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Craig Shipbuilding Company Collection - GLMS 95

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


This four cubic foot collection was donated to the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes on May 20, 1991 by Marjorie Baratlett. An instrument of gift was signed on July 18, 1991.

Literary and property rights were dedicated to the public. Photocopying is permitted for the purposes of conservation and research.

 Biographical Sketch

Great Lakes shipbuilding entrepreneur John Craig was born on December 24, 1838 at New York, New York of Scots immigrant parents. George and Catherine Campbell Craig were from Coldingham and Grampian Hills, Scotland. The Craigs met in New York and raised John with his sisters Catherine, Jeanette, and Jean.

The marine interests of John Craig developed through the father of a school friend who sailed a New York schooner. Craig's persistent requests to be allowed to sail led his father to arrange an apprenticeship as a ship's carpenter. Life on the schooner was more arduous than Craig realized and he let one voyage satisfy is curiosity about sailing.

Craig pursued carpentry on shore and studied drafting in order to learn vessel design techniques. In his early twenties the AMELIA G. IRELAND became Craig's first vessel of his own design. Further requests for his services led to profits and the need to expand his business.

On November 4, 1861 John Craig married his fiance Annie Eliza Losee. Business success permitted the start of a family. The resulting seventy-one year marriage was as successful as the business career.

Craig's first business partner in 1861 was a man named Simonson. The pooling of resources for these two opened the door to numerous naval contracts during the Civil War. The boom phase into 1865 was, unfortunately, followed by a post-war depression in orders for vessels. Harsh economic times were accompanied by the death of the Craig's infant son Peter.

In 1866 good fortune came in the form of news from Craig's brother-in-law Alex Linn that ship design work was underway in Gibraltar, Michigan under the direction of Linn's uncle Robert Linn. Craig's work was acceptable to Robert Linn and the Craig family began a new life on the Great Lakes. Family fortunes were still in a volatile state in a feast or famine market. During the Panic of 1873, the sale of one schooner staved off complete ruin.

While Craig's career as part of Linn & Craig progressed in the 1870s John Craig began to see the advantages of producing steel hulled vessels. Eventually Craig left his partnership and started his own yard at Gibraltar. In 1882 the company moved to a yard in Trenton, Michigan. By 1887 a larger facility was needed. A new yard was purchased in Toledo, Ohio and production began there in 1888. John, Annie, and the children, John F., Kate, and Mame began a new and prosperous life marked by a mansion for a home and extensive world travel.

Contracts came in by the dozens to the Toledo yard and Craig became a leader in vessel design. By 1907 John Craig was ready to retire and leave the business to John F. Craig. The Toledo yard was now too small to be competitive with other companies. Craig looked for an oceanfront city for expansion purposes. Long Beach, California proved the most suitable and operations under John F. Craig were transferred out west.

The value of the new shipyard was an immense asset to Long Beach. The first work crews to arrive were treated by the chamber of commerce as visiting dignitaries.

In January 1908, John F. Craig and his family reached California to help the Craig business interests grow in the new century. The elder John Craig retired at age 79 in Toledo.

John Craig maintained an active retirement with banking interests and marine promotion plans to keep him occupied. He reflected fondly on the 107 vessels built during his presidency of the Craig Ship Building Company from 1889 to 1907.

Annie Craig died on November 20, 1932. Two weeks earlier the Craigs had celebrated their seventy-first wedding anniversary. John Craig lived to be 95 and died in Toledo on January 15, 1934.

 Scope and Content

This four cubic foot collection documents business and personal elements in the life of Great Lakes shipbuilder John Craig. The primary series in the collection is a set of ninety-three black and white photographs made from the enclosed glass negatives. This series (3.5 cubic feet) dates from about 1898-1918 and records shipyard views for the Craig vessel construction operations in Toledo, Ohio, Trenton, Michigan, and Long Beach, California. Most views are of Toledo.

A second photographic series appears in the form of an album regarding the Craig family genealogy. Black and white photographs in this album (1 file folder) present individual portraits and group views dating from 1853 to 1965. These photographs show fine examples of nineteenth and early twentieth century clothing and architectural styles.

