Jefferson County, Kentucky
Irwin Dugan was born June 29, 1846, in Brown County, Ohio, and is a son of Robert C. and Elizabeth Bryant Dugan, of Scotch-Irish and Welsh extraction respectively. The former was reared a Quaker in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and held many important positions of honor and trust in Brown County, Ohio, where he moved in 1817. When the subject was five years old his parents removed to Covington, Kentucky, and in the schools of that city he was principally educated. There his honored father died in 1876; his mother is still living in Louisville, and recently celebrated her eighty-first birthday. He attended Commercial College at Cincinnati, and at the age of fourteen went to Bolivar, Tennessee, where he learned telegraphy, remaining there until the Civil War broke out. He then returned to Kentucky, and re-entered the school at Covington. In 1863 he went to Crothersville, Indiana, as telegraph operator for two years, then to Seymour as telegraph operator and ticket agent for two years, then to Holly Springs, Mississippi, and thence to Memphis, Tennessee. In 1872 he went on the river, as clerk, and soon became captain of the steamer T. F. Eckert, and four years later was elected president of the Dugan Towing Transportation and Wrecking Company of Louisville, Kentucky, which position he held until 1885, in September. He came to Louisville in 1876, and also engaged in the coal business as junior member of the firm Dugan and Co. He was married in 1883 to Miss Mattie G. Dickson, daughter of Francis W. Dickson, a retired businessman of Louisville. They have two children: Frank Irwin and Martin Elizabeth. Captain Dugan was appointed Supervising Inspector of Steam Vessels of the Sixth District, by President Cleveland, September 14, 1885, which district embraces the Ohio River from Carrollton, Kentucky, to Cairo, the Mississippi River from Greenfield, Missouri, to Greenville, Mississippi, and all navigable waters flowing in-between these points, including the Cumberland, Tennessee, White and Wabash in Indiana, White and Arkansas Rivers in Arkansas, and altogether about eight thousand miles of navigable water. Captain Dugan has made a very efficient and popular inspector, and enjoys the universal respect of his subordinates as well as the men whose business brings him in contact with. He was recommended to the President for appointment to the position he now holds, by nearly all the owners and managers of steam vessels (without regard to politics) from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, and by the underwriters at Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, Evansville, Indiana, St. Louis, Memphis, Vicksburg and New Orleans. He has eight assistant (or local) inspectors, two stationed at each of the following cities: Louisville, Kentucky, Evansville, Indiana, Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, all of whom were appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury upon the recommendation of Captain Dugan, who selected them for their knowledge, skill and practical experience in the uses of steam for navigation, and their temperate habits and good character. He is very tenacious of the rights of the traveling public, and his subordinate officers give him their hearty co-operation. Unless a person be of temperate habits and qualified by experience to perform the duties of an officer on steam vessels he is refused a license. That Captain Dugan has made no mistake in the selection of his staff officers is shown by the fact that since he assumed the duties of the office more than two and one-half millions of human beings have been carried annually on steam vessels in his district, with the loss of but one passenger, a record he may well be proud of.