John Stoalder, of Cleveland, Ohio, was born in 1849 on board a vessel lying at anchor in New York harbor and began life as a sailor at the age of thirteen years, and he has seen his full share of nautical experiences. His father, Andrew Stoalder, who was a native of Switzerland, determined to migrate with his family to the western part of the United States and there end his days. While the vessel on which he came to this country was lying at anchor at New York, the subject of this sketch was born, and twenty-four hours later the entire family left the boat. They located in Lima, N. Y., where the father died three years later, of cholera, and the mother then removed with her family to Sandusky, Ohio, in 1869, taking up her residence in Cleveland.
John Stoalder began sailing as cook on the scow Mary Jane, serving in a similar capacity on the steamers Sheridan, Lottie Bernard, Eighth Ohio and Ella Lyon, and on the tugs Ella Lyon and Burnside, afterward becoming wheelsman for a brief period of the tug Goodnow. Later he was in the tugs B. B. Jones and B. B. Rose and the steamer Reindeer, in May, 1869, becoming fireman of the tug Belle King. The next season he was fireman of the tug L. P. Smith for four months, when he received his first issue of engineer's papers and became engineer of the tug Edwards, holding that berth also on the tugs Starkweather, Volunteer, Monitor and James Amadeus, after which he was employed three years as locomotive engineer on the Cleveland & Rocky River railroad. Following this he was engineer of the tugs Forest City and Sprague, second engineer of the steamer Superior, and chief of the propeller Mayflower, tugs Mary Virginia and Brady, steambarge Fred Kelley, and steamers Nahant, Everett, S. E. Sheldon and E. S. Pease. He served nearly three years in the last-named vessel in the fall of 1894, becoming engineer of the Northern Ohio Blanket Mills, in Cleveland, which position he has retained up to the present time.
During his boyhood Mr. Stoalder spent some time on the schooner Mystic, which went on the reef near Point Pelee and rolled over, and he remained one day and two nights in the rigging before the crew were rescued. He has also had a considerable experience with wrecking pumps; pumped out dry docks and milldams at Lowell; raised one schooner at Ashtabula; raised the schooner Reindeer at Fairport; the Harrison at Beaver Island; the E. B. Hale, at Point Pelee reef; had quite an experience up at Marquette with the Daniel Wallace, and raised the schooner Baldwin at Kelley's island. While he was employed in the tug Samson that craft sunk at Point au Pelee island, and the crew spent thirteen days in a deserted log hut on the island. It was intensely cold and at night two-hour watches were maintained so that the fire would not go out. Finally a relief seemed likely to be indefinitely postponed, Mr. Stoalder took a small boat, rowed to Kelley's island and there took a steamer to Sandusky, from which point he dispatched a tug to take off the stranded men.
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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.