Captain Robert Jones
Captain Robert Jones, who comes of a family of sailors, is a son of Richard and Elizabeth (McKay) Jones, the former of whom (now deceased) was a salt-water sailor in his younger days, and later, until he arrived at the age of fifty, was an officer in the employ of the English Government. He had a family of eleven children, those now living being Robert; Mary A., wife of Capt. William Dickson, a well-known resident of Buffalo, and a lake navigator; Margaret, wife of George Boland, a machinist of Buffalo; Ellen, wife of Edward Hurtley, a farmer of near Geneva, Ohio; Sarah, wife of Philip Kelley, a clerk for the New York Central Railroad Company; Stephen, a lake captain; and Emily, wife of Walter Milson, a stock man at East Buffalo. Captain Valentine Jones, one of the oldest captains on the lakes and a resident of Buffalo, is a brother of Richard Jones.
The subject of this sketch was born in England October 7, 1849, attended school in his native land, and at the age of twelve years began sailing on salt water. After three years in that service he landed at Quebec in 1862, and from there went to Buffalo, where he shipped as porter on the propeller Saginaw for two seasons. For the succeeding season, 1865, he was watchman on the Dunkirk with Capt. William Dickson, and also served on her for part of 1866, the remainder of which he was wheelsman of the Kentucky. Next he was wheelsman of the Mayflower, Plymouth and Orontes, respectively, and then second mate on the propeller Winslow and mate on the propeller Sun with his uncle Capt. Robert Jones. He now became mate with Captains Perkins, Wright, Penny and Jones, respectively, in the Empire State, of the New York Central line, for five seasons in succession. Then he went as mate of the Idaho with Captain Pinney for a season, succeeding that as master of the Oneida, on which he continued for three seasons. For a time he was commodore of the New York Central line, and was in their employ altogether a period of twenty years. He was subsequently master of the Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Chicago, Idaho, Buffalo and Hudson, and also superintended the construction of several of the company's steamers at Detroit.
At one time Captain Jones owned an interest with Capt. James Davidson, of Bay City, in the steamer Panther, a freight boat, which he sailed, and which was later sold to Hubbard & Sullivan, of Toledo, Ohio, after which he sailed the City of London for the latter part of that season. He then became master of the steamer Niko, in which boat he owned an interest, resigning her after a period of four seasons as her master. During the season of 1896 he was master of the whaleback E.B. Bartlett (owned by the American Steel Barge Company, but under the management of Pickands, Mather & Co., of Cleveland, Ohio), except for the time that it took him to take the whaleback Joseph S. Colby from Ogdensburgh to Cleveland and from there to Duluth. During all his career on the lakes Captain Jones never lost a dollar of insurance, and never had occasion to enter a protest, which can be said of very few lake captains. He was appointed assistant inspector of hulls in April, 1898, the appointment coming direct from Washington. He is a member of the Shipmasters Association, and in fraternal affiliation is a Free Mason, being a member of DeMolay Lodge No. 498. Captain Jones has been one of the most successful of lake men, and is one of the self-made men.
The Captain was married at Buffalo, in 1877, to Miss Selina E. Latimer, by whom he has two children: William R., a clerk for George E. Latimer, a contractor, and Arthur V., at school. The family residence is at No. 99 Northampton street, Buffalo, 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.