
Later returning to Buffalo, he worked for a time in Pratt's iron works under Robert Learmonth, the present chief engineer of the Anchor line, and was next with the King Iron Works for a while. He left then to take the position of chief engineer on the steamyacht Huntress, which he held part of the season of 1880, finishing as second engineer of the Lehigh, of the Anchor line. During the season of 1881 he was chief engineer of the small passenger steamer T.S. Faxton, which plied between Grand Traverse and Mackinac, and for the season of 1882 he was second engineer respectively of the Robert A. Packer, and Tacoma, and chief of the Oceanica, all of the Lehigh Valley line. In 1883, he was chief of the excursion steamer A.J. Wright for part of a season and of the steambarge D.M. Wilson for the remainder of the season following. During 1885-86 he was chief engineer of the Dean Richmond, his employment on that boat continuing during the winters of 1886-87, the steamer being in line between Grand Haven and Milwaukee. The following two seasons he was chief engineer of the Starrucca, which was lost on the morning of November 15, 1888, about seven miles east of Grand Marais, Lake Superior, in a snowstorm, the vessel grounding on a bar on the beach. With the exception of a small part of the machinery, she was a total loss, but the men were taken off by the crew of the Deer Park Life Saving Station. The cargo was composed of assorted merchandise. In 1889 Mr. Walker was chief engineer of the steamer Rochester, and, for the season following, of the H.J. Jewett, being thus in the employ of the Union Steam Boat Company continuously from 1885.
In 1891 Mr. Walker bought out the Virginia, of the Goodrich line, between Milwaukee and Chicago, and was her chief engineer all that season. The following season he was chief of the Wiley M. Egan, of the Fitzgerald line of Milwaukee, and for the season of 1893 he was chief respectively of the American, Egyptian and the Kitty M. Forbes. In 1894 he fitted out and engineered the E.B. Bartlett, of the American Steel Barge Company. For half of the following season he was chief engineer of the steamer Thomas Wilson, belonging to the same company, and for the remainder was chief of the Shenandoah, owned by James Davidson, of Bay City, and he occupied the same berth on the new passenger steamer North Land, of the Northern Steamship Company, and the full season of 1896.
In 1869, Mr. Walker was married at Buffalo, to Emeline Lathbury, and they have three children, viz.: Horace O., Grace Irene and Florence A., aged respectively twenty-eight, twenty-four and sixteen years. Horace O. and Grace Irene now have comfortable homes of their own while Florence A. attends the Buffalo High School.
Return to Home Port
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.