James W. Beach
James W. Beach when a lad possessed great bravery and manliness, and at the age of ten years drove a team of horses from Geneseo, N. Y., to Hall's Corners, Mich. He was born at the former place April 5, 1821, and is the son of Samuel Beach, a farmer, who left the family some time afterward and went to Michigan.
Here he purchased land and built a log-cabin upon it, after this going back to the family in New York State for a short time. He soon left, however, and blazed the trees as a guide for the sharp eyes of his son, who was to conduct the family to the place which he had prepared for them. This was accomplished, and they duly arrived with all the necessary household effects. Soon after their advent, another family, that of John Marvin, from the same town in New York, arrived and made their home with them in the cabin which had been prepared by Mr. Beach, and in this place Azubah B. Marvin and James Beach passed their childhood and youth, and on March 9, 1843, were united in marriage, forming a closer tie between companions from infancy. They remained here till 1850, when Mr. Beach came to Cleveland, and found employment in the Cuyahoga Works, now the firm of Bassett, Presley & Train, he having learned the machinist's trade in Coldwater, Mich. He remained in Cleveland a year, and was then joined by his wife. Later on he connected himself with the Union Steamboat Company, of Buffalo, being in their employ for over twenty years, some of which time was spent as chief engineer on the lakes; but in 1868 remained on shore as chief engineer of the line. During his career as marine engineer he was on the Wabash, Genesee, Jersey City, New York and other vessels.
Mr. Beach was the father of five children: (1) Harriet I., born September 24, 1845, died in August, 1847; (2) Ellen M., born August 28, 1848, died in the fall of 1859; (3) George N., born September 3, 1851, died in July, 1852; (4) Florence A., born October 19, 1854, married Albert C. Berger, April 25, 1878, and is the mother of four children - William B., deceased; Grace, Raymond and Abigail; and (5) Oscar M., born December 19, 1862, a marine engineer, filling the position of chief on the Vulcan and Wallace, having served an apprenticeship under his father. During the American- Spanish war he was employed as machinist on the torpedo boat Dupont, which carried to the battleship Maine the message ordering her to Havana, and later on was active in the Havana blockade. At the close of the war he was engaged on the torpedo boat Rogers, belonging to the United States navy. He is married and lives at the old home in Cleveland.
Mrs. Beach died January 25, 1895, and was preceded twelve years by the death of her husband, which occurred may 18, 1883. Up to the last he had charge of the business at Buffalo, having visited the office on the day of his death. He was practically what is termed a self-made man; was a fine scholar, and an accurate mathematician, though he never attended school after he was ten years of age.
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.