Captain and Ship Master Biographies

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[ R ][ S ][ T ][ U ][ V ][ W ][ X Y Z ]



Source: History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899

Captain Jacob Imson is undoubtedly the oldest navigator on the Great Lakes now residing in Buffalo, and beyond peradventure the oldest lake master now living. He is a man of marked characteristics. In his prime he possessed the courage and stamina to command a vessel in any emergency, and also had a thorough appreciation of the commercial value of any craft his attention might be called to. He was as quick to decide upon the price he would pay for a vessel as upon what course to pursue when he was confronted by a sudden change of wind, and his judgment as as sound as his decision was prompt. Furthermore, his conclusions were always sustained by practical results in dollars and cents. Captain Imson was born at Sempronious, Cayuga Co., N. Y., September 16, 1814, and when he was ten years old, his father sold the farm upon which the family lived, and moved to Chautauqua county. Elias Imson, father of Jacob, and a farmer, was born in Orange county, N.Y.; and Sarah Honsicker was his mother's maiden name. Captain Imson's maternal grandfather lived to a great age. At ninety-three he still worked at his trade, that of shoemaker, and made the Captain's shoes, which were sewed-pegged shoes being unknown at that time. A Bible originally owned by this old gentleman is still in the possession of Captain Imson, and is now one hundred and seventy years old.

The subject of this sketch obtained his education at Sempronious and in Chautauqua county, N.Y. At the age of seventeen he began the first practical work of his life, chopping timber at Dunkirk for the building of the breakwater at that harbor. He was occupied at that work in its season and attended school in winter, during which time he boarded with Gilbert Traverse. In the spring of 1833 he did his first sailing, going before the mast in a fore-and-aft schooner, making only a few trips, however. Returning to Dunkirk he entered the employ of John Beggs, remaining with him for two years, handling cordwood on the docks, as well as the goods that were landed at and shipped off the dock, for which he received $20 per month and obliged to board himself, and when he worked Sundays got an extra dollar. His next sailing was before the mast on the John Grant, and then on the Stephen Girard. After that he was on the schooner James G. King, owned by Augustus Todd and Smith & Hopkins, receiving from this firm $30 per month wages as mate, and $10 extra for handling finances. His next experience was a couple of seasons' service on the schooner William G. Buckner, owned by Smith & Hopkins, who also kept a general store at Dunkirk, and she was laid up at that port at the end of the second season of 1842. In 1843 he was master of the schooner Albany, and in 1844-45 of the brig Empire, which was built ten miles east of Cleveland, Ohio. In 1846 he became master and part owner of the propeller St. Joseph, which was built by Biddle & Banty, and had a carrying capacity of 20,000 bushels or 4,000 barrels of flour, and originally cost $28,000. For three months of the season of 1847 Captain Imson was master of the side-wheel steamer Diamond, during which time a half-interest in the old steamer Hendrick Hudson, owned by Capt. Washington Jones and Richmond & Kinney, each having a half-interest in her, was purchased by him for $27,000. He was master of the Hudson the latter part of that season and also the full seasons of 1848-49-50-51, plying between Buffalo and Chicago. In the fall of 1851 he and A. R. Cobb purchased the steamer Buckeye State, the purchase price being $80,000. Captain Imson became her master the following season, sailing her between Buffalo and Cleveland in the passenger and freight trade, and in 1853-54 between Detroit and Buffalo. She was a financial success, and was subsequently sold to Solomon Gardner at Detroit. Her engine, which cost $60,000, was the largest on the lakes at that time, and was built at the Delamater Works in New York. The piston had a stroke of eleven feet and the cylinder was so large that a man could pass through it. During the time between the years 1854 and 1859 Captain Imson was engaged in farming about sixteen miles from Buffalo, and the spring of the latter year became master and owner of the propeller Sun. At the expiration of eighteen months he had her paid for, and in two years sold her for $30,000 which was $8,000 above her purchase price. From 1861 to 1880 he remained on shore, engaged in business. During the winter of 1880-81 he built the steamyacht Huntress, an excursion boat out of Buffalo harbor, which he kept for his own private use, acting himself as her master, and he and his wife lived on board her and enjoyed many cruises around the Great Lakes. In 1885 she was sold to S. S. Staley, and about that time Captain Imson re-retired permanently from the lakes, but retains his interest in lake matters, however, and always reads the marine columns of the newspapers. Among the relics of his lake career he has a picture of Buffalo harbor taken seventy years ago. Among other things represented in it is the side-wheel steamer William Penn, the first boat the Captain ever saw; she was built very much in the shape of a duck, the prevailing idea at that time being that a vessel would ride the water more readily if built in that way.

