Robert Cameron has sailed out of Port Huron many years as a marine engineer, and is well qualified for the responsible position which he holds, as chief engineer of the fleet owned by A. Comstock. He is the son of Donald and Margaret Cameron, both of whom were born in Scotland. They removed to America early in the forties, locating at Dorchester, Ont., where Robert was born on February 28, 1851. Soon after this event they came to the United States, settling in North township, Sanilac Co., Mich. The father died while Robert was very young, and the children were left to the care of their mother, who passed to the better world June 2, 1882. James is second engineer of the passenger steamer City of Detroit and John L. is second in the City of Alpena.
Robert Cameron improved the opportunities he had for an education, after which he entered the employ of the Freeling Lumber Company in their sawmill, and also in the sawmill of Jerry Hall, both being in the Saginaw Valley. Six years passed in this occupation, and he then returned home and went to work in Philo McIntyre's flouring mill in North township, Sanilac County, where as engineer of a stationary engine he remained about eighteen months, when the mill was destroyed by fire. He then went to Port Huron, and engaged in booming logs for Daniel Runnels. In 1877 and 1878 he ran an engine for a pile driver in Port Huron.
In the spring of 1879 Mr.Cameron took out engineer's license, and shipped as second in the Buckeye State. The next spring he entered the employ of the Port Huron & Sarnia Ferry Co., as chief engineer of the Wesley Hawkins, holding that berth until the winter of 1882, when he transferred to the James L. Beckwith, running her during the winter. The next season he joined the steamer city of Concord, as chief, remaining in her the next two seasons, until she went ashore at Sand Beach, the year that the piers at the harbor of refuge went to pieces. In 1888 he purchased an interest in the tug Mystic, and engineered her until the close of navigation, when he sold out his interest, the next spring again going as chief of the steamer City of Concord, and running her two seasons. In the spring of 1892 he was appointed chief of the steamer Kittie M. Forbes, and was in her until August, 1894. He closed that season as chief of the Porter Chamberlain, taking the same berth the next spring. On one trip she sprang a leak and waterlogged between Ashtabula and Cleveland, and notwithstanding that one of the fires was put out by the water, he stuck to the engine until he ran her into Cuyahoga River at Cleveland, when she settled on the bottom. In 1897 he again entered the employ of A.W. Comstock, as chief engineer of the Simon Langall, laying her up at Chicago at the close of navigation, and assuming charge of her machinery in 1898. During the winter months he looks after repairs of the other steamers of the fleet.
Mr. Cameron was united by marriage on March 8, 1882, to Miss Elizabeth Brownlee, of Port Huron, a daughter of Capt. William Brownlee, who commanded vessels on ocean and lake for many years, and visited all parts of the world. Mr. Cameron has three children: Bessie O., Gertrude A., and Marion B. The family homestead is at No. 1103 St. Clair Street, Port Huron, Mich.
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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.