Henry Bloecker, an accomplished machinist and engine builder, and an esteemed citizen and business man of Grand Haven, Mich., has perhaps had the honor of bringing out more marine engines than any engineer on the lakes. This arises from the fact that he has been a popular and enterprising builder of engines for steamboats during the last twenty years, and that he assumed charge of each when the steamer made her maiden trip, and it is but truth to say that all of the engines produced at the shop over which he had jurisdiction gave eminent satisfaction in every respect. His extensive practical know- ledge, added to rare mechanical ingenuity, common sense and remarkable powers of discrimination, all tended to the best results. He is a man of good presence, and has a strong, earnest face, expressing at once shrewdness, intelligence, good humor, kindness and liberality. He was born on September 6, 1845, in Holstein, Germany, and is the son of Marx and Margaret Bloecker, both of whom died in Germany, his father in 1847, and his mother in 1895. He was educated in the public schools of Holstein, where he also learned the machinist's trade, serving an apprenticeship of about four years.
When he reached the age of twenty-two, Henry Bloecker left his home in Germany and came to the United States, going directly to Grand Haven, where he entered the employ of the Ottawa Iron Company as machinists, and worked at his trade in that place and Ferryburg for ten years. By economy and industry he was, in 1877, enabled to start in business on his own account, associating in the business Mr. Bryce, and this was known as the firm of Bryce & Bloecker, they carrying on a general machinist's and engine-building trade until 1881, when the establishment was destroyed by fire. This did not dampen Mr. Bloecker's industrial ardor, however, and he immediately resumed business, after building a new shop, under the firm name of Bryce, Bloecker & Co., this title remaining in force for two years, when Mr. Bryce sold his stock, and the title was changed to Henry Bloecker & Co., the new members of the company being H. B. and Christian Gallmeyer. Business was thus conducted until 1889, when Mr. Bloecker bought out both of his partners and carried on the business alone until March 20, 1895, when he was appointed United States local inspector of boilers for the Grand Haven district, an office which he was eminently qualified to fill, and which he held for some time.
During the time that he carried on the machine shop Mr. Bloecker built and brought out the engines of the steamers Lora, A. R. Colburn, Douglass, George D. Sanford, Jr., Charles McVea, Frank Woods, Joseph C. Suit, R. C. Reid, H. A. Root, Richmond, A. S. Krouse, Saugatuck, Kalamazoo, City of Kalamazoo, Lorain L., McCormick, Myrty M. Ross, S. K. Martin, Tempest, A. D. Hayward, Mark B. Covell, John Pauley, Alice, Columbia, Columbia No. 2, Frank P. Geiken, Thomas W. Frayant, Lou A. Cummings, S. C. Hall, Frances Hinton, Bruce, River Queen, Teora, Anna, M. E. B. A., J. W. Calister, Alice M. Gill, T. W. Scott, Crescent and many others.
On April 17, 1868, Henry Bloecker was wedded to Miss Mary Glazat, daughter of Herman and Caroline Glazat, of Grand Haven, Mich. The children born to this union are Hugo, Fred, Robert, Paul, Emma, Ernest and Henry. The family homestead is in Grand Haven, Michigan.
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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.