Herbert K. Oakes of Detroit and Cleveland was one of the more important vessel operators of the early years of this century, although it is likely that today there are many observers of the shipping scene who have never heard of him. Oakes was a member of the Detroit legal firm of Shaw, Warren, Cody & Oakes which he joined in 1896. He was, however, quite active in the lake shipping circles and on May 7, 1911, he resigned from his position with the law firm in order that he might devote full time to his vessel interests.
Although Oakes in his capacity as an admiralty lawyer may well have had a minor position with other shipping companies earlier, and indeed this is most probable, his first prominent entry on the scene as a vessel manager came in 1906 when the Cambria Steel Company formed a shipping division known as the Franklin Steamship Company, Cleveland. Oakes assumed the position of manager for the new firm, the same position he took in 1908 for the Fremont Steamship Company, a concern organized by the Berry Brothers of Detroit to operate their bulk carrier B. F. BERRY.
In 1912 the Cadillac Steamship Company, Detroit, was formed by Emory L. Ford and once again Oakes came on the scene to operate the line's vessels. The last of the four small companies over which Oakes presided was the Beaver Steamship Company, Cleveland, which was incorporated in late 1915 or early 1916 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Cambria Steel Company. Cambria was, in turn, a subsidiary of the Midvale Steel & Ordnance Company. Oakes was already manager of the Franklin fleet and it was only natural that when Cambria formed Beaver, it would be done under the management of this knowledgeable gentleman.
In 1924, Herbert K. Oakes became vice-president and manager of the shipping arm of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation - the Bethlehem Steamship Company -which was then being formed. This company later became known as the Bethlehem Transportation Corporation. The vessels being operated by Oakes in 1924 were absorbed into the Bethlehem operations, although it should be noted that the Franklin Steamship Company's funnel marking, a black stack with a white shield on which was superimposed a large black "F", continued to be carried by several vessels as late as 1941.
In the fleet list which follows, we have included only those ships which were operated by Oakes' four original companies. For obvious reasons, we have not listed all the Bethlehem vessels which were owned by that concern during the years of Oakes management. It is interesting to note that one further vessel did, however, bear the Franklin funnel design, that being the EDWARD J. BERWIND. She is not included in this listing as she was not built until 1924 and hence did not join Franklin until after the operation of the fleet had been assumed by Bethlehem.
B. F. BERRY (22), (b) BERRYTON (42), (c) VISCOUNT BENNETT (54), (d) C. A. BENNETT. (U.S. 204981, C.141676). Steel bulk carrier built 1908 at Cleveland by the American Shipbuilding Company (Hull 357). 480.0 x 52.0 x 25.7; Gross 6188, Net 4775. Originally owned by the Fremont Steamship Company (the Berry Brothers), Detroit. Sold to the Franklin Steamship Company 1915 (still Oakes management) and carried principally for the Cambria Steel Company. Sold 1922 for $400,000 to the Mathews Steamship Company Ltd., Toronto. When Mathews went into receivership in 1932, was operated for one year by Toronto Elevators Ltd. prior to being sold by the liquidator (Frederick C. Clarkson) to Colonial Steamships Ltd. which was formed by the Misener interests in 1933. Transferred 1959 to Scott Misener Steamships Ltd., Port Colborne, and again transferred later to Misener Holdings Ltd. (later known as Misener Enterprises Ltd.). Sold while in service 1968 to Marine Salvage Ltd. and resold to Spanish breakers. Arrived at Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain, for scrapping, June 1969.
EDWIN L. BOOTH (21), (a) DAVID M. WHITNEY (14), (c) G.N.WILSON (I) (28), (d) THOMAS BRITT (II) (43), (e) BUCKEYE (I). (U.S. 157601). Steel bulk carrier built 1901 at Wyandotte by the Detroit Shipbuilding Company Hull 138). 412.9 x 51.5 x 28.0; Gross 4626, Net 3584. Originally owned by the Whitney Estate, Detroit, and operated by the Gilchrist Transportation Company, Cleveland. Sold 1914 to the Cadillac Steamship Company (Oakes), Detroit, and rebuilt. Sold February 12, 1916 for $260,000 to the American Steamship Company (Boland & Cornelius), Buffalo. Sold 1928 to the Lakewood Steamship Company, an affiliate of Oglebay Norton & Co. Transferred 1938 to the Columbia Transportation Company, Cleveland. Converted 1943 to a craneship by the Fairport Machine Shop, Fairport, Ohio; Gross 4343, Net 3301. Sold 1968 to Steel Factors Ltd., Montreal. While in tow bound out of the lakes, broke adrift and stranded on Sugarloaf Point west of Port Colborne, October 9, 1968. Refloated November 27, 1968 and continued eastbound tow. Resold to Spanish breakers and arrived November 4, 1969 at Santander, Spain, for scrapping.
