John H. Smith
Mr. Smith came to the United States in 1869, and in 1871 assisted materially in the construction of the steamer Japan, at Buffalo. Shortly after this he entered the employ of the Anchor line, and performed a notable job of repairs, prompted by intuitive resource, on one of the steamers of that line at Erie, Penn., which attracted a great deal of attention. He listed the boat on shore, and made all necessary repairs to her bottom, thus saving the expense of a long delay in dry-dock. His reputation as an iron worker caused the Grand Trunk railway magnates to engage him to superintend the construction of the iron carferry steamer International at Buffalo, and later a second ferry boat, the Huron at Point Edward, and on the completion of the ferry steamers he was appointed to superintend the construction of bridges for the same railroad. In the meantime Mr. Smith had built a blast furnace on Lake Champlain, New York, which was soon in full and perfect operation. On the completion of the above detailed work he was tendered the position of general superintendent of the Globe Shipbuilding Company's yard, which he accepted, and which position he held up to his death, which occurred October 21, 1893, after an illness of about four months.
Mr. Smith was a man eminently qualified to accomplish great aims, and at the same time win not only the regard and esteem of the men working under his direction, but the confidence of those for whom he himself worked. While he did not appear as an important factor outside of the shipyard of the Globe Iron Works company, he had been so essential in the building up of that great industrial concern that his death seemed a loss irreparable.
The first large iron steamer, the Onoko, built by the Globe Shipbuilding Company, and the largest among the first metal steamers built on the lakes, was constructed under the immediate supervision of Mr. Smith. After that he superintended the building and launching of a fleet of over fifty steel steamers, making it a point of conscience to attend closely to the detail work. These boats ranged in price from $150,000 to $250,000. There was one year during which he launched a steel steamer each month. He was closely identified with the corporation with which he worked, having acquired some of the stock, and had grown up with it, taking cognizance of every advanced stride made in the steel ship building. The steamers of the Northern Steamship Company, which are perhaps the best type of ship construction to be found in any country, received the impress of his know- ledge and skill, more especially those designed for passenger traffic. In the shipyard he displayed all the qualities necessary to a good general, and when invitations were sent out for friends of the ship-building industry to attend a launch at a certain hour, Mr. Smith was ready for the event to the minute, or, as Longfellow aptly describes it:
Mr. Smith never seemed to have too many men engaged on any one piece of work, but always a large enough force - possessing that rare faculty of organizing his men to advantage while retaining their support and good will. In the work of repairing steel ships he had no superior in any yard, and in this respect he had so gained the confidence of owners and underwriters that they entrusted matters of the greatest importance to his integrity. Energy and self reliance gained for him the prestige of maintaining any position he assumed in relation to his line of work, even against the opposition of those higher in authority. The esteem in which Mr. Smith was held was testified to by the thousands of all classes who attended his funeral. He was an honored member of the Cambrian Society, which is composed entirely of his own countrymen of Wales. He was a Chapter Mason and a member of the Odd Fellows.
Mr. Smith was united in marriage in 1874 to Miss Margaret Allen, daughter of Capt. Edward Allen, of Amherst Island one of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence river. The children born of this union are: Alfred G. M., who is engaged in the draughting room of the Globe Ship Building Company; Mary Louise, Allen, John Henry, Jessie Alberta, Samuel Sidney and Chester Arthur. The family residence, surrounded by evidences of culture and comfort, is at No. 525 Franklin avenue, Cleveland, Ohio.
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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.