Heritage \ Writings \

Captain John R. Lester (1865-1946)
Skipper on Saginaw River and Great Lakes.
Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx.
  • Transcribed (Feb. 2007)
  • Saginaw News - January 7, 1946 (Page 4)

    Veteran of Great Lakes Dies At Bay City Home.

    Capt. John R Lester, after more than 60 years as a skipper of Great Lakes craft, has relinquished the helm. He died Sunday at his Bay City home at the age of 80, the community’s oldest lakes captain in point of service.

    Capt. Lester once recalled that a trip down the Saginaw river carried one through a virtual aisle of lumber piles. Both sides of the stream “humming with activity of busy sawmills. Sawdust flew around in clouds; the twang of circular saws biting into hardwood carried over the entire area.”

    Born Aug. 29, 1865 at Marine City, Capt. Lester launched on a sailing career as a boy of 18 when he signed as second cook on the steamer P. H. Brickhead, operated by the old Toledo & Saginaw Bay Tranportation Co. The next season he “went wheeling” on the same boat, carrying shingles to Tonawanda, N.Y. His career carried him to every Great Lakes port.

    The 90-foot tug, Tipperary owned by W. J. Meagher, Bay City dredging contractor, was Capt. Lester’s pride for many seasons in later years. Never shipwrecked during his long career, he assisted other foundering vessels on numerous occasions.

    About five years ago he retired, but his health, which he attributes to the freshness of Great Lakes air, preserved for him a keen mind and sense of humor which never flagged.

    He was a member of West Midland Street Presbyterian church of Bay City, Masonic lodge, Knights Templar and Consistory and of Elf Khurafeh Shrine at Saginaw. He leaves his wife; five stepsons, B. E and C. J. Schroeder, both of Grosse Pointe, B. G. and Harry Schroeder, both of Flint, R. J. Schroeder of Bay City; two stepdaughters, Mrs. E. J. Flynn of Bay City and Mrs Frank Dustin of Saginaw.

    The funeral will take place at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Gephart funeral home, Bay City, under Masonic auspices. Burial will be in Elm Lawn.

    Additional Notes.

      1888 - Michigan Marriages: Bay City

    • Date: June 8, 1888.
    • Groom: John Lester, age 23, of West Bay City, b. Marine City, Mich., parents: George H. Lester & Harriet Stone.
    • Bride: Lilly Mcdonald McAuley, age 23, of Bay City, b. Fostoria, OH, parents: Josiah Mcdonald.
    • Official: E.W. Ryan, pastor Madison Ave. M.E. Church.
    • Witnesses: Mrs. E. Newnion & Mrs. Lottie Ryan.

      1921 - Michigan Marriages: Bay City

    • Date: January 11, 1921.
    • Groom: John R. Lester, age 55, of Bay City, b. Marine City, parents: George H. Lester & Harriet Stone.
    • Bride: Anna Schroeder, age 50, of Bay City, b. Germany, parents: Henry Schultz & Alantine Kohn.
    • Official: E.E. Rupp, minister.
    • Witnesses: Ernest Coats & Eva Jaster.
    Related Pages/Notes

    Capt. John R. Lester resided at 204 Catherine Steet in Bay City.
    Related pages:
    None at this time.
    People Referenced
    Coats, Ernest
    Dustin, Frank Mrs. (s-dau.)
    Flynn, E.J. Mrs. (s-dau.)
    Jaster, Eva
    Kohn, Alantine
    Lester, George H. (father)
    Lester, John R.(subject)
    Mcdonald, Josiah
    Mcdonald, Lilly (1 wife)
    Meagher, W.J.
    Newnion, E. Mrs.
    Rupp, E.E. (pastor)
    Ryan, E.W. (pastor)
    Ryan, Lottie Mrs.
    Schroeder, B.E. (s-son)
    Schroeder, B.G. (s-son)
    Schroeder, C.J. (s-son)
    Schroeder, Harry (s-son)
    Schroeder, R.J. (s-son)
    Schultz, Anna (2 wife)
    Schultz, Henry
    Stone, Harriet (mother)
    Subjects Referenced
    Bay City, MI
    Bay City dredging
    Elf Khurafeh Shrine
    Elm Lawn cemetery
    Fostoria, OH
    Gephart funeral home
    Grosse Pointe, MI
    Knights Templar
    Madison Ave. ME Ch.
    Marine City, MI
    Masonic lodge
    P.H. Brickhead, steamer
    Saginaw, MI
    Saginaw River
    Tipperary, tug
    Toledo & Saginaw Bay Trans.
    Tonawanda, NY
    W. Midland St. Presbyterian
    West Bay City, MI
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.