James Rossan, a young marine engineer, thirty years of age, who possesses many good qualities of head and heart, has protected himself in his calling by an assiduous study of works on engineering, and close attention to his machinery, and winning by this the reward true merit brings in a rapid rise in his calling, until he has attained a position equaled by a few men of his age and short experience. He is the son of Bartel and Annie Margaret (Langker) Rossan, and was born near Hamburg, Germany, on April 28, 1868. His father, who is a farmer, removed with his family to the United States about the year 1872, locating at Pierceville, Ill., where he purchased a farm, and where James attended school and worked on the farm until he was sixteen years of age. During the winter of 1891-92 he further improved himself by studying mathematics and mechanical drawing at the Chicago Athenaeum, completing two terms of thirteen weeks each at this famous school. His first duties away from home life were on the Burlington & Quincy railroad as fireman working in the shops at Aurora, Ill., as opportunity afforded.
It was in the spring of 1889 that Mr. Rossan began his career as a sailor by shipping as foreman on the steamer M.T. Green. In 1890 he entered the employ of R.P. Fitzgerald, for whom he has since worked with the exception of a few months. His first berth in his new work was sailing on the steamer John Plankinton, which he held two seasons. In the spring of 1892 he applied for and was granted an engineer's license, and was appointed first assistant on the steamer George Burnham, of Milwaukee, which city he had made his home during 1890. He retained this position, until August, with John E. Eaton as chief, when he was appointed to the steamer John Plankinton in a like capacity, holding that berth until the fall of 1897. The next spring he was promoted to chief engineer on the steamer Phil D. Armour, retaining that office until the close of navigation.
The only casualty worth mentioning since he has been sailing was the loss of the rudder of the Plankinton in 1895, when she drifted helplessly for two days, until she was discovered and taken in tow by the revenue cutter Andrew Johnson.
On January 20, 1897, James Rossan was wedded to Miss Daisy Maud, daughter of John E. and Annie (Proctor) Eaton, of Milwaukee. One daughter, Marion Eaton Rossan, has been born to this union. Mrs. Rossan's father is an old and highly esteemed marine engineer, and has been in the employ of William Fitzgerald a long time. Although Mr. Rossan now resides on Churchill Street, Chicago, he owns a pleasant home in Maywood, one of the suburbs of that city.
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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.