Biographical material on John Craig appears in his autobiography based on incidents he related to his granddaughter for publication in 1928. This volume (1 file folder) discussed Craig's business interests and factors motivating him to succeed in the vessel building industry.

A memoir from a relative of Craig's, James Lough, offers another view of working conditions in shipyards in the late nineteenth century. Lough's recollections (2 file folders) offer humorous insights into why the hiding of money outside of banks favored by people like John Craig was so common.

Two printed items complete the collection (1 file folder). An obituary for John Craig and an article in an historical journal on the Craig enterprises further elaborate on the Craig marine empire.

 Series Description


ca. 1898-1918
Boxes 1-5 for glass negatives; Boxes 6-7 for prints
Arranged numerically
Series contains 93 black and white photographs and their accompanying glass negatives. Access to these negatives is restricted because of their fragile nature. These photographs were taken by members of the John Craig family in Trenton, Michigan, Toledo, Ohio, and Long Beach, California. The Craig family operated a shipyard in each of those cities. Shipyard scenes and street scenes are present in largest numbers. Most of the street scenes are in Toledo, Ohio, showing residences, office buildings, and fire stations.

Box 8, Folder 1
Arranged chronologically
Series contains a photograph album recording genealogical information on the Craig family. Information dates from 1777 to 1966. Photographs date from 1853 to 1965. A list of vessels built by the Craigs in New York, Michigan, Ohio, and California covers 1861-1931. Most photographs are of family members in portrait poses or in family groups. Some street scenes and shipyard views are present.


Box 8, Folder 2
Series contains an autobiographical narrative by John Craig dictated to his granddaughter Ruth Craig Merrell who served as compiler. The work is entitled Episodes of My Life and was printed in a limited press run of 100 copies. Series is paginated.

Box 8, Folders 3-4
Series contains a memoir written by a relative of John Craig who came to the United States from Scotland to work in the Craig shipyard at Toledo, Ohio. Lough later returned to Scotland to run a freighting service. Lough arrived in the United States in 1889 and left in about 1900. A typescript and a photocopy of the handwritten original item are present. Mr. Lough was prompted to write this memoir after receiving a copy of John Craig's autobiography from Ruth Craig Merrell. Series is paginated.


1934, 1990
Box 8, Folder 5
Arranged chronologically.
Series contains an obituary newsclipping for John Craig from the Long Beach, California Press Telegram. Also present is a copy of the 1989-1990 issue of A Step Back in time. This item is the journal of the Historical Society of Long Beach, California. An article on the Craig Shipbuilding Company is in this publication.


Box 1: Photographs


1-20. Glass negatives 1-20*

Box 2: Photographs


1-20. Glass negatives 21-40*

Box 3: Photographs


1-20. Glass negatives 41-60*

Box 4: Photographs


1-20. Glass negatives 61-80*

Box 5: Photographs


1-13. Glass negatives 81-93*

*Access to these negatives is restricted because of their fragile nature.

