The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Feb. 9, 1884

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A Whig reporter had a talk last evening with Capt. Dunham, better known as "Uncle Noah," whose fund of funny stories seems to be inexhaustible. Noah has a history, and an interesting one, too. He first saw the light of day in 1814, on Sept. 18th, a date made memorable by the battle of Plattsburg, which his parents viewed from the summit of Rattlesnake Hill. They removed to Watertown, and in 1833 Noah, aged 16, started to paddle his own canoe. His first marine commission was on the sloop Jackson, an antiquated war ship which traded between Salmon River and Detroit. In 1834 he shipped on the schr. John McKendie, sailing between Buffalo and Chicago. In this year the cholera, for a second time, swept the country and people died in thousands. In Detroit they dropped frequently on the streets, and Noah remarked, "I scooted out of that place in a hurry I can tell you." In the same year he went on the steamer United States, and later on the schrs. Gate (Gato ?) of Clayton, the Flondar, and the schr. Illinois, whose owner, Capt. Pickering, built the Alabama and Columbia, and cut his throat because the last named vessel would not

Go Through The Welland Canal.

Noah remembers when the piers were built in the harbor of Chicago, and when it was a feat to sail between them. Forty years ago, too, three trips in a season over the chain of lakes was a feat worthy of praise, the vessels having to suffer for want of the shelter and towing facilities now possessed. In 1837 our friend sailed on the schr. Henry Crevolin, built at Cape Vincent, and when he visited Milwaukee in this year the only frame house in the city was that owned by Solomon Juno.

In 1838 he was in Chicago by the schr. Missouri, when the troops left Oswego for Prescott, there to fight the "battle of the Windmill" and suffer defeat. In 1840 he had command of the H. Ainsworth, and subsequently of the schrs. Iroquois, Ariel and Lucinda and tug Manhattan. And now, having followed the profession of mariner for 27 years, he retired.

A Note For Sailors.

Noah says that when he commenced to sail, in 1833, there were only two light houses on the St. Lawrence - one at Ogdensburg and one at Crossover Island. In running the river at night sailors had to locate themselves in the cross-trees "and watch the color of the water," as it indicated the presence of shoals. There was no light house at Milwaukee, and but one at Chicago and Point Nier. In the Straits of Mackinaw there was only a lightship.

"What was the name of the first vessel that went through the Welland Canal?" Noah was asked. He said it was a Yankee vessel, the H.T. Benton.

A Hale Old Man.

Noah is now 70 years of age, but reads without glasses. Early in life he was fast and fond of whiskey, but for 15 years he has neither tasted, touched or handled it, and denounces its use.

Here & There - Capt. Gaskin has virtually won his case. The Union shovellers are now returning to work one by one.

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Feb. 9, 1884
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Feb. 9, 1884