Irvin A. Francombe
Irvin A. Francombe is the youngest chief engineer on the lakes, and although by twenty-four years of age at this writing, is in charge of the machinery of the Lagonda, one of the largest type of freight steamers. It is therefore presumable that he is a born engineer and mechanic, inheriting from his forefathers the ingenious qualifications so necessary in his profession. The Francombes, as is well known, have been engineers for many years, and our subject is a worthy representative in the third generation. He is the son of John and Matilda (Bell) Francombe, and was born May 7, 1874, and the day that he reached the legal age required by steamboat inspector service of the United States, he applied for and received his license. He is a young man of splendid physique, well educated, and an accomplished engineer and mechanic. His first experience on the lakes in a regular capacity was as oiler in the steamer W. R. Stafford, his father being chief engineer at the time. Previous to this, however, he had been around steamboats from his boyhood, taking advantage of every occasion to learn something. At the end of the season he went to work in the Frontier Iron Works, in which concern his father was a stockholder, to qualify himself for the position of chief engineer. He remained with that firm six years, during which time he was engaged in constructing and erecting engines, among which are the steamers W. H. Gilbert, Merida, C. F. Bielman, Pathfinder, Samuel Mather and Appomattox. In the spring of 1896, Mr. Francombe entered the employ of John Mitchell as first assistant engineer in the new steamer Lagonda, holding that office two seasons, and in 1898 he was promoted to the position of chief of the same, thus giving evidence of the confidence reposed in him.
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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.