Captain L. Hugh McGowen
Captain L. Hugh McGowen was born in Port Huron, August 1, 1860, and is a son of Capt. Edward McGowen, who, before his retirement, was one of the best and oldest known masters of the lakes. He was born in County Donegal, Ireland, April 10, 1827, and was brought to America, while still an infant, by his parents, who located at Erie, Penn. His career as a sailor began while he was a boy of thirteen years, and when he reached the age of twenty-one was captain of the schooner Buckeye. He also sailed the brigs Hubbard, Harvest Queen, Vincennes: the barks Mary Stockton, D. S. Austin; propeller City of Madison; steamer Henry Howard; and was pilot of the revenue cutter John Sherman during the season of 1871, when the dense volumes of smoke from the forest fires hung over the lakes and endangered vessel property and lives of the sailors. During this period Capt. Edward McGowen was instrumental in saving many lives. He ranks as captain in the navy, his commission having been issued by the United States Government in 1872. He was pilot of the revenue cutter Fessenden two seasons. The last vessel of which he was master was the schooner Frank C. Leighton. His homestead is in Port Huron, to which he retired from active life on shipboard in 1883, after an eventful career of over half a century. He was wedded to Miss Mary Trombley, of Port Huron, in 1849, to which union eight daughters and six sons were born. Two of the latter, having adopted the life followed by their father, having reached the grade of master on lake vessels.
Capt. L. Hugh McGowen started his career in marine life in 1873 as petty officers' boy on the revenue cutter Fessenden, upon which his father was pilot, and there contracted a desire for the life of a sailor. The next season he shipped as boy on the schooner Home, and after sailing before the mast a number of years in various schooners, was advanced to the office of mate on the David Stewart. The next season he was appointed second mate of the schooner G. F. Boyce, then mate of the H. A. Kent, followed by a season as wheelsman on the steamer Roanoke. That winter he went to Philadelphia, and shipped on the schooner Emma J. Meyers, making a voyage to Havana, Cuba, in the coasting trade. His next schooner on the Atlantic was the Herald, which traded to the West Indies. After an absence of eighteen months he returned to the lakes, and shipped out of Buffalo as wheelsman on the propeller Toledo, with Capt. Harvey Kendall, joining the schooner Mary D. Ayer as second mate the next spring.
In the spring of 1889 Captain McGowen was appointed mate of the schooner R. J. Carney, and in 1890 mate of the steamer Nellie Torrent, holding that berth three seasons, and in 1893 was appointed mate of the steamer Louis Pahlow, remaining in that position five consecutive seasons, and in 1898 was promoted to the position of master of the same steamer.
Return to Home Port
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.