Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Great Lakes Sailors


The occupation of serving on a ship was a important one in the early days of Northeast Ohio. As the area developed it became much more common in cities like Ashtabula, Conneaut, Geneva and Cleveland. Inter lake trade and transportation began as early as the 1800's, but really increased once the canal system was established.

Ships in those days would start from Buffalo at the eastern end of Lake Erie. This was the western edge of the Erie canal. A common cargo at this time was moving settlers from the east to points along the northern edge of Ohio and points beyond. Eastern supplies from industrial companies were also a common cargo. They would then transport on a very regular basis to the growing areas in Ohio.

Once they arrived in Northeast Ohio they then would transport about anything that could fit in a barrel back in East. Transport of food, raw materials like wood and stone were common. The trade would help the area become more prosperous and would work as a draw for people to the area.

Life as a sailor on a ship was a difficult one during this period of time. Ships were powered by the wind and later steam. Many people from the New England area had participated in these occupations prior to moving so it was often a life style they new very well.

The National Archives has records for people that were sailors on the Great Lakes. They are much later in time, but may shed light on your ancestors. The file is RG 85 which includes 91 rolls of microfilm.
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