Captain Adelbert J. Moffett
Captain Adelbert J. Moffett, one of the best known and most capable tug men on the lakes, was born in Birmingham, Erie county, Ohio, in 1851, a son of Capt. Joseph and Adeline (Ennis) Moffett. He attended the public schools but a short time, being eager to go sailing on his father's schooner, the A. H. Morse, and after learning the ropes under his father's eyes, and becoming a practical sailor, he shipped on the schooner F. T. Barney. His next boat was the schooner Algerine, of which he was appointed second mate, and the following season he held a like berth on the schooner Brightie. In 1866 he was appointed mate of the schooner Fayette Brown, closing the season in the same capacity on the schooner S. H. Kimball. In the spring of 1867 Captain Moffett was appointed mate of the steamer Raleigh, and in 1868 mate of the George W. Holt, with Capt. John Moore. In 1869 he went to Chicago, took out master's papers, and assumed charge of the tug E. P. Dorr, owned by his father. In 1870 he transferred as master to the tug Bob Anderson. In 1871 he took the tug E. P. Dorr down to Cleveland and operated with her out of that port three years. In the spring of 1874 he entered the employ of Capt. P. Smith as master of the tug Shoo Fly, and during the time he remained with him, about ten years, he sailed in turn the tugs L. P. Smith, James Amadeus, S. S. Stone, Patrick Henry (which he brought out new and commanded two seasons), and the Alva B. (which he brought out new). After this Captain Moffett brought out new the tug Forest City, owned by Capt. A. Bradley, which he sailed one year.
In the spring of 1886 the Captain again went to Chicago and took the tug John Gordon, and after sailing her a short time went to Muskegon, Mich. and sailed the tug James McGordon, finishing the season, however, on the tug Gordon, which he took down to Cleveland. The next season he went to work for Captain Smith, as master of the tug S. S. Stone. On May 12, while putting his tug on the boxes for repair, a very painful and dangerous accident happened to him. As the tug Patrick Henry backed up to assist in pushinig his tug onto the boxes Captain Moffett stepped over the fantail of his own boat to adjust the fenders and his right leg was caught between the two tugs and crushed in a terrible manner. He was confined to his bed and house for five months. The doctors insisted on amputating the member, but the Captain would not have it, and he was right, as the result proves. On his recovery he resumed charge of the Stone. In the spring of 1888 he was made master of the John Gregory, which he sailed three seasons. In the spring of 1891 he returned to Chicago, entering the employ of Capt. J. S. Dunham, as master of the tug Robert Tarrant, which he sailed three years. In 1894 he was appointed to the George W. Gardner, and at the close of navigation he took charge of the winter tug Mollie Spencer, in the spring resuming his berth on the Gardner. In 1896 he sailed the Chicago tugs D. P. Hall, C. M. Charnley and Wolf, for Berry Brothers, but before the close of the season he went to Cleveland and took charge of the large steam tug Chauncey A. Morgan (named for the courteous manager of the Cleveland Tug Company), to which command he was reappointed in the spring of 1897. In every position he has occupied Capt. Dell Moffett has given satisfaction and he has been unusually successful in handling his boats. He also has the reputation of being a man of courage when vessels and crews are in distress outside the harbor during the prevalence of storms. At the time of the explosion of the Naptha yacht, which resulted in the death of all on board, he was the first at the scene and recovered four of the bodies.
In 1869 Captain Moffett was united in marriage to Miss Matilda F. Wolff, daughter of William Wolff, of Cleveland, and to this union were born children as follows: Della May and Charles Adelbert, both of whom died young; Lotta, now Mrs. H. H. Miner; and Joseph William, who is in the employ of the Dunham Towing Company at Chicago. The family residence is at No. 1027 Wolfram street, Lake View, Chicago.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.