Forest Lawn cemetery, at Buffalo, contains a magnificent granite vault, built by Captain Imson, within the walls of which rest the remains of his late wife, Abbie Jordan, who was his companion in life forty-seven years two months and twelve days. The vault is a work of art and very costly; the roof is one solid piece, and at one end is a picture of the steamer St. Joseph, the vessel once sailed by the Captain. He was first married on November 6, 1833 at Dunkirk, to Miss Hepsibeth Traverse, who lived nine years and six days and was the mother of one child who lived but three months. His second marriage took place at Buffalo in 1847, when he wedded Miss Abbie Jordan, who died childless. She was a descendant in the seventh generation on her mother's side from the Kingsleys, who emigrated to America in the Mayflower. The Captain's third marriage took place at Buffalo, April 17, 1895, when he wedded Miss Clarissa E. Staley, daughter of Sutliff Staley, a farmer residing on Grand island. The residence of Captain Imson is at 67 Highland avenue, Buffalo.



Source: History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899

Captain Joseph Inches, who, by a system of right living, has won the esteem and respect of the citizens of Algonac, Mich., where he resided for the past thirty-three years, is a son of Charles D. and Mary (Green) Inches, born in Chatham, Ontario, March 2, 1850. His earlier education was acquired in the schools of his native town, finishing his schooling in Algonac, and at Roberts Landing, on the St. Lawrence river. At the age of fifteen years, being a lad of an independent turn of mind, he left home to do for himself, and the same year found his way to Algonac, Mich., where he secured work in the village and on a farm near by, owned by Capt. Chester Kimball, who also had a line of stages and the contract to carry mail, and young Inches occupied the post of driver for a time. In the spring of 1867, however, Captain Inches changed his routine by shipping on the steamtug John Martin, and before the close of the season he had sailed before the mast on several vessels. The next season he passed on the schooner Danube with Captain Cash. In 1869 Captain Thomas Bundy appointed him master of the little schooner Jennie Lind, thus filling the berth of captain when he was but nineteen years of age, closing that season in the bark Danube. The next season he sailed as mate with Capt. William Grey in the steamer Saginaw, followed by two seasons in the schooner Lillie May, and last in the capacity of mate. He then sailed as second mate of the steamer Annie Smith. In the spring of 1876 he was appointed master of the bark Emerald; and sailed her two seasons, after which he joined the schooner H. R. Newcomb as mate. In the spring of 1879 he came out as mate of the schooner Clint, closing the season as second mate on the steamer John N. Glidden, sailing as mate of her the next season. In 1881 he came out as mate of the steamer E. B. Hale, but being appointed master of the T. N. Ryan he closed the season in her. The next spring he was mate of the steamer Ohio with Captain Estes, assuming command of her before the close of the season. In 1883 he was appointed mate of the steamer Alcona. At this time Captain Inches was threatened with an affliction of the eyes, and was advised by his physician to abandon steamboat work on account of the extreme watchfulness necessary, and he sailed the barges O. H. Hale and Agnes, schooners Angus Smith and Emma L. Coyne, superintending the rebuilding of the last three named. In the spring of 1888 Captain Inches' sight being much improved he again turned to steamboat command. He entered the employ of H. M. Loud & Sons, and after giving the steamer Wyoming a thorough rebuilding, he assumed charge of her, and has sailed her ten successive seasons. During the winter of 1896-97 he gave her new ends and a new boiler.

In December, 1873, Captain Inches was wedded to Miss Adelaide L., daughter of Captain Chester and Nancy Kimball. After the death of his first wife he was married to Miss Rhoda L., daughter of Charles Stewart. The children born to this union are: Charles S., Ethel M., Hiram C. and Sadie S.

Fraternally the Captain is a Master Mason, and is a member of the I.O.O.F. and of the K.O.T.M.



