History of the Great Lakes

Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield
Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899

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[ R ][ S ][ T ][ U ][ V ][ W ][ X Y Z ]



John T. Mead was born in Painter Hollow, Crittenden Co., Ky. His father was of old Puritan stock, which landed in Jamestown in 1628, afterward moving to Massachusetts, and his mother was of Scotch descent, and a member of the Lee family.

Mr. Mead received a common-school education in the wilds of his native state, and early in life went as stoker or assistant engineer on a steamboat plying on the Ohio river. He followed the Ohio river service until he was twenty-one years of age, when he enlisted in the navy, with which he served until August, 1865, on the steamers St. Clair and Mound City in the regular gunboat service on the Ohio, Mississippi and Tennessee rivers, participating in all the skirmishing which occurred in that latitude at that time. The Mound City was particularly active in patroling the Tennessee river, and many times shots were exchanged between her crew and Forest's cavalry.

Mr. Mead received his first papers as engineer in 1865, and accepted an appointment as chief engineer on a steam passenger canal boat plying between Chillicothe and Portsmouth, Ohio, on the Ohio canal. Later he received appointments on Ohio and Mississippi river steamers, on which he was employed for eight years. He then went to Cleveland and acted as engineer of harbor tugs out of that port for four years, after which he engaged as engineer of the Broadway flour mills. In 1877 Mr. Mead entered the employ of John Thomson as steamfitter, and remained with him nineteen years, during which time he invented what is known as the Mead & Thomson feedwater purifier - which has found a place on many first-class lake steamers - and the Giant flue scraper, and did general steamfitting work. In June, 1895, Mr. Mead united with Messrs. Stevens and Presley to form the Buckeye Steam Fitting Company, who are at present doing business at No. 117 River street, Cleveland.



William Meade is of English parentage, and is a son of Cornelius and Elizabeth (Maidment) Meade, the former of whom was a machinist. Their family consisted of two children: William, the subject of this sketch, and Harriet, wife of David Sullivan, who is also a machinist.

Mr. Meade was born January 11, 1852, in London, and emigrated to Canada in 1869, locating at Toronto. He has been at work at his chosen calling since twelve years of age, and before leaving his native land was employed in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, where they manufactured and still manufacture heavy guns and carriages on a large scale. He learned his trade, however, at McKicknie & Bertram's tool works in Dundas, Canada, and also worked in other Canadian shops a couple of years, beginning when about twenty years of age, and serving an apprenticeship of four years in the first named place. Since coming to America he has worked in a large number of shops during the winters of his sailing career. Mr. Meade was not above beginning at the bottom round of the ladder, and unlike many other engineers who graduate from machine shops into steamers in the lake service, he commenced his sailing as fireman on the Canadian steamer Armenia in 1878. During the two succeeding seasons, however, he was second engineer of the Armenia and Chicora, respectively, the latter of which was an old blockade runner during the Civil war in America. At this period he changed to American vessels, and in 1881 shipped out of Buffalo as second engineer of the passenger steamer Pacific, of the Union Steamboat line. The next season he was second of the steamer Japan, of the Anchor line, and in 1883 he was chief engineer of the H.D. Coffinberry. During 1884-85 he was second of the H.J. Jewett and Winslow, and for the seasons of 1886-87-88 he was chief engineer of the Lycoming, of the Anchor line. For those of 1889-90 he was chief of the Susquehanna, and for 1891 of the Nyanza, owned by McBrier, of Erie, Penn. In 1892 Mr. Meade brought out the steamer Uganda new, and held chief engineer's berth in her for that season and also those of 1893-94-95-96. For the season of 1897 he received his appointment as chief of the Savona, formerly the Emily P. Weed. For season of 1898 he was appointed chief of the T.W. Palmer. Mr. Meade is a member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association No. 1, of Buffalo, and in fraternal affiliation he is a Freemason, belonging to DeMolay Lodge No. 498. He was married at Buffalo in 1881 to Miss Agnes McCabe. They reside at No. 209 Potomac avenue, Buffalo, New York.



