Captain Crawford Large
Captain Crawford Large, a well-known master mariner who sailed out of Ashtabula many years ago, now retired from active life on the lakes, is agent for the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, also of the United States Casualty Company. In addition to this business he performs the duties of constable, to which office he was elected in 1897. He was born March 23, 1833, a son of William B. and Lydia (Benham) Large, both natives of Connecticut. The mother was a sister of the late Capt. Samuel Benham, of Cleveland. During the early years of his life, while working with his father on the farm near Ashtabula, Ohio, young Crawford attended the district schools in the winter months.
In the summer of 1847 Crawford Large shipped as boy on the schooner John F. Porter, which he left on arrival at Buffalo, and shipped on the schooner Vermont, but after a short time transferred to the schooner Industry, of Cleveland, and when she laid up that fall in St. Clair river, Captain Bedford, who had formed quite an attachment for our subject, took him home with him for the holidays, after which the lad went home and remained until spring of 1849, when he joined the noted brig Banner, as boy, with Captain Scoville, closing the season on the brig Clarion and also joining her the next season. In 1851 he went as seaman on the little topsail schooner T.G. Colt, with Captain Downs, until August, when he was appointed mate, and in September, the captain wanting to quit the schooner, put our subject in charge of her, securing as mate for him J. Davidson. He objected to this arrange- ment on account of his youth, but Captain Downs prevailed as he was owner of the schooner, and young Large finally gave a good account of the little vessel. The next season he shipped in the Chief Justice Marshall, continuing in her until 1853, when he was made mate with Captain Moray on the schooner Atlas, which was sold to Detroit parties that fall, our subject keeping his berth on her the next season until September, when he was appointed master. That fall he took into Erie, on the Atlas, the first two cargoes of ore that had ever been transported on the lakes east of Detroit. This is accounted for by the fact that it had been for a number of years the custom of passenger steamers coming down to carry ore with which to trim. This they threw out on the docks at Detroit until quite a large quantity had accumulated, sufficient to make two cargoes for the Atlas. In the spring of 1855 he shipped before the mast in the Chief Justice Marshall for a trip to Saginaw, where he joined the schooner Benjamin F. Wade, as mate, Capt. John Paine, and remained on her until the fall of the next season, when he was promoted captain of the scow L.B. Fortier, owned by Capt. J. Butler, of Buffalo.
In the spring of 1857 Captain Large was appointed mate of the brig Caroline A. Bemis, followed by a season as mate with Capt. Harvey Hall on the brig Lucy Blossom. He then stopped ashore until 1860, when he and his brother, William, bought the scow Union from their uncle, Samuel Benham. The Union had gone ashore the previous fall above Sturgeon Point and lay there all winter. The new owners raised and rebuilt her, and Captain Large sailed her until the fall of 1861, when he purchased a third-interest in the schooner- rigged scow Nebraska, and took command of her, sailing her until the close of 1863. He then sold his interest, and bought into the bark Sam Ward with Messrs. Haskill, and sailed her seven years. In the spring of 1871 he was appointed master of the bark Sunshine, holding that berth two seasons. He then became the marine manager of the line, and took command of the propeller Buffalo and sailed her two years. In the winter of 1874 he sold his interest in the Sam Ward, and although he was appointed to a steamboat in the Union line, he declined with thanks in order to take charge of Strong & Manning's coal dock No. 1, and that fall opened a restaurant in Ashtabula, Ohio.
In 1876 Captain Large purchased a building at the harbor, and went into the restaurant business. The freshet in Astabula river in the fall of 1877 carried away his building, and he then turned his attention to politics in a mild way. In 1878 he was elected constable and policeman, and was appointed harbor master also, holding that composite office until 1881, when he was appointed postmaster at the harbor by President Hayes. He located the office in his own store, and connected a news depot and notion business with his post duties until President Cleveland was elected, when he was relieved of the duties of postmaster, the other branches of his business being continued, together with the agency of the Adams Express Company, however, until President Harrison was elected, when he was again appointed post- master. At the end of this term Mr. Cleveland again appeared on the scene and, in spite of his former friendship for our subject in Buffalo, Captain Large was again removed. As has been said he then engaged in the insurance business, adding to it the duties of constable. Socially he is a Master Mason and has been a Royal Templar for twenty-one years.
On February 24, 1853, Captain Large was united in marriage with Miss Susan B., daughter of James and Catherine McKenzie, of Saybrook, Ohio. The children born to this union are Capt. Kenneth M., who lives at Naples, Lee Co., Fla., owns and sails a small schooner in Florida waters, runs a boat house, is postmaster and carries the mail; Kate M. is the wife of C.L. Merrill, superintendent of the eastern division of the Pullman Palace Car Company, stationed in Pittsburg; John B. and William are both railroad engineers; Hattie J. is the next of the family; and Minnie is the wife of Ed S. Henry, superintendent of the Minnesota ore docks at Ashtabula harbor. Mrs. Large died in March, 1872, and the Captain was again married, his second wife being Mrs. Kate (McKinzie) Webster. The family residence is at No. 26 Vine street, Ashtabula, Ohio.
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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.