Source: History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899

Captain H.D. Ingraham, a popular and competent master of tugs operating out of Fairport harbor, and a courteous and genial companion, is the son of Daniel N. and Marian (Brooks) Ingraham. His father was born in Fairport in 1832, and will be remembered by some of the older lake masters. He was made a skipper when but nineteen years old, taking command of the schooner Mohegan, and he also sailed the schooner H. P. Bridge, the bark Zach Chandler (which he brought out new), the Sonora, and the bark City of Painesville, of which he was master four years, and which he designated as the clipper ship of the lakes. He brought out the G. S. Hazard new. His steamboat commands were the Minneapolis and D. C. Whitney, and he closed his active career on the lakes in the Whitney about the year 1884. He then entered the employ of the American Transportation Company, of Fairport, looking after the interests of the tugs and sailing them as occasion required. In 1890 he finally retired from his busy life, and he passed over to the silent majority May 10, 1895, at the age of sixty-three years. His widow is still living on the old homestead farm near Mentor, where she was born. Of their children Capt. Freeman E. was master of the steamer Robert Wallace during the season of 1897, and was assigned to the new steamer built at F. W. Wheeler's West Bay City shipyard for the Bessemer Steamship Company, considered the largest on the lakes; Mary R. is the wife of D. K. Patterson, of Davisville, Cal.; Sarah E. is the wife of G. E. Brooks, of Mentor, Ohio.

The grandparents on the paternal side were Joseph and Sarah Ingraham, and on the maternal side Henry and Mary Brooks, all of old New England stock, and pioneers of Mentor and Fairport townships.

H. D. Ingraham was born in Fairport, Ohio, October 9, 1845, whence he soon after removed with his parents to Mentor, where he attended the public schools until he reached the age of seventeen years, assisting his father with the farm work in the meantime. It was in 1862 that he began sailing in the bark City of Painesville, of which his father was part owner, and in which he remained four and a half years, following with a season in the schooner G. S. Hazard. In the spring of 1868 he shipped in the schooner Charley Crawford, as second mate with Captain Averill, holding that berth four seasons. The next spring he was appointed mate of the schooner Minnehaha, and his father purchasing the scow Vampire the Captain sailed her next, his brother, Freeman, going as mate. He then sailed as mate of the Ogaritta, Thomas W. Palmer and Zach Chandler, until 1885, when he was appointed master of the Zach Chandler for a short time. In the spring of 1886 he joined the schooner Ashland as mate, and the next season assumed command of her. In 1888 he came out as mate of the steamer Sitka, closing that season as mate of the Wocoken. In 1889 he entered the employ of the American Transportation Company, of Fairport, as master of the tug George R. Paige, sailing her five seasons, and transferring to the tug Annie, which he commands at this writing. He has fifteen issues of first-class pilot's papers.

On December 25, 1880, Captain Ingraham wedded Miss Lydia Lapham, daughter of Edward and Rebecca Lapham, of Mentor, and two children - Daniel H. and Elizabeth S. - have been born to this union. The family homestead is in Mentor township, near Painesville, Ohio. Socially, the Captain is a Master Mason, holding membership with Temple Lodge No. 28, of Painesville, and belongs to Cornucopia Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows.



Source: History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899

The navigators of the Great Lakes are a distinct class from those who sail the ocean, but their calling is none the less exacting in the requirement of skill, physique, and powers of endurance, united with good judgment and genial personality. Perhaps no master mariner about the chain of lakes has combined these characteristics to a greater degree than the subject of this sketch. Commodore B.B. Inman, the prominent tug owner of Duluth and Superior. There is no better criterion by which to judge a man than by his standing as an exponent of the calling which he follows, and it may be said that as a tug man, the Captain has but few equals. He is the son of Jerome B. and Cordelia (Smith) Inman, both natives of Ray, Macomb Co., Mich., which was also the birthplace of Captain Inman, who was born May 3, 1849. A few years later he removed with his parents to Port Huron, Mich., where he attended the public schools and enjoyed the other episodes natural and essential to the life of a boy, until he reached the age of fourteen years.

It was in the spring of 1863 that Captain Inman opened his lakefaring career as cabin boy on the little steamer Belle, Captain Hagedon being in command. The next season he shipped before the mast on the schooner Ocean Wave, and being a well-grown lad he performed the duties usually devolving upon able seaman. In the spring of 1865 he joined the schooner Abe Lincoln, and it was while in her that he laid the foundation of his perfect knowledge of the intricacies of the Detroit river, under the tutelage of Capt. Benjamin Dove. This was followed by a season in the schooner E.M. Carrington as seaman. In 1867 the Captain was advanced to the position of wheelsman, and later to that of second mate on the steamer Mayflower, with Captain Sprague, closing the season in the old Concord, plying between Buffalo and Chicago, also Duluth, John McKay, afterward lost on the Manistee being master.

