M. Conley has been connected with the Great Lakes for twenty-nine years, being in the employ of one company for twenty-six years of that time. He is chief engineer for the Inter Ocean Transportation Company, of Milwaukee, having in charge the machinery on its entire fleet, and in addition to this is the efficient engineer of the steamer Maryland. It is needless to add that he is one of the most experienced and capable engineers on the lakes.
Mr. Conley was born in the Province of Ontario, Canada, in 1847, the son of John and Margaret (Sheehan) Conley, natives of Ireland, and who became early settlers of Canada. John Conley was a farmer, and followed that occupation in Canada till his death. His widow then came to Chicago, and died in that city. Mr. Conley was educated in Canada, but, in 1860, when a boy of thirteen years, he went to Cleveland and for a number of years was working for the tug lines and doing dock work. In 1869 he began steady sailing, starting from Cleveland on the old passenger steamer Atlantic, engaged in the Lake Superior trade, and the next year, 1870, he came to Chicago and was on the R. Prindiville, owned by Detroit parties.
In 1872 Mr. Conley commenced his long term of service with the Inter Ocean Transportation Company, known at that time as the Lake Michigan Transportation Company. A year later he was appointed chief engineer of the company, and in that capacity he assisted in bringing out all their boats, and in looking after the machinery department, serving as engineer of the steamer Ira H. Owen until 1880, and during that year became engineer of the steamer Minnesota, brought out that same year by this company. In 1881 the Inter Ocean Transportation Company built the Massachusetts and the Merrimac. During this year our subject was engineer of the Massachusetts, she having the Merrimac in tow. The following year the Merrimac was fitted out with machinery, and Mr. Conley was placed in charge of it, and he was engineer of her until the Manhattan came out in 1887, when he assumed charge of the machinery of the new vessel, and remained with her until the Manchester was built, when he was transferred to her as chief engineer. The Maryland, one of the finest steel steamers on the lakes, and engaged in the general freight trade, out from Milwaukee, was likewise indebted to Mr. Conley for the first care of her machinery. He assumed charge of her in 1891, and still continues as her engineer.
Mr. Conley has been a resident of Chicago since 1872. He was married, in 1872, in Canada, to Miss Catherine Collins, a native of Canada. To Mr. and Mrs. Conley have been born four children: John F., Julia, Carrie and Edna. John, the only son, was assistant engineer of the Maryland in 1895, having previously served as oiler on the Maryland and Manitou. He was reared to vessel life, and started for himself when sixteen years of age. In 1896 he was first engineer on the Adella Shores. He is a prominent member of the M. E. B. A., and affiliates with the Chicago Branch No. 4, and in 1898 was elected its corresponding secretary.
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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.