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Remembering World War I Yarmouth Connections
Roswell Gayton
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Name: Roswell Gayton Rank: Chief Engineer Service Number: Merchant Navy Service: SS Lake City, US Merchant Navy Date of Birth: August 29, 1889 Place: Lower Argyle, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia Religion: Baptist Date of Death: October 3, 1918 Age: 29 Cemetery: Not Memorialised in a cemetery or on a War Memorial Roswell Gayton was the son of Captain Jeremiah "Jerry" Gayton (1848-1930), and Mary "Millia" Ethelinda “Ella” (McLarren) Gayton (1853-1923), and the brother of Lawrence Reginald Gayton (1875-1948), John Avard Gayton (b. 1878), and James Irving Gayton (1884-1963). Roswell’s father was also a mariner, a well-known Gloucester skipper during his time. Roswell’s father Jeremiah was the brother of Deidamia Ann (Gayton) Fox, mother of Annie Fox, Dorothy Gayton Fox, and Lyle Cleveland Fox who all served in WWI as well. Roswell was Annie, Dorothy, and Lyle’s first cousin. Roswell began his engineering work employed with Fore River machine works, where he obtained a ship training. He later worked as an engineer aboard a New York yacht, before working in the mercantile trade and becoming Chief Engineer aboard the SS Lake City. He was serving aboard the SS Lake City steamer when it collided with the SS James McGee off the American Shoal Light east of the Saddlebunch Keys, just offshore from Sugarloaf Key, close to Looe Key, Florida. Despite some news speculation that the ship may have been torpedoed, it was later determined not to be the case. The captain and 29 crew members, including Roswell Gayton, died in the sinking when the ship split in two and sank within six minutes. Roswell’s death was reported in the Halifax Evening News of Tuesday, October 15, 1918, “Chief Engineer Roswell Gayton Yarmouth Man Drowned from the Freight Steamer Lake City – Yarmouth, October 14 – Hon. Albert Gayton has received word that his nephew chief engineer Roswell Gayton, of the large freight steamer Lake City was amongst those lost when that ship was sunk in collision off Key West, Florida, a few days ago. The deceased was the third son of Captain Jeremiah Gayton, the very widely known Gloucester skipper and Mrs. Gayton of Natick, but formerly of Lower Yarmouth where the deceased was born. Several years ago, he removed to the United States and with aspirations for a marine engineer’s life entered the employ of the Fore River machine works, where he obtained a ship training. Later he was engineer on a large New York yacht but since the outbreak of the war has been engineering in the mercantile trade. The Lake City wan a ship of two thousand four eighty-five tons about new and carried a crew of thirty-five only five of whom have been reported saved. Gayton was twenty-nine years age and besides his parents leaves three brothers In Massachusetts, also many relatives and friends along the south shore of Nova Scotia.” Lost at sea, Roswell Gayton has no known grave and he is not memorialised on any known War Memorial.
The Evening Mail, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Tuesday, October 15, 1918