Architectural Accuracy and the Artists – Summer 1974

The Great Lakes… 84% of the continent’s fresh water… a different story in every drop.

By C. Thomas Sibert

An Introductory Study of Great Lakes Ship Portraiture

Student of Great Lakes history often have enhanced their knowledge of lake boats by studying ship portraits from the nineteenth century. The main thrust of their study has been toward the distinguishing characteristics of the vessels. Only minimal research has gone into documenting the lives of the artists who painted them. Still less work has been done to judge the artistic merit of the paintings. Specifics such as rigging and fleet colors have gained more attention than artistic composition and technique. the history of a ship has overshadowed the biography of the artist who painted it. A reversal of priorities in viewing these nineteenth century paintings has two advantages. For the student of lake history, research on the lives of artists helps determine the factual reliability of ship portraits. A wealth of knowledge is needed concerning the specifics of ship design and function before an artist can accurately reproduce a Great Lakes ship. For the art critic, inquiry in the field of nineteenth century Great Lakes ship portraiture opens a new field untouched by previous research and analysis.

An introductory analysis of Great Lakes ship portrait art of the final third of the nineteenth century is the study of four individuals: C. W. Norton, V. D. Nickerson, H. F. Sprague, and S. A. Whipple. These men sometimes worked for money and at other times merely for pleasure. Their range of ability and execution was from part-time artist to skilled professional. They were unified, however, by their location on the periphery of the Great Lakes. The men all shared a familiarity and love of the boats and a common desire to portray them. They were brought together finally by like subject matter—the pictorial history of sail and steam on the Great Lakes from 1865 to 1900.

Charles Wardlow Norton

Charles Wardlow Norton was chronologically the first ship portrayer of the period considered. Although his work was quite primitive in style, he set standards by which other artists may be compared.

Born in Detroit in 1848, the son of a tugboat captain, Norton’s affinity to the Lakes and lake shipping began at an early age. Although his public education in the schools of Detroit offered no evidence of formal artistic training.1 A listing in the Detroit city directory for 1863-64 cites an artistic vocation for Norton.2 In this first appearance, when he could not have been more than seventeen years old, the young man’s occupation was listed as marine artist. It was a remote possibility that a man of Norton’s limited ability could have earned a living by painting ship portraits. Learning telegraphy and working as a newspaper marine reporter brought him the money necessary to make ends meet.3 In these capacities Norton began his professional life near the waterfront. Here he gained a close technical association with the lake boats passing through Detroit. On the docks, the young artist was exposed to many facets of the shipping business. Here he had the opportunity to acquire the great store of knowledge required to paint a factually accurate ship portrait.

It was not until the 1873-74 issue of the Detroit directory that Norton’s lifetime work, that of a vessel agent, was listed as his occupation.4 After beginning this new job, however, he still found time to paint. Evidence of Norton’s continuing art professionalism was found in Detroit newspapers of 1875 with reference to his paintings of the R. N. Rice5 and the Dove.6  These articles discussed some of the artist’s technique of painting ships. One report stated that the Dove had been drawn from the actual ship measurements. The scale used to reduce the statistics to fit his canvas was one inch equal to eleven feet. Norton’s use of exact scaling supports the accuracy of his reproductions. Some pains must have been taken in acquiring ship statistics. Specific measurements, either calculated by Norton or lifted from ship plans, would have been necessary. Drawing exactly to scale explained the poor perspective of Norton’s work. No concessions were ever made to depth or distance. His paintings appeared as what they were simply scale drawings.

Also of interest in these articles was the contemporary writer’s opinion of Norton’s work. A favorable outlook was generally expressed by calling the artist’s productions the finest in their field this side of New York City.7 The criterion for this judgment was that a photographic view could not have been more factually accurate. Such a statement graphically displayed the standards used by Norton’s contemporaries for rating a ship portrait. Of utmost importance was the painting’s closeness to real life. The patrons of Great Lakes artists often came from the ranks of the steamboat owners. A clientele of this class demanded accuracy above aesthetics in the artistic reproduction of their ships.

