It is with deep regret that we must report the death on January 22nd, 1972, at his home at Kelley's Island, Ohio, of noted marine historian and member of the Toronto Marine Historical Society, Captain Frank E. Hamilton,
Captain Hamilton, in his eightieth year at the time of his passing, was acknowledged to be an expert on lake shipping and particularly on the subject of Lake Erie passenger vessels. His knowledge, which was sought by many historians and authors, came in large measure from his many years of sailing. He started his career afloat in 1910 as cabin boy on the Lake Erie sidewheeler ARROW. He worked up in her to the position of wheelsman and then moved to the same position in LAKESIDE (the U. S. steamer, not the one that ran Toronto-Port Dalhousie).
He obtained his master's license in 1918 and his first command was the COLONIAL of the Western Reserve Navigation Co., in 1923 and 1924. In 1922 he had led an expedition to Lake Ontario to salvage the sidewheels from the ALEXANDRIA whose wreck was reposing off Toronto's Scarborough Bluffs. The wheels were placed on COLONIAL when she was rebuilt by the company. In 1925 he moved over to the firm's KEYSTONE (the former D & C CITY OF CLEVELAND). In 1927 he took command of Capt. Win. Nicholson's Erie to Port Dover ferry DOVER, better known in her earlier years as the flyer FRANK E. KIRBY. In 1928 he was on the bridge of ERIE, this ship being destroyed by fire the following winter. His last major command was the famous excursion steamer PUT-IN-BAY which he skippered on the Sandusky-Detroit run from 1942 until the service was ended in 1947.
The Captain was accorded many honours over the years, not the least of which was his being named "Great Lakes Historian of the Year" in 1970 by the Marine Historical Society of Detroit. He was born on Kelley's Island and his mother was from the family for which the Island was named. He spent all his years ashore on the Island and there he was buried on January 24th.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.