Box 6: Photographs--Prints from negatives 1-49


  1. Plate 1. Locomotive off tracks
  2. Plate 2. House at corner of Woodford Street and Paine Avenue, Toledo
  3. Plate 3. Famous race horse, "Croeseus"
  4. Plate 4. John Franklin Craig, son of John Craig, speaking at Long Beach Shipyard (JFC in profile, in light suit)
  5. Plate 5. Craig Shipyard Company of Toledo, riverfront of the Maumee River
  6. Plate 6. Craig Shipyard Company, making a mast in the machine shop
  7. Plate 7. Engine of ALBERT NOBEL, hull #105, Craig Shipyard, Toledo, 1905 (cracked negative)
  8. Plate 8. Casting made by Craig Shipyard, Toledo
  9. Plate 9. Birds-eye view of Craig Shipyard, Toledo
  10. Plate 10. Two men and four small boats on small ways, Schooners EDGAR ASHLEY and MILLER BROTHERS
  11. Plate 11. Gantry Crane and ship, Craig Shipyard, Toledo
  12. Plate 12. Launching of car ferry from Craig Shipyard, Toledo.
  13. Plate 13. Launching of car ferry from Craig Shipyard, Toledo. A birds-eye view of shipyard
  14. Plate 14. Compound engine in machine shop, Long Beach, California (negative cracked)
  15. Plate 15. Artist's drawing and painting of a birds-eye view of Craig Shipyard, Toledo (negative cracked)
  16. Plate 16. Scaffold of building berth (Maine) (negative cracked)
  17. Plate 17. Trestle or building berth; preparing for launch (Maine)
  18. Plate 18. Exterior of Punch and Blacksmith shop (Maine)
  19. Plate 19. Building berth, Craig Shipyard, Toledo (negative cracked)
  20. Plate 20. People walking about a trestle at Craig Shipyard (Maine), 1908 (negative cracked)
  21. Plate 21. Aerial view of the HAWK in drydock, Toledo (negative broken)
  22. Plate 22. Birds-eye view of Craig Shipyard, Toledo
  23. Plate 23. Horse drawn fire wagons at firehouse
  24. Plate 24. Steamer SS HARLON in drydock, showing interior of hull and workers
  25. Plate 25. Steamer SS WALDO in winter drydock lengthening its hull
  26. Plate 26. L.E. & W. railroad boxcar showing siding and rear of engine
  27. Plate 27. Firehouse and equipment; different view from plate 23
  28. Plate 28. Steamer SS PENOBSCOT in drydock (negative cracked)
  29. Plate 29. Steamer DULUTH in drydock with damaged bow (negative cracked)
  30. Plate 30. Gantry crane with ship under construction in drydock. Craig Shipyard, Toledo
  31. Plate 31. Flatbed railroad car with two castings. Craig Foundry. (negative cracked)
  32. Plate 32. Bow of vessel with two men on scaffolding. Craig Shipyard, Toledo
  33. Plate 33. Waterfront view of crane and long trestle. Craig Shipyard, Maine
  34. Plate 34. Interior of machine shop. Craig Shipyard, Maine
  35. Plate 35. Craig family
  36. Plate 36. Steamer BENTON HARBOR, hull #100, under construction. Craig Shipyard, Toledo, 1904
  37. Plate 37. Birds-eye view of GEORGE L. CRAIG, hull #91
  38. Plate 38. JAMES P. WALSH, hull #103, in river
  39. Plate 39. Engine of yacht CAPITOLA in machine shop, hull #101
  40. Plate 40. Other side of CAPITOLA engine in machine shop (negative cracked)
  41. Plate 41. Launching of the JAMES P. WALSH, hull #103, Craig Shipyard, Toledo (negative cracked)
  42. Plate 42. SS GRAND HAVEN, hull #92 in river
  43. Plate 43. Steamer PORTAGE, of Buffalo, in winter with the IROQUOIS, hull #83 Craig Shipyard, Toledo
  44. Plate 44. SS GRAND HAVEN, ferry, hull #92, underway on the river. Craig Shipyard, Toledo
  45. Plate 45. Interior of machine shop. Craig Shipbuilding Co., (Maine)
  46. Plate 46. Naval Reserve steamer HAWK in drydock. Craig Shipyard, Toledo
  47. Plate 47. Birds-eye view of Steel Gate drydock. Craig Shipyard, Toledo (negative cracked)
  48. Plate 48. Birds-eye view of a steel hull in drydock. Craig Shipyard, Toledo (negative cracked)
  49. Plate 49. Birds-eye view of the launching of the SS THOMAS A. ADAMS, hull #89.