Both portraits mentioned in the Detroit newspaper were originals from which the Calvert Lithograph Company had made a number of prints. During the second half of the nineteenth century much of the advertising of shipping lines was done in the form of posters and broadsides. The Calvert Company often produced such advertisements for shipping firms in the Detroit area. No doubt Norton had gained much respect as a painter of ships if the Calvert Company contracted him to do some of their work. Pictorial advertising continued throughout the nineteenth century and was a constant source of contracts for ship portrait artists along the Great Lakes.

Norton’s continued success as a vessel agent probably drew him away from painting. His regular job progressively occupied more of his time and in return lessened his need for a second income. Upon his death in 1901 no mention was made of the man’s ventures as an artist. Apparently success in later life had blotted out his earlier, less prosperous, artistic career.

Norton’s work was the most primitive of any artist reviewed in this period. A number of characteristics are traceable in each of his known paintings. Each drawing depicted only one ship. The view which Norton chose was the broadside. Every known instance also was portrayed from the port side. A view from this angle was best suited to what seemed to be Norton’s purpose. From the side a ship was most readily recognizable, if not from the name on the paddlebox, in the case of side-wheelers, then from the flags on the masts, as with schooners. Norton used only the barest essentials to place his ships in a realistic setting. Crew members, when present, were not much more than bumps on the deck. Atmosphere, sky and the effects of light were nonexistent in all of the artist’s work. Water was mechanically painted, representing nature only in color. Characteristic of his art was the “whisk broom effect”8 which the bow of Norton’s ships generated as they passed through the water.

A unique painting done by Norton was of the brigantine Sovereign of the Lakes. Artistically the work was typical of all of the artist’s portraits. Historically, however, it was of much greater importance. Norton’s painting was the only visual depiction of the Sovereign, of any type, which has survived to the present. Here is a fine example of nineteenth century ship portrait art in terms of its value to Great Lakes historians.

Norton usually painted on paper with water color and tempera. His failure to use high quality materials has caused fading and yellowing in those works which still exist. It was also unfortunate that Norton seldom dated his works. This makes it difficult to document any trends in his painting technique and style.

As should be the case with a man of Norton’s background, his paintings were generally factually accurate. The jobs of marine reporter and vessel agent led to a vast knowledge of the boats, which was reflected in his artistic work. As suggested above, an accurate factual reproduction of the ships he painted was probably the artist’s main concern. In this respect, he was successful.

Norton’s efforts were the first of their type in the final third of the nineteenth century. His limited ability allowed him only to set the ground work for later artists. One such man in the Lake Erie area represented an advancement in the art beyond the first steps completed by Norton.

Vincent Douglas Nickerson

A number of late nineteenth century vessel portraits in the Cleveland area were done by Vincent Douglas Nickerson. Born in 1844, the son of a vessel agent and captain, Nickerson was deeply involved in the shipping trade during his entire life. His marriage to Mary E. LaFrinier of the Cleveland shipbuilding family reinforced his involvement.9 Working in the 1870s and early 1880s at various jobs, Nickerson never seemed close to an artistic career. At one point he earned his livelihood as a bookkeeper for the LaFrinier firm. He also worked as a machinist and a laborer.10 No evidence of any formal or informal artistic training was present in his early years.

In 1882 Nickerson suddenly claimed his vocation to be that of an artist. In this capacity, from 1884 to 1887, he worked in a studio at the Central Tug office near the Main Street Bridge in Cleveland.11 This convenient location, on the waterfront, gave him ready access to the docks where his clients and subjects were available.

the JOHN B. LYON painted by Nickerson. Image from the collection of the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

It is obvious, however, that not all of Nickerson’s time during the 1880s was spent in his studio in Cleveland. Two existing portraits document his presence in the Superior-Duluth area with the American Steel Barge Company and Alexander McDougall. The earlier painting, dated 1882, pictured the Minnehaha and the Hiawatha. It was an interesting visual presentation of the origin of the revolutionary whaleback design. On the horizon was pictured the steamer Hiawatha towing the schooner Minnehaha. McDougall stated in his autobiography that while piloting such a tow he conceived the plan for his whaleback vessels.12 In the foreground of Nickerson’s work is a “pigboat” identified only by the number one on its flag. A second picture of a whaleback delineated by Nickerson speaks more of his draughting ability than his artistic skill. Painted in 1885, the work depicted the steel barge America which was never built. The picture resembled more a mechanical drawing than an artistic reproduction as it showed the ship both above and below the waterline. Its purpose, obviously, was more technical than artistic.

