Henry Odette, who is the son of John G. and Julia (Du Mars) Odette, was born in Detroit, Mich., in 1836, and to this day does not show any signs of the ravages of age. Early in life he removed with his parents to Perrysburg, Ohio, where he attended the public schools. In the spring of 1848 he shipped as boy waiter on the old passenger steamer Columbia, at that time plying between Detroit and Saginaw. The next spring he found employment on the Wabash & Miami canal, with Captain Jamieson, his boat running between Toledo, Cincinnati and Wabash. His next berth was on the John Hollister, on which he remained as deckhand until August, 1850, when he shipped on the Franklin Moore, plying between Detroit, Port Huron and Goderich. In the spring of 1851 he was made porter of the Franklin Moore, and subsequently passed two seasons on the steamer Ruby in that capacity, during the seasons of 1854-55 serving as fireman on the last-named boat. In April, 1856, Mr. Odette received his first papers as engineer, and shipped as second engineer on the side-wheeler Forest Queen, a passenger steamer plying between Port Huron, Detroit and Port Austin. On her first trip that spring she collided with the steamer Northerner and sank her, the second engineer of the lost steamer being drowned. Wreckers who went down to raise the Northerner found the unfortunate engineer in his bunk, his arms folded across his breast, and it is believed he never awakened after going off watch. The Forest Queen remained by the stricken boat until all the others had been taken off. In the spring of 1857 Mr. Odette was appointed first assistant engineer of the steamer Bay City, plying between Detroit and Sandusky. In 1858 he was made chief engineer of the steamer T. Whitney, of Windsor, Ontario, in the lumber trade towing between Wallaceburg and Lake Erie ports. This boat was laid up on the second of July, and Mr. Odette shipped on the steamer Ocean as first assistant engineer, transferring from her to second engineer's berth on the steamer Dart, on which he closed the season; he remained on the Dart unti she was sold in August, 1860, when he was appointed chief engineer of the steamer Swan, then towing between Fremont and Sandusky. He closed the season, however, on the Gore, and during the winter took out her engine and placed it in the steamer J.P. Clark, on which he came out the following spring, he closed that season on the steamer Bay City as first assistant engineer.
In the spring of 1862 Mr. Odette was appointed first assistant engineer of the steamer City of Cleveland, and closed the season on the T. Whitney, as chief, plying between Detroit, Sandusky, and New Baltimore, with staves, etc., remaining in his berth until the fall of 1863. The next spring he came out as second engineer of the propeller Chicago, but as she was laid up on July 3, he went as chief of the Forest Queen, on which he made two trips, finishing the season on the Ruby. During the winter he fitted up the Ruby and Ariel. In 1865 he went down to the Mississippi and shipped as second engineer on the government hospital steamer Baltic, engaged in transporting prisoners for exchange who had been captured by Generals Sherman and Thomas. He remained on her until July when he was appointed chief engineer of the steamer, Lady Pike which was used in carrying army supplies on the White River to Pocahontas, Ark.; she was laid up in Memphis, and after some delay went to St. Louis for repairs, upon the completion of which she was used as a tow boat on the upper Mississippi between Wyoming and Savannah. When the season of navigation closed on the river, Mr. Odette returned to the lakes and shipped on the steamer Meteor, of which for two years he was first assistant engineer. In the spring of 1868 he came out as chief engineer of the steamer Robert Prindiville, closing the season on the excursion steamer Favorite, and serving the following season as chief of the propeller Pittsburg.
In the spring of 1870, Mr. Odette went to Sarnia, Ontario to take charge of the passenger steamer Sea Gull, plying between Sarnia and Port Edward and he held this berth seven years, giving good satisfaction at all times. The seasons of 1878-79 he passed in the employ of the Canadian government as chief engineer of the tug Truden, then at work on the Nebish, spending both winters in Sarnia bay as chief of the tug Kate Moffat and others of that line, with which he went to Detroit after they were purchased by Mr. Murphy, of that city. Before the close of the season of 1880 he returned to Sarnia however, and was made chief engineer of the passenger steamer J. C. Park, plying between Sarnia and Dresden, holding that berth until July, 1881, when he again went on the river tug Kate Moffat. The next three years he sailed as chief engineer of the steamer J. C. Park; in 1885 as chief of the steamer Hiawatha; 1886-87, chief of the ferry steamer J. L. Beckwith, between Sarnia and Port Huron; 1888-89, first assistant on the steamer Nahant; until August finishing the season as chief of the Albert J. Wright; 1890, chief of the propeller Toledo; 1891-92, chief of the Nellie Torrent; 1893, chief of the St. Paul until August, after which he went on the Leland, and in 1894 he entered the employ of Theodore Kuntz, in Cleveland, as chief engineer of his power house, a position which he now holds. He is a member of the Marine Engineer's Beneficial Association.
Mr. Odette was united in marriage to Miss Frances Foster, of Detroit, on July 19, 1859; of the children born of this union, those living are: Jane, now Mrs. James McFarland; Rosie, Mrs. Charles Bonofan; Emma, Mrs. Ed. Stevenson; Charles, a marine engineer on the steamer, Superior, Harry and Nellie. The family residence is at No. 429 Detroit street, Cleveland, 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.