Jeremiah Collins is one of the foremost engineers on the lakes, and enjoys the respect and esteem of those who know him best. He has been a citizen of Milwaukee for many years, and bears an unimpeachable reputation for honor and integrity. During the thirty-two years he has held license as marine engineer he has occupied many responsible positions, and has been uniformly skillful in the handling of his machinery, owing doubtless to his mechanical ability and rare good judgment. Previous to obtaining his license from the United States, he had held Canadian papers for two years. He has been an ardent member of the Marine Engineers Association for twenty-five years, and has been honored by No. 9 of Milwaukee in many instances. He has been elected to the office of president of that body four terms, and was the incumbent when he was appointed assistant local inspector of boilers for the Milwaukee district. He has also represented No. 9 as delegate to the National convention four times, which is in evidence of the high regard his shipmates have for his qualifications. He is the son of John and Margaret Collins, both natives of Ireland, who came to the United States in 1846, first stopping at Brazier Falls, N. Y., the place where Jeremiah was born that year, on September 12. They located permanently in Cornwall, Ont., where both parents died, the mother in 1853, and the father in 1855, a victim of cholera which ravaged the country that year.
When Mr. Collins was fifteen years old he was apprenticed to the miller's trade in Cornwall, where he served two years. In 1863 he entered the employ of Calvin & Breck, of Garden Island, as fireman in the side-wheel towing steamer Traveler, plying on the St. Lawrence river, and after two years in that capacity he went before Canadian inspectors and passed the examination for engineer's license, and was appointed assistant on the steamer John A. McDonald, retaining that berth two seasons, followed by a season on the steamer Highlander. It was in 1868 that Mr. Collins received his first United States papers, and entered the employ of the Goodrich Transportation Company as first assistant engineer of the side-wheel steamer Comet, closing the season on that steamer. The next season he was transferred to the Corona, and in 1870 to the St. Joseph, closing the season, however, as chief engineer of the steamer Truesdell, a position which he retained the following two years. In 1873 he opened a meat market, but returned to the lakes after two years as chief of the Trader. In 1877 he was again appointed chief of the steamer Truesdell, and ran her three seasons. He was then transferred to the steamer City of Ludington as chief, holding that position two seasons.
In September of 1882 Mr. Collins engaged by the year with the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad Co., and brought out new the steamer F. & P. M. No. 2, commanded by Capt. John P. Duddleson, and after running her for five years, summer and winter, he brought out No. 3, of which he had charge until F. & P. M. No. 4 was built in 1888, when he brought her out and ran her five years. In the spring of 1893 Mr. Collins went with Captain Duddleson into the employ of the Roby Transportation Company, and was appointed chief engineer of the George W. Roby, and when the fine steel steamer L. C. Waldo was built in 1896 he brought her out and remained as chief engineer under a yearly contract until March, 1898, when he was appointed to the office of assistant local inspector of boilers of the Milwaukee district. As the candidates for office come under the test of civil service examination upon their merits, Mr. Collins is secure in the position without limit.
On January 14, 1873, Mr. Collins was united by marriage to Miss Isabella McKenzie, daughter of John McKenzie, of Cornwall, Ont., and his wife, Isabella (McCrea), whose father was a sea captain and was lost at sea. Of three sons born to this union, two have adopted the line of profession so intelligently followed by their father; John D. is in the employ of the Western Transit Company; William A. is first assistant engineer of the steamer Caledonia, and Charles E. is first assistant of the steamer L. C. Waldo. The family homestead is at No. 319 Mitchell street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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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.