Aaron A. Parker
Probably the most extensive manager of vessel property in Detroit is Aaron A. Parker, of the firm of Parker & Millen. At the elections held by the various Detroit companies in 1898, he was voted in to the following positions: treasurer and manager of the Buffalo & Duluth Transportation Co., propeller B.W. Blanchard carrying package freight between Toledo and Buffalo; secretary and genera manager of the State Transit Company, propeller John Pridgeon, Jr., operating in the "Soo" line; president and general manager of the Peninsular Transit Company, propeller John Oades, carrying freight between Lake Superior and Lake Erie ports; secretary and general manager of the Swain Wrecking Company, wrecker Favorite and wrecking outfit; president and general manager of the Parker Transportation Company, schooners Red Wing and San Diego; president of the Red Star line, steamer Greyhound; president of the White Star line, steamer City of Toledo; secretary and manager of the Pridgeon Transit Company, steamer A.A. Parker and barge W.B. Parker, carrying coarse freight; president and manager of Isaac Watt Wrecking Company, tug Saginaw; treasurer Tashmoo Park Company; secretary Star Dockage and Warehouse Co., Limited.
Mr. Parker's success in life is one of many instances seen in America of what energy and enterprise accompanied with a well directed effort will accomplish. Born on a farm in the little town of Hamburg, N.Y., near Buffalo, he remained at home long enough to acquire a fair education, and at the age of seventeen started for the oil fields of Pennsylvania which were then attracting so much attention. In company with five others, two young and three elderly men, a claim was bought and a drill set at work. They struck oil July 7, 1861, and in 1864 young Parker's income was $170.00 per day. He sold his interest in one well for $20,000 and put the money in the bank, although not yet of age. During the six years he remained in the oil country he made about $60,000, but during the latter part of his stay his investments were not profitable, and taking what money he had left he came to Detroit in 1867. Here he went into business with Byron Whitaker and made his first investment in vessel property, buying the brig Concord and the schooner Courtland. These vessels were operated for three or four years, and the firm also did a general forwarding business. During this time they built a mill for cutting hardwood lumber near Connor's Creek, and later when one of the vessels was lost, Mr. Whitaker took the remaining one. Mr. Parker the mill, and they separated. He ran the mill for about four years and then sold it, engaging in the handling of Connellsville coke.
In 1876 Mr. Parker went into the vessel business again, this time to stay, where he associated his brother, Byron W. Parker, who took an equal interest in all business enterprises. They bought the old schooner Eagle Wing, and later on the schooner Columbia, a larger and better vessel. Later on two other schooners were added, and in 1880 he bought the steamer Annie Smith, to tow his schooners, which were engaged in the ore, grain and coal trade; all these purchases were made possible by John Pridgeon, who loaned them large sums of money and who was ever ready to stand back of them in any enterprise. In the same year they formed a partnership with Capt. James W. Millen, under the firm name of Parker & Millen, insurance and vessel agents. Since that time they have been part owners of the Minneapolis, the B.W. Blanchard, the B.W. Parker and the A.A. Parker, besides owning stock in several other vessels.
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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.