Nickerson’s work was apparently quite prolific. At the time of his death, in 1910, the Cleveland Plain Dealer stated that he had devoted the last thirty years of his life exclusively to painting.13 The fruits of this period must have been extensive. Only a small percentage of the paintings, however, have survived. These are now in the hands of marine museums and private owners. Unlike Norton and late Great Lakes ship portrayers, none of Nickerson’s works were known to have been reproduced as lithographs. His long career, however, seemed to signify approval of his work by his contemporaries. A number of repeated contracts with satisfied customers would have been required to support Nickerson for so long a period.

Further comment in Nickerson’s obituary mentioned that much of his work adorned the offices of marine companies. Ship masters and ship owners probably were a demanding group of customers for a marine artist such as Nickerson. They would have required accuracy instead of art in the reproduction of their life’s work. Their continuing business speaks highly of Nickerson’s ability to satisfy the wants of his patronage. Clients of this type also explain the format of many of Nickerson’s paintings. The majority were broadside views, as in the work of Norton. Once again this perspective was used to produce a ship portrait which was quickly identifiable. The painting of the William H. Barrett was a good example of a side-wheeler where the name was most prominent in the picture. Nickerson, however, did make at least two diversions from his usual composition. One, mentioned above, was the painting of the Hiawatha and the Minnehaha. Another was his 1884 painting of the schooner Thomas Gawn in a storm scene. The ship was painted looking down on the deck as it was raised at an angle by the waves of the storm. In this one exception, some attention was paid by the artist to atmosphere and water. In most other instances, however, the effects of light on water, and the ship itself, were completely absent from the artist’s work. Reflections on the water or in the rigging were always minimal. The pattern for all of Nickerson’s painting was attention to accuracy and detail in the ship alone, as was likely the wish of his clients.

Working with pastels and tempera, Nickerson was never able to break away from the overall look of an academic drawing. He made an initial effort toward painting a ship in relationship to real life situations and other influences, but was unable to follow through on his first step. The Cleveland painter still holds an important spot in documenting the history of lake shipping in his portrayal of the boats which took part in the commerce of the Lakes. Although he was somewhat lacking in artistry, Nickerson has left to modern observers a factually accurate and fascinating collection of paintings. The Lake Erie area which supported him also fostered the growth of a young artist of much promise in the field of ship portrait painting.

Howard Freeman Sprague

Howard Freeman Sprague, born in 1871, was by far the youngest of the artists considered in this period. By the time he began painting seriously, Norton and Nickerson had been working for at least fifteen years. Sprague never lived to enjoy a long career as did these other artists, but in his relatively short life he made a substantial contribution to ship portraiture on the Great Lakes. Sprague’s academic career began on a sour note. He first did poorly in public school in Huron, Ohio. He soon was sent to an art school, but failed to remain long in this setting.14  The young man’s short stay at art school, however, was unique among Great Lakes ship painters of the period. No other artist was exposed even temporarily to formal artistic training. Also, unlike Norton and Nickerson, who had close technical association with the boats, Sprague’s background was free from artistically limiting experiences. Some time in his late teens Sprague left the Lake Erie area to join Alexander McDougall in Superior-Duluth. In this locale he took a job as an illustrator for the American Steel Barge Company.15 From this time on, little evidence remains of Sprague’s personal or professional activities. His paintings were almost the only record of his life’s work.

