Captain Donald S. McDonald
Captain Donald S. McDonald, master of the steamer Sevona for the season of 1897, is a native of Canada, born at Dunnville, Ont., August 28, 1861.
The Captain is a son of James and Margaret (Burgess) McDonald, both of whom reside at North East, Penn. The former, now a retired merchant, was born in Scotland, and the latter at Niagara Falls. There were seven children in the family, of whom James is a grocer at North East; John is assistant cashier of the First National Bank of Erie, Penn.; Arthur is bookkeeper in the same bank; Frederick is in New York, as correspondent of the bank; Annie lives with her parents; and Hall is a clerk in the grocery store of his brother James.
Capt. John Burgess, father of Mrs. McDonald, was a Scotchman, and at one time owned and sailed ships out of London, England, in the Mediterranean trade, and was also for several years on the Canadian lighthouse board, located at Dunnville, Ont. Capt. Alexander Sutherland, also a Scotchman, first cousin of Mrs. McDonald, first sailed the old iron steamer Magnet, which was brought to Canada in pieces, stowed away in a shiphold and put together at Kingston. She was in the passenger and mail service between Toronto and Montreal.
At the age of two years Captain McDonald removed to North East with his parents, where he lived until sixteen, in the meantime attending school. In 1877 he left home to indulge his desire to become a seafaring man, taking passage from New York to Glasgow, Scotland. After a stay on shore of about six weeks he shipped for the West Indies on the ship Hilding, of Christiania, Norway, and was wrecked on the coast of Ireland when but ten days out, all but three of the crew of nine being drowned. He remained aloft on a mast all night, but was released the next day, and taken to the castle of Sir Harvey Bruce, which was but a short distance from the scene of the wreck, and entertained for ten days. At the end of that period he proceeded to Londonderry, in the North of Ireland, and shipped on the merchantman Huntington, of Leith, Scotland, remaining eight months in the coast trade along the west shore of Ireland. His next service was as ordinary seaman on the steamship Shumlee, built on the Clyde for the China tea trade from Glasgow through the Suez canal to Hong Kong, stopping at Singapore. At Hong Kong the crew were all paid off because of the sale of the ship, and Captain McDonald remained ashore there three months. He finally shipped on the bark Ida Melmore, to Yokohama and San Francisco, at which latter place he remained ashore a month, and then took a voyage in the full-rigged British ship Fiona to Hull, England. They carried a cargo of wheat, and the voyage occupied 155 days. Upon his arrival at Hull, Captain McDonald immediately took passage by rail to Edinburgh and back to Glasgow, from there going to Downhill castle, the home of Sir Harvey and Lady Bruce, near the scene of his first shipwreck, where he made a visit of two weeks. Returning to Glasgow he shipped for Melborne, Australia, upon the full-rigged ship Ben Crughen, and, upon reaching that destination, left to spend sixty days in the gold diggings south of Botany Bay. From Sydney, New South Wales, he went on board the ship Hereward (named for the last of the Saxon kings), which carried a cargo of coal to San Francisco, and from that port returned to London, England, the trip taking 140 days.
From London Captain McDonald shipped on the bark Shiner, of Glasgow, which went on a voyage to Negapatam, Malay Peninsula, thence to Calcutta, and from there to Liverpool, from which place he went by rail to Glasgow. After another short visit with his benefactors at Downhill castle, he shipped from Glasgow to Montreal on the St. Patrick, of the Allan line, which ship he abandoned upon arrival at her destination, going immediately to Kingston, Canada, where he began his lake career. It was in 1882 that he shipped before the mast on the schooner Speedwell, and after four months he left her to go one trip on the schooner Mystic Star to Chicago. From her he went to the schooner Wells Burt, bound for Buffalo, and then obtained a watchman's berth on the steamer Havana, of the Cleveland Transportation Company. That winter he was shipkeeper on the Havana, and others of the same fleet. The next season he was wheelsman on the Havana part of the time, and of the steamer E. B. Hale, of the Bradley fleet, the remainder, and during that winter obtained from old Capt. Ben Stanard, local inspector of Cleveland, a license as first-class pilot. For the season of 1884 he was second mate of the steamer Vienna, of the Cleveland Transportation Company, and in 1885 filled the same berth in the Sparta, until August, when he became second mate of the steamer Ohio, owned by Ryan & Johnson, of Sandusky, Ohio, John Estes being captain and managing owner of her. For the next three seasons he was mate of the Ohio, and in 1889 mate of the Spokane, owned by Thomas Wilson. In 1890 he was mate of the Wiley M. Egan, of the Fitzgerald fleet; in 1891, of the Kalagua, owned by the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, and commanded by Capt. John Lowe; and in 1892 of the Aurora, owned by John Corrigan. In 1893 he was ashore, engaged in the real-estate and fire-insurance business, at North East, and during 1894-95 was master of the steamer Nyanza, of the McBrier fleet, of Erie, Penn. In 1896 the McBrier fleet added the steamer Emily P. Weed to its list of boats, and Captain McDonald was given command of her, sailing her also for the seasons of 1897-98. She has been rechristened, however, and is now known as the Sevona. Captain McDonald is a member of the Ship Masters Association.
In December, 1888, he was married at North East, Penn., to Miss Jessie M. Town, by whom he has two children, Bruce and Jay. The former was named after Sir Harvey Bruce, the friend of his early sailing days. The family residence is at North East, Pennsylvania.
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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.