John L. Simmons
John L. Simmons has inherited a penchant for the lakes from his father, George L. Simmons, who is a well-known engineer. His mother was formerly Miss Sarah D. Wyatt, and he was born December 14, 1871, at Bedford Mills, Ontario. In 1879 the family removed to Detroit, from Kingston, Ontario, where they had resided a couple of years. Mr. Simmons has four brothers: Thomas, James, Charles and Ezra, and one sister, Edith. In 1884, when still a lad, as a start for a lake career, he put in the season as second porter on the Atlantic, of Grummond's line, running from Cleveland to Detroit and Mackinaw. In 1885 he began the season as porter on the Idlewild, but he soon left her to become a waiter on the Dove, running between Mackinaw and Manistique. During 1886 Mr. Simmons was wheelsman on the tug Swain and lookout on the Flora, and he began the season of 1887 as watchman on the Mary Pringle, but after she was wrecked off Cleveland he returned to the Swain as watchman and closed the season on her. In 1888 he went to the tug Champion as oiler, and during the season of 1889 he oiled on the steamer Florida, holding the same berth on the A. D. Thompson for part of the season of 1890, which he finished on the Cayuga. The season of 1891 he served on the Chemung, and in the spring of 1892 he went to Boston from Buffalo to come around the ocean route, around Nova Scotia and down the St. Lawrence to Buffalo, as oiler on the steamer William Harrison, making a run of about two thousand miles on salt water with a jet condenser. He had an interesting trip, during which they suffered a partial wreck below Quebec, at Riviere De Loup. The boat was floated after a hard and long struggle, and Mr. Simmons finished the season on her. That fall he procured his papers, and in 1893 he was second engineer on the State of Michigan and the Corona. In 1894 he helped to fit out the William H. Barnum, at Chicago, and started as her second engineer, but as she was wrecked in the Straits by ice he went as second engineer of the M. M. Drake. He began the season of 1895 as second of the tug Sampson and finished it on the M. M. Drake, in 1896 serving as second engineer of the Colorado, and in 1897 his position was chief engineer of the steamer Unique.
When Mr. Simmons was about seventeen years old he was chief engineer of a Canadian fishtug in Georgian Bay, but on his second day in that position he burned the soft plug out, and they were all night making the five miles to Duck island by the use of oars and sail; he became discouraged with his luck and contemplated taking up another line of business, but he failed to give up engineering, as his record shows, For eight years Mr. Simmons spent his winters with his father, who was chief engineer of the Grummond line, in doing repair work. During the last couple of winters, however, he has acted as solicitor for the Fraternal Life Co-operative Association of Michigan. Socially he is a member of the M. E. B. A., No. 3, and he is also an enthusiastic Mason, belonging to Detroit Lodge No. 2, F. & A. M., Monroe Chapter No. 1, R. A. M., and Monroe Council No. 1, R. & S. M.
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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.