Sprague followed no specific pattern in his art. His short career was not divided into definite periods. He was not, however, in the singular mold of Norton or Nickerson. His paintings ranged artistically from very good to mediocre. Factually, all of Sprague’s paintings ware accurately drawn with much attention to detail. In this respect he closely compared to his contemporaries. It was strange that a man of Sprague’s background so rapidly fell into the established pattern of painting Great Lakes ships. He seemed to have the initial qualifications for rising above the photographic reproduction mold of his contemporaries. The job market, however, was probably the major reason for Sprague’s failure to alter the traditional format of ship portraiture on the Great Lakes. Contracts for painting ships were mostly concerned with pragmatic ends. Advertisements needed identifiable ships, not works of art. A ship owner who commissioned a painting for his home or office was concerned with his ship, not the art of painting ships.

The QUEEN CITY painted by Sprague. Image from the collection of the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

Exemplary of one facet of Sprague’s work was his painting of the steamer Mohawk. Done for publication in Around the Lakes in 1894,16 the Mohawk was comparable to the work done by Nickerson. The ship itself was almost the only concern of the artist. In this side view, sky and water were added as necessary factors without much attention given to them. The Mohawk painting provided exactly what Sprague’s clients in this instance must have wanted; a simple factual painting, for advertisement purposes, of one of their boats. A second aspect of Sprague’s work was his nighttime depictions. These often were used in magazines. A good example of this group was Sprague’s painting of the City of Alpena and City of Detroit passing at night. Along with the usual factual accuracy and attention to detail, this work required handling the effect of spotlights on the water. The painting was an interesting study, as every detail of reflection was carefully worked out and displayed. Also of this group were a number of paintings which Sprague did for the St. Nicholas Magazine. These, however, were not ship portraits but mostly scenes from along the shores of the Lakes.

Two of Sprague’s works were particularly unique. The first of these was his oil painting of the whaleback passenger steamer Christopher Columbus. Probably painted about 1894, the portrait, in style and composition, was much like many of Sprague’s other works. It was a simple side view with no back ground or additional surroundings. The most unique facet of the painting was its physical size. At a time when most Great Lakes ship portraits were about thirty by fourty inches, the Columbus was six feet, three inches by three feet, two inches. The painting might have been a reflection of the relative importance of the ship in the passenger trade on the Lakes. Working around the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, the Christopher Columbus carried a larger number of passengers than any other ship in the history of the Great Lakes.

A second unique painting done by Sprague was of the La Grande Duchesse. Once again the painting was not singled out by the artist’s use of a new technique or different perspective. In this instance, the notability of the painting came from the subject itself. The La Grande Duchesse was a salt water boat. It was the only instance, during the period considered, of a Great Lakes artist painting a ship on the east coast. Although some east coast painters had been commissioned to do work on the Lakes, only Sprague reversed the trend. The Duchesse was probably painted about 1898, shortly after Sprague had left the Great Lakes area.

Sprague’s career, unfortunately, was cut short. In 1899, after a trip to Puerto Rico as a marine illustrator for a New York magazine, he died of tuberculosis in New York City at the age of 28.17 Sprague had brought a new degree of professionalism to the painting of Great Lakes ship portraits. His efforts in this direction were surpassed by only one man.

Seth Arca Whipple

Perhaps the most artistically gifted of his class, much of Seth Arca Whipple’s talent was wasted in the last years of his life. Born in 1855 near New Baltimore, Michigan, Whipple, like Norton and Sprague, began his art career at an early age. The first evidence of his painting was found in 1876. In this year the M. S. Smith and Company of Detroit had on display in its window a Whipple painting of the steamer Northwest.19 In the latter third of the nineteenth century, advertising by ship lines became an increasing part of the Great Lakes scene. One type of advertisement used by boat owners, as mentioned above, was posters and broadsides. Another device employed to increase business was the placement of attractive vessel portraits in the windows of prominent retail stores. Whipple’s Northwest was such a painting. The portrait was representative of the work done by the artist in the 1870s. Exact drawing and scaling made the painting an accurate factual presentation of the vessel. The ship, however, lacked any relationship to its surroundings. Like much of Nickerson’s work, it was a broadside view in which the vessel was not shown in a realistic setting. The sky and water were painted mechanically, and there was no evidence of the effect of sunlight in the scene. Contemporary criticism was limited at this point in Whipple’s career. The only comment on the Northwest was that it was a decidedly creditable production for a man only eighteen years old.

