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John H. Gilbert Collection - GLMS 108

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Vessel History | Scope and Content | Inventory


The collection documents various business activities of John H. Gilbert, specifically his operation of two vessels, the TOURIST and the SCHNODEN. The materials in this one foot collection date from 1875 - 1952.

The John H. Gilbert collection was donated with George Kelley's diary to the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes by Kenneth Dickson of Toledo, Ohio on November 23, 1999. No restrictions exist on the use of this collection. Duplication is permitted for the purposes of preservation and research. This register was completed by Pamela L. Bayer, Graduate Assistant in February 2008.

Biographical Sketch

John H. Gilbert was born in Ohio on August 30, 1875. He was the oldest son of eight children born to George William Gilbert from England and Anna F. Gilbert from Indiana. He owned and operated the tug boat, TOURIST, for twenty years. In his later years, John Gilbert worked as a marine engineer on the Erie Canal. He was a life member of the Freemason Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio (Science Lodge No. 50, F and AM) and a member of Sandusky's Calvary Episcopal Church. John H. Gilbert never married and retired at the age of 64 due to a heart attack. On September 18, 1964, he passed away at the age of 89.

Vessel History

The TOURIST (U.S. 206052) was built at Cleveland, Ohio as American Shipbuilding Company hull 445. Its construction as a steel steam propeller was completed in 1909 and diesel was installed in 1928. The TOURIST had six owners and belonged to John H. Gilbert during the years of 1921-1941.

The TOURIST's dimensions were 76'x 18' x 8' when launched and was cut down for the New York State Barge Canal use in 1925. The tonnage was 64 gross and 43 net. Under John H. Gilbert's ownership, the TOURIST was mainly used as an island passenger vessel and a tug boat on Lake Erie. It frequently made news by assisting with vessel wrecks throughout the lakes and being the first boat launched during boating seasons.

The SCHNODEN (U.S. 211729) was built as a wood steam propeller at St. James (Beaver Island), Michigan by Gustav Mielke in 1913. John H. Gilbert owned the SCHODEN during the years 1920 - 1923. The boat's dimensions were 58'25"x 19' x 7' and its tonnages was 48 gross and 32 net.

Scope and Content

This collection contains material compiled by John Gilbert during his career as a tugboat captain on Lake Erie. The collection contains mostly captain logs and account books for the tugboat TOURIST for 1921-1939. Records highlight business affairs, ports of arrivals, passenger lists, crew lists, cargo lists and prices, maintenance entries, cash accounts, newspaper clippings and a 1952 end log entry of the transfer of the TOURIST to Standard Towing Corp. in New York, NY. An account book for the tugboat SCHNODEN begins on September 15, 1921 and continues to November 26, 1921.

The engine room logs documents engine maintenance and includes newspaper clippings, Ontario's Welland Ship Canal's 1932 rules and regulations, and a personal diary account of the TOURIST being immobilized by ice in Lake Erie for four days in late December, 1929.

Two Account books, spanning the years 1875 - 1893, are cash accounts kept by George William Gilbert, John Gilbert's father.


Box 1


  1. George Gilbert account book, 1875
  2. George Gilbert account book, 1885 - 1893
  3. TOURIST account book, 1921 - 1922
  4. SCHNODEN captain's log, 1921
  5. TOURIST captain's log, 1921 - 1923
    Newspaper clipping, December 24, 1922
  6. TOURIST accounts receivable book, 1922 - 1924
  7. TOURIST engine room log, 1922 - 1924
  8. TOURIST captain's log, 1923 - 1925
  9. TOURIST captain's log, 1926 - 1927
    Barge canal weather report, November 25, 1927

Box 2


  1. TOURIST engine room log, 1929
    Newspaper clipping, April 3, 1929
    Newspaper clipping, April 11, 1929
    Newspaper clipping, April 11, 1929
    Diary journal, December 3, 1929 - December 26, 1929
    Ontario's Welland Ship Canal's rules and regulations, 1932
  2. TOURIST captain's log, 1929
  3. TOURIST captain's log, 1931 and 1937-1938
  4. TOURIST owner's log, 1930 - 1935
  5. TOURIST engine room log, 1936 - 1939
    TOURIST owner's end log, February 17, 1952
    Newspaper clipping, 1936
    Newspaper clipping, 1936
    Newspaper clipping, 1937
    Newspaper clipping, 1937
    Newspaper clipping, 1937
    Newspaper clipping, March 26, 1938
    Newspaper clipping, March 1938
    Newspaper clipping, March 26, 1938
    Newspaper clipping, 1938
    Newspaper clipping, 1938
  6. TOURIST account pages, 1938 - 1939
  7. TOURIST captain's log, 1939
    Blueprint of dump scows: August 31, 1938

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