During the winter of 1867-68 Captain Inman, in company with two friends, built the schooner-rigged scow Hannah Moore at Port Huron, and two years later he began his tugboat life, which has been remarkably successful. At the age of twenty-one he shipped as mate and wheelsman on the tug George E. Brockway, of the Moffat line, passing the next two seasons as mate on the tug Clematis with Capt. Sol Rumage. In the spring of 1873 he was appointed mate in the tug Sweepstakes, one of the most notable boats on the lakes, with Capt. Frank Welcome, and before the end of the season he was advanced to the position of commander on the Zouave, then in the Strong line, under the management of John R. Gillet, in which employ he continued until the fall of 1881, having sailed successively the tugs Stranger, I.U. Masters, Satellite, Sweepstakes, and Champion. While in command of the latter tug Captain Inman had the distinction of towing through the Detroit river the largest tow on record, consisting of the schooners B.F. Bruce, Porter, Scotia, C.C. Barnes, J.H. Bentley, Knight Templar, and E.M. Davidson, seven vessels with a tonnage of 4,323, their cargoes amounting to 286,000 bushels of wheat, and another schooner going down light. This tow was photographed as it passed down, and a colored print struck off, a copy of which can now be found in nearly every ship broker's office around the lakes.

In the spring of 1882 Captain Inman was appointed master of the steamer Hiawatha, owned by the Wilson Transit Company, then one of the finest vessels on the lakes. He sailed her two seasons, and in 1884 brought out new the fine steamer Kasota. She was one of the largest vessels and was launched on Saturday with machinery and everything necessary on board, and on Monday loaded with 2,000 tons of coal consigned to Milwaukee, performing the feat, difficult at that time, of passing down the Cuyahoga river without a tug. It was in 1885 that Captain Inman went to Duluth to engage in the towing business, the tug John L. Williams, which he purchased from Capt. Thomas Maytham, of Buffalo, being the nucleus of the Strong line, which he afterward owned and operated. The next season he added the tug Cora B. (her name being afterward changed to Walton B.), followed in 1887 by the iron tug Record, named in honor of the Marine Record, published by A.A. Pomeroy in Cleveland. The Record soon became a favorite boat with Captain Inman, and won many laurals(sic) as an ice breaker at the head of navigation. Other vessel property was then added to the line in order named: David Sutton, which was the first fireboat at Duluth; Mary Virginia; O.W. Cheney; Courier; C.W. Liken; schooner Belle Stevens; steamer Ossifrage; D.M. Carrington; Lida; Buffalo; Effie L.; Joe D. Dudley and Pearl B. Campbell. Captain Inman devoted his entire time to the management of this large fleet. In the spring of 1892 the tugs L.L. Lyon, Bob Anderson, F.H. Stanwood and schooner Glad Tidings were added, together with the tug Mystic, which was purchased from Alderman Helm some time later. During this period opposition tug lines came into port, but after a short and hot tug of war, Captain Inman became the owner of the rival tugs, consisting of the Pathfinder, A.C. Adams and James Fiske. In the meantime he had disposed of the David Sutton, Mary Virgina, O.W. Cheney, Courier, J.C. Liken, Belle Stevens, Ossifrage, and Walton B. At the high tide of his affairs the Captain owned twenty-two vessels of all classes and engaged largely in raft towing and wrecking. At the time of this writing he operated ten tugs - the W.B. Castle, B.B. Inman, Record, Bob Anderson, L.L. Lyon, M.D. Carrington, Buffalo, J.L. Williams, Ed Fiske, and A.C. Adams. He has twenty-seven issues of master's license, and during his long career on the lakes in responsible positions has never lost a vessel or caused the insurance company any expense. Not a life has been lost or an injury of a serious nature while he was in immediate command.

Captain Inman has invented and patented a model of a steamboat, with a ram bow for the purpose of winter navigation. The salient or important features of the purposed new craft is in shape of the bow; the forefront of the ram bow extends about twenty feet beyond the perpendicular bow; making the forward part of the ship partake somewhat of the design of the ploughshare, the projecting ram going under the ice and throwing it up and away from the boat, on each side. The widest part of the boat will be at the bluff of the bow and will be constructed after the lines of the iron tug Record, or some of the new modern steamers. The forefoot and bow of the new steamer will be plated with steel one and a half inches thick, and by the force of the great horse power will be able to cut her way through the ice of any thickness likely to be found on the lakes. Expert engineers and marine architects, to whom the Captain has submitted the plans, speak very highly of its utility for the purpose to which it is to be applied.