In Whipple’s paintings of the 1880s much of his earlier primitiveness disappeared. His work no longer included only ship portraits but Whipple now was able to sell other types of paintings for profit. In addition to boats, he began painting landscapes, seascapes and pictures of dogs.20   During the decade his ship portraits vastly improved. The ships were no longer portrayed only from the side, as some were seen from the stern and at quarter views. Whipple’s painting of the schooner John Wesley was a fine example of his best work. The angle of the ship was handled well and presented in proper perspective. The land to the right of the ship balanced the composition of the picture. Sensitivity to the effects of sunlight was seen in the sky, the water, and, to a certain extent, in the sails. This handling of the effects of light, although it does not match that of the luminists who painted clipper ships on the east coast, was definitely a step forward in the art of painting Great Lakes vessels.

Tug CHAMPION under tow painted by Whipple. Image from the collection of the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

During the 1880s, the period of Whipple’s best work, some criticism of his style was voiced. Complaint was made by an art magazine that his painting contained too much attention to meticulous detail.21 Grounds for this comment were visible in all of the work Whipple did at this time. Three conditions accounted for this trait. The first was his background along the Detroit River. Here he learned the ships which he painted. Whipple knew what distinguished one boat from another and what function each mechanism had on the ship. Violation or misrepresentation of the factual aspects of one of the vessels, for the sake of art, would have been unthinkable. Another facet of the artist’s background was a long career as a professional sailor. Beginning in 1885, Whipple held a ship master’s license for fourteen years.22 Such a rank was a high recommendation for a painter’s ability to reproduce a factually accurate ship portrait. A deep understanding of the technical aspects of sailing and boats was required of a captain. Whipple was the only individual, of the artists under consideration, with much sailing know-how and the attendant technical knowledge of ships. A third aspect of Whipple’s career which called for strict attention to detail also influenced his painting. As a designer with the Bradwell Photo Company in 1878-79,23 Whipple learned an acute appreciation for detail accuracy. Photo engraving was an exacting job which required the type of factual reproduction which this engraver displayed in his paintings.

An interesting aspect of Whipple’s accent on detail in this period was the way in which he painted his sailors. Unlike those of Norton and Nickerson, Whipple’s figures were detailed and in the proper perspective. They were also in more natural poses, as in the case of the sailor on the rigging of the John Wesley. 

In 1890 Whipple left Detroit for Bay City, Michigan. There he assumed a new job with the Davidson Ship Yard where he supervised the draughting department.24 After this venture, Whipple’s painting began a sharp decline in artistic beauty. A combination of further draughting experience and more notoriety seemed to combine to bring about this effect. The draughting experience appeared to lead to a more refined type of paintings in the 1870s.

Once again most of Whipple’s work was more like an academic drawing than a work of art. The change was evident in his painting of the side-wheeler Frank E. Kirby. In this work the artist presented a side view with little sensitivity to light and atmosphere. Whipple in the 1890s was also filling more contracts. As with the Frank E. Kirby, firms such as the D. & C. Line were building vessels which they wanted to advertise. Paintings for this purpose required and wanted little artistic content, but merely needed qualities readily reproduceable. An increase in the number of works Whipple produced must have shortened the length of time he could spend on each individual piece. He therefore had to sacrifice many of the good qualities of his 1880s portraits for the sake of a larger output. Less time was spent on background, composition and achieving the proper perspective. What little time was available had to be used on the ship itself. Any slighting of the boat for artistic purposes was probably frowned upon by ship portrait patrons.

