The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Ogdensburg Journal (Ogdensburg, NY), 24 Jan 1912

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Captain John Parsons who has just died at his home in Oswego, had a long and stirring career as a follower of inland and deep sea navigation. Born in Yarmouth, England, Oct. 8, 1831, Captain Parsons was apprenticed when a boy of 12 years of age to the master of the 200 ton brig Vivid and started out as a sailor, making his first trip to Alexandria, Eqypt. During the years of his apprenticeship he visited all the principal seaport towns of England and Ireland as well as those in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

In the third year of his service the Captain, who was working for his board and clothes, took French leave at Troon and thereafter became a full fledged sailor before the mast, drawing a man's pay. He went to the East Indies in the next few years and at Singapore went onto a British government survey boat and helped survey the islands of Borneo and Labuan; this was 1849. He was then engaged in a war against the Malay pirates and after about 1,200 of the latter had been killed the work of the British in surveying and chartering the islands in the China Sea went on. After the completion of that work Captain Parsons went to the Philippines and shortly after returned to Singapore and left the survey service, before his time had expired.

A trip to the Cape of Good Hope, Africa; from there back to Liverpool and then to the United States quickly followed. At Montreal he and his companions heard of the commerce of the great inland seas, and taking French leave of his ship in Montreal, came up the St. Lawrence and sailed with Captain John Prindiville in the brig Minnesota of Chicago. This was in 1851, and he went to Oswego for the first time in the schooner Excelsior on July 4th of that year. After that he sailed in the brig Roscius and in the bark Morgan of Chicago, bringing up in Oswego in the fall in the schooner Monsoon, and since then had made that city his home. In the spring of 1852 he was with Capt. John Van Alstyne in the schooner Odd Fellow, finishing the season as second mate.

The next spring he went as mate with Captain Van Alstyne and during the season took command of the schooner Henry Clay. In the spring of 1854 he went back to the Odd Fellow, but took command of the schooner Charles Crooks, which was lost that fall in a snowstorm on the beach near Cleveland. In 1856 he went as mate of the schooner Dreadnaught with Captain Joe Kimball, but left in the summer to command the schooner Patrick Henry of Clayton. In 1857 he sailed the Charles Y. Richmond of Chicago, and, in 1858, the schooner Osprey, which was lost entering Oswego late that fall. In that wreck Captain Parsons' first wife was drowned.

In 1859, 1860 and 1861 he sailed the Kate Richmond of Buffalo, and the next year took command of the propeller Euphrates of Buffalo, for the New York Central Railroad company. She was lost on Sandusky bar, and Captain Parsons superintended the building and fitting out of the propeller Toledo for the same company and then took command of the schooner Araxes, also owned by the Central. During the years 1864 and 1865 he commanded the propeller Evergreen City. He then bought an interest in the tug Maria Melvin and brought her to Oswego. Later he sailed the schooner Emeu for Lyons & Finney.

In 1867-8 he sailed the Algerine and in 1869 the Theodore Perry. From 1870 to 1881 he was superintendent of the D.L. & W. Coal Company's shipping trestle at Oswego, then directed by the late A.G. Cook. In 1881 he was appointed inspector on the government breakwater by Colonel Macfarland. He continued in the government employ at Buffalo and Charlotte in 1882-3-4-5, after which he was sent to New York harbor to inspect work being done there by the government.

He was an active member of the Oswego yacht club and was in the more active years of his life the owner of some of the best boats in the club fleet, Sappho, Vixen and Idler.

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24 Jan 1912
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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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Ogdensburg Journal (Ogdensburg, NY), 24 Jan 1912