Andem J. Wilcox
Andem J. Wilcox, who is one of the best qualified engineers sailing out of Bay City, Mich., was born in Springfield, Oakland county, that State, May 25, 1847. His parents, Madison J. and Sarah (Andem) Wilcox, were natives of Rochester, N.Y., and New York City, respectively. As his mother died during his infancy our subject was left in the care of his aunt Harriet Powell until he reached the age of five years, when his father removed to Ovid, Mich., to locate on a farm which he owned, and took with him Andem, his two brothers, Smith M. and Louis H., and two sisters, Antoinette and Jeannette.
Andem J. Wilcox worked on the farm and attended the district schools until he was fifteen years old, when he made up his mind to go on the Great Lakes as fireman, with the object of becoming an engineer. The other members of the family tried to dissuade him, but all to no purpose, for he was lad of much persistence, and his distaste for a life on the farm had much to do with his decision, which was at once carried out. In 1862 he went to Bay City, but not finding a steamboat ready for him he engaged in loading lumber on vessels. Being of slight build he found that work too much for him and he shipped as deckhand in the steambarge East Saginaw at $30 per month. He remained on her four months, and when refused higher wages returned to the docks to load lumber, soon after, however, shipping in the steamer Harry Bissell, in which he closed the season. In the spring of 1863 Mr. Wilcox shipped as fireman in the tug Union, owned by Mitchell & Kelley, and fired her four seasons. In 1867 he passed his examination and received Government license as engineer on the Little Eastern with Capt. L. Deland, remaining two months, when he was appointed engineer of the tug Sealey, in which he closed the season. The next spring he brought out the tug Witch of the West as engineer, holding that berth until August, when he was made second engineer of the steamer Esterbrook, with Chief William Bates and Capt. George Lester; he retained this position until 1873, when the steamer, under command of Capt. Martin Brigham, was wrecked while trying to make Fairport harbor in a northeast gale, all hands reaching shore in the yawl after much peril and exposure. Mr. Wilcox then joined the steamer Michigan for the balance of the season as second engineer. In 1874 he became second in the propeller Phil Sheridan, with engineer William McKettrick, Captain Cummings being master, and continued in that berth until June 25, when he was promoted to the position of chief engineer on the steamer St. Clair, of Ward's Lake Superior line. Before the close of the season the St. Clair was laid up in ordinary and Mr. Wilcox was transferred to the steamer Phil Sheridan as chief. On November 28, at four P.M., while eighteen miles up Lake Erie out of Buffalo, the Sheridan took fire amidships, burning so fiercely that the crew were separated and could not fight the flames successfully, being obliged to abandon her; she burned to the water's edge. The steamer Turner, which had been in their company up the lake, ran alongside the Sheridan and took the men off the forward end of the boat. Chief Engineer Wilcox and his crew succeeding in launching the yawl aft, the Turner picking them up also, and landing them at Detroit.
In the spring of 1876 Mr. Wilcox was appointed chief engineer of the propeller City of Fremont, of the same line, but in July transferred as second to the large lake tug John Owen. Robert Armstrong being chief. The Owen was laid up before the close of the season and Mr. Wilcox was transferred to the tug Livingston; when she was laid up he went on the tug Champion, and from her on the Satellite, in which he closed the season. The next season he was appointed chief engineer of the steamer J.P. Clarke, finishing same as chief on the lake tug Champion. In 1878, many steamers being laid up for lack of business, Mr. Wilcox accepted the position of second engineer in the old propeller Cuyahoga, which had been cut down and transformed to a steambarge for the lumber trade, staying with her until August, when he was transferred to the steamer George L. Colwell, on which he remained until the fall of 1881. The next year he joined the side-wheel steamer Metropolis as chief. In 1883 he was appointed chief engineer of the propeller Saginaw Valley, transferring to the tug Johnson, of Duluth, and closing the season as chief of the steamer Bell Cross. The following year he was chief of the steamer George L. Colwell, and then for three seasons engaged on the steamer White & Friant. In 1889 he was chief of the Luella Worthington, and after laying her up of the tug Mocking Bird. His next boat was the steamer Servia, which he engineered three seasons. Mr. Wilcox stopped ashore in 1893 and engaged in writing insurance for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. He also opened a grocery store, but being tendered chief engineer's berth on the lake tug George W. Parker, he left the grocery business in charge of his wife and ran that boat. In the spring of 1894 he was appointed chief engineer of the steamer J.P. Donaldson, which position he has held five successive seasons. Socially he is a Master Mason.
On March 14, 1877, Mr. Wilcox married Miss Clara E., daughter of Richard and Abigail (Bennett) Bather, of Detroit, Mich., and one daughter, Gertrude May, has been born to this union. Mr. Bather is still living in Detroit and is possessed of large property in real estate. Mr. Wilcox's father died at the residence of our subject in Bay City, in 1891, at the advanced age of eighty-four years. The family home is at No. 310 Nebobish avenue, Bay City, 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.