One area Whipple entered, along with Sprague, was illustrating for magazines. In many of these works he depicted night scenes on the Lakes. Here was a new twist to ship portraiture with many possibilities. Whipple only scratched the surface in this respect, but he did help make an important first step. The night scenes were not a departure from the main purpose of Great Lakes ship painting for the period considered. Whipple’s work was instead a new means of achieving an old end. Paintings such as the steamer City of Mackinac were still concerned primarily with the identification of a specific ship. They did require, however, the skillful handling of the amount of light that was available. In most cases this problem was minimized by limiting light sources in the painting to spotlights and cabin lights on board the ships.

Painting mostly in oils, many of Whipple’s works have survived to the present day. They make it possible to study his career in great depth. By scrutinizing these paintings, certain conclusions may be drawn about this final artist’s place among nineteenth century Great Lakes ship portrait painters. At the time of his death in 1901, Whipple had become well known around the Lakes. His work in the 1890s brought about his present-day recognition, but his true contribution to the art of painting Great Lakes ships was made in the earlier years of his career.24

Preceding Whipple in death was Sprague, in 1899. Norton died in 1901 and Nickerson in 1910. The aesthetic value of the work of these men is undetermined at present. Regardless of future judgments passed by art critics, however, the contribution which they made to Great Lakes history was definitely an extensive one. For the marine enthusiast, these four men did produce a colorful, informative, and intriguing portfolio of ship portraits which pictured an exciting era in the history of the Great Lakes.




Abbreviations used in repository listings:

Detroit—Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan

Dossin—Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan

Fairport—Fairport Harbor Museum, Fairport Harbor, Ohio

Ford—Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan

Great Lakes—Great Lakes Historical Society Museum, Vermilion, Ohio Mariners’—Mariners’ Museum, Newport News, Virginia

Milan—Milan Historical Museum, Milan, Ohio


Name of Vessel Repository

Benton Dossin

Hyphen Milan

P. Minch Dossin

Neptune Dossin

R.N. Rice Detroit

Sovereign of the Lakes Mariners’

Stalker Milan

Winona Milan


American (1882) Mariners’

American (1884) Mariners’

Zack Chandler (1882) Great Lakes

Zack Chandler (1883) Great Lakes

Columbia Milan

Thomas Gawn Great Lakes

Germanic Great Lakes

S. Hubbell Great Lakes

John B. Lyon Great Lakes

Henry C. Richards Great Lakes

Rube Richards Great Lakes

J. Tilden Great Lakes

M. Wilson Great Lakes

Annie Ash 


F. Bielman (1893)

F. Bielman (n.d.)

City of Alpena and City of Detroit 

Christopher Columbus 

City of Buffalo 

La Grande Duchesse 



John V. Moran 


Queen City 


H. Wade 




City of Alpena I 

City of Detroit II 

City of Mackinac (1893) 

City of Mackinac (1896) 

Reuben Dowd 

Chas. Kellogg 

Frank E. Kirby 

U.S. S. Michigan 


A. Parker 

State of Michigan 



John Wesley 





Great Lakes Mariners’




Great Lakes Great Lakes Dossin


















Listed below are additional ship portraits not housed in museums and believed to have been painted by the four artists discussed in this paper. Some are verifiable works in the hands of private collectors. Many others, however, are only found as photographs and often without signatures. The origin of such paintings has been assigned only by artistic technique. Any information readers may have concerning these paintings, or others not listed here, would be deeply appreciated. Facts such as date of the painting, artistic medium, size, location, and other pertinent information would be very useful in completing this list and ultimately judging the artistic and historic value of the work of these artists. Readers are encouraged to send such information to the Northwest Ohio—Great Lakes Research Center, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, 43403. At the Center, a master list is being compiled with all pertinent information. The list will be made available to future researchers upon request.

“Ship portraits,” as described in this study, are paintings which have no more than two ships prominent in the work. This limitation, however, does not apply to the master list being compiled in Bowling Green, and information on composite pictures will also be welcomed.


