James Rourke, who has sailed on many different vessels during his life on the lakes, was born in Ireland, in 1842. His parents removed to Cleveland in 1844, bringing him with them. His father was a distiller, and came to the United States to take charge of a large distillery situated in that part of Cleveland known as Whiskey Island.
James Rourke commenced sailing in 1860 on the scow Black Swan. Later he went on the schooner Gibbs, making a voyage to Marquette, where the first iron ore mines were opened at that point, and on his return trip brought a full cargo of 350 tons to Cleveland. [In those pioneer times the ore was placed on the vessel by means of wheelbarrows, and it required a week to load the Gibbs.] In 1863 he joined the steamer Osage, of the United States navy, remaining on her a year, and being present at the battles of Vicksburg, Fort Hudson and other engagements; and was also in the Red River campaign. In the following year he served on board the Ranier, then joined the Plymouth Rock, and later served on the Idaho, and the schooner Africa. In 1871 he retired to the shore, engaging in the business of buying and selling marine supplies, etc., which occupation he still follows. During recent years Mr. Rourke has been interested in a number of sailing vessels, owning at different times a half-interest in the Marie Martin, J. S. Richards, Golden Fleece, F. A. Georgia, Irene and the scow Kitty.
On November 25, 1881, he was married to Miss Mary McNelley, and they have one child, May Florence.
Return to Home Port
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.