Abram Smith, a noted shipbuilder, may be very appropriately designated as the patriarch of Algonac, Mich. He was born in Plainfield township, St. Clair Co., Mich., on September 8, 1819, and notwithstanding his eighty years he is a man of great vigor and vitality, exemplifying in an eminent degree the truth of the adage that "blood will tell". He is the son of John K. and Catherine (McDonald) Smith, and a descendant of old New England stock. His father was born in Vermont of English parents and his mother in Scotland, coming to America with the Selkirk colony, which formed the settlement of Belldoon about the year 1808. The father, after residing at Ogdensburg, N. Y., for some time, enlisted at the beginning of the war of 1812, and was commissioned quartermaster, discharging the onerous duties of that office until the American arms were victorious; he participated in the battle of Lundy's Lane and other notable engagments. In 1815 he located in St. Clair county, and he died in April, 1854, in Algonac, at the age of sixty-nine years, his wife living to the advanced age of eighty-six.
Abram Smith passed the first twenty-four years of his life on a farm, working in his father's sawmill at times. In 1844 he purchased a stock of goods and opened a store in Algonac, which he conducted twenty-five years, the business constantly increasing. In 1855 he established a shipyard, which he carried on in addition to the store. The first vessel constructed at his yard was the steamer Princess, and was followed by the steamers J. B. Smith and Emerald, schooners Alice Barr and R. C. Crawford, barge Rhoda Stewart, John Ritchie, J. A. Smith and steamer Anna Smith; others built under supervision there were the tug Ella M. Smith, and the schooners Oliver Mitchell, Bell Mitchell and Bell Cash. He also hauled out and rebuilt the barge Middlesex and schooner Telegraph, and rebuilt the propeller Allegheny and the Lady Franklin. He next constructed the propeller Albert Miller and four small tugs on builders account, and hauled out and rebuilt the schooners Thomas L. Parker and H. C. Potter.
In 1889 Mr. Smith admitted his son Angus into partnership in the shipbuilding business, which has since been conducted under the firm name of Abram Smith & Son. The vessels built and launched by this firm comprise the schooners Delta, J. B. Comstock, Abram Smith, Interlaken, W. K. Moore, A. W. Comstock and Vinland. The shipyard has a frontage on the St. Clair river of about eight hundred feet, extending back to Water street, with two slips for launching and repair work. Messrs. Abram Smith & Son have the reputation of building upon honor, and their vessels are noted for strength, durability and good sea-going qualities. The firm owns interests in several vessels. Abram Smith is one of the substantial, public-spirited men of Algonac, being held in high esteem by his fellow citizens for his integrity and system of upright living, and his word is held to be as good as his bond. The younger member of the shipbuilding firm is at this writing serving as president of the village council, and he is a young man of high business qualifications.
On November 25, 1844, Mr. Smith wedded Miss Fidelia Burt, daughter of James and Betsy Burt, and children were born to them as follows: James B., who married Miss Elizabeth Harris; Cornelia D., now the wife of George E.C. Seaman; John A., who married Miss Alvina Snoor; Ella M., widow of Dr. W.K. Moore; and Angus M. who married Miss Lizzie Craddock. Mr. Smith has eleven grandchildren and two great- grandchildren.
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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.