John O'Conner is a son of Thomas and Annie O'Conner, residents of Buffalo, who came from Northampton, Mass, where our subject was born March 19, 1858. The parents settled in Buffalo when he was but eighteen months old, and he received his education at that place, leaving school when quite young. Like many other harbor-tug men, he began active life by ferrying on Buffalo creek, at which occupation he was employed about three years. He then entered the machine shop of Farrar & Trefts as an apprentice, and after a year's employment there worked at the machinist's trade in the shops of the Ritter Boiler Works nearly two years. He was then fireman on the tugs Orient and Annie P. Dorr, respectively, and for a short period succeeding that employment was engaged as engineer on various harbor tugs, receiving his first license when twenty-one years of age.
Beginning with the winter of 1878-79 Mr. O'Conner was engineer of the Erie Basin elevator one year, was also for the same length of time engineer at May's dry kiln, and for three years worked at the Richmond elevator, as chief engineer. During the season of 1884 he was made engineer in Maytham's Tug line, and continued as engineer on various tugs until 1892. For the seasons of 1893-94-95 Mr. O'Connor was chief engineer, respectively, of the steamers Bell Cross, Edwin S. Tice and J. H. Shrigley, and for the seasons of 1896-97 he was engineer of the tug S. W. Gee. In May, 1898, he was made engineer of the tug C. F. Dunbar, the largest and strongest tug on the lakes, there being nothing on the lakes like her. This boat he brought out. Mr. O'Connor holds both pilot's and engineer's papers. He is a member of Local Harbor No. 41, of the American Association of Masters and Pilots, and also of the Buffalo Harbor Tug Pilots Association.
In 1881 Mr. O'Connor was married at Buffalo to Miss Kate Leonard, by whom he has three children: Thomas, Jennie and Jeremiah. The family reside at No. 136 Mackinaw street, Buffalo, 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.