I have reason to believe that my great-grandfather, Frank BENNETT, may have been a sailor on the Great Lakes in the 1870s-1880s.
Every record I have on Frank Bennett says that he was born in Detroit, Michigan; the exact year is in question, but probably around 1861. He lived most of his adult life in Missouri, where he married my great-grandmother. The first actual record I have for him is when he showed up in Missouri in 1885 to enlist in the Army. On the 1885 enlistment record, Frank's previous occupation is listed as "sailor". The same previous occupation is also listed in Frank's pension file (I have most of Frank's military papers).
Since there is no indication that Frank lived anywhere near an ocean before he came to Missouri, and since he was born in Michigan, the logical conclusion is that he was a sailor on the Great Lakes. But I have absolutely no clue where to look for any records of Frank Bennett as a sailor, or even if any such records would exist. I believe he was working as a sailor in the early 1880s, perhaps the late 1870s as well.
I don't know if this matters but I also want to mention that in Frank's military papers is a detailed physical description and the man had a lot of tattoos on his chest, back, and arms. Which also kind of screams "sailor" to me and suggests he had been a sailor for many years.
Frank Bennett has been the worst brick wall in all of my family research. I am desperate for ANY information I can find about his life in Michigan before he came to Missouri. If there is any chance at all that I can get even the slightest tidbit of information about the time Frank spent as a sailor on the Great Lakes -- if any kind soul out there can offer a suggestion or point me in a direction -- I would be extremely grateful.