Both in the line of experience and efficiency, Mr. Donnelly must be accorded a prominent place in the engineering department of the navigation of the Great Lakes. He is devoted to his work and to the cause in which he is engaged. He is a leading and energetic member of the Chicago Lodge No. 4, of the M.E.B.A., was one of its charter members, and for fourteen consecutive years, from 1884 to 1898, he served as its treasurer.
Mr. Donnelly was born at Niagara Falls, N.Y., in 1847, the son of James and Bridget (Donnelly) Donnelly, natives of Ireland, and early settlers of Niagara county, N.Y., where they engaged in farming through the remainder of their lives. Their son James was reared and educated at Niagara Falls, and it was on the Niagara river, between Niagara Falls and Buffalo, that he received his first training in the line of navigation, which became his life work. At the age of sixteen years he engaged in river traffic, and there learned engineering. On April 5, 1864, he came to Chicago, and in 1865 began sailing out of that port as engineer on the lakes. For more than twenty years he was engaged in engineering, serving on various kinds of boats. He was for a time in the tug service, and then on the Goodrich line of boats, and later on was for some time in the employ of the Leopold and Austrian line of boats; then for one year sailed from this port on the steamer Lothair, in the Canadian service. He then went to Galveston, Texas, as a member of a surveying party under Lieutenant Davis, but in 1887 returned to Chicago and became engineer for the well-known house of Selz, Schwab & Co., corner of Superior and Larrabee streets, a position which he still holds.
In 1881, at Chicago, Mr. Donnelly was married to Miss Lenora Barnett, a native of Niagara Falls. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Donnelly: Mabel and James. Mr. Donnelly is a member of the Order of Foresters, and in marine circles holds an honored place, and is one of the well-known marine engineers of the port of Chicago.
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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.