Edward F. Meeh, one of the most reliable engineers in the employ of the Lake Michigan & Lake Superior Transportation Co., is quiet and steady in the performance of his duties, and a thoroughgoing mechanic, having learned the trade of machinist and finisher before he adopted a lake-faring life. He was born in Urbana, Ohio, February 12, 1863, a son of John and Christiana (Gloss) Meeh, natives of Wurmberg, ober amt Maulbronn, Kingdom of Wurtemberg, Germany. The Meeh and Gloss families emigrated to the United States about 1854, and Mr. Meeh located on a farm near Lancaster, N. Y., which he cultivated one year. It was at this time that he married Christiana Gloss. He was a marble cutter by trade, and in 1856 removed to Springfield, Ohio, where he started in business along that line, carrying on operations there for four years, and then removing to Urbana, Ohio. In 1872 he went to Chicago and made that city his home until his death, which occurred in 1885, when he was fifty-six years of age. His widow now lives with her daughter at No. 765 West Twelfth street, Chicago, Illinois.

Edward F. Meeh attended the public schools in Urbana and Chicago, and after leaving school became an apprentice with the Consolidated Fire Extinguisher Company, in Chicago, where he learned the brass finishing trade, serving four years. It was in the spring of 1880 that he shipped as fireman in the steamer Menominee, holding that berth three seasons, after which he joined the passenger steamer John A. Dix, owned and sailed by Capt. David M. Cochrane, as oiler, and remained on her until the close of navigation in 1885, the last year filling the office of second engineer. In the spring of 1886 he was appointed engineer of the Duncan Robertson, operating out of Grand Haven. The next season he held the office of second engineer in the passenger steamer City of Ludington; in the spring of 1887 was appointed second engineer of the steamer Bessemer, and remained with her three seasons. He then passed a season in the steamer Jay Gould in the same capacity. During the year 1893 he stopped ashore as engineer in the West Chicago Street cable station, after which he again sailed as second engineer in the steamer Jay Gould two seasons. After passing another year ashore in the employ of the link Belt Machinery Company, of Chicago, as engineer, he was appointed chief engineer of the passenger and freight steamer City of Traverse, with Capt. John M. Twichell, plying between Chicago and Duluth. This steamer was running between St. Joseph, Mich., during the winter of 1897-98, and he took an active part in saving the passengers and crew, numbering forty people, of the steamer City of Duluth, which was wrecked near the mouth of that harbor that winter. He is a member of Chicago Lodge of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association.

On December 12, 1888, Mr. Meeh was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth, daughter of Philomena Chuchra, of Black Rock, N. Y. The children born to this union are Tillie C., Victor W., Hazel Elizabeth and Frederick Edward. The family residence is at 1323 Newport avenue, Chicago.



Ernest A. Meeker is a young man who began marine life only a few years ago, but whose promotion has been rapid; and judging from the past and present, a successful future is anticipated for him in his chosen line of work. He is the son of Ernest and Frances Louise (Aicher) Meeker, and was born October 23, 1871, at Huron, Ohio, where he has always made his home.

Ernest A. Meeker, Sr., father of our subject, and who spent a great part of his life in farming, was born in Huron, Ohio, August 15, 1849, and came to his death by drowning in Lake Erie, while out in a yacht on a hunting excursion. On December 24, 1870, at the Christ Episcopal Church, of Huron, Ohio, the Rev. Samuel Marks officiating, he was married to Miss Frances Louise Aicher, who was born in Baden, Germany, June 14, 1852. She still survives him and lives at Huron.

Ernest Meeker received a common school education in his native town, and in 1892 went sailing. His first experience was on the steamer Samuel Mather, where he acted as oiler from June 9, 1892, until August 10, 1893, when he accepted the same position on the James B. Colgate, and remained until the boat was laid up, December 20, 1893. On April 15, 1894, he went as oiler on the steamer Centurion, and remained with her until December 9, of the same year. He then obtained papers, and the following April joined the John N. Glidden as first assistant engineer, and remained as such until June 1, 1894. On July 12, 1895, he went as first assistant engineer on the Wellington R. Burt, where he remained until September 9 of that year, after which he went on the Onoko, acting in the same capacity until she was laid up in December of the same year. March 30, 1896, he returned to the Onoko, and spent the entire season as first assistant, remaining on her during the season of 1897 in the same position, and the following winter procured a chief's license which entitled him to act as chief on the steamer John N. Glidden.

