Thomas O'Hara was born in the West of Ireland June 12, 1853, and is one of a family of six children, all of whom are living. Matthew O' Hara, his father, was a farmer; his mother's name was Margaret Brennan, and they both died in Ireland many years ago.
The subject of this sketch attended school in his native country, and emigrated to America in the year 1870, locating at Waterbury, Conn., where he worked a couple of years with an uncle who was a gravel roofer. His next employment was at Cleveland, Ohio, first in the Collins Rolling Mill, and then with the City Forge, where he worked two years. In 1874 he first entered the lake service by shipping out of Cleveland before the mast on the Oliver Culver, under Capt. James Davidson, who in 1897 was one of the officers of a Buffalo court. He then went in the same capacity in the schooner D. K. Clint with Captain Pringle, of Marine City, Mich. From that service until 1889 he was in various sailing vessels, and for the five consecutive seasons preceding 1889 he was second mate with Capt. George Blair, of Oswego, in the schooner Schuylkill, of the Anchor line. In 1889 he entered the steamboat service as wheelsman of the Annie Young, under Capt. Albert Huff, but closed the season in Alaska under Captain Doherty. The following season he obtained the requisite papers, and occupied second mate's berth in the Commodore with Capt. D. R. Garner. In 1891 until September, he was in the same capacity on the Arabia, under Capt. Patrick Shay, when he transferred to the Milwaukee under Captain Carlisle, and closed the season on her. In the early part of 1892 he was second mate of the Robert A. Packer, then of William H. Wolf, but closed the season in the Chemung. He began the season of 1893 with a couple of trips as second mate, under Capt. Eli M. Smith of the Northern Queen, then went in the Sitka, of Cleveland, under Captain Bessing, finishing the season in the Chemung, under Capt. Walter Robinson. For the year 1894 he was in the Lackawanna, Capt. Frank Weinheimer, and in 1895 was in the Russia with Capt. John Green for two months, finishing the season identically with that of 1893. For the season of 1896 he was in the Grand Traverse and H. J. Jewett, respectively, the latter of which was laid up at Chicago. During the first part of the season of 1897 he was on the H. J. Jewett, under Captain Trowley, finishing that season on the New York, under Capt. J. Durgan. For season of 1898 he had the position of second mate of the John C. Gault, under Captain Lewis.
Mr. O'Hara has had but one serious experience during his sailing career, and that was in November, 1878, in the schooner Cecelia Jeffries, commanded by Capt. John Malloy. She sprang a leak in a gale off Long Point, Lake Erie, and went down a total loss, her cargo being coal. All the crew were rescued by taking to the boats. Mr. O'Hara is a single man and resides at No. 48 Seneca street, Buffalo. He is a member of Local Harbor No. 41, of the American Association of Masters and Pilots.
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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.