James McGrath was born in Kingston, Ont., in 1840, and received part of his education in that town. In 1848 the family moved to Cleveland, where James attended the public schools and finished his education. About the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to the machinist's trade in the shops of the Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland & Erie Railroad Company, and after serving his term of apprenticeship he worked as journeyman in that and other shops.
In 1863 he started on the lakes as assistant engineer on the steamer Northern Light, owned by Hanna, Garretson & Co., and served in various steamers as second and as chief engineer up to 1869. In 1869 Mr. McGrath gave up sailing and was employed by the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad Company as machinist and engineer up to 1883. During his service with this company, in 1874-75, he was elected to the city council, where he served two years under the administration of Mayors Otis and Payne. In 1883 he was appointed superintendent of the city bridges, having charge of all their mechanism, and in 1886 was appointed United States local inspector of boilers for the district of Cleve- land, a position in the steamboat inspection service which he has filled ever since.
In 1862 Mr. McGrath married Miss Catherine Lennox, of Cleveland, by whom he has eight children - six daughters and two sons - the elder of whom, Jennie and Frankie, are now married, and the younger children are finishing their education. Mr. McGrath resides with his family at No. 118 Sibley street, Cleveland, Ohio.
Return to Home Port
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.