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Capt. Harry L. Shaw (1859 - ??)
Maritime Biography.
  • Courtesy of "Links to the Past" website.
  • History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield
    Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899.



    Captain Harry L. Shaw has been identified with many and varied enterprises. He is a man of good ability, and readily adapts himself to the different callings in which he has been engaged with more or less financial success, his pluck and indomitable will giving him the mastery over all difficulties to be met with in the battle of life. He was born in Fremont, Ohio, March 9, 1859, a son of Henry L. and Sarah (Dixon) Shaw, both of whom were natives of Ohio, the father born in Toledo, the mother in Perrysburg. Harry attended the public schools in Fremont and Toledo, Ohio, and also in Saginaw, Mich., his parents removed to the latter city in 1864. After leaving school he became a messenger boy in the Western Union Telegraph office, and in the course of time learned to be an operator, and it was he who assisted in establishing the first telephone line between Saginaw and Bay City, their encouragement being but three subscribers.

    In 1880 he entered the employ of L.P. Mason, a lumber shipper, as tally boy, and was with him about nine seasons, becoming a full-fledged lumber inspector and expert in that business, and it is said that he could carry three and even four columns of figures of different grades of lumber in his head, and call the totals of each. During this period he worked winters for the Bell Telephone Company, and became assistant and manager of the Saginaw office, under James Green; was also correspondent and agent of the Marine Record, published in Cleveland by A.A. Pomeroy. His first venture in the maritime way was the purchase of the tug Edgar Haight and barge J.I.C., which he handled successfully. The next vessel property that came into his possession was the tug Mildred, in 1887, followed by the tugs Jordon Beebe, Jr., John B. Griffin, Sallie, Kitty M. Smoke, James L. Allison, James L. McCormick; the passenger steamer Charles P. Fish, barge Norway, a dredge and six lighters. He passed successfully the examinations for both a master's and engineer's license in 1886, and assumed charge of either end of his steam tugs as occasion required. Some of his tugs were fitted up as fire boats and became, under his management, very necessary auxiliaries to the city of Saginaw, on account of the numerous lumber yards which lined the valley on each side of the river, the office for the fire tugs being established at the Mackinaw street bridge. The tugs for towing purposes were stationed near his office, at the foot of Genesee avenue. From this point Captain Shaw conducted a large and lucrative business, doing general towing between Saginaw and the Bay cities. He also secured a government contract for excavating the Crow Island cut, and performed private dredging, looking at the reclaiming of marsh islands in the Saginaw valley. He had the contract for the stone work in the construction of the Belinda and Twenty-third street bridges in Bay City, and the Mackinaw street bridge in Saginaw; also for the stone work on the Interurban mother line between Saginaw and Bay City, all of which will remain as a monument to his industry and enterprise.

    About this time Captain Shaw was overtaken by reverses, and he disposed of the vessel property and shipped as chief engineer on the passenger steamer Periwinkle, followed by a season as chief on the steamer E.F. Gould. He then sailed as master of the Straightaway, afterward named Wapiti. He also sailed the yacht Fannie H. His last work on Saginaw river was on the superstructure of Court street bridge on the west side. The Captain is now nicely berthed as chief engineer of the United States engineer's private yacht, under Colonel Lydecker, at Detroit, Michigan.

    In 1886 Captain Shaw was married to Miss Laura W. McCormick, daughter of James L. McCormick, a well-known and wealthy lumber merchant in Saginaw. The family residence is situated at No. 1423 Genesee avenue, Saginaw, Mich. Mrs. Shaw has always taken an earnest and helpful interest in all of the Captain's various enterprises, and is blessed with a charming disposition and happy temperament.

    Related Pages/Notes

    1867 Great Lakes Map
    (click to enlarge)

    Related pages:
    Bay City Rotary Club
    {1867 Great Lakes Map}
    Harmon, Charles E.
    People Referenced
    Green, James
    Lydecker, Colonel
    Mason, L.P.
    McCormick, James L.
    McCormick, Laura W. Miss
    Pomeroy, A.A.
    Shaw, Henry L.
    Shaw, Sara (Dixon)
    Subjects Referenced
    Bay City, MI
    Belinda bridge
    Bell Telephone Co.
    Cleveland, OH
    Court St. bridge
    Crow Island
    Detroit, MI
    Fremont, OH
    Genessee ave., 1423
    Mackinaw Street bridge
    Marine Record
    Perrysburg, OH
    Saginaw, MI
    Saginaw River
    Saginaw Valley
    Toledo, OH
    Twenty-third St. bridge
    Charles P. Fish, steamer
    Edgar Haight, tug
    E.F. Gould, steamer
    Fannie H., yacht
    James L. Allison, tug
    James L. McCormick, tug
    J.I.C, barge
    John B. Griffin, tug
    Jordon Beebe Jr., tug
    Kittie M. Smoke, tug
    Mildred, tug
    Norway, barge
    Periwinkle, steamer
    Salley, tug
    Straightaway, steamer
    Wapiti, steamer

    Western Union Telegraph
    Internet References
    Links to the Past
    Online book, "History of the Great Lakes," Vols. 1 & 2, by J.B. Mansfield.
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.