Mr. Meeker was married at Sandusky, December 23, 1896, by Rev. Edwin Weary, rector of the Christ Episcopal Church, Huron, Ohio, to Miss Edith Mae Davenport, who was born October 9, 1876, at Clyde, Ohio. Mrs. Meeker is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Davenport, the former of whom is proprietor of the "Lake House" at Sandusky. Mr. Meeker has one sister, Miss Ursa Louise, who was born August 3, 1874, and still resides with her mother at Huron.



William Megarvey, of Cleveland, was born October 23, 1858, at Clarion, Penn. His father, Patrick Megarvey, was born in the Alleghany Mountains and has spent the greater part of his life at his native place, now at the age of over seventy-three years, being one of its oldest residents. In 1870 the family removed to Cleveland, where they remained for some time, and in that city Captain Megarvey received the greater part of his education. In 1876 he shipped on the Cormorant as deckhand and remained one season in that capacity, becoming watchman on the same boat the following year, and afterward for four years serving as wheelsman. He next went on the Egyptian as wheelsman, and from her to the Colonial, in 1885 becoming mate of the Cormorant; for the three following years he was mate on the Marquette and Grace Holland, in 1890 taking command of the Holland and sailing her for one season. He has since served on the Magnetic three years and the Continental for one season. Prior to becoming master he sailed with only two captains. Captain Megarvey is a single man. His grandfather, William Crow, was a pilot on the Mississippi river during the Civil war.



Captain Thomas Meikleham, of the B. W. Blanchard, chartered by the Clover Leaf line for the season of 1897, is a native of Canada, having been born at Brampton, Ont., November 10, 1859. He was one of the three sons of James and Mary Meikleham, another, William, also being connected with steamboating as an engineer.

Captain Meikleham began sailing when seventeen years old, serving as watchman on the propeller Ouebec(sic) for one season, and the four seasons following was wheelsman on the river tugs Oswego and Swain, being on each two seasons. His next season was spent before the mast on the schooner Venus, and the succeeding two as second mate on the Manistique, and then on the Schoolcraft in the same office for one season; the Atlantic one season as second, and the three following as first mate, after which he served as master of the Flora, a side-wheel passenger steamer, for three seasons; and transfer-ring to the Depere, was her master one season, and for the past five seasons, including 1897, has sailed the B. W. Blanchard. Captain Meikleham has been out in some very heavy seas, but has never, during his career of over twenty years on the lakes, been in a wreck of any kind, which must be attributed as much to his efficiency as a master sailor, as to his good luck. He is a member of Harbor No. 43, American Association of Masters and Pilots, and of Detroit Lodge No. 2, Monroe Chapter, and Monroe Council, F. & A. M.

The Captain was united in marriage to Miss Mary Burns, of Detroit, and they reside at No. 641 West Washington street, Toledo, Ohio.



Captain George E. Merritt has since his eleventh year spent his life on the Great Lakes, and during this time has obtained an experience which causes him to be held in high repute among those of the marine calling. He is a son of Sephen and Mary (Sawyer) Merritt, who died in 1856 and 1855, respectively. Stephen Merritt, who was a ship carpenter by trade, was born in Oswego, N. Y., and lived at that place the greater part of his life.

Captain Merritt was born in Cleveland, Ohio, March 17, 1844, on the west side of the river, in what was known as Ohio City. At the age of five years he went to Buffalo with his parents, and after a residence of two years at that place came to Detroit, where he has since lived. He began his marine life by going on the tug A. S. Fields, upon which he served one season as cabin boy, and then served on tugs in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, and gradually passed through the stages of advancement, becoming lookout, wheelsman and mate. During this time he also served on the schooner Colonel Cook and brig C. P. Williams. In 1864 he entered the United States army, serving in Company F, First Battalion of the Eleventh United States Infantry, and also in the First Brigade, Second Division, Fifth Corps of the Army of the Potomac, remaining in service until the end of the war; and he remained until 1867 in the regular service. On August 18, 1864, at the battle of Weldon Railroad, he was wounded, but after careful nursing in a Philadelphia hospital was restored to his accustomed vigor. Upon his return to the lakes Captain Merritt acted as lookout and wheelsman on the tug Samson for four years, from this boat going onto the R. J. Hackett and Forest City for five seasons as mate. Finally, in 1881, he became mate of the Inter Ocean, serving for four years, then was made master of her, serving as such for eight years. He then spent part of the season on the Escanaba, and in 1889 he brought out the Parks Foster, upon which he has since remained.

