Captain William H. Griffin
A son of William and Kate (McDonough) Griffin, our subject, was born on April 14, 1849, in Oswego, N. Y., of which city his parents were also natives. The other members of the family who followed the lakes were: John M., for a long time master of the Guiding Star, Maple Leaf and James Navaugh, died July, 1883; P. J., who sailed the James Platt, George Goble, Cortez, Leadville, brought out the Monteagle new, and is now master of the Charles Stewart Parnell; and a half-brother, M. J. Cummings, a business man of Oswego, who has been owner of vessels since he was twelve years old - among them the Persian, Indiana, Maple Leaf, Seminole, James Navaugh, Augustus Ford, Jane Platt, Twilight, A. C. Contins, Delos DeWolf, Wayne, Cortes and White Star. Those built to his order were the Leadville, Rising Star, Guiding Star, Mystic Star, Blazing Star, Monteagle and Charles Stewart Parnell. Captain Griffin's father was engaged in the grocery business in Oswego for a number of years. During the progress of the Civil war he served with honor in the 181st New York Infantry, serving two years, and participating in the great battles of the Wilderness, Fair Oaks, and Seven Pines, besides many minor affairs. He died in August, 1888, his wife having passed away in June, 1879.
Capt. William H. Griffin commenced his career very early in life, leaving school when he was fourteen years of age, and in 1863 shipped as boy in the brig Seminole, commanded by his half-brother, Capt. A.J. Cummings. The next two years he passed before the mast in the schooners Persian, Maple Leaf, Delos DeWolf, Dreadnaught and Augustus Ford. In the spring of 1866 he joined the schooner James Navaugh, and remained with her three seasons, the last two as mate. She went ashore on Twin River Point in November, 1868, but the crew were rescued by some fishermen. The next spring Captain Griffin was appointed mate of the schooner James Platt, and, in 1870, of the schooner Guiding Star, holding that office two seasons. In 1872 he came out as mate of the schooner George C. Finney, but in September was appointed master of the new schooner Thomas H. Howland, owned by Peter Johnson, of Manitowoc.
In the spring of 1873 Captain Griffin again entered the employ of M. J. Cummings, of Oswego, as master of the schooner Guiding Star and sailed her four seasons with good results, part of the time under charter, from Marquette to Cleveland, with ore at $3.50 per ton, and in 1877 he transferred to the command of the Mystic Star, which he sailed two seasons. In the spring of 1879 he again assumed the office of master of the Guiding Star, in which he owned an interest, and, after four successful seasons, she was driven ashore about twelve miles north of Milwaukee, the crew being taken off by the life-savers of that port. The Captain then purchased an interest in the Jane Maria Scott, changed her name to White Star, and sailed her until September, 1886, closing that season as master of the schooner Blazing Star. It was in the spring of 1887 that Captain Griffin was appointed master of the steamer Monteagle, his present command, which he has sailed eleven consecutive seasons.
On December 10, 1868, Capt. William H. Griffin was wedded to Miss Julia, daughter of Michael and Margaret (Quinn) Shannon, of Oswego. The children born to this union were: Andrew J., an engineer, who met an accidental death on the Rome, Watertown & Oswego railroad, April 18, 1896; Michael J., second mate of the steamer Monteagle in 1897; Frank H., now wheelsman of the Monteagle; John, second mate of the same steamer; George, who died young; Etta Mary, now the wife of Thomas W. Whellahan, and Robert. There is also a granddaughter, Lilly. The family homestead is pleasantly situated at No. 78 West Mohawk street, Oswego, New York.
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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.