David Allen Kiah
David Allen Kiah, one of the foremost navigators of the lakes, was the second of the seven children born to Francis and Louise (Sawyer) Kiah, the former a native of Quebec, Canada, and at one time master and vessel owner, having a schooner and five barges trading between Montreal and Ogdensburg, N. Y. In 1853, on a trip from Hamilton, Ont., to Ogdensburg, the passenger steamer Ocean Wave, with twenty-eight cabin passengers, among whom were Mr. and Mrs. Francis Kiah, took fire and burned, the only ones rescued being themselves and two others, Mrs. French, of Cornwall, Ontario, the wife of a member of Parliament, and Mrs. Stevenson, the wife of a Canadian banker. To Mr. Kiah's experience as a sailor and to his personal bravery is due the fact that all did not perish.
David Allen Kiah was born at Ogdensburg, August 15, 1837, and his first practical work was as bookkeeper in a butcher shop there for about three years, after which, in 1857, he began his seafaring life before the mast of the brig Mahonig, with Captain Pearsons, trading between Ogdensburg and Toledo, shipping in her September 7, and laying her up. He was subsequently in various craft, among them being the schooner Henry Clay, Oswego to Bay of Quinte; Black Warrior, under Captain Gilmore, when she went ashore near Forty-mile Point, Lake Huron, in a blinding snowstorm, the crew taking refuge in the topsails, and being rescued by a fishing boat the next day, Captain's hair, as well as that of the others, being frozen to the respective coat collars. After this experience he decided to quit sailing, but on December 5, 1858, a few days after his rescue, he chanced on the docks at Cleveland, and found the three-masted schooner G. L. Newman, bound for Ogdensburg, his home, in need of a pilot down the St. Lawrence river. He shipped on her as such and before the mast, arriving at Ogdensburg on December 13, and the following season, his love of the sea being as strong as ever, he shipped on the Charles H. Walker, and after this was second mate of the Gold Hunter three seasons, then mate of the Ketchum, Capt. Joe Sawyer, one season, Mary B. Hale, under the same captain, one season, second mate of the Prairie State, Captain Mellen, Empire, Captain Richardson, and City of New York, Captain Chadwick, all of the N. T. Co., one season each; mate of the Granite State, Capt. Ira Bishop, three seasons, and in 1869, mate of the City of Toledo, under Captain Richardson again. In 1890, Captain Richardson, having highly recommended him, he was appointed master of the Prairie State, sailing her the three seasons of 1870-71-72. In 1873, during the prevailing hard times, salaries were generally reduced, and Captain Kiah left his old employment on this account, to sail the Scotia, a Canadian steamer, for James Norris, at better pay than in the State, and for that season and also 1874 sailed the America for the same owner. He next sailed the Celtic, of Hamilton, for two seasons; the Canada four seasons (two between Montreal and Chicago, and two between Collingwood and Chicago); St. Magnus, of Hamilton, two seasons; Lothaire, in Georgian Bay lumber trade, three seasons; in 1889, Newburgh, of the Ogdensburg Transportation Company; the following two seasons bringing out the new F. H. Price, of the same line, in which he has remained ever since, seven consecutive seasons, making nine years in the employ of the Ogdensburg Transportation Company, which is rated by insurance men as higher than any other line on the lakes. This bespeaks well also for Captain Kiah's services, as a position in this line must naturally be well merited.
In 1865 Captain Kiah was married to Miss McCormack, of Ogdensburg. They have had four children, two of whom are now living, namely, Mary and David Allen, Jr., the latter at present mate of the A. McVittie of the Ogdensburg Transportation Company. Captain Kiah is a member of the Chicago branch of the Ship Masters Association, and carries Pennant No. 409. The family residence is at 46 Franklin street, Ogdensburg, New York.
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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.