Captain Francis M. Stenton
Captain Francis M. Stenton, a steamboat master of good qualifications and success, was born in 1844 at Detroit, Mich. His school-days ended when he was eleven years of age. The majestic river flowing at the foot of his native city, bearing upon its broad and deep bosom the commerce of perhaps the most prolific section of this great country, probably influenced him in forming the resolution to become a sailor, which he did in 1859, joining the crew of the little steamer Gazelle in the humble capacity of porter. His berth was lost to him shortly after, however, as the Gazelle was wrecked and went to pieces near Eagle Harbor, the hands escaping in the yawl. He then found a berth on the City of Cleveland. In 1860 he shipped on the propeller Montgomery, plying between Buffalo and Chicago.
In December, 1861, Captain Stenton enlisted for service in the war of the Rebellion, and was assigned to the Fourteenth Mich. V.I. After participating in many of the engagements of the early part of the war he was captured, in October, 1862, by Forrest's cavalry, was paroled at Murfreesboro, and went to his home. At this time the Eighth Michigan Cavalry was being recruited, and, without considering the fact that he had not yet been exchanged, his enthusiasm led him to enlist in that regiment, with which he served until July 20, 1865. During this time the command was incorporated into the Army of the Cumberland and took part in General Sherman's campaign, starting with cavalry division from Lexington, Ky., and riding by way of Resaca, Big Shanty and Altoona Pass to Kenesaw Mountain, Marietta, Ga., and finally into Atlanta. Before the fall of the city, however, he rode with his regiment on the Stoneman raid, which proved disastrous to the troopers engaged in it. The principal object of this foray into the heart of the Confederacy was the rescue of Federal prisoners confined in the pen at Andersonville, but General Stoneman made Macon, Ga., his first objective point, and his supports failing to arrive he was forced to retire after a stubborn fight without entering that city, as there was a broad and swift-running river intervening. The small squad now with him soon ran up against greatly superior numbers of the Confederates, and General Stoneman was forced to surrender. Captain Stenton at this juncture realized the penalty of his recapture as a paroled prisoner, and led a stampede that deprived General Wheeler of many of his prisoners. He was wounded in an engagement at Nashville, Tenn., and his horse was killed under him at Florence, Ala. He was discharged at Pulaski, Tenn. He was promoted to the rank of orderly sergeant at the siege of Knoxville. During his service in Kentucky he had the honor of capturing the Confederate General Scott.
On his return to Detroit Captain Stenton shipped in the steamer Traveler, which burned alongside the dock at Eagle Harbor, thus closing the year 1865. It is now the province of the biographer, who participated with the Captain in the war episodes related above as sergeant of McLaughlin's Squadron O.V.V. Cavalry, to detail his after life on the lakes. In 1866 he shipped as deckhand on the tug Mayflower, but was soon promoted to wheelsman; in 1867 he shipped on the George W. Bissell; in 1868 on the steamer Marine City as wheelsman; in 1869 in the same capacity on the steamer City of Toledo, and in 1870 on the steamer W.R. Clinton. In 1871 he went on the steamer City of Sandusky as second mate, serving in that berth one year and as mate the following season, from that time to the present he has been engaged as follows: 1873 on the steamer Huron, finishing the season on the steamer John Sherman, as mate; 1874 on the steamer Colin Campbell, finishing the season on the St. Joe, as mate; 1875 on the steamer Benton until July 4, when he received his first papers as master, closing that season and remaining the two following in this command; 1879 on the steamer Oakland as mate one season, and as master the three following seasons; 1883 on the steamer Raleigh as mate; 1884 on the steamer Osceola as mate; 1885 on the steamer John N. Glidden as mate; 1886 on the steamer S.F. Hodge as mate, closing the season as master; 1887 on the James Fisk, Jr., as master; 1888 on the S.F. Hodge as master until July, closing on the steamer Eber Ward, which he brought out new, and continuing in command of her throughout the following season; 1890 on the steamer Toledo as master, with an interest bonus (the Toledo being burned and condemned he lost his interest); 1891 master of the Saginaw Valley, from which he was transferred to the steamer A.L. Hopkins, owned by the same firm; 1892 on the steamer Northerner as master, closing the season on the German, which he sailed the two following seasons. In 1895 Captain Stenton went to Chicago and brought down the steamer Superior to Cleveland, and then shipped as master of the Escanaba till September, when he was appointed master of the steamer Flint & Pere Marquette, No. 5, but not liking winter sailing he resigned. In 1896 he superintended the construction of the steamer Aragon, and brought her out new July 1, remaining in her until August, when he took command of the steel steamer John Ericsson, which he laid up at Cleveland at the close of navigation.
In 1868 Captain Stenton was united in marriage to Miss Lydia Houchen, of Milford, Mich., and one son has been born to them, Mowry E., who is now employed by the Globe Iron Works Company. Socially the Captain is a member of the Knights of Maccabees and of the Ship Masters Association, carrying Pennant No. 162.
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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.