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Monday, July 29, 2013

The Ships - Fred Meyers


Originally built by the Detroit Dry Dock Company for the J. Emory Owen Transportation Co, the freighter was launched (US 76731) in 16 May 1888.  With a screw propulsion and three sails the ship was 256.4' long 38.5' beam and had a hold depth of 19.8'.  Gross tonnage was 1739.53 and capacity was 2700 tons.

It burned near Manitowoc, WI on Lake Michigan on 5 Dec 1903.

Rebuilt as a steam-barge, it's dimensions changed only in it's depth which was now 15.8' and gross tonnage, down to 1264.  Renamed the F.A. Meyer, it was  purchased by William H. Strong and John J. Madden in 1905.  The listed owner was William H. Strong Transportation Co.

In June of 1906 the Meyer struck the steamer Ruth while in the Buffalo dock.  In August of that year it carried a record load of 1,500,000 board feet of lumber from Duluth to Tonawanda.

On 18 Dec 1909 the FA Meyer was sunk by ice.  The ship had been sold in the interim and was owned by Adam Hartman at the time it sank.  Bound from Boyne City, Michigan to Buffalo, New York the crew was rescued by the propeller MAPLETON.  Attempts were made to raise the ship through 1910, when it was finally abandoned.

Great Lakes Maritime Database
Maritime History of the Great Lakes - The J. Emory Owen (images 1) (images 2)

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Ships - Tracy J. Bronson

The TRACY J. BRONSON was built in 1857 by Jones & Bissett at Cleveland, OH U.S.A wood hulled schooner with 2 masts, a length of 137 feet, and a width of 26 feet. It displaces 381 tons. The ship was remeasured in Erie, PA on 25 April 1865 and the dimensions listed as 137.25' by 26.5' with a hold depth of 11.5'.  Gross tonnage was listed as 277.22. (1)

In 1899 the schooner was owned by John Murphy of Cedar River Michigan.  The 1900 & 1901 issues of BlueBook of American Shipping, Marine and Naval Directory of the United States lists the owner as John J. Madden of Tonawanda. (2) And in 1902 the owner was listed as Dora S. Madden. (3)

The vessel was removed from service with the following notation: Final enrollment surrendered at Buffalo, NY, March 18, 1903, and endorsed "Out of Commission."  The Blue Book continues to list the vessel for years listing the owner as Buffalo Dredging Co., Buffalo, NY, out of Commission. (4)

(1) Historical Collections of the Great Lakes , BGSU, Wisconsin's Great Shipwrecks
(2) Blue Book of American Shipping, Marine and Naval Directory of the United States 1901

(3) Blue Book of American Shipping, Marine and Naval Directory of the United States 1902

(4) Blue Book of American Shipping, Marine and Naval Directory of the United States 1905



Monday, July 15, 2013

The Ships - TUG Thomas F. Madden

Built by O'Grady and Maher in Buffalo NY, the tug Thomas F. Madden was 47" long, 13"wide and had a hold depth of 6.33".  Built of wood with a gross tonnage of 17.85 and a net tonnage of 8.93 she was first enrolled (US 145582) on 23 April 1891.

There is no evidence that the TF Madden was ever owned by Thomas F. Madden or any other Madden.  It is listed here as another of the mysterious connections with shipping on the Great Lakes.
  • Around the Lakes 1894 (1) lists the owner of the Thomas F. Madden as Pat Tirnan of Tonawanda.
  • 1901 BlueBook of American Shipping, Marine and Naval Directory of the United States lists the owner of the TF Madden as JB Donnelly of Buffalo.
  • In 1902 there was a company Madden and Donnelly in Saginaw MI.
  • In 1903 (2) the Blue Book shows no owner for the TF Madden.
  • The final enrollment was surrendered at Buffalo on 2 April 1906 and endorsed "laid up."  No other enrollments have been discovered and the TF Madden was dropped from the List of US Merchant Vessels in 1914.

