Heritage \ Writings \

John A. Styninger (13 Oct 1848 - ??)
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.



    John A. Styninger, who retired from active engineering on the lakes about a quarter of a century ago, was a noted chief in his younger days, and is now perhaps one of the best known dealers in engineers’ supplies and other goods that enter into the outfit of steamboats. At any rate, he is a popular, congenial and accommodating man. There is no question why he should not take naturally to a seafaring life, as he was born on the Atlantic Ocean on October 13, 1848, in a full-rigged ship hailing from Hamburg, Germany. The voyage to New York occupied two months, and the ship was in American waters, about a week’s sail from her destination, when the event here recorded transpired. His parents were John A. and Mary (Styninger) Styningner (not related). After landing in New York they continued their journey west, locating in Lower Saginaw, now Bay City, Mich., and John was the only young white boy in the valley, as his parents were among the first pioneers. His playmates were all Indian children and their playground on the banks of the Saginaw River was the site now occupied by his store. The father died in 1849, soon after reaching his new home, and John was thrown upon his own resources at a very tender age. His first employment was in the shop of C. E. Jennison & Brother, in Bay City, to whom he was apprenticed for five years, and there he thoroughly learned the machinist’s trade. He then went to Painesville, Ohio, where he remodeled the old brewery under the hill, the work occupying about three months.

    In 1867 Mr. Styninger went to Cincinnati and shipped as oiler on the river steamer Twilight. The next year he took out engineer’s papers, serving in the same steamer another season, and in the fall he went to Cleveland and entered the employ of Parsons & Hokondobler, then located on Merwin Street, by whom he was engaged until 1873, especially during the winter months. He was fixing the pumps in the tug Old Jack when she exploded her boilers, on the Cuyahoga River, in 1870, and is the only survivor of that disaster. In the fall of 1873 Mr. Styninger was on the passenger steamer Idler, plying between Cincinnati and New Orleans, and the next year he engaged to take charge of the shop of C. E. Jennison, in Bay City, but before he reached there the place was destroyed by fire. The Jennisons started him in business the year following on his own account, and he has successfully continued in same up to the present time. He began in a small way, but by enterprise and industry he has built up a large business, carrying one of the most complete stocks of engineering and vessel supplies to be found along the lakes, oils for illuminating and lubricating, heating and cooking stoves, and in addition conducting a plumbing, steam and gas fitting branch. Mr. Styninger keeps his place open night and day to accommodate the trade and is assisted by a force of competent workmen. He has recently made an extensive addition to his storeroom, which is now 42 x 136 feet in dimensions.

    Socially Mr. Styninger has been a member of many fraternities. He held Pennant No. 5 of the Excelsior Marine Beneficial Association, and is an honorary member of the Ship Masters Association, the American Association of Masters & Pilots of Steam Vessels, and of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, representing the latter body as delegate to Detroit, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Mobile and Washington. He has eighteen issues of first-class engineer’s license.

    On March 30, 1885, Mr. Styninger wedded Miss Hattie, daughter of William and Julia Harwood, and two children, Roy Augustus and Gracie Merila, have been born to this union. The family homestead is at No. 1115 Van Buren street, Bay City, Michigan.

    Related Pages/Notes

    1867 Great Lakes Map
    (click to enlarge)
    Related Bay-Journal Pages
    Maps Library/
    {1867 Great Lakes Map}
    People Referenced
    Harwood, Julia
    Harwood, William
    Jennison, C.E.
    Styninger, Gracie M.
    Styninger(Harwood), Hattie
    Styninger, John A. Sr.
    Styninger, Mary
    Styninger, Roy A.
    Subjects Referenced
    Amer. Assoc. Masters & Pilots
    Atlantic Ocean (birth)
    Bay City, MI
    Buffalo, NY
    C.E. Jennison & Bro. Co.
    chicago, IL
    Cincinnati, OH
    Cleveland, OH
    Cuyahoga River
    Detroit, MI
    Excelsior Marine Bene. Assoc.
    First pioneers
    Hamburg, Germany
    Lower Saginaw, MI
    Marine Engrs. Bene. Assoc.
    Merwin St., Cleveland
    Mobile, AL
    New Orleans
    New York
    Only white boy
    Paynesville, OH
    Pittsburg, PA
    Sagianw River
    Saginaw Valley Indians
    Ship Masters Assoc.
    Steamer, Idler
    Steamer, Twilight
    Tug, Old Jack
    Van Buren St., #1115
    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.