Socially, he is a member of the Ship Masters Association, and holds Pennant No. 96. He is also a member of the Order of Elks and of the beneficial order of the Black Cat. Possessed of a personality so rare and magnetic, he gains friends rapidly and retains their respect and esteem. In his domestic and social life Captain Inman is exceedingly happy, his wife, Mrs. May R. (Conniff) Inman, taking an interest in all that pertains to the Captain's marine business, in fact is herself a skillful pilot, and it is interesting to note, is the only lady on the lakes who holds a license as pilot, issued by the United States authorities. This paper was granted her May 30, 1895, by John Monaham, and Michael F. Calk, local inspector for the Duluth district, she being recommended by Capt. Richard Neville and Capt. John Lowe. Mrs. Inman has sailed the tug Ariel as master, and has been pilot of the side-wheel steamer E.T. Carrington, plying as a pleasure boat on the St. Lewis bay and river. She also stood as watch and pilot with the Captain when they received the new tug B.B. Inman at Port Huron, took her to Cleveland and thence to Duluth; and was mate and pilot of the tug Bob Anderson when she was brought to Duluth after having been sunk near Detroit. She had in tow the L.L. Lyon, scow Grey Oak, schooner Glad Tidings, and the tug Stanwood. While on the way up to Duluth, May 29, 1893, with this tow, they were overtaken by a severe snowstorm, but by great skill succeeded in making a safe haven at Grand Marais. She is an enthusiast on the subject of yachting and can handle a sail boat of any rig to perfection. As the foregoing is evidence that Mrs. Inman is a courageous and loyal woman, so there is a softer trait in her temperament, which is developed by her artistic studies, she being a painter of rare merit, her work, however, tending to marine subjects, which she produces in oil and water colors with harmony of detail and good effects, although she also essays floral and landscape work. Her pencil sketches are executed with rapidity and accuracy. Her kodak, which is an inseparable companion, serves to fill her portfolios with charming gems, those of a marine character again predominating. In truth, Mrs. Inman is a valuable shipmate for the Commodore, as her hand is steady and firm, yet gentle and tender.

The family homestead is a fine modern structure situated on Superior street, Duluth, overlooking Lake Superior.



Source: History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899

There is no better known man connected with the railroad ferries than Capt. J.R. Innes, who for twelve years has been superintendent of the boats owned by the Michigan Central Railroad Company. He was born May 1, 1845, in Chatham, Ont., but early in his life his parents, Robert and Mary (Cox) Innes, removed to Detroit, and there took the family. Robert Innes was a native of Scotland, whence he came to America, and here spent many years as a sailor on the lakes. He died at Chatham, Ont., in 1848, being survived by his wife, who died in 1896, at Amherstburg, Ont., at the age of eighty-seven years. Capt. J.R. Innes attended school at Detroit until his fifteenth year, when a strong desire for marine life was gratified by his going on the scow, Frank Pierce, at Detroit. He then went on the tug A. Pratt as cook, on leaving which vessel he sailed on a number of other boats, until he took charge of the wrecking tug Prince Alfred, where he remained some three or four years and then in 1871, went on the C.S.R.R. ferries. Later he returned to the Prince Alfred, and in about the year 1884 took a position on the M.C.R.R. ferries at Detroit, as master of merchandise and transfer, still later being appointed superintendent of all the ferries of the M.C.R.R., the position he now holds, and which he has since filled to the utmost satisfaction of his employers, who well know his ability and thorough knowledge of his work. In May, 1866, Captain Innes was married to Miss Louisa Horn, of Detroit, a daughter of Captain Horn, whose life is so prominent in connection with the history of the Detroit ferry boats, and a sister of Capt. George Horn, who sails the Excelsior at the present time. Captain and Mrs. Innes have had five children: Lulu, who is married to Frederick H. Cooper, superintendent for Walker Sons, Walkerville, Ont.; H.L., who follows the sailor's life, having been quartermaster of the North West during the season of 1896; Walter J., who is in a dry-goods store at Windsor, Ont.; Ivy and Lottie, the youngest, who are still at home.