George Henson, for many years one of the most prominent engineers on the lakes, and who for some time has remained ashore, and since December 1, 1893, has most capably and satisfactorily filled the position of chief engineer at Central Music Hall, Chicago, Ill., was born in Boston, Mass., in 1846, a son of George and Helen Sophia (Freeman) Foster, also natives of that State. The father died in Boston when our subject was quite young, and he afterward took the name of his stepfather, Alexander Henson, who was for years a sailor on the lakes, and for some time was mate on the schooners Anna C. Raynor, Dardanelles, Stanton, and others. He removed the family to Buffalo, but spent his last days in Jeffersonville, Ind. The mother's death occurred in the same place.
Our subject was five years old, when he went with the family to Buffalo, where he was educated in Public School No. 11, situated on Elm street, and in that of No. 32, on Hickory street. After leaving school he commenced studying engineering, and was granted his first license in 1865. He commenced sailing from Buffalo in 1863 on the tug Relief, and the same year was also on the tugs A.B. Nelson and S.A. Clark for a time. The following year was chief engineer on the tugs Whalon, on the Niagara river, and the Hathaway and Parker; in 1865 was engaged on the tug Hilderhouse, and also brought the tug Skatchard on Erie canal from Schenectady, N.Y., to Buffalo. He was next on the tug Old Jack, of the George Hand Tug line, and on taking that boat to Cleveland he remained there for a time. Returning to Buffalo, he became engineer on the American Eagle, in 1866 was second engineer on the old propeller Owego, of the New York & Erie Railroad line, afterward the Union Steamboat Company; in 1867 came out on the O.L. Nims, which he had fitted up in Buffalo that winter, for Jack Green, and took her to Port Colborne, Canada. He then went on the Jones and brought the Nims back, after which he was on the tugs O.M. Ball and Dragon.
In the fall of 1867 Mr. Henson removed to Chicago, and the following year came out on the tug Success, which he engineered for ten years. During this time, in 1871, he took the tug L.B. Coates to Texas, going down the Illinois and Michigan canal through the Illinois and Mississippi rivers to the mouth of the Red river, then to the Gulf of Mexico and to Galveston, and on to Houston, returning in June to Chicago, where he again took charge of the Success. On leaving her in 1878 he was made engineer of the tug Gardner; was for a part of the season of 1879 on the tug A.B. Ward, and for two seasons was on the propeller Buckeye. In the fall of 1881 he was appointed engineer of the Central Park school, Chicago, where he remained until March, 1882, when, on leave of absence for one year, he went to Manitowoc, Wis., and fitted out the propeller Buckeye, which ran during the season 1882. In 1883 he returned to the Central Park school, where he filled the position of engineer until 1890, after which he went as engineer on the steamer White and Friant, remaining on her until the close of the season of 1893. On the 1st of December, of that year, he accepted his present postions, that of chief engineer at Central Music Hall.
Mr. Henson was married in Chicago, in 1873, to Miss Cordelia E. Molau, a native of Maine, and a daughter of William C. and Cordelia E. (Card) Molau, natives of Denmark and Maine, respectively. Her father, who is of French-Danish extraction, also followed a seafaring life, sailing out of Denmark early in life, and after coming to this country sailed on the lakes. He located in Chicago, where, during the Civil War he enlisted in the Board of Trade Battery, remaining in the service until hostilities ceased. He was a good soldier, and is now an honored member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and he and his wife find a pleasant home with our subject. Mr. Henson has prospered financially, and now owns residence property on the West Side, and also flat buildings on Indiana Avenue, on the South Side, Chicago. Socially, he is a prominent member of the old Marine Engineers Beneficial Association No. 4, of Chicago, and of which he was recording secretary for three years; Union Park Lodge No. 610, F. & A.M.; Corinthian Chapter No. 69, R.A.M.; St. Bernard Commandery No. 35, K.T.; Queen Esther Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star; and was also a charter member of Sacramento Council of the Royal Arcanum. In all places and under all circumstances, he is a courteous and genial gentleman, who commands the respect and esteem of all who know him.
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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.