Captain James Sheils
Captain James Sheils, mate of the S. C. Reynolds, has for more than forty years been actively engaged in the navigation of the lakes, and he has taken a conspicuous part in the building up of the merchant marine of these great inland seas.
Born May 15, 1838, in Dungiven, County Derry, Ireland, he in 1846 was brought by his parents to Ontario, Canada, where he received a somewhat limited education in the public schools. At the age of eighteen he went to Ogdensburg, N. Y., and began life as a sailor on vessels plying between that place and Lewiston and Toronto, being employed in that service until 1860, when he removed to Buffalo and from that point to Chicago and Duluth. He has been sailing ever since. In 1863 he shipped as wheelsman on the propellor Winslow, and in that capacity, and as mate and sailing master, he has been employed up to the present time. In 1876 he was sent to Marquette, Mich., to fit out the propeller City of Port Huron, and sailed on her as mate until the 16th of September of that year, when the vessel was sunk in a storm off Lexington, in Lake Huron. For the balance of the year he was second mate of the propeller Oneida, and in 1877-78 he was master of the barge Dictator, sailing from Buffalo to Chicago and Duluth. In the spring of 1879 he shipped as first mate of the propeller Potomac, of the Western line, and the following year shipped as second mate of the propeller Philadelphia, of the Anchor line, completing the year in the same capacity on the propeller Roanoke and the steamer Cuba, of the Commercial line. In 1881 he retired from active service, and did not return till 1883, when he shipped as first mate and sailing master of the Potomac, running between Buffalo and Chicago and Duluth.
In 1885 Captain Sheils entered the service of the Union Steamboat Company, the same year becoming second mate of the propeller Winslow, of the Anchor line, and November 2, of that year, he shipped as mate on the propeller Cuba. The next season and until October he sailed on that vessel, and then became mate of the Russell Sage, finishing the year as second mate of the propeller Chicago. In 1887 he shipped as mate of the Russell Sage, of the Wabash line. In the spring of 1888 he fitted out the propeller Gordon Campbell, of the Anchor line, on which he sailed as mate for two seasons, and in 1890 he fitted out the steamer Northerner, of the Maytham line, on which he remained as mate till June 12, when he shipped on the steambarge A. L. Hopkins, of the Wabash line, as mate. In 1891 he served as mate and sailing master of the steamer St. Louis, and the following year he again became mate of the Hopkins. In 1893 he sailed in the same capacity on the steamer Russell Sage, of the Wabash line, and on the 3rd of August of that year he was transferred to the S. C. Reynolds, of the same line, on which he is still employed as mate.
Captain Sheils was married to Miss Fannie McCormick, of Ontario, Canada, daughter of Francis McCormick. Socially, he is a member of the American Association of Masters and Pilots of Steam Vessels of the United States. He resides at No. 345 Herkimer street, Buffalo, New York.
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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.