Amaranth Mineral Rock 

Jane Bell Mocking Bird 

George E. Brockway Morning Star 

B. Castle New London 

Asa Childs Northern Light 

Cleveland Oak Leaf 

Jay Cooke Philo Parsons 

Erastus Corning E. M. Peck 

Dove Pewabic 

James F. Joy Tanner 

Lac La Belle Verona

U. Masters Grace Whitney 

General McClellan O. Wilcox 


P. Barkalow Egyptian 

Wm. H. Barrett Onoko 

Corona John M. Osborn 


Centurion Samuel Mitchell 

Chicora Mohawk 

Choctaw Northland 

Christopher Columbus North West 

City of Alpena II Olive Jeanette 

City of Detroit and Thomas W. Palmer 

City of Cleveland Pontiac 

John C. Fitzpatrick Rappahannock 

Florence B. Sainte Marie 

Wm. H. Gratwick Gov. Smith 

Harlem Sweepstakes 

Helena Tuscarora 

Manitou Virginia 

Matoa Mabel Wilson 

Wm. H. Wolf 


Boscobel Hudson 

City of Cleveland I Princess 

Columbian Gov. Smith

  1. Paul Leake, History of Detroit, Chronicle of its Progress, its Industries, its Institutions, and the People of the Fair City of the Straits (Chicago and New York: Lewis Publishing Co., 1912), III, p. 938-939.
  2. Charles F. Clark, Annual Directory of the Inhabitants, Incorporated Companies, Business Firms, & etc. of the City of Detroit, for 1863-64 (Detroit: Charles F. Clark, 1864), p. 194.
  3. Leake, History of Detroit, p. 938. 
  4. Annual Directory of the Inhabitants, Business Firms, Incorporated Companies, Etc., of Detroit (Detroit: J. W. Weeks and Co., 1873), p. 424.
  5. Detroit Free Press, June 4, 1875, p. 1.
  6. Detroit Daily Post, June 4, 1875, p. 4.
  7. Ibid.,
  8. Phrase coined by Rev. Edward J. Dowling, S. J., of the University of Detroit.
  9. Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 15, 1910, p. 8.
  10. Cleveland City Directories for 1874, 1880, and 1881. At the time of Norton’s death, he was often referred to as a captain. No evidence of his sailing career, however, could be found.
  11. Cleveland City Directories for 1882, 1884, 1885, 1886, and 1887.
  12. Janet Coe Sanborn, (ed.), The Autobiography of Captain Alexander McDougall (Cleveland: The Great Lakes Historical Society, 1968), p. 32.
  13. Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 15, 1910, p. 8.
  14. John Rhinemiller, “Letter to the Editor,” Inland Seas, XIV (Spring 1958), p. 72.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Around the Lakes (Detroit: Detroit Dry Dock Co., 1894), p. 131.
  17. “Death of Howard Sprague,” Erie County Reporter, (Huron, Ohio), May 18, 1899, p. 8.
  18. Detroit Free Press, Oct. 11, 1901, p. 5.
  19. Ibid., May 24,-1876, p. 1.
  20. Ibid., April 17, 1879, p. 1.
  21. The Dilettant, May, 1885, p. 24.
  22. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Board of Supervising Inspectors of Steam Vessels held at Washington, D. C., 1884-1892. List of Masters, Mates, Pilots, and Engineers of Merchant Steam Vessels, 1895-1898. 
  23. Detroit City Directory for 1878-79 (Detroit: J. W. Weeks and Co., 1878), p. 753.
  24. Detroit Free Press, Feb. 2, 1890, p. 18.
  25. Robert E. Lee, (ed.), “Seth Arca Whipple, Lakes Marine Artist, 1855-1901,” supplement to Telescope (Detroit, 1973, n.p.). This detailed report of the life and work of Whipple should be consulted by those interested in his paintings.


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About the Author: The author, a resident of Hamilton, Ohio, before attending Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, acquired his master’s degree in history, on graduation in December 1973. The project presented here was first under taken at the suggestion of Dr. Richard J Wright, Director of the Northwest Ohio—Great Lakes Research Center at the University, under whom Mr. Sibert worked as a Graduate Assistant. Mr. Sibert is very interested in hearing from others who may have additional information to add to this introductory study of Great Lakes ship paintings. His paper was begun through research for an American Art course under the late Mrs. Barbara Anderson of the Toledo Museum of Art. 

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