Captain Charles J. Holmes
Captain Charles J. Holmes, who was, at the time he became master of the steamer Wallula, but twenty-four years of age, and perhaps at that time the youngest steamboat captain on the lakes, is a son of Capt. Walter and Elizabeth (Richardson) Holmes, both of Liverpool, England. The father is an old salt-water sailor, and while in the employ of the Moss line of merchant ships was mate of many vessels and master of the steamer Isis, in the Mediterranean trade. In 1860 he came to the United States, locating in Brooklyn, N.Y., and entered the service of the Tapscott line of packet ships as mate of the famed sailing packet Dreadnaught, later serving as master of the full-rigged packet ships Red Jacket and Blue Jacket, owned in Liverpool. He remained with this firm until he was appointed master of the new ship Nonpareil, of Boston, which was his first American boat. After sailing her for some time he transferred to the new ship Governor Wilmot, which he sailed for several years, being retained in his position when she was sold to an English firm, with other ships of the same line. After some time this company sold their ships and purchased steamboats, and Captain Holmes was appointed master of the new steamer Cella, 2,666 tons, on which he remained several years, resigning to take command of the new steamer County of Salop, 1,547 tons. His next steamer was the County of York, 1,550 tons, which he sailed until 1894, when the company discontinued business. Captain Holmes had money interests in the two last named vessels. He then removed with his family to Port Huron and later to Cleveland, where he now resides.
Capt. Charles J. Holmes, the subject proper of this sketch, was born in 1868, in Brooklyn, N. Y., where he attended the public schools about eighteen months, his mother, who is an intellectual and notable teacher, completing his education on shipboard. In 1879, at the age of eleven years, he went to sea on the Stratton Dudley, on which he remained three and one-half years, his ship being engaged in the East India trade between Calcutta and San Francisco. On his recovery from illness, which confined him to the hospital in Calcutta two months, he joined the ship Eulomane, before the mast. On arriving at Liverpool, he shipped as third mate on the Sardinia, leaving her at Portland, Oregon, to become second mate of the bark Cambria, of the same line, bound for Havre, France. In 1885 he shipped as second mate of the bark Antilles, a Nova Scotia vessel bound for Chili and Peru and thence to Panama. During the voyage the whole ship's crew died of yellow fever except the captain, young Holmes and the steward. He left the Antilles at Panama, and, with a friend named Samuel Crocker, purchased the small sloop Penelope and engaged in picking ballast off the beach. This work not proving profitable, they ran the sloop to Galapago, where they took turtles to sell to the Pacific mail steamers out of San Francisco. They then traded along the coast until they aroused the suspicions of the Colombian government revenue cutter, and were driven away, making good the run after a three-days' chase. The sloop was then sold and Captain Holmes shipped on the William H. Starbuck, Captain Reed, out of San Francisco for Havre, France, and thence to New Town Creek, N.Y. His next berth was that of second mate on the Narwahl, out of Nova Scotia, bound for Liverpool with crude oil. In 1887 Captain Holmes joined the ship Nettie Murphy, on which he served as second mate and mate, making four voyages in her, three to Liverpool and one to Savannah. In 1888 he went as mate of the bark Howard A. Turner, between New York, Liverpool and Sidney Australia, and later became mate of the brig Argyle. The next season he engaged as mate of the Narwahl to Liverpool and returned to St. John, N. B., thence on the Ranney A. Booth to New York, taking passage by rail to Buffalo, and in the spring of 1890 shipping as second mate with Capt. B. Nelson on the schooner John Martin; three months later he was made mate of her.
In the spring of 1891 Captain Holmes came out as second mate of the steamer George T. Hope, closing the season as second mate on the steamer Elfinmere. During that winter he took the steamyacht Nydia, owned by Dr. A. B. Pierce (of Golden Medical Discovery fame), via the Welland canal to Florida and up the St. John river, returning with her in the summer of 1892. He then went to Toledo and served as lookout on the steamer Frank A. Wheeler and as second mate on the steamer Roumania, one trip each, finishing the season as mate on the steamer Spokane. In the spring of 1893 he was appointed master of the steamer Wallula, sailing her until the close of the season of 1896, when she was burned off Conneaut; she was raised and towed into Cleveland harbor and repaired. During the winter of 1894 he was master of the brig Margaret E. Deems, engaged in carrying contraband articles between New York and Hayti[sic] for the Cuban army. On one trip he was in Havana and stopped at the hotel where General Weyler was. In getting outside of the lines in a small boat he was fired on and wounded on the shoulder, but he made good his escape, and after landing at Vera Cruz had the bullet extracted. In the winter of 1895 he again went to Cuba as master of the torpedo boat Libre, out of Hoboken, N. J., his destination being twenty-two miles east-northeast of Matanzas. During the winter of 1896-97 he purchased, rebuilt and refitted the sloop yacht N-E-W-S, the name signifying either the points of the compass (as his purpose is to go around the world with her) or News (as he will go in the interest of journalism). The Captain is now in Cleveland making business arrangements in furtherance of that project. He is a member of the American Association of Masters & Pilots, and marshal of the Port Huron Lodge of the Ship Masters Association; he carries Pennant No. 968.
Captain Holmes was united in marriage in 1893, to Miss Marguerite A. Brandymore, daughter of James Brandymore, head draftsman for the Howard Lumber Company, of Port Huron, Mich. Two children, Frances Maynard, who died at the Sault, and Nelson Farragut, were born to this union. The family homestead is at Port Huron, Michigan.
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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.