In July 1868, the Captain was married to Miss Laura Lovely, of Detroit. In social life he stands prominent, being a member of the F. & A. M., Union Lodge, Peninsular Chapter, and Monroe Council; and of the Ship Masters Association No. 7, of Detroit.



John Metke was born in November, 1855, in Buffalo, N. Y., son of Frederick and Minnie Metke. He spent his early life attending the public schools of his native city, and then learned the carpenter's trade, at which he served an apprenticeship of three years. Old Lake Erie, lying so near the doors of his birthplace, offered him a good opportunity to extend his travels. He therefore went down to the docks and shipped on the steamer Russia as fireman, continuing on her three seasons. For about five years following he remained ashore, engaged at his trade in the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg railroad machine shops, but in 1887 he again took up the life of a sailor, shipping as oiler on the steamer Badger State, of the Western Transit line, on which he remained three seasons. In 1890 he took out his first engineer's license and was appointed first assistant engineer of the steamer Fountain City. In 1891 he transferred to the steamer Montana as first assistant, and in 1892 to the Olympia in the same capacity. In the spring of 1893 he shipped on the Yuma as first assistant, finishing the season on the Barnum, which was sunk by collision the following summer. In 1894 he went on the steamer Cormorant, and in 1895 he was made chief engineer of the excursion steamer Nellie, plying between Buffalo and Edgewater Park with pleasure parties, retaining this position until the close of navigation in 1896. He is a member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, of Buffalo.

Mr. Metke was united in marriage in 1880 to Miss Elizabeth Eva Ciemer, of Buffalo, N. Y. The children born to this union are named, respectively, John G., Carrie E., Lillian, George, Edward, Minnie, Robert and Nelson. The family residence is at No. 30 Mathews street, Buffalo, New York.



John L. Meyer, a young and capable marine engineer, gives good promise of an active and useful future in the line of his calling. He was born March 18, 1872, in Port Washington, Wis., and is a son of Leo and Elizabeth (Fuerst) Meyer, the former of whom, a native of Germany, came to the United States when a youth of eighteen years. He located in Port Washington, where he met and married Miss Fuerst, removing to Ahnapee (now Algoma), Wis., in 1872, and the next year established himself in the hardware business, which he conducted with good success until his death in 1894. His son Julius succeeded to the business as manager.

After his school days were over John L. Meyer was also employed in the store, and he learned the tinner's trade serving an apprenticeship of four years. In the spring of 1889, when seventeen years old, he shipped in the lumber barge Ida E., owned by James Dempsey, and he remained with her three seasons, serving the second as assistant engineer, and later receiving promotion to the office of chief. In 1894 he went to Green Bay and became chief engineer of the tug M.A. Knapp. In the spring of 1895 he went to Duluth, where he entered the employ of Commodore B.B. Inman as engineer of the tug Pathfinder, transferring to the Edward Fiske and closing the season in the M.D. Carrington. In the spring of 1897 he was appointed chief engineer of the lake tug Bob Anderson, which position he again assumed in 1898, Capt. Louis King being in command. Mr. Meyer was instrumental in saving the life of Al LeDuc, a fireman, who, having fallen overboard, would have mangled by the wheel had it not been for the prompt assistance rendered. On another occasion he jumped overboard and saved the life of a man who had been knocked out of a small sailboat by the boom, Mr. Meyer is a member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, of Sturgeon Bay, Wis. During the winter months he returns to the old homestead at Algoma. Two of his uncles also follow the lakes: Charles Fuerst as engineer of the steamer Arcadia, and William Gnewuch as master of the Milwaukee tug Welcome.