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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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Thomas Alexander Long

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 605 - 606

Thomas Alexander Long, Vice-President of the Jenkins Machine Company, has been almost a life-long sailor. He was born on the Island Magee, County Antrim, Ireland, November 16, 1834. His ancestors were from Scotland, but his parents, John and Agnes (Hill) Long, were natives of the same island as himself. His father was a sea-captain by calling, following that business as long as he lived in the Old Country. He had four brothers and five sons, who were also sea-faring men. In 1844 the father sailed for Quebec, locating at Coburg, Canada. As he was not acquainted with the Lakes, it was unsafe for him to take charge of a vessel, hence he sailed before the mast. While en route from Oswego to Toledo, the vessel on which he sailed, "The Aurora Borealis," was struck by a squall and capsized. Mr. Long, not being able to swim, sank to rise no more. This disaster occurred in May, 1844, he having reached the age of forty-four. His family had joined him in Canada in 1843. Of his children, six are still living, Thomas A. being the sixth in order of birth.

Young Thomas was about nine and a-half years old when his father was lost. Two years later he was apprenticed to the shoemaker's trade. According to the provisions of the contract, he was to receive a certain amount of schooling each year, but the " boss," thinking the boy's service more valuable to him, kept him steadily at work. After remaining two years, Mr. Long parted company with that gentleman, and went to Cleveland, Ohio, where he clerked and did cobbling in a shoe store for two and a-half years. On the 8th of April, 1849, he shipped aboard the sailing vessel "Speed," commanded by his brother. The first trip he made they came to Sheboygan. Having sailed before the mast, and been two years mate on the "C. North," he was made captain of the "Mary Jane," October 8, 1855. Having sailed a little over a year, a very cold, hard gale drove her ashore at Glencoe, Ill. It was about one o'clock when the vessel foundered. By the most heroic efforts the crew was all brought to shore, though the last sailor was not taken off until about five o'clock in the morning. Exhausted, wet and almost frozen, they sought warmth and shelter at a distant house. The owner, appearing to doubt their story of being ship-wrecked, denied them every hospitality. They next came to a magnificent home, where they were admitted, and everything possible was done to relieve their sufferings. Mr. Long gratefully remembers the kindness received in that household. After serving a year as mate on the "Lucy Raab," commanded by his brother, our subject was made captain of the vessel "Fannie and Floy," which he sailed for ten years, owning a half-interest in her the last two years. The net earnings of this vessel for the ten years amounted to $22,000 a little more than five times the original cost of the vessel. Mr. Long paid $2,000 for his half, and in one season received $2,500 as his share of the profits. He, in company with Christian Raab, built the schooner "Morning Star" at a cost of $18,000, Mr. Long sailing it for nearly six years. In 1873 they purchased the "L. W. Perry" for $17,500, and a year later Mr. Long became sole owner. Having sailed this vessel until 1885, he decided to turn his attention to other pursuits. In 1886 he purchased an interest in the Jenkins Machine Company, being made Secretary. He has since become Vice-President of the same.

For his first wife, Mr. Long chose Miss Mary Keefe, to whom he was married October 8, 1864. The lady was of Irish descent, though a native of Monroe County, N. Y. There were six children born to this union: Mary A., who is bookkeeper and Secretary of the Jenkins Machine Company; Francis J., who is a moulder by trade; Thomas J., who is a plumber of Ashland, Wis.; James and Edward, twins, the former being a machinist, and the latter a sailor; and Margaret, who is at home. The mother of this family died June 15, 1882, and on the 6th of February following, Mr. Long was united in marriage with Mary, sister of David Jenkins.

Mr. Long is a member of the Catholic Church, as was also his first wife. His present wife belongs to the Episcopal Church. In politics, he is a Republican, though in no sense a politician. Since 1855 he has made Sheboygan his home, and is especially well known by those who have had any connection with vessel interests or transportation by water. He has a beautiful home on a high bluff near the lake shore, where he hopes to spend the remaining years of his life.


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