Box 7: Photographs--Prints from negatives 50-93


  1. Plate 50. The SS JAMES P. WALSH, hull #103, afloat in river with tug. Craig Shipbuilding Co., Toledo
  2. Plate 51. Birds-eye view after the launching of the SS KENSINGTON, hull #94
  3. Plate 52. SS KENSINGTON prior to launching
  4. Plate 53. SS CITY OF BENTON HARBOR, hull #100, during construction on March 17, 1904
  5. Plate 54. Launching of the SS CITY OF BENTON HARBOR, hull #100
  6. Plate 55. SS GRAND HAVEN, hull #92, in river (negative broken at top right corner)
  7. Plate 56. SS GEORGE L. CRAIG, hull #91, in river
  8. Plate 57. SS GEORGE L. CRAIG, hull #91, under steam passing the WILLIAM NOTTINGHAM
  9. Plate 58. Steamers IROQUOIS, hull #83, EDITH, hull #89, and CAPITOLA, hull #101
  10. Plate 59. SS INDIANAPOLIS, hull #99, prior to launching
  11. Plate 60. SS CITY OF SOUTH HAVEN during construction
  12. Plate 61. Portside view of SS CITY OF SOUTH HAVEN, hull #93 at dock
  13. Plate 62. SS BUCKMAN, hull #85 under construction
  14. Plate 63. SS WACCAMAW, hull #79, during construction
  15. Plate 64. Portside bow view of the SS CITY OF BENTON HARBOR, hull #100
  16. Plate 65. Starboard view of SS CITY OF BENTON HARBOR, hull #100
  17. Plate 66. SS CITY OF BENTON HARBOR, hull #100
  18. Plate 67. SS PURITAN, hull #82, under construction
  19. Plate 68. Interior of a machine shop containing four engines of hull numbers: WATSON, #86; REDONDO, #87; BEATTY, #88; ADAMS, #89 (upper corner of negative is broken)
  20. Plate 69. Angle punch shed
  21. Plate 70. Launching of SS GENERAL CHARLES HUBBARD, hull #111
  22. Plate 71. Yacht CAPITOLA, hull #101, prior to launching
  23. Plate 72. Crane and scaffolding. Craig Shipyard, Toledo
  24. Plate 73. Salt Lake Bridge Construction Company setting a steel girder with crane in a model of the CITY OF SOUTH HAVEN.
  25. Plate 74. Interior shot of model of the CITY OF SOUTH HAVEN, hull #93
  26. Plate 75. SS R.E. DOVILLE, hull #102, prior to launching
  27. Plate 76. Starboard bow view of the SS CITY OF SOUTH HAVEN, hull #93 in river 1903
  28. Plate 77. SS CITY OF SOUTH HAVEN, hull #93, pulling away from the dock
  29. Plate 78. SS GRAND HAVEN, hull #92, underway in the river, 1903
  30. Plate 79. Ships along frozen riverfront at Craig Ship Building Company, Toledo
  31. Plate 80. Gantry crane and yard equipment
  32. Plate 81. THOMAS A. ADAMS, hull #89, underway 1902
  33. Plate 82. Interior of a machine shop containing four engines of hull numbers WATSON, #86; RENDONDO, #87; BEATTY, #88; ADAMS, #89 (same as plate #68)
  34. Plate 83. SS HARLOW in drydock during her hull lengthening
  35. Plate 84. SS GENERAL J.M. WILSON, hull #73, prior to launching in 1898 (negative cracked)
  36. Plate 85. Yacht CAPITOLA, hull #101, underway
  37. Plate 86. SS CITY OF BENTON HARBOR, hull #101, under construction 1904
  38. Plate 87. Interior of a machine shop at the Craig Ship Building Company, Maine
  39. Plate 88. Photograph of a baseball team from Wayne
  40. Plate 89. SS REDONDO, hull #87, in the midst of its launching, 1902
  41. Plate 90. Tug SS GENERAL J.M. WILSON, hull #73, ready to launch, 1898
  42. Plate 91. Speaker on platform at Craig Ship Building Company, Long Beach, California (TRM in back of speaker with head down?)
  43. Plate 92. SS CITY OF SOUTH HAVEN, hull #98
  44. Plate 93. Two wood houses, with people in front

Box 8


  1. Genealogical Photograph Album (note: these are not the same photographs as the 93 from the glass negatives)
  2. John Craig Autobiography, 1928
  3. James Lough Memoir, 1928, typescript
  4. James Lough Memoir, 1928, photocopy of handwritten version
  5. Publications, obituary clipping for John Craig, January 15, 1934, Long Beach, California Press Telegram; A Step Back in Time published by the Historical Society of Long Beach Journal, 1989-1990, containing an article on the Craig shipyard expansion from the Great Lakes to Long Beach.

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