Stephen L. Newnham
Stephen L. Newnham, a prominent engineer sailing out of Saugatuck, Mich., is a man of many good qualities, both of head and heart, and has the confidence and esteem of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, of which he is an efficient member. He is a charter member of Lodge No. 67 of that body, and has filled the office of presi- dent three years, vice-president one year, and was chosen to represent his lodge as delegate to Washington in 1896.
Mr. Newnham was born in London, England, September 9, 1845, a son of Ricard B. and Hannah C. (Harrison) Newnham. His parents were natives of England, the father being born in London, the mother in Staffordshire. During his residence in London the father was captain on the police force, and was advanced to the office of inspector, being stationed at the Bow street police station. In the fall of 1861 he came to the United States, locating first in Cleveland, Ohio, and in that year, at the opening of the Civil war, he enlisted in the United States navy, and was assigned to a gunboat on the Mississippi river. He took an honorable part in the assault on Vicksburg, Miss., and was with the fleet that ran the batteries of Island No. 10, and in other important engagements in which that fleet participated. In 1864 he accompanied Gen. Banks' expedition up the Red river, the objects and success of which are fully detailed in history. He was honorably discharged in 1865, at the close of the war, and went to Saugatuck, Mich., where he purchased a plat of land, and then sent to England for his family, who had resided in Greenock during his absence of four years. They arrived February 19, 1866, and proceeded to Saugatuck to enjoy the home prepared for them, and where they still reside, the father having passed his seventy-ninth birthday on May 24, 1898, and the mother her eighty-first in August, of the same year. He is an ardent member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and commander of the post in Saugatuck. He has been justice of the peace in that city twenty-four years, school director sixteen years, and has also filled the offices of township supervisor and township clerk. Up to the time he retired from active life he was engaged in the shoe business.
Stephen L. Newnham, the subject of this sketch, attened the penny schools in London, England, and the public schools in Saugatuck, Mich. He learned the blacksmith's trade with John Priest, serving a three-years' apprenticeship, but in the spring of 1877 he shipped on the steamer R. C. Britain as fireman, remaining on her two seasons. He then took out engineer's papers and was appointed first assistant on the passenger steamer G. P. Heath, filling this position on her two seasons. This was followed by a season on the steamer Mary Groh as second. In the spring of 1882 he was appointed chief engineer of the G. P. Heath, plying between Saugatuck and Chicago. In 1885 the Heath was put on the route between White Lake, Muskegon and other ports; in the fall of that year she went ashore on the beach south of Saugatuck and sunk, nothing being visible but her smokestacks. In 1886 Mr. Newnham put machinery into the freight steamer H. A. Root, owned by the same company, and engineered her until 1892, when he was made chief of the passenger steamer H. W. Williams, plying between South Haven and Chicago. During the three years he was in the employ of the H. W. Williams Transportation Company he was chief engineer of the fleet. In the spring of 1895 he was appointed chief engineer of the steamer M. T. Green, and the next season he brought out new the passenger steamer Bon Ami, and was with her until the close of the second season, when he took the steamer Edwin S. Tice, remaining chief of her up to 1898. He has twenty issues of license.
Of the other members of the Newnham family, John is still living in England. He served seven years in the Clyde shipyards, and learned all branches of the ship and engine-building industry, after which he passed alloted time in the school ship Hoagley to prove that he could put into practical use what he had learned. He is now carrying on as business partner in a bell foundry. Lucy married Capt. Edwin Crossman, an officer in the British Merchant machine, who sailed the full-rigged ship Columbia. Charlotte, unmarried is living in London with her sister. Mary Ann married Philip Frost, a merchant in London. Richard L. is an attorney-at-law in Grand Rapids, Mich., and assistant United States district attorney for the Northern District of Michigan. He is a graduate of the Ypsilanti Academy. Elisabeth is the widow of Joseph G. Ainsley, formerly a school teacher and graduate of the Saugatuck high school. Maria A. is principle of a public school in Hastings, Nebraska.
On December 6, 1879, Stephen L. Newnham was married to Miss Althea, daughter of Amos and Margaret A. (Geneve) Deming; and the children born to this union are Amos Wayne, Bessie L., Hazel Frances, Harry Waterman, and Richard B. The family residence is in Saugatuck, Michigan.
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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.