Great Lakes Vessels Online Index


  1. Around the Lakes 1894, Detroit Dry Dock Co. Cleveland, OH: Marine Review Print 1894
  2. 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 p176

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Ships - A.W. Wright



The schooner A.W. Wright (US 105891) was built by John E. Dixon in East Saginaw in 1880.  Officially enrolled on 27 April 1880 in Port Huron the A.W. Wright was 169" long, 33.25" wide and had a depth of 10.66.  Built of wood she had a gross tonnage of 530.60 and a net tonnage of 507.73.  It seems possible that the A.W. Wright, built as a tow barge for lumber was named for the A.W. Wright Lumber Company of Saginaw.  The owner at the time of enrollment was C. Sager et. al. and the vessel was originally towed by the steamship Glascow. (1)

On 2nd Oct 1915 Lena F. Schramm as administratrix de bonis non (2) of the estate of Thomas F. Madden sold to James H. Madden the guardian of Francis M and Charles L Madden for $1.00 one sixth share in the schooner, A.W. Wright.  The estate owned a 1/4 share with the other 3/4s being owned by William Sharp. Although we only have the one bill of sale, it is assumed that the other 1/12 if the vessel that was owned by the estate was sold to Thomas Madden, who was no longer a minor.  The bill of sale noted that the sale was made with agreement of the probate court.

According to the bill of sale the ship's master was S.T. Williams and the description of the schooner claimed one deck, two masts and plain head and a square stern with dimensions as listed above.  Of interest for those of us without a marine background was the tonnage, the same as that listed above with the added information that, the capacity of the under deck was 507.73 tons and enclosures on the upper deck held another 22.87 giving a total capacity of 530 tons.  So net tonnage as listed in all the books means below deck capacity.

In 1918 the vessel was still owned by Wm Sharp. It is unknown if the Madden brothers, now all of age also still owned 1/4. (3)





The Vessel was abandoned in 1925.
You can find a picture on the  Historical Collections of the Great Lakes website.
_______________________________________________________
(1) The  Catalog for the Milwaukee County Library gives the following information.  
Official no.105891.
Barge built in 1880 by E. or John Dixon at East Saginaw, Mich. for C. Sager, et. al., of East Saginaw as a tow barge for the lumber trade.
First towed by the steamship Glascow, later the J.P. Donaldson. Abandoned in 1925. Last owned by H.N. Jex of Toledo.  (  items in folder : ill., photos. ; 22 x 28 cm.)





(2) DE BONIS NON. This phrase is used in cases where the goods of a deceased person have not all been administered. When an executor or administrator has been appointed, and the estate is not fully settled, and the executor or administrator is dead, has absconded, or from any cause has been removed, a second administrator is appointed to to perform the duty remaining to be done, who is called an administrator de bonis non, an administrator of the goods not administered and he becomes by the appointment the only representative of the deceased. (A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.)  Elizabeth Madden was the original Executrix of her husbands estate.  She died in 1911 

 (3) American Bureau of Shipping, Record of American and Foreign Shipping. New York: 1919 p33

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Ships - The HJ Webb


Historical Collections of the Great Lakes (1)
The H.J. Webb, a wood hulled schooner with 3 masts,  was built in 1869 by Isaac W. Nicholas at Vermilion, OH U.S.  167 feet long, and 28 feet wide, It had a gross tonnage of 431, and a load capacity of 410 tons. At launch the owner was CP Minch and under Captain WJ Trainer the vessel plied the ore trade between Escanaba to Cleveland.

  • In 1871 the HJ Webb, Schooner, lost her rudder post on Lake Huron. Marine Disasters on the Western Lakes during 1871, Capt J.W. Hall 
  • 1874 Captain Dayton began sailing the steamer Seneca, afterward the H. J. Webb, of which he was also owner, remaining with her until December, 1877, when she was burned in the Bloody Run slip in Detroit river, taking fire from sparks from a planing-mill, and becoming a total loss.
  • In 1894 the owner of HJ Webb was listed as John Madden of Bay City. (Around the Lakes 1894, Detroit Dry Dock Co. Cleveland, OH: Marine Review Print 1894)
  • In 1895 HJ Webb is listed in Annual List of Merchant Vessels as being based in Albany NY. 
  • In 1895 John F. Madden is listed in the Bay City Directory(2).  He is not found in any other available volumes.  Thomas F. is listed with occupation of lumber. 
  • In 1899 the Captain of the HJ Webb was John Ryan.
  • In 1900 the HJ Webb with home port listed as Albany, NY was owned by John F Madden. Our John is John J.  so who is John F. It doesn't seem feasible that the name is listed incorrectly in the ship's registry, so it doesn't seem likely that John F. is the same man as John J.  Yet, I can't find other evidence of John F as a ship's Captain in either Bay City or Albany.  Ideas and comments are welcome!!
A year later the vessel was removed from service with the following notation: Stranded on Larch Island, North Channel, Georgian Bay, November 11, 1901 and became total loss. The photograph above shows the H.J. Webb under way on the Great Lakes. 


  1. Historical Collections of the Great Lakes
  2. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.  Bay City, Bay, Michigan 1895