Captain Walter Hunter
Captain Walter Hunter, who has been in the employ of John Kilderhouse and Thomas Maytham for several years, is a son of James and Elizabeth (Oxford) Hunter, natives of Glasgow, Scotland. James Hunter was a blacksmith by trade, but while living in Canada, engaged in farming. He died in 1868, his wife one year previously. Besides Walter he had four children, named, respectively, David (a railroad engineer who died in 1869), Laney (wife of Alexander Grant, a resident of Simcoe, Canada), Samuel (a blacksmith and wagonmaker at Saugatuk, Mich.) and Eleanor (wife of Alexander Brown, of Norfolk, Ontario who died in 1878).
The subject of this sketch was born in the year 1843 at Port Dover, County of Norfolk, Ontario, where he attended school until he was fourteen. He began sailing the Great Lakes as boy on the schooner Georgian out of Port Dover, starting on his first trip on the 8th day of April, the fifteenth anniversary of his birth. The early part of the season the Georgian plied to Cleveland, but later between Port Dover and Kingston. In 1859 he was before the mast on the schooner Cleopatra in the grain trade between Kingston and Buffalo, and the following season he went in the same capacity out of Hamilton in the brig John Young, which was capsized on Lake Erie off Port Stanley and rolled over. The crew remained on the vessel eighteen hours, when they were picked up by the propeller Missouri and landed at Buffalo. The John Young was afterward towed to a safe harbor by the John Ray, a sister vessel. In the spring of 1861 Captain Hunter enlisted in the first company of the first regiment that went from Illinois to the Civil war; the regiment was under command of Colonel Fisk and Major Harding, who were veterans of the Mexican war. After a service of three months and five days he returned to Chicago and shipped on the brig Mary under Captain Harmon for the remainder of that season, this vessel being in the lumber trade between Oconto and Chicago. After a winter at his home at Port Dover Captain Hunter went to Buffalo and shipped on the schooner David Todd, under Captain Blue. She was in the salt and grain trade between Buffalo and Chicago. The following winter he remained in Chicago, and shipped out of that harbor as second mate of the brig Mary under the same captain, remaining with her until the close of the season at Chicago.
In 1864 our subject shipped as mate of the schooner North Star for the season, and in 1865 he was master of the schooner Bay Queen. For the seasons of 1866-67-68-69 he was master, respectively, of the schooners Rise Stearn, David Sharp, Argo, and the new Erie Queen. In 1870 he went to Buffalo and took mate's berth on the schooner Morning Star, which he held all of that season, and he was mate of the steamer Lillie Hamilton, of Port Burwell, in command of Capt. William Light, for the season of 1871. The next season he was master of the same vessel, and in 1873 of the side-wheel steamer Argyle, in the passenger and freight trade between Port Dover, Erie and Port Rowan, and continued in that position until June of the next year, when she was sold. For the rest of the season of 1874 he was master of the schooner Maple Leaf. During the season of 1875-76 Captain Hunter was master, respectively, of the schooners Ella Tracy and Erie Queen, and for that of 1877 mate of the steamer John E. Potts. The next two seasons he was master of the Persia, and in 1880 he obtained a pilot's license at Buffalo and shipped out of that port as mate of the tow barge Florence Dickerson, remaining with her the entire season. During the seasons of 1881-82-83 he was second mate of the steamer Nevada, owned by John Kilderhouse, for those of 1884-85 he was master of the schooner Satan, for the same employer, and for that of 1886 second mate of the steamer Oregon, also owned by John Kilderhouse. Since 1886 Captain Hunter has not sailed regularly, but he has been in the employ of Messrs. Kilderhouse and Edward C. Maytham in special work in connection with their vessel and tug interests in and out of Buffalo harbor, during which period he has rendered them valuable services because of his long experience on the Great Lakes. During the winter of 1896-97 he was ship-keeper on the steamer Thomas Maytham, loaded with corn at Buffalo harbor.
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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.