Joseph R. Oldham
Joseph R. Oldham was born in 1848, in Liverpool, England. His father's family were old Lancashire people, but his mother was Scotch, her family having come from Edinburgh to England in 1836.
Mr. Oldham's first experience in iron-shipbuilding was gained under Duncan McDonald, and Peter McNidder, of Denny's of Dumbarton. He received his early theoretical education from Edward Arnold, a chief draughtsman at the Royal Navy Yard in England, becoming a student of naval architecture with him at Ramsey in 1864. He was for several years draughtsman at the Eagle Engine Works, Bootle, and the Caledonian Engine Works, Preston. Being a thorough and ambitious man, he now rose in his profession in connection with draughting and building iron ships, and was employed by Gilbert S. Goodwin, consulting engineer and chief engineer surveyor of the Veritas, as draughtsman and out-door assistant for five years. In 1874 he became surveyor to Lloyd's at Sunderland, showing the greatest diligence, care, and efficiency in prosecuting work that he was appointed to superintend. Mr. Oldham is a man of good presence, courteous and gentlemanly, and there is no hesitancy in saying that to these qualities, coupled with his thorough knowledge of the requisites of a surveyor, he owes his rapid advancement in his profession. He has been employed in the Liverpool offices of the Veritas, The Inland Lloyd's Register, and the Record of the American and Foreign Shipping.
Mr. Oldham came to America more than ten years ago, and first opened an office in Buffalo, N.Y. He came supported with excellent recommendations from most of the principal shipbuilders and shipowners of England, amongst whom are included Sir James Laing, J.P. Lloyd's committeeman, Suez Canal commissioner, chairman of the River Wear Commissioners, etc.; Messrs. Palmer of Jarrow-on-Tyne, the superintendent of the Cunard Steam Ship Co., the Underwriters Registry for Iron Vessels, the Chief Surveyor of the Veritas, etc. His knowledge as a superintendent and consulting engineer soon created a demand for his services in this country. He remained in Buffalo but a short time, removing to Cleveland in 1888, where he has since resided, accepting a position in 1890 with the Globe Iron Works Company, for which company he designed such well known steamers as the Castalia, Republic, and others of equal size and prominence on the lakes. He has also been employed as special expert marine appraiser by the United States Government. Mr. Oldham is Lloyd's Agent, Underwriters' Surveyor, and is a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the Civil Engineers of Cleveland, Ohio, the Mechanical Engineers and The Engineers Club of New York.
Mr. Oldham was united in marriage to Miss Annie E.S. Banks, of Liverpool, England in 1874. Nine children have been born to them, five of whom are living: G. Ashton, Amy L., John L., Mabel A. and Annie J. It is the purpose of Mr. Oldham to have the eldest son, G. Ashton, follow the same line of business as himself as he has been so successful as a workman in the shipyards, hence he will take a course of scientific training at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. Mr. Oldham, though a quiet member of the Republican party, has done useful service with his pen for the protection of American shipping. He was one of the Republican reception committee of the National Republican League of 1895, and is a member of the Tippecanoe Club. As a writer on maritime matters, the subject of this sketch is well known, and we may mention the pamphlets "North American Lake Steamers versus Ocean Cargo Steamers," published in 1891; "Screw Steamships and Tow Barge Efficiency," and the "Great Lakes Register of Shipping," published in 1883. He has recently contributed several articles to Cassier's Magazine under the titles of "Structural Strength of Ships and Improved Arrangement for Repairing without Diminution of Strength;" "Shipbuilding and Transportation on the Great Lakes," and "Analysis of Lake and Ocean Steamship Models and Efficiency of Propelling Machinery."
Mr. Oldham is a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce Maritime Committee; and he acts as a member of the vestry of Emmanuel Church.
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.