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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Great Lakes: Captain Michael Madden of Saginaw

Son of Martin Madden and Margaret Winn
10 May 1847 Ontario, Canada - 1 May 1903 Saginaw, MI

The family of Michael Madden of Saginaw has been traced back to Martin Madden who was born in Ireland and died in Hastings, Northumberland, Ontario in 1860

Michael emigrated to the United States about 1867 and lived in Saginaw thereafter.  Before 1885 he married Isabel Strong of Tonawanda, NY.  Is Michael related to our Madden family?  The question is at this time unanswered. The quest for answers has been even more difficult due to the fact that there were at least three M Maddens who were Great Lake ship Captains.  One lived in Port Huron, one in Bay City and this Michael in Saginaw.  Sorting the records can be difficult.

We do know that Isabel Strong is the sister of Dora Strong, the wife of Captain John Madden of Tonawanda.  Is this coincidence?  Assuredly not, but it does not mean the Madden captains are related.  A friendship due to a shared last name is not unheard of and the brother of Isabel and Dora, William H. Strong, was also involved in shipping.

Here are some of the facts we do know.
  • In 1867 Michael Madden is engineer on the Steamer St. Helen.
  • In 1874 Mr. Madden is captain of the Charles J. Kershaw. (probably not this Michael)
  • In 1880 Michael Madden age 34 NY (sailor) and Jane lived in East Saginaw, they had no children. Is this the same Michael or one of the others? If the same he was married more than once.  This is supported by his death certificate which states he was first married at age 25.  That would put the marriage about 1872.  The 1900 census states he had been married to Isabel for 16 years (1884).
  • In 1883 Michael Madden of Saginaw was part of a Bay City committee that set towing rates (The Marine Record 10 Mar 1883 p2)
  • In 1884 the newspaper reported that Captain Mike Madden of East Saginaw's health was much improved. (The Marine Record 31 Jul 1884 p5) , R.L. Polk & Co.'s Marine Directory - 1884  Vessel Captains p276) 
  • 3 Feb 1891- 1903 The Great Lakes Maritime Database Michael Madden of Saginaw was listed as the owner of the Thomas H. Cahoon.  The Cahoon was rebuilt in 1891. 
  • In 1900 Michael Madden bn 10 May 1847 CAN and Isabella 22 Oct 1864 NY lived at 233 Fourth St. in Saginaw City with children Raymond, William and Bessie (see children below)
  • Polk's Directory lists the following three Captains with the last name Madden - Michael of Bay City, M of Saginaw and MJ of Port Huron.  

The Buffalo Express 4 May 1903

 Michael died on 1 May 1903 at his home in Saginaw and is buried in Calvary Cemetery.

Saginaw Courier-Herald, Saturday, May 2, 1903 Page 7
Michael Madden, for years a well-known resident of this city, died at his home 308 South Weadock Avenue at 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon of lung trouble from which he had been a sufferer for the past year. The deceased was born in London, Ontario, fifty-six years ago and came to this city when a boy twenty years of age, since which then he has resided here continuously. Until his retirement from active work some years ago, he was a familiar figure among the navigators of the Great Lakes and in his capacity of vessel captain was master of a number of the lake leviathans. He was widely known among vessel men and by them as by his many other friends, was highly esteemed.

He is survived by a widow and three children, Raymond, William and Bessie. Raymond, who attends school at Buffalo, and William who, is a student at Assumption College, Sandwich, Ontario, returned home last night. Arrangements for the funeral have not yet been completed.

Michael and Isabel had three children
  1. Raymond b. 16 Nov 1885 NY m. Elsie Kaufeld 8 Jan 1912. d. 4 Jul 1942 Detroit, MI.  Raymond a reporter was divorced and had one son William M. Madden living in Detroit in 1942.
  2. William Ervin Madden b. 9 Jan 1888 Saginaw, Saginaw, MI d. 8 Aug 1958 Detroit, MI (note birth register gives year as 1887, however, it is at the end of the year with only two other Nov & Dec dates after.  1888 seemed more likely even before viewing the census)
  3. Elizabeth  b. 10 May 1890 MI  m. Warner Cooper 7 Sep 1916 d. 2 Jan 1976 San Francisco, CA Cooper is another interesting question. Over the years I have found more than one reference to Thomas F. Madden marrying Elizabeth Cooper, but I have never found any record that gives credence to the reference.  Did someone at some point in time mix the facts up with Elizabeth Madden marrying Warner Cooper?  Elizabeth had one son, Warner Cooper, who survived her.
If there is a male line descendant of Raymond out there, we would love to compare DNA.


  • Historical Collections of the Great Lakes
  • Around the Lakes 1894, Detroit Dry Dock Co. Cleveland, OH: Marine Review Print 1894 p9
  • 1901 BlueBook of American Shipping, Marine and Naval Directory of the United States. (M Madden of Saginaw 1 schooner)
  • 1903 Blue Book of American Shipping:   Statistics of Shipping and Ship Building in America. Lists of Ship Owners, Ship, Engine and Boiler Builders, Naval Architects, Vessel Masters, and members of various organizations made up from the Navy and Merchant Marine. Particulars of American and Canadian Steam and Sail vessels with names and addresses of owners. Cleveland OH: Marine Review Publishing Co. 1903 p157

1 comment:

  1. Cool blog! Welcome to Geneabloggers :) I always find someone with my birthday and in this case I noted Elizabeth and I share the same day. Pretty cool.