Captain Murdick McLean
Captain Murdick McLean, a well known master sailing out of Duluth, Minn., and a born sailor, is a son of Captain John and Mary (Rowan) McLean, natives of Inverness, Scotland, who came to America in the early forties, first locating near St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, and later removing to Kincardine, Ontario, where the birth of our subject occurred December 4, 1855.
The father was in the schooner Robert Willis when she disappeared from off the face of the waters, supposed to have been captured and sunk by the Mormons in 1856. Her crew all told consisted of eight men, all the specimens of manhood, six feet and over in height. The Willis left Chicago for Buffalo with a load of flour and provisions late in the fall, expecting to get through the rivers before they froze up. The last seen of the vessel was at the lower end of Lake Michigan when laboring in a snow squall, being seen by J. P. Merrill, of Milwaukee, who was at the Skillagalee lighthouse on Thanksgiving day. Straight out from the island he saw the Willis through a rift in the snow. It would appear that the same rift enabled the crew of the brig to sight the island, as they put about, but the next minute she was shut in again by the storm. That was the last seen or heard of her. Some probability was given to the story that she was lured to Beaver island, and the crew murdered by Mormons under King Stang, by finding, some years afterward, of a grave containing eight corpses, and many believed that this was a solution of the puzzling disappearance. Captain McLean's kinsmen on the maternal side were also lake masters, one of his uncles, Duncan Rowan, having sailed the Emily, held to be the first schooner plying regularly on the east shore of Lake Huron. The mother was also quite handy, and qualified to take her place at the wheel even in heavy weather.
Capt. Murdick McLean, whose school days were passed at Kincardine, shipped as porter in the steamer William Seymour with his uncle, Capt. Duncan Rowan, in 1869, and after two seasons was advanced to the position of wheelsman in the steamer Adelaide Horton until September, when he took the wheel in the tug Welcome. In the spring of 1872 he shipped before the mast in the schooner Fannie Campbell, a Canadian vessel, which went ashore near Kincardine, and was released and drawn into that harbor by teams, hitched tandem fashion. Then followed the bark Butcher Bay; the steamer Benton, of which he was wheelsman; the steamer, Burcher; closing the season in the Asia at the wheel,; the side-wheel steamer Manitoba, plying between Sarnia and Duluth; and the steamer Ontario, in which he shipped as wheelsman and was promoted to second mate. In the spring of 1878 he shipped with Capt. Alexander McDougall, as wheelsman to the steamer City of Duluth, closing the season in the Canadian boat Northern Queen, and after season in another Canadian boat as second mate, he joined the Anchor line steamer Conestoga, as lookout, transferring to the new steamer Boston, of the Western line, and remained with her until July, 1881 when he took out license and was appointed second mate of the steamer Samuel F. Hodge.
The following spring he came out as wheelsman in the steamer Peerless, closing the season as second mate. During the season of 1883 he was mate of the tug T. H. Kent, followed by a season as mate of the steamyacht A. Booth; 1885, master of the Kemp, closing in the steamer Australasia, the largest boat on the lakes; 1886, master of the passenger steamer Isle Royal, plying between Duluth and Port Arthur; 1887-88, on the St. Paul & Duluth railroad dock, and patrolman during the winter in Duluth; 1891, master of the ferry steamer Mayflower, between Duluth and Superior, 1892, mate on the steamer N. K. Fairbanks; 1893, mate on the steam monitor James B. Colgate; 1894-95, mate of the river tug Howard; 1896, wheelsman on the Samuel Mather, mate of the Nahant; 1897, second mate on the steamer Victory and second mate on the Horace A. Tuttle; 1898, master of the passenger steamer Bon Voyage. Socially he is a master Mason and a member of the Independent Order of Foresters.
On December 23, 1884, Captain McLean married Miss Louisa Strieff, of Superior, and the children born to them are: John Duncan (who died at the age of five years), James Rowan and Stanley. The family residence is at No. 122 East Second street, Duluth, Minnesota.
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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.