Samuel M. Sloan
Samuel M. Sloan, partner of B. L. Cowles, of the firm of Sloan & Cowles, the most extensive excursion boat owners of Buffalo, N. Y., was born in that city December 30, 1858. He was educated there in the public schools, leaving school when eighteen years of age, since when he has been engaged in the grocery business, from 1878 to the present time on his own account, at No. 104 Main street. He has been unusually successful in his ventures, possessing a pleasant and genial disposition, which has naturally been the means of gaining him many friends.
Alexander Sloan, father of Samuel M. Sloan, has been a resident of Buffalo since 1835, the prosperous period of the city's history. Alexander Sloan was born near Belfast, Ireland, November 4, 1820, the son of John and Sarah (Barron) Sloan, who were married in 1812. In 1801 John Sloan built a house in Ireland still standing, in good repair, on the cornerstone of which is engraved: "Built in 1801." The children of John and Sarah Sloan were as follows: First, a daughter; twin boys, William and James; then Alexander, Matthew, Thomas and Hugh. The father had been married before and has three sons by his first wife, the youngest of whom, Samuel, came to the United States in 1833, bringing Alexander with him. They landed in New Orleans, but on account of the prevalence of cholera and yellow fever, remained there only three days, sailing up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to Louisville, Ky., where they remained about a year. Samuel died there in August, 1834, and young Alexander, being thus left alone in this country at the age of only fourteen years, determined to come to Buffalo. He proceeded up the Ohio to Portsmouth, from which place he rode on horseback in six days to Cleveland, Ohio, and from Cleveland to Buffalo, also on horseback.
At the time of Mr. Sloan's arrival in Buffalo that city contained about 15,000 inhabitants. To hold an election required three days. The following boats were in the harbor: William Penn, Pennsylvania, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Robert Fulton, Sheldon Thompson, Charles Townsend, and New York, the captain of the last named being Robert Bristol. The schooner Julia Palmer, of 300 tons, was on the stocks building; her cabin was elegantly finished in mahogany and bird's eye maple. This schooner rode out the fearful storm of November, 1842, with 300 passengers aboard, her anchors holding her fast off the foot of Main street, where she pitched and rolled in a manner frightful to behold all the day of the 19th, and was brought into the harbor on the 20th, much to the relief of all on board and their friends on shore. Mr. Sloan well remembers the Superior, the second steamer on the lakes. Of the British fleet of the war of 1812 he remembers the Queen Charlotte and the Detroit. There was also a fine ship named the Milwaukee, which was wrecked off the mouth of the Kalamazoo river. Captain Webster of this boat had his feet so badly frozen that it was necessary to amputate them. Mr. Sloan also recollects that a number of new boats were built at Black Rock in 1838, among them the Constitution, Constellation and New England. There was also the Thomas Jefferson, which made a famous chase after the New York, overtaking her, as he says, at the mouth of the Detroit river, notwithstanding she had a day and a night the start. There was a daily line between Buffalo and Erie, some of the boats belonging to which were the Red Jacket, the Indian Queen, and the Charter Oak, the last named commanded by Capt. Simeon Fox, a man weighing 280 pounds. The Charter Oak foundered off Erie or Conneaut, with the loss of all hands aboard, while commanded by Capt. Charles Rogers. The Atlantic was lost off Long Point in 180 feet of water, nothing being saved but the safe. A fine new brig named the Mechanic was lost off Point Abino in 1845. Mr. Sloan also remembers the fine brigs Indiana, Ilinois, Robert Hunter and Martha Freme, the Freme commanded by Capt. John McKinty, who now lives in Cleveland, Ohio; also the Owanunyah, built at White Haven on Grand island, and commanded by Capt. Augustus Todd.
In 1840 Mr. Sloan, in company with his twin brothers - who came to Buffalo in 1837 - began business in the grocery line where Spaulding's Exchange now stands, corner of Terrace and Main streets, remaining there until 1845. They built a block for themselves on the southwest corner of Washington and Exchange streets, and kept a grocery store there a number of years, Mr. Sloan finally turning the business over to his brothers and erecting the building at No. 104 Main street in which Samuel M. Sloan now has his establishment.
In 1867 Mr. Sloan erected a residence at No. 67 Oak street, in which he lived until 1896, when he removed to his present home, No. 410 Norwood avenue. On October 12, 1846, he was married to Miss Nancy Young, daughter of William Young, of Waterford, Penn., a farmer by occupation. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Sloan have had the following children: John Y., born December 5, 1847; William J., born February 7, 1849: Alexander H., keeper of the penitentiary in Buffalo, born October 28, 1850; Sarah J., born February 14, 1853, married to L. H. Plogsted; Mary C., born February 11, 1855, married to O. G. Bradeen; Julia B., born December 24, 1856, wife of George J. Volger, of Buffalo, N. Y.; Samuel M., born December 30, 1858; and Annie L., born April 22, 1861, unmarried.
Politically Mr. Sloan was a Democrat until after the breaking out of the Civil war, in 1861, in which year he and his five brothers joined the Union League, and he has been a Republican ever since. He served in the war of the Rebellion as a member of the Seventy-fourth Regiment, his company, R, being known as the Buffalo Light Dragoons. He was called out twice during the war, once when General Lee invaded Pennsylvania, and once afterward for a longer period, performing valuable services in the cause of the Union.
The first ferry boat Mr. Sloan can remember which crossed the Niagara river between Buffalo and the Canadian shore was propelled by horse-power, two horses working on a tread-wheel, one on each side and headed in opposite directions. The driver stood in the center of the wheel, and constantly kept his whip going, first on one horse and then on the other. The tread-wheel had gearing underneath which turned the paddle-wheels and propelled the boat across the river in about ten minutes. The first boat he recalls was the Waterloo, after which came the Cygnet and the Alliance, and finally the Union, all owned by James Haggert, who had the ferry privilege for many years.
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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.