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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Captain James C. Morgan & Augusta E. Rohn {His Wife}

Captain James W. Morgan, of Cleveland, has been a mariner on the Great Lakes for over thirty years, serving upon many vessels, large and small, and is now in the service of the Minnesota Steamship Company. He was born in Sheboygan, Wis., in 1848, the son of Capt. S. W. Morgan, a long-time lake navigator. He attended school in his native city until he was fifteen years of age, when he shipped as deckhand on the propeller Lady Franklin, remaining on her six weeks; then he joined the side-wheel steamer Sea Bird, on which he remained until the close of the season, becoming second mate. The next year he was second mate on the steamer Comet, for about two-thirds of the season, completing the season on the propeller Union. He was mate of the towbarge Michigan during 1865, and master of the barge David Smoke the following season. After laying up the Smoke in Cleveland that fall, he started for Detroit as a passenger on the steamer Forest Queen. Although the Captain had orders to turn back if there was any ice, he disregarded the order and pushed onward until the vessel had cut her way through sixteen miles of ice. Being an old craft the ice wore a hole through each bow, and it became necessary to lighten the vessel forward so that the openings were above the water line. They were hastily repaired, and the vessel started forward again, this time following a crack in the ice which eventually led them far from their destination. The ship was finally frozen in the ice and the crew and passengeres walked ashore.

Captain Morgan took out a new crew in the hope of saving the vessel, but without success, the craft being lost by the ice cutting through her side. After that Captain Morgan sailed for a time on the propeller Ottawa, and in 1867 became clerk of the propeller Pittsburg, which was owned by his father and John Gordon. The Pittsburg carried 250,000 feet of lumber, and the three boats making up her tow carried 2,000,000 feet, so that the clerical duties devolving upon the position held by Captain Morgan were by no means slight. In 1868 Captain Morgan was second mate of the propeller St. Paul, and the side-wheel steamer Metropolis in turn, being mate of the steamer City of Toledo part of 1869 and master of her two months, while the Captain was ill. In 1870 he was mate of the side-wheel steamer Saginaw and of the John A. Dix, and the following year, 1871, mate of the John A. Dix the entire season, and in 1872 he became mate of the large new tug New Era and of the steamer Alpena. For a part of the season of 1873 he was mate, clerk and steward of the steamer E. B. Ward, Jr., but the combined duties being too onerous for one person, another was hired to act as steward the rest of the season.

The year 1874 saw him second mate of the steamer Mayflower on which he served until August, when he engaged in the fishing business at Pigeon river, near Sheboygan, Wis. The following year he spent fishing with pound nets on Little Point au Sable with his father and brother. Then his father became keeper of the life-saving station at Big Point au Sable, and he joined the station as one of the crew. He remained four years with the station, at one time aiding in the rescue of the schooner J. H. Rutter, which had broken her tow line, and was drifting rapidly down the lake in a fierce storm. When first sighted, she was about ten miles out in the lake, with her lee rail under water, due to the shifting of her cargo. His father being away, under leave of absence at the time, Captain Morgan, as No. 1, took charge of the crew and started in the surf boat for the wreck. After being swamped in the surf three times, the boat was finally carried out over the bar, and the wreck was reached after several hours of very severe work. When Captain Morgan reached the Rutter he found that her master was Capt. Jerry Simpson, who was at one time a member of Congress. Captain Simpson wished to abandon the wreck at once, but Captain Morgan believed that the vessel could be saved, and when the tug he had sent for, before leaving shore, arrived, the boat was towed to Ludington, and was saved after thirty-six hours of hardest effort. The crew of the surf boat worked in drenched clothing and covered with ice for the greater part of the time, and when they finally became thawed out, their garments literally fell off their forms, having been torn and broken by the ice.

In 1880 Captain Morgan was keeper of the life-saving station at Manistee, and the following season he formed a partnership with a man named Wing, and purchased the propeller Milwaukee, which he sailed that season. They also owned a stone quarry on Washington island, and the following year they purchased another quarry and docks, and opened a general store on Washington island, besides starting four lime kilns. On Mr. Harford joining the company as partner, the firm name became Wing, Morgan & Harford, and Captain Morgan was placed in charge of all the property on the island. Later on he gave up the management of the property, and in 1883 became solicitor for an accident insurance company; leaving this company he became foreman of a large sawmill in Muskegan for a time, and in 1884 sailed the Milwaukee a part of the season. He was master of the fishing tug, Charles West, out of the "Soo" part of the season of 1885, and the remainder of the season he fished on the north shore of Lake Huron. He was mate of the steambarge Emma Thompson, and H. Luella Worthington in 1886, and the following year was mate of the steamer Mary Groh, until she was sold when he chartered the steamer O. C. Williams, with William Edgecomb, and operated her the remainder of the season in the fruit trade between Saugatuck and Milwaukee. The following year he helped build the steamer Charles McVea, afterward serving as mate on her, and a year later was mate on the James H. Shrigley; 1890 mate of the Ira H. Owen and Wm. Chisholm, and in 1891 filled the same position on the Horace A. Tuttle, until August 24, when he became mate of the Australasia, resigning that position in November, to fill the same berth on the Vulcan, and the next year was mate of the J. H. Outhwaite. He commanded the Australasia during the season of 1893 and 1894; sailed the City of London in 1895, and the Marina until October 20, 1896, when he assumed charge of the Mariposa, and in 1897 again took command of the steamer Marina, of which boat he is still master.

In 1881 Captain Morgan was married to Miss Augusta E. Rohn, of Ludington, Mich., whose father was for ten years lighthouse keeper at Pilot island, Green Bay.

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