Roy Lee Peck
Roy Lee Peck is a born engineer, inheriting his mechanical genius from his father, Richard W. Peck, who was a marine engineer on the Atlantic ocean for many years. Among the notable steamers that the father engineered was the old Charles Benton, plying between New York and North Carolina ports, being chief in her when she was destroyed by fire. He was also chief of the Cleopatra and Leo, of the Murray & Ferris Steamship line, between New York and Savannah; chief of the City of Merida, City of Havana, City of New York, City of Vera Cruz, City of Washington and City of Pueblo, all of the Alexandre Steamship line, between New York and Mexican ports, his brother Frank taking his place as he was transferred from one steamer to another.
The father retired from the merchant marine service, and went to live on his old homestead farm in Rockland county, N.Y., although he was called upon from time to time by the contractors and engine builders to bring out government warships for their trial trips, and especially was he in demand by the Quintard Iron Works, for which company he brought out the armored cruisers Concord, Bennington and Maine; and for the Columbian Iron Works he conducted the trial trips of the warships Baltimore, Montgomery, Detroit, Bancroft and Marblehead. He came up on the lakes in behalf of the builders with the engines of the steamers North West and North Land, of the Northern Steamship Company, running the North West the first season. He also designed her feed pumps, which are of extra good utility. He was born in Lyme, Conn., and his wife, who bore the maiden name of Miss Ellen E. Crosby, was born in Wells River, Vermont.
Roy Lee Peck, the subject of this article, was born in Deep River, Middlesex Co., Conn., December 3, 1863, and although but thirty-five years of age is chief engineer of one of the finest steamers on the lakes, the Manitou. His brother Allan also inherits some of the mechanical genius of his father, and is in charge of the machinery of a large factory in Irvington, Conn. Our subject is a graduate of the high school of Brooklyn, N.Y., and in 1879 was apprenticed to the Washington Iron Works, which made a specialty of building and repairing marine engines. He remained with that concern three years and gained a thorough knowledge of the business, as far as construction was concerned. In 1882 he went to sea with his uncle Frank Peck in the steamer City of Washington, as oiler, remaining a few months. He then shipped in the steamer Louisiana, of the Cromwell line, plying to New Orleans, and after eighteen months was advanced to the position of third assistant, and before the close of the year was promoted to second assistant, holding that office two years. In 1885 he was transferred to the steamer Chalmette, of the Morgan line, as second assistant. In 1887 he became first assistant of the steamer City of Atlanta, and after two months was appointed chief engineer and ran her the balance of the year. He then came to the lakes and brought out new the steamer Owego for the Union Steamboat Company, as chief, running her two seasons. He next took charge of the Phoenix flouring-mill machinery at Milwaukee, but soon returned to the lakes, having accepted an appointment as chief engineer of the Lehigh Valley steamer Cayuga. The next season he entered the employ of the Minnesota Steamship Company as chief of the Mariska, transferring to the Kearsage at the end of the second season, bringing her out new.
In the spring of 1895 Mr. Peck was appointed chief engineer of the Lake Michigan & Lake Superior Transportation Co., having immediate charge of the engines of the steamer Manitou during her running season, at other times laying up, looking after repairs and fitting out the other steamers of the line. It will be observed that during the entire period that Mr. Peck has been engaged on the lakes he has had charge, as chief engineer, of steamers of the first class, and has given eminent satisfaction in all cases. He is one of those officers who attend to their machinery first, and when that is in good condition he enjoys his leisure. Socially he was a member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association of New York City No. 50, and afterward joined No. 2, and serving as president of Cleveland Lodge No. 2 one term, at the expiration of which that body presented him with a handsome gold watchcharm.
On May 17, 1886, Mr. Peck married Miss Annie, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Byrnes) Behen, of New Orleans, and the children born to this union are: Annie M.; Roy Lee, Jr.; Esther M. and Helen M. Mrs. Peck's father was a native of Lowell, Mass., and sailed some, attaining to the position of mate. He died in Basthrop, La., in 1875. Her mother was born in Limerick, Ireland. Our subject's paternal grandparents were George and Elizabeth (Lee) Peck, the former being a descendant of the colonist of the name who came to America in the Mayflower. Mr. Peck and his family make their home at No. 8,000 Exchange avenue, 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.