James W. Baker
James W. Baker, who for several years was a prominent marine engineer, and is the present engineer of the Ogden school, in Chicago, was born in Sandusky, Ohio, in October, 1855, a son of John M. and Lydia M. (Whitaker) Baker. The father was born in New York, but moved to Sandusky, Ohio, about the year 1835, and there worked at his trade, that of ship-carpenter, dying in Chicago, in 1891; his widow is now a resident of Chicago. They were the parents of three sons: James W., our subject; J. Marr, who was on the tug Relief when she burned, in 1887, on Lake Erie, is now in Chicago; and Arnold R., who also sailed the lakes.
The subject of these lines was reared in Cleveland, and there learned the trade of machinist and boilermaker after which, in 1870, he commenced sailing the lakes from Cleveland on the tug Belle King, on which he remained eighteen months; then went on the tug Maggie Sanborn, as fireman for one season; then on the tug Amadeus, at that time one of the largest harbor tugs on the lakes. On her he remained some eighteen months and then went as second engineer of the D.W. Wilson in the coal and iron ore trade. After one season on her, he, in the following spring, went as chief engineer of the lake tug Relief, and was on her four seasons. She was burned in 1887 on Lake Erie, off Sandusky, after which Mr. Baker went back to his home in Sandusky, Ohio, where he sojourned some time. He was then licensed chief engineer, and in that capacity went on the V. Swain, of Cleveland, remaining with her two years, at the end of which time he became engineer of the White & Fraint, of Chicago, was on her seven months, and then became engineer of the Fred Kelley, of Cleveland, which brings us now to 1889, the year Mr. Baker left the lakes. In 1887 he came to reside permanently in Chicago.
Our subject's next occupation was as chief engineer for the Gillett Chemical Works, Chicago, where he remained two and a half years; then had charge of the Excelsior Block for about the same length of time, in 1894 receiving appointment as chief engineer of the Ogden school, his present charge.
In 1880, at Sandusky, Ohio, Mr. Baker was married to Miss Fanny Palmer, of Fort Wayne, Ind. Our subject was formerly a member of the M.E.B.A., No. 4, and was president of the lodge in 1892. He is affiliated with the K. of P., and with the A.F. & A.M., Blair Lodge No. 393.
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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.