Captain J. E. Rathbun
Captain J. E. Rathbun was born in Algonac, Mich., on August 14, 1858, a son of Andrew J. and Mary G. (Smith) Rathbun, the former of whom was a native of Oswego, N. Y., and was a lake captain of some note; he met his death while mate of the lake tug B. B. Jones, with Captain Burnham, when she exploded her boiler near Port Huron in 1871. The mother is still living in Algonac. Captain Rathbun's sister, Helen Adelaide, who became the wife of John D. Burke, a hotel-keeper at Mt. Clemens, Mich., is the only other member of the family now living.
The school days of John E. Rathbun were necessarily limited, as he commenced sailing when fourteen years of age, in the spring after his father's death, as second cook in the steamer Neptune. In 1873 he shipped in the barge Iceman, before the mast, with Capt. Charles Marsden. The succeeding years of his lakefaring life have been passed as follows: 1874, before the mast in the S. Burchard, with Captain Pickle; 1875, in the schooner Eagle, logging on the St. Clair river; 1876, in the steamer Superior, with Capt. E. Rathbun, as second cook; 1877, as cook in the barge H. C. Potter; 1878, as mate in the barge Star of Hope, closing the season as wheelsman in the Robert Holland; 1879, advanced to the berth of second mate of the Robert Holland; 1880, in the scow Leader, engaged in gathering stone for use on the breakwater and harbor of refuge at Sand Beach; 1881, wheelsman in the Jesse H. Farwell with his uncle, Capt. E. Rathbun, remaining two season; 1883, again engaged in the stone trade at Sand Beach, in the scow Leader; 1884, mate with Capt. E. Rathbun in the steamer Salina; 1885, mate in the lake tug Music; 1886, wheelsman in the steamer Horace B. Tuttle, closing the season in the Rhoda Stewart; 1887, stopped ashore at Algonac, working at carpentering; 1888, second mate of the steamer Monohansett; 1889, mate of the steamer Margaret Olwill; 1890, second mate of the steamer Jesse H. Farwell, closing the season in the George T. Hope; 1891, mate of the steamer John N. Glidden. In the spring of 1892 Captain Rathbun was appointed mate of the steamer O. O. Carpenter, holding that berth until the close of the season of 1894, and the next season receiving promotion to the position of master, and he sailed her four successive seasons, giving Mr. Runnels, the owner, good satisfaction during the years he was in his employ. To place among the notable rescues with which this volume abounds is one by Captain Rathbun, made in 1893, when he saved the engineer of the raft tug overboard in Duluth harbor; and another in 1896, at which time he saved from drowning four men, who had been clinging for four hours to a capsized yacht off Monroe, Mich., in Lake Erie.
On May 21, 1886, Captain Rathbun was married to Miss Matilda J., daughter of George W. and Sarah (Language) Day. The children born to this union are Marietta Geraldine, Mattie Ilene, Andrew Jackson and Horace Runnels.
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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.