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Capt. John W. Jordan (1839-1900)
Great Lakes sailor born in Ohio who lived in West Bay City, Mich.

1892 biography. (Added Sept., 2010.)

History of Saginaw and Bay Counties, Michigan - 1892.


Capt. John W. Jordan, who is an old sailor of thirty year's experience was born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, November 26, 1839. His father, Mills Jordan, was a native of Virginia as was also his grandfather, who was a soldier in the War of 1812 and a wealthy planter, belonging to the F. F. V's. He became disgusted with slavery and gave his slaves free papers, bringing them with him on his removal to Ohio. He engaged in the banking business in the Buckeye State and there died.

The father of our subject was married in Ohio where he followed the trade of carpenter and joiner, dying in Akron, that State, in 1847. He was a Whig in politics and in religion a Congregationalist. His wife whose maiden name was Catherine Bascomb, was born in County Donegal, Ireland, her parents being natives of Scotland. After her parents' death which occurred when she was quite young, she came with her uncle to this country and resided in Albany until twelve year of age, then removing to Cuyahoga Falls. She died in 1854, leaving five children of whom four are living. Of this family our subject is the second child and only son.

John W. Jordan resided in Akron until fifteen years of age. When only thirteen years old he went to work in the railroad shops of the Cleveland, Zanesville & Cincinnati Railroad, at Akron, where he remained for two years, a part of the time acting as fireman on a passenger train between Akron and Millersburg. He then came to Cleveland where he worked for a time as a mechanic, but being taken ill and suffering from weak lungs he engaged as a sailor, hoping to regain his health in that way. This proving to be the case and the life proving congenial he has continued thus engaged ever since. He first sailed in the “Charles Meares” between Chicago and the east shore of Lake Michigan, and one year later embarked on a vessel in the lumber trade at North Sandusky, serving three years before the mast.

When twenty-two years old Mr. Jordan was made mate of the schooner “A. Rust” serving in that capacity for one year. Afterward he was mate of the “William Kelley,” running to St. Joe, for a season, and was then made second mate of the passenger propeller “Genesee Chief,” sailing between Buffalo and Saginaw, in which position he remained for two seasons. For one season he was mater of the steam barge “Salina,” for two seasons master of the tow barge “Gardner,” master of the propeller “Trader” two seasons and master of the steam barge “Holland,” in the iron and lumber trade for three seasons. He then spent one season on his farm in Lucas County, where he owned forty acres of improved land.

Returning to his life as a sailor Capt. Jordan served as mate of the “Prindeville” for two seasons, mater of the propeller “Arizona” three seasons, made one trip on the “Genesee” and the remainder of the season on the “McBrier” and the next spring fitted out the schooner “Gallatia,” of which he was Captain for three months. He afterward sailed on different vessels, among them the “Maine,” “Mineral Rock,” and in 1891 made one trip on the “Maine” spending the balance of the season on the steamer “Burlington,” engaged in the lumber trade. He sailed the propeller “S. D. Caldwell” one season and part of a second season, until the arches were broken. The Captain then rebuilt it and during the remainder of the season ran it as a barge. Since he was sixteen years old he has been a sailor, and during the thirty-six years has never had a fatal accident on any of his vessels.

Capt. Jordan was married in Bryan, Ohio, January 30, 1865, to Miss Mary A. Smith, who was born in Huntington County, Ind. Mrs. Jordan is the daughter of Samuel Smith, a native of Pennsylvania, and an early pioneer of Indiana, who later located in Lucas County, Ohio, and there died. His wife whose maiden name was Amanda Sterling, was also a native of Pennsylvania, and died in Ohio. Among six children, Mrs. Jordan was the second in order of birth. Two of her brothers served in the Civil War, George being a member of the Fourteenth Ohio. The latter died in a few years after his return home, from disease contracted at Lookout Mountain. Mrs. Jordan was reared in Ohio, to which State her father removed when she was fifteen years of age.

Our subject and his wife have three children namely: John W., who is a lumber inspector in the employ of McCormick Bros., of Menominee; Jessie M. and M. Gertrude, both at home. Mr. Jordan is a charter member of the Bay City Branch No. 5, of the Excelsior Marine Benevolent Society, and also belongs to the Masonic fraternity. In politics he is a Republican. He is a sociable, jovial man, an excellent companion, and has been very successful in his business operations.

Additional Notes.

    1850 – Census: Akron, Summit, Ohio.

  • Jordan, Catherine – age 31, b. Ireland
  • Rebecca, daughter – age 13, b. Ohio
  • John W., son - age 12, b. Ohio
  • Mary E., daughter - age 7, b. Ohio
  • Maria, daughter – age 5, b. Ohio
  • Sarah, daughter – age 3, b. Ohio

    1870 – Census: Lucas, Springfield, Ohio

  • Jordan, John W. - age 31, Sailor Capt., Ohio
  • Mary A., wife, age 30, b. Ind.
  • John W., son, age 4, b. Ohio
  • Jessie M., daughter, age 2, b. Ohio

    1884 – Directory: West Bay City, Mich.

  • Jordan, John W – vessel captain, res e s Catharine 2 n of Michigan, 3d ward.
  • Jordan, J. Willard – clerk, bds John W. Jordan, 3d ward.

    1889 - Directory: West Bay City, Mich.

  • Jordan, John W. - lumber inspr, bds Capt J W Jordan.
  • Jordan, John W. - vessel capt, res e s Catherine 3 n of Michigan.

    1900 – Census: Port Huron City, St. Clair, Mich.

  • Jordan, John W. - b. 1839 Ohio
  • Mary A., wife – b. 1840 Ohio
  • Jessie M., daughter – b. 1869 Ohio
  • Gertrude M., daughter – b. 1876 Ohio

    1900 – Michigan Deaths: Port Huron City, St. Clair, Mich.

  • John W. Jordan, Ship Master, born 1839 in Ohio, died June 4, 1900. Son of Mills Jordan and Catherine Bascome.
Related Note & Pages

Capt. John W. Jordan

Related Pages:
None at this time.
People Referenced
Bascomb, Catherine (mother)
Jordan, Gertrude M. (dau)
Jordan, Jessie M.(dau)
Jordan, John W. (subject)
Jordan, John W. Jr. (son)
Jordan, Maria (sis)
Jordan, Mary E. (sis)
Jordan, Mills (father)
Jordan, Rebecca (sis)
Jordan, Sarah (sis)
Smith, Mary A. (wife)
Smith, Samuel
Sterling, Amanda
Sterling, George
Subjects Referenced
14th Ohio
Akron, OH
Bay City, MI
Bryan, OH
Buffalo, NY
Chicago, IL
Cleveland, OH
Co. Donegal, Ireland
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Huntington Co, IN
Lucas Co., OH
McCormick Bros.
Menominee, MI
Millersburg, OH
Port Huron City, MI
Saginaw, MI
Sandusky, OH
Springfield Co., OH
St. Clair Co., MI
Summit Co., OH
West Bay City, MI
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.