From The Grand Haven "daily Tribune"



(Photo from “Proceedings of the Michigan Engineering Society" for 1898)

In the death of Harrison C. Pearsons, which occurred this morning at his home in Ferrysburg, Ottawa County loses one of its best-known and most remarkable citizens. The death summons had long been expected, as the venerable old gentleman had been ailing for a long time, and death came as a relief after long months -of suffering from repeated paralytic strokes.

Mr. Pearsons was born on Jan. 25, 1811, in Allegany County, New York, and his boyhood days were spent there and in Jefferson County. He early evinced a liking for the higher sciences and mathematics, and by arduous study and an ambition to succeed, reached a high pinnacle in civil engineering, and became an authority in the engineering world.

He became an expert shipbuilder early in life, and for a long time was in the employ of the Northern Transportation Co., in building ships at Ogdensburg, N. Y. In those early days of lake navigation the Northern Transportation Co. was the leading one on the lakes, and maintained a handsome fleet of boats, that touched at every important port on the lakes. Many of these ships were constructed by Mr. Pearsons, and were among the finest afloat on fresh water.

In 1861 Mr. Pearsons came to Michigan, and established a shipyard at Ferrysburg. From this yard were turned out many fine boats, among the number being the schooners "Laketon," "Major N. H. Ferry," "R. R. Mason," "J. I. Case," "S. C. Knapp," and many others.

   During General Grant's administration, Mr. Pearsons was appointed U. S. inspector of hulls, and this position he held for ten years, until succeeded by Captain Dodge.

   In his later years Mr. Pearsons has been employed quite extensively in the adjustment of ship compasses and in such like work, and in that capacity has visited many of our lake ports. Although he had never sailed, he was fully competent to navigate a vessel, as he had made navigation a life study, and was a thorough student in that subject.

   Deceased was one of the founders of the Michigan Engineering Society, and at the nineteenth annual meeting of that society in Port Huron last December, it was unanimously voted that he should be placed on the list of honorary members, in recognition of his many valuable services to the society. Engrossed copies of the resolution were sent to Mr. Pearsons.

Mr. Pearsons has been for many years a regular contributor to nautical journals, and was the author of a very valuable treatise on 4i Navigation." His views were always sought after on such matters, as being very valuable.

   Probably Mr. Pearsons's greatest achievement was his invention of a solar attachment for surveyors' transits, by means of which true north and south lines can be obtained by solar observations, irrespective of any deviation of the compass. Buff & Berger, the world-wide famous firm of scientific instrument manufacturers, make this instrument, and some years since presented Mr. Pearsons with a valuable medal, in recognition of his great services to the scientific world.

As will be inferred from this altogether too brief sketch of an honored life, Mr. Pearsons has alwayrs been a busy man. In his business, in his official capacity, and in scientific research, he aimed to a high ideal, and had reached it.

   Even in his very latest days, after he had retired from active work; he continued to write occasionally on practical engineering subjects. Road building he had made a thorough study of, and his papers on that important subject published in the Tribune and in the Grand Haven Courier-Journal, were very complete and authoritative, and were widely copied by the State press. Though dead, the works of Mr. Pearsons will live after him, and continue to be regarded as authority.

   Mr. Pearsons was a man of fixed convictions, in favor of every principle of right and justice, and possessed the courage to defend them. His life was replete with good deeds, and he always gave a helping hand in every enterprise that had in view the advancement of civilization and the betterment of the condition of mankind. If the mantle of such could fall upon men who linger here, the social and political worlds would be much improved.

   Mr. Pearsons is mourned by his wife and five children, Herbert W., of Duluth, Albert C, of Colorado Springs, C. Alton, of Duluth, Mrs. Byron E. Parks, of Ferrysburg, and Harry D., of Duluth. A brother, Galen W. Pearsons, is a civil engineer in Kansas City.