Captain Patrick Myers
Captain Patrick Myers may be designated as one of the most vigorous patriarchs of the lake marine, and although seventy-two years of age retains all of his faculties to a remarkable degree. He ostensibly retired from active life on the lakes as master at the close of the season of 1896, but it would not greatly surprise the friends who know him best if his great energy should impel him to again resume his place on the quarter deck.
The Captain was born on the banks of the river Shannon, in County Clare, Ireland, March 13, 1827, a son of Capt. James and Mary (Linane) Myers, and a grandson of Capt. Martin and Mary (Keaton) Myers. On the maternal side he numbers among his relatives President MacMahon, marshal of France during the Franco-Prussian war. The Myers family for many generations were salt-water sailors, and owned their own sloops. The father of our subject died on the Emerald Isle, in February, 1847, and in 1861 the mother emigrated with her family to the United States.
During his early boyhood Capt. Patrick Myeres divided his time between attending school and sailing with his father in the sloop Thrasher, so that he was a passably good seaman when he adopted his present profession in January, 1842, going before the mast in the schooner Mary Ann, hailing from Limerick, Ireland, with captain Mahoney in command. He remained in that vessel two years, after which he shipped in the schooner Fannie, passing five years in her and learning many of the mysteries of seamanship. Early in 1848 he shipped in the brig Hannah and made the passage to New York, at which port he ran away from his ship and went up the North river to Albany, where he took passage in a canal boat bound for Buffalo. He saw the schooner Washington Irving lying at dock and shipped in her as seaman, but at the end of the first month he was made mate and held that office two months, going then in the brig S. B. Ruggles. The next spring he joined the old schooner Suffolk, with Capt. S. Bigelow, staying with her until the fall of 1850, when he went to St. Louis by way of the Illinois & Michigan canal and the Mississippi river. Upon his arrival in the city he shipped in the steamer Western World for New Orleans. His next berth was in the Glendy Burke, plying on the Mississippi river in the cotton trade, going thence in a packet steamer to Mobile, Ala., where he joined the steamer Messenger for Montgomery. While there he met a man who professed to have a railroad building contract, and joining him he wandered through the States of Alabama and Georgia until his money and outfit were gone, having been generously divided among the members of the party. Returning to New Orleans he then shipped in the steamer Moses Greenwood for a trip up Red river to Lake Bestino. The steamer was tied up for debt when she arrived at New Orleans, and he did not get his wages. He next joined the steamer Bulletin No. 2, of Memphis, Capt. Charley Church, as greaser, remaining with her until the close of the year.
In the spring of 1852 Captain Myers returned to Chicago and shipped before the mast in the schooner L. M. Mason with Capt. Anthony Gotham, transferring to the new bark Jessie Hoyt, whose captain died of cholera that year. In 1854 he was seaman in the brig Mary, and the next year shipped out of Detroit in the Fannie Gardner, closing the season in her as mate. In the spring of 1856 he was appointed mate of the brig Mary, holding that office three seasons, then mate of the F.P. Gardner until September 1860, when he was appointed master of the Mary, sailing her until 1863. He was then transferred to the schooner Curlew, owned by the same parties, and after five years he was in position to purchase an interest in the bark Norman, which he sailed. During the winter of 1868-69 Captain Myers superintended the building of the steamer Arizona and brought her out new, and while sailing her looked after the interests of the bark Norman. In 1870 he was appointed master of the bark Pensaukee, a very smart boat, and sailed her five consecutive seasons. His next command was the schooner J. W. Doan, which was sold under him in the fall of 1879. In the spring of 1880, Captain Myers purchased the schooner Gerrett Smith, and after sailing her four seasons she dragged her anchor in a fall gale and rested her bones upon the beach. He then became owner and master of the Cheney Ames which he sailed with good business success twelve years, or until August 1896, when he retired after a life upon the water of more than fifty-five years, a record surpassed by but few. He still owns the Cheney Ames and possesses a good competency, including considerable improved property in the heart of Chicago, all of which has been acquired by his own energy and business tact, as he had no wealthy or influential friends to aid him in starting out in the business world. Captain Myers was married to Miss Hanora Ahern, daughter of Thomas Ahern, of Killadysert, his own native town in County Clare, Ireland, and the children born to this union are: James A., who has sailed some, and is now a member of the firm of C.W. Elphicke & Co.; Kate, wife of John Conway; Thomas, now a lake captain; John M., who has also followed the lakes but is now in the employ of the Chicago water works department; Edward P., who has been master of the schooners C. P. Minch, Cheney Ames and other vessels, and is now engaged in business at the corner of Robey and Milwaukee Avenue. Chicago, Charles A. who is also engaged in business in Chicago; and Frank, who is in the employ of the Postal Telegraph Company. The family homestead is at No. 227 Loomis street, Chicago.
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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.