Dan Seavey, Great Lakes Pirate

Great Lakes Pirate: The Adventures of Roaring Dan Seavey

Dan Seavey, sometimes called “Roaring Dan,” is a legendary, almost mythical figure in the history of Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes. Seavey was well known in his day in northeast Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, for both good and bad reasons, and more often than not for things that probably never happened.

Specifically, Seavey is credited with being “the only man to be arrested for piracy on Lake Michigan”—some say the only man to be “convicted” of such a charge. On the extreme end, he has been called the only pirate on the lake – period.

Daniel W. Seavey, was allegedly born in Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, on March 23, 1865 to Porter and Josephine (Ward) Seavey. The word “allegedly” is used because it seems unlikely that Daniel was born a full three years prior to his parents’ marriage date of January 25, 1868. (The 1880 census has Daniel being born circa 1869, which seems more likely.)

After a lifetime filled with adventure, Dan died on February 14, 1949 in a nursing home in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. He is buried at the Forest Home Cemetery in Marinette.

Great Lakes Pirate Book Cover

Note: This web page is significantly condensed for brevity. For more detailed information, check out my book: Great Lakes Pirate: The Adventures of Roaring Dan Seavey (affiliate link)

See also: Podcast Website

The Wanderer

By late 1900, Seavey had moved to Escanaba, Michigan, and acquired a forty-foot schooner, which he named the Wanderer, a suitable successor name to the Rambler. (Seavey sold the Rambler to Messenger and Paige of Jacksonport in September 1900.)

As the story goes, the Wanderer had originally cost $6,000 when built by the Pabst family [yes, THAT Pabst family] and was said to be “the handsomest pleasure yacht.” Once Seavey took possession, he seems to have gutted the ship but kept the luxurious cabin and captain’s quarters.

Is the Pabst story even true? Records for the ship neglect to mention Pabst at all, but instead point to the original owner, J. F. Sanderson.

With this ship, Seavey began moonlighting as a pirate to supplement his legitimate income. Seavey sailed the Wanderer as a legitimate shipping operation but also sailed into ports at night to steal cargo from other vessels and warehouses.

The Wanderer
[Historical Collections of the Great Lakes – Bowling Green State University https://greatlakes.bgsu.edu/]

According to John Mitchell, the Wanderer was also “dealing in booze, stolen sawmills [sic] and other loot, bristling with pistols and shotguns and shanghaied girls, both red and white, whose easy virtue were traded for coin of the realm at all lake ports.” He also claimed that the Wanderer operated as “a floating gambling hall in Milwaukee harbor,” though this was only hearsay and not experience.

Dan’s Family Members

Note: This list may not be all-encompassing. Additional information can be found in my book.

NameRelationship to DanBirthDeathMarriage(s)
Porter Clement SeaveyFatherJuly 24, 1846 in Oxford County, Maine to Clement and Janet (Rowell) Seavey.September 28, 1919 in Norway, Oxford, Maine due to “apoplexy” (stroke) and a contributing factor of senility.– Josephine Ward: January 25, 1868
– Alice Page: March 26, 1877
Josephine WardMotherOctober 18, 1852 in Cumberland County, Maine to John and Mary (Ward) Ward. Died at age 20 on October 7, 1872. She is buried at the Grover Hill Cemetery (aka Skillingston Cemetery) in Bethel, Oxford County, Maine.Porter Seavey: January 25, 1868
Jeanette “Jennie” SeaveySisterAround 1870 to Porter and Josephine (Ward) SeaveyNovember 1946, Palm Beach, FloridaPaul Dawson: June 15, 1903
Alice F. PageStep-motherJanuary 1861 in Maine to Orin and Betsey (Heath) Page.Died at age 43 on September 13, 1904 from chronic nephritisPorter Seavey: March 26, 1877
Mary O. PlumleyWife (#1)May 1872 in Peshtigo, WIJune 9, 1965 in Dickinson County, Michigan– Frank Hintz
– William Steele
Harriet “Hattie” Blanche SeaveyDaughterAugust 6, 1889 in Marinette County, WI to Dan and Mary (Plumley) SeaveyDied at age 47 on September 18, 1936 at the Ishpeming Hospital in Marquette County, MI. She died from complications following a September 10th surgery to treat ovarian cysts.– Edward Kalisch, Sr.: January 13, 1902
– Edward Broed: July 2, 1928
May KalischGranddaughterJune 9, 1903 in Minnesota to Harriet (Seavey) and Edward KalischJanuary 23, 1989 in Dickinson County, Michigan– Everette Gould: March 16, 1920
– Arnold Johnson: November 19, 1924
– Joseph Theisen: June 9, 1936
Edward Kalisch, Jr.GrandsonSeptember 21, 1904 in Sagola, MI to Harriet (Seavey) and Edward KalischMarch 2, 1951 in Chicago, Illinois– Erma Mae Perkins: June 12, 1933 (div: June 9, 1942)
Mildred KalischGranddaughterJuly 21, 1909 in Channing, MI to Harriet (Seavey) and Edward KalischDied at age 19 on September 16, 1928 in Princeton, Marquette, MI. She committed suicide by ingesting Lysol.– Oliver Sather: December 15, 1923
– Joseph Plouff: July 20, 1927
– Charles Gravedoni: October 1, 1927
Josephine SeaveyDaughterSeptember 16, 1890 in Marinette County, WI to Dan and Mary (Plumley) SeaveyOctober 26, 1979 at St. Francis Hospital in Escanaba, MI, arteriosclerosis. She is buried at the Forest Home Cemetery in Marinette next to her father.– Edward Ward: April 13, 1908 (div: October 28, 1914)
– Ernest Beauchamp: September 2, 1915 (div: December 6, 1924)
– Ernest Beauchamp: [2nd time] March 29, 1926 (div: May 16, 1930)
– Winfred Wood: October 27, 1939
Zilda BisnerWife (#2)September 18, 1879 in Canada to Joseph and Mary Bisner.Died at age 50 on April 20, 1930 in Detroit, MI, metastatic ovarian cancer– Dan Seavey: January 30, 1901
– Frank Ebert
Earl Daniel SeaveySonMay 7, 1902 in Milwaukee WI to Dan and Zilda (Bisner) Seavey.Died at nearly 6 years old on March 17, 1908. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Escanaba with a very large headstone.
Anna BradleyWife (#3)October 17, 1877 in Michigan to Huron “Henry” and Caroline (Hogarty) BradleyDied at age 50 on April 2, 1928 in Escanaba, MI from pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs). She had been ill for three weeks– Dan Seavey: Around 1912

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