Captain E. Rathbun
Captain E. Rathbun was born January 5, 1844, at Port Ontario, Oswego Co., N. Y., and is perhaps the oldest active shipmaster sailing out of Algonac, Mich. Captain Rathbun is the son of Orrin and Philinda (Marsden) Rathbun, and is of English descent. The family espoused the cause of the Colonies during the dark days of the Revolution. His grandfather was born in New York and his grandmother in Vermont, and his great-grandparents were numbered among the pilgrims of early days. Mr. and Mrs. Orrin Rathbun came from New York State to St. Clair County, Mich., and settled on Ruby's island in the year 1849, thence removing to Algonac, where the father died January 27, 1881; the mother passed away October 27, 1892. Their children were Capt. Andrew J., who was mate of the tug B. B. Jones with Captain Burnham when she exploded her boilers on the St. Clair river and killed eight out of twelve people aboard, Captain Rathbun being one of the unfortunates; Egbert M. Van B., the next son, was also a lake captain, sailing the Burlington and many other vessels, and died in Algonac; our subject was the third son; James K. P., a marine engineer, died August 8, 1873, his last boat being the Satellite; the fifth son, Charles Marsden, is also a lake pilot and mate, and sailed with his brother Eugene for many years.
Captain Rathbun acquired his education in the public schools of Algonac, and in 1860 began his career as a sailor in the side-wheel steamer Canada, towing on the St. Clair river. The next two seasons he shipped as wheelsman on the tugs Hamilton Horton and John Martin, respectively, following with a season as mate under his brother Andrew. In the spring of 1864 he joined the tug E. M. Peck as wheelsman with Capt. R. H. Hackett, the next season receiving promotion to second mate's berth. In 1866 the Captain sailed as mate of the tug W. B. Castle with Captain Ames; 1867-68 as mate of the Matamora; the next three years as master of the tug Zouave; 1872-73 as master of the steamer Burlington; and in the spring of 1874 was appointed master of the steamer Superior, sailing her five seasons. The steamer Annie Smith was his next command, and he transferred from her into the steamer J. S. Fay as mate with Capt. Merrin Thompson. In 1881 he brought out the streamer Jessie H. Farwell new, and sailed her two seasons, the following season commanding the steamer Salina. In the spring of 1884 he shipped as mate of the steamer Sarah E. Sheldon with Capt. Greenlee; 1885 as mate and sailing master of the steamer Australasia, and the next season sailed as mate of the steamers Australasia and J. H. Outhwaite until the Aurora was completed and placed in commission, when he went as mate in her with Capt. William Mack. In the spring of 1888 Captain Rathbun was appointed master of the steamer John F. Eddy, which he sailed two seasons, the following season acting as master in the steamer John Plankinton. During the summer of 1891 he stopped ashore and built two houses for himself in Algonac, one of which he has made the family homestead, but during the fall he sailed as mate in the steamer Henry Johnson. In the spring he joined the steamer Samuel Johnson as mate, and in 1893 went as sailing master of the steamer Wocoken, later becoming master of the steamer Garden City, and for two seasons of the Santa Maria. In the spring of 1897 he was appointed to the command of the steamer W. R. Stafford, which he laid up at the close of navigation in Cleveland, thus rounding out thirty-eight years on the lakes, twenty-nine of which he has been mate or master.
In 1862 Captain Rathbun wedded Miss Harriet A. Smith, of Algonac, who died in 1882; one son, Harvey Design, was born to this union. On January 1, 1883, the Captain married Miss Harriet Anna, daughter of David and Harriet (Billow) Cadotte, of Algonac.
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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.