Charles K. Farmer
Charles K. Farmer, of Benton Harbor, and purser of the steamer City of Chicago, was born in the city of Brooklyn, N. Y., November 25, 1861. His parents were Francis V. and Sarah (Van Ness) Farmer, natives of New Jersey, the father of New Brunswick and the mother of Pompton. The father is now a retired businessman of New York City, having been in his earlier life a wholesale grocer, and later a manufacturer. The mother has been dead some ten years.
Our subject's boyhood was passed in his native city, where he was graduated at the public schools at the age of sixteen years. After his graduation he went into the employ of the Butterick Publishing Company, of New York City, and remained in their employ two years. He next went with the Anchor Line Steamship Company; first as bill of lading clerk, having in charge the rate department, and quoting rates all over the world. Later he was made custom house clerk and boarding officer in the same company's employ. After having served in these positions for a period of seven years, he was compelled, owing to ill health, to sever his connection with the company, and he then began traveling on the road for the firm of Courtenay & Trull, of New York, City, selling railroad, electric light and telegraph supplies. He remained with this company three years, when he was placed in charge of the New York office of the Leatheroid Manufacturing Company, which position he very acceptably filled for three years, but on account of ill-health he was again forced to make a change in business, and he decided to leave the city and go west, and so moved to the State of Michigan, locating at Hartman, where he opened a general store, and through an agreement previously made with the Cincinnati, Wabash & Michigan Railroad Co. (now the Michigan division of the Big Four railroad), by which they were to erect a depot at that point (there being none), and he to act as their agent one year without compensation. He, in connection with his own business, served in the capacity of agent five years.
During his residence here he was not only instrumental in establishing a station, but through his efforts a post office was given to Hartman, and the second year of his residence in the place Mr. Farmer was chosen township clerk, and for two terms he served the people as supervisor of the township.
Our subject, in 1892, removed to Indianapolis, Ind., where, for one year, he was engaged in the fruit and produce commission business. He withdrew from this to accept the position as editor and manager of the National and State League News published in that city, and after conducting the paper for nearly a year, resigned and accepted a position on special work on the Indianapolis Journal. During the Grand Army Encampment in that city he was detailed to write up a special naval matter (the Naval Veterans Association holding their encampment there at the same time), and had his headquarters on a full-sized model of the old man-of-war Kearsarge, which was erected on the Statehouse grounds, Mr. Farmer having been selected to do the work, owing to the experience he had had and acquaintance with marine and naval matters while in New York City. Possessed of a delicate constitution, and from thorough overwork at the encampment, he was taken sick with nervous exhaustion, and was confined to his room for three months. After again getting out and about he thought best to make a change, and so, in the year 1893, he removed to Benton Harbor, Mich. In the following spring (1894) he accepted the position as agent of the Seymour Transportation Company, which ran a line of steamers between Chicago, St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. The following year he was made superintendent of the line, and continued in that position until the line was discontinued. In March, 1896, he was engaged by the Graham & Morton Transportation Co., for special work, but, they not having any one to fill the position of purser, he was pressed into the service.
On September 25, 1883, our subject was married to Miss Athenaise Mitchell, of Brooklyn, N. Y., a daughter of William Mitchell, of Wilmington, N. C., whose wife is Mary (La Grave) Mitchell, of Rochelle, France. To our subject and wife have been born three children-one daughter that died in infancy; Marie, aged ten years; and Louisa, born August 25, 1897. There was one period in Mr. Farmer's life when his ill health was a blessing in disguise, for he had made application, which was accepted, for the Jeneatte Expedition to the North Pole, but owing to his physical condition he had to withdraw his name. Mr. Farmer is a bright and capable business man, and a most genial and accommodating purser.
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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.