James A. Southgate
James A. Southgate, one of the prominent engineers sailing out of Port Huron, and an honored member of the association, was born at Penarth, Wales, in November, 1857, the son of Henry and Mary A. (Lewis) Southgate. His parents dying while he was but a small lad, he went to live with his uncle, James Lewis, who looked after his education, which was acquired at Bristol, England. He came to America with his uncle, landing at Quebec, where they remained a short time. Business affairs called Mr. Lewis to the West in 1871, and they took passage on the Chicago & Northwestern rail- road to Tip Top, which was then the terminus of that road. On their return, they located at Orrilla, Canada, where Mr. Southgate went to work with his uncle, to learn the plasterer's trade, serving an apprenticeship of three years. In 1875 he entered the employ of Tudhope Brothers, and learned the hardware business, remaining with that firm three years. In the winter of 1878-79 he went with a Canadian Government survey party on free grant lands in Northern Canada, their duties taking them as far north as Lake Nipissing, or Height of Land.
In the spring of 1879 Mr. Southgate came to the United States, locating at Port Huron, Mich., out of which port he shipped on the steamer Sanilac, as fireman; he remained on her two seasons. During the season of 1881 he fired on the steamer Maine, following with a season on the Henry Howard in the same capacity. In the spring of 1883 he took out a marine engineer's license, and was appointed second engineer of the laketug River Queen, the next season serving as second on the James Reed. During the two seasons he was on the large wrecking tugs William A. Moore and Martin Swain many difficult jobs of wrecking were performed successfully, among which was the release of the steamer Albany, ashore at Bois Blanc island. His next berth was that of second engineer on the steamer Nelson Mills, but in July he was promoted to the position of chief engineer, and continued in charge of her machinery for six consecutive seasons. In 1891 she struck a rock in Lake Michigan and sunk, the crew being picked up by the passenger steamer Hunter; the Mills was raised and repaired. During the seasons of 1894-95 Mr. Southgate was chief engineer of the steamer S. C. Hall, and in the spring of 1896 he shipped with Capt. William E. Rice as chief of the steamer Rhoda Stewart, on which he has since been retained. On May 23, 1896, one of the flues in the boiler of the Rhoda Stewart collapsed, scalding three men to death. Mr. Southgate had turned in off watch and the circumstance saved his life.
Socially, Mr. Southgate is a member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, in which he has filled the office of recording secretary six years, and corresponding secretary one term. He is also a member of the beneficial orders of the Royal Arcanum and Maccabees. On April 14, 1880, he was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Oag, daughter of James and Mary A. (Jordan) Oag, of Hamilton, Ontario. Their children are Albert E., James E., William R. and Blanche E. The family reside at No. 1911 Seventh street, Port Huron, Michigan.
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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.