Newton W. Penny
Newton W. Penny, more familiarly known as "Tip" Penny, a nickname given him by an uncle when quite young, was born at Henderson, lake Ontario, May 6, 1842. His father, James Penny, was an old whaler and sailed out of Portland, Maine, as master of whaling vessels for many years. He was also in the United States man-of-war Bainville, and was supposed to have been killed at the battle of Roanoke Island. His father shipped before the mast on a whaling vessel from Portland, and returned as her captain.
The great-grandfather of our subject was a soldier in Washington's army. He died about the time the war of 1812 broke out, and his eldest son, Miles (great-uncle of our subject), migrated from the State of Delaware to the town of Henderson, Jefferson Co., N.Y., at that time known as Salsbury's Mills, which were then situated on Stony creek. He there engaged in business as a country merchant. When the war of 1812 began he enlisted in the same, and helped build the ship New Orleans, which stood so many years in Sacket's Harbor.
Amos Penny (grandfather of Newton W. Penny), was a hunter and trapper, and also cleared a farm on Stony creek, on which he lived and died. James Penny, father of our subject, married Elvira White, his cousin, her father and his mother being brother and sister. She was daughter of James White, who migrated from Delaware about the same time as the Pennys. James White was a carder and started a mill on Stony creek, which still stands there and is used as a gristmill to-day. James White's sister, Sally White, married Captain Pickron, of salt-water fame, who after the war of 1812 started to build lake schooners at Sacket's Harbor. Among the first he built was the schooner Saltello, and his wife's sister's children - Foster, Burton, Alburto, and James - all took positions on her, the first as mate, Burton before the mast, Alburto as cook, and James as second mate. The Welland canal opened about that time, and two men by the name Smith and Bishop having started a distillery near Henderson, they loaded the Saltello with whisky, bound for Chicago; when they reached Welland canal, however, Captain Pickron found the schooner too large to enter the locks, and the misfortune drove him insane, he immediately cutting his throat. The Penny boys sent word to their aunt by stage coach asking what they should do with the schooner. Her reply was "Proceed at one to Chicago with Cargo." Neither of them had ever been to Chicago, nor knew the route there, but Foster Penny took command and set out for Chicago which place they were over a month in reaching. The vessel was 500 tons burden, and there was not water enough in the Chicago harbor to admit the vessel at that time, so they took their cargo ashore one barrel at a time in their yawl boat. They loaded the vessel with grain and landed it at Oswego, it being the first grain unloaded there from Chicago. Captain Pickron was involved in debt, and his creditors seized the vessel, which was sold to Capt. George Westcott, who retained the Penny boys in their former positions. Burton Penny was later master on the Western Transportation Company's boats for twenty-five years, and was in the steamer Idaho for fifteen consecutive years.
Newton W. Penny, the subject of this sketch, had but two winters of schooling, and his education was so meager that when he went into the Civil war, at the age of twenty-one years, he could neither read or write, and was never able to do either until after his marriage. After the death of his mother, his grandmother took care of him until he was eleven years of age, and from that time until he went to the war he lived on a farm with James Pettengille. He enlisted November 28, 1861, in Company E, Ninety-fourth New York Volunteers, at Sacket's Harbor, served until 1865, and was discharged and mustered out at St. Louis. Returning to Henderson, he was married, January 7, 1866, to Sarah E. Howard, and they have two children - Josie S. and Edna M. In the spring after their marriage they went to live on a farm for a couple of years. In the spring of 1869 Mr. Penny began life on the lakes as fireman on the propeller Arabia with James Graham as chief engineer, and remained in that berth seven years. He was oiler on the Vanderbilt for the season of 1877, and in 1878 he obtained chief's papers for one hundred tons to run the engine of the barge Petronell, owned at Henderson, remaining on her until November of that season, when she went ashore at Amherst island, near Kingston, Lake Ontario.
From that time Mr. Penny was fireman, oiler, and second engineer, respectively, on various steamers until the spring of 1886, when he was made chief of the Waverly, and was on her all that season. In 1887 he fitted on the Russia, and was four months in the Northerner as second. In 1888 he was fireman for the American Express Company at Chicago, part of the years, and in 1889 was second engineer of the Jewett, of the Union line, until July 4, when he was transferred to the Foley, which later burned off Charlotte. For the balance of that season he was in the City of Fremont, Mark Hopkins and Schoolcraft respectively. In 1890 he was in the Boston and City of Glasgow, and finished the season as chief of the Columbia, an excursion boat out of Buffalo. In 1891 he was chief of the Island Belle, and was second on the Lackawanna one season thereafter. He next worked a year in the Potter building as engineer, and in 1894 he was employed part of the time in Dempsey's machine shop, fitting out the yacht Morgan; he also acted as second engineer of the Robert Mills part of the season, and then took the position of second engineer of the Arctic, which sunk off the harbor of refuge known as Sand Beach, Lake Huron, after he had been aboard of her fifteen days. He finished that season as oiler on the Saranac. In January, 1895, Mr. Penny became chief engineer of the R.G. Dunn building, but was compelled to resign his position because of ill health. On October 15, 1896, he accepted the position of night watchman of the White building, where he is now employed. Mr. Penny has been a member of the Modern Woodmen of America for a year and a half, and has been a member of Richardson Post No. 254, G.A.R., four years.
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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.