Captain Charles C. Goodwin
Captain Charles C. Goodwin was born at Sanford, Maine, in 1841, and came of old New England stock. He commenced sailing out of his native place at the age of fourteen years, and remained in service on various salt-water craft until he reached the age of twenty-three, when he went to Cleveland. The first boat in which he sailed on the lakes was the schooner Timothy Baker, in which he shipped as man before the mast, and he remained on her four years. He then went as mate on the brig Thomas, where he passed the next eight years of his life, keeping ship in winter. His next service was with Captain Kendrick on a Chicago vessel for two seasons, and following this he was shipmate with Captain Murtah, after which he was appointed master of his old schooner Timothy Baker, which he sailed three years. For a short time after this he did railroad work until, in 1878, he received his appointment as captain of the Cleveland life-saving station.
It is no stretch of the truth to say that Captain Goodwin was one of the most daring and successful officers who has ever filled the position of captian in any United States life-saving station, and during his career he was instrumental in saving the crews of many vessels, and perhaps of one hundred lives under different conditions. The scope of this article is too limited to cite all the rescues he made, but it can be stated that he rescued the crews of all vessels that went ashore within fifteen miles of his station. On October 31, 1883, the crew of the schooner Sophia Minch was rescued from the rigging as she lay stranded off the mouth of the Cuyahoga river, and the same night, on November 1, the crew of the John B. Merrill was taken off at extreme risk of life. On November 11, the crew of the C.P. Johnson was taken off, and on December 17 the crews of the Cossack and H.P. Baldwin were saved, some of them having to be cut away from their frozen position on the masts. Every member of the crew of the schooner Zach Chandler, which went ashore off the east breakwater, Cleveland, about fifteen miles from the station, was saved by the extraordinary exertions of Captain Goodwin and his crew. As soon as he learned of the wreck of the Chandler he rigged up his beach apparatus, and chartered a special locomotive with attending car to take the apparatus and lifeboat to the scene of the wreck. They found her lying some four hundred yards distant from the beach, and stern to, so that it was a hard matter to throw a line aboard with the mortar, but at the first trial the Captain succeeded in putting the line in the cross- trees of the topmast. It was then found that the crew were so benumbed with the extreme cold that they could not manipulate the line, and Captain Goodwin had to send the boat off to assist, and in which they came ashore. It was in such scenes as this that he passed the closing years of his life, and gained from the government such recognition as entitled him to the first-class gold medal for saving life; a medal of the same class was presented to each member of the crew, this being the first and only time on record in the life-saving department where the entire crew of a life-saving station has been thus honored.
In 1884 Captain Goodwin added to his laurels by taking his entire crew and lifeboat to the rescue of the flood-stricken people of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington and Newport, Ky., when the Ohio river raged with such fury through the streets of those unfortunate cities. The large lifeboat appeared to the inhabitants as a God-sent miracle for their relief, and they were taken out of submerged buildings by the boatload. For this service Captain Goodwin received a gold medal bearing the inscription: "To Captain C.C. Goodwin, U.S. Life Saving Station, Cleveland, O. From the Masonic Relief Committee, Covington, Ky., February 14, 1884." However, the Government life-saving medal of the first class which he received was his pride, as it represented the approbation of the Government of the United States for the saving of scores of lives under extremely dangerous circumstances. It has engraven upon it the sentence: "In testimony of heroic deeds in saving life from the perils of the sea, Charles C. Goodwin, June 20, 1884." This medal, together with the others for the crew, was presented by Superintendent D.P. Dobbins, his speech of presentation being replied to by A.A. Pomeroy, the editor of the Marine Record, on behalf of the Captain and the crew. Captain Goodwin served his country during the Civil war, and received special mention in general orders for good conduct and bravery in the face of the enemy.
While in vigorous life Captain Goodwin expressed himself to the writer of this brief testimonial as hopeful that when death came to him he would not suffer through any prolonged illness, but would pass away suddenly. This wish, it would seem had been recorded by the Great Giver, and was regarded. He died in an instant, while seated at the evening meal, surrounded by his family, and his last words when he felt the shadow of the death angel's wings were: "What is this that comes over me?" and the dark shadow replied, "Death." Socially he was a Knight Templar Mason, being a member of Holyrood Commandery, and was held in high esteem by all his companions and friends.
Captain Goodwin was united in marriage to Miss Mary Brown, of Portland, Maine, and fourteen children were born to the union, nine of whom are living, viz.: Charles C., who married Nellie Watson; William H., who married Mary Watson; Mattie H., now the wife of Lawrence Diehl; Elizabeth, now the wife of James Martin; David, married to Hattie Ortner; Mamie, now the wife of Michael McCormack; Corinne, now the wife of James Richards; and Eugene and Alice, still at home.
Return to Home Port
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.