George M. Cowan
George M. Cowan, whose identification with marine affairs, dates back to 1867, is the well-known and popular chief engineer of the "Auditorium Hotel", where he has been stationed for the past ten years.
Mr. Cowan was born in Ogdensburg, N. Y., in 1847, a son of Ambrose and Sylvia Cowan who spent their entire lives in the Empire State. In 1866 he went to New York city, and with the firm of Fletcher and Harris learned the machinist's trade. Although but fourteen years of age, he enlisted at Ogdensburg, in 1861, in the 60th N. Y. V. I. for three years, or during the war and was mustered in at that place. He was with the army of the Potomac until July, 1863, and in October of that year was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland. Among the important engagements in which he participated were the battles of Chancellorsville, Antietam and Gettysburg. In 1864 he veteranized in the same company and regiment and at the battle of Kenesaw Mountain received a gunshot wound in the right arm, after which he was sent home, but rejoined his regiment at Savannah, and was later in the Carolina campaign. After participating in the grand review in Washington D.C., he returned to New York city, in October, 1865 with a war record of which he may be justly proud.
Mr. Cowan began his marine career as oiler in 1867 on a side-wheel steamer on the Hudson River, and in that capacity served two seasons. In the winter of 1868 he obtained a position on the passenger steamer Alaska, running from New York City to Aspinwall, and remained on her during the summer of 1869. In the winter of 1869-70 he transferred to the Great Republic, which was engaged in trade between San Francisco and Yokohama, Japan and remained on her the following summer, returning to New York in December, 1870. He came west in March 1871, and was appointed engineer on the Lac La Belle running from Milwaukee to Grand Haven, Mich.; the next year he was employed in a sawmill in Muskegon, Mich., but the following year returned to the Lac La Belle as engineer. In 1873 he transferred to the Ironsides, running out of Milwaukee and remained on her until she foundered in September, 1873, six miles off Grand Haven, twenty-six of the crew being lost. During the summer seasons of 1874-75-76, he was engineer on the Minneapolis, running from Milwaukee to Grand Haven, transferring to the side-wheel steamer Flora in 1877.
Mr. Cowan was next in the employ of C. & D. Navigation Co., and on his return to Milwaukee was again appointed engineer of the Minneapolis. In 1879 he entered the service of the Goodrich Transportation Company as chief engineer on the steamer Chicago, on which he remained two years and then transferred to the steamer De Pere as chief engineer. In November, 1880 he was appointed chief engineer of the steamer Michigan, of the Goodrich Transportation Company, and held that position until November, 1883, when he was appointed local inspector of steam vessels and located at Grand Haven, Mich. In 1886, he became chief engineer of the "Union League Club" and two years later accepted his present position at the "Auditorium Hotel". Socially he is a member of the Marine Engineers Association at Milwaukee and the Stationary Engineers Association, No. 28, of Chicago. In the latter city he has made his home since 1886.
At Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1871, Mr. Cowan was united in marriage with Miss Catherine Bentley, by whom he had three children: Frank, Grace and Artie. The wife and mother died in Milwaukee in 1883, and in 1887, Mr. Cowan was again married at Grand Rapids, his second union being with Miss Emma Bechtel. By the last marriage there is one daughter, Ruth.
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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.