E. J. EARLING (24), (b) ROBERT B. WALLACE (57), (c) PETER ROBERTSON (I). (U.S. 203108). Steel bulk carrier built 1906 at West Superior, Wisconsin, by the Superior Shipbuilding Company (Hull 514). 535.5 x 55.0 x 31.0; Gross 6657, Net 5140. Originally owned by the Franklin Steamship Company (Oakes), Cleveland. Some sources indicate that she was operated by D. Sullivan & Company, Chicago, under charter for the period 1909 to 1923. Sold 1923 to the Kinney Steamship Company, Cleveland. Acquired 1926 by the Wilson Transit Company, Cleveland. Sold 1957 to the Republic Steel Corporation but continued under Wilson management. Retired at close of 1968 season. Sold 1969 to Sea-Land Service Inc. and traded in to the U. S. Maritime Administration. Sold 1969 to Oxford Shipping Corp. While anchored off Jordan Harbour, Lake Ontario, awaiting east-bound scrap tow, grounded after breaking away in storm, August 20, 1969. Refloated August 25. Broke away from ocean tug off Newfoundland in September 1969 but recovered. Broke away again off Spanish coast and grounded near La Coruna, Spain, November 1969. Broke up in heavy seas.
EMORY L. FORD (65), (b) RAYMOND H. REISS, (U.S. 214318). Steel bulk carrier built 1916 at Lorain by the American Shipbuilding Company (Hull 715). 580.0 x 60.0 x 32.0; Gross 7986, Net 6225. Originally owned by the Franklin Steamship Company (Oakes), Cleveland. Management assumed 1924 by the Bethlehem Steamship Company (still managed by Oakes). Ownership of Franklin Steamship Company taken over by the M. A. Hanna Company in 1936 but management not assumed by Hanna until 1941. Latterly owned by the Hanna Mining Company. Chartered 1963 and 1964 to the Gartland Steamship Company (D. Sullivan & Company, managers). Sold 1965 to the Reiss Steamship Company, Sheboygan, Wis., and repowered 1966 with Nordberg diesel. Control of Reiss acquired 1969 by the American Steamship Company (Boland & Cornelius), Buffalo. Sold January 10, 1972, to the Kinsman Marine Transit Company, Cleveland, but before opening of navigation was resold to the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Company. In service.
E. H. UTLEY (25), (b) CAMBRIA, (U.S. 207568). Steel bulk carrier built 1910 at Wyandotte by the Detroit Shipbuilding Company (Hull 184). 504.0 x 54.2 x 31.0; Gross 6287, Net 4861. Built for the Frankl Steamship Company (Oakes), Cleveland, but transferred 1916 to the Beaver Steamship Company (also Oakes), Cleveland. Ownership taken over 1924 by the Bethlehem Steamship Company and in 1925 by the Bethlehem Transportation Corp. Transferred 1942 to a Bethlehem subsidiary, Iron Mines Company of Venezuela, but no change in management. Transferred prior to 1949 to yet another subsidiary, the Gasparillo Dock Company. Rebuilt 1955-56 as a craneship by the American Shipbuilding Company at Lorain, Gross 6393, Net 4966. Although registered thereafter to the Bethlehem Steel Corp., management was transferred at the time of the rebuild to the Ore Steamship Company and she was operated by Boland & Cornelius, Buffalo. Retired from service late in 1970 season and sold October 30, 1970, to the Miller Compressing Company for use as a storage and transfer barge at Milwaukee. Sold 1973 to the Elizabeth River Terminal Company and taken to Norfolk, Va., for further use as a transfer barge.
WESTERN STAR (18), (b) GLENISLA (26), (c) PRESCOTT. (U.S. 200376, C.138214). Steel bulk carrier built 1903 at Wyandotte by the Detroit Shipbuilding Company (Hull 155 - the American Bureau of Shipping incorrectly shows as 135). 416.0 x 50.3 x 29.0; Gross 4764, Net 3593. Originally owned by Michael J. Cummings, Oswego, and operated by D. Sullivan & Company, Chicago. Driven ashore on Lake Superior near Ontonagon in the severe storm of November 28, 1905, but subsequently refloated. Purchased by Emory L. Ford from the Cunnings Estate on October 11, 1912, and transferred to the Cadillac Steamship Company (Oakes), Detroit. While en route from Toledo to Little Current with coal on September 24, 1915, struck Robertson's Rock in upper Lake Huron and sank. Abandoned to the underwriters as a total loss, a salvage contract was let to the Great Lakes Towing Company but it was not until September 15, 1917, that the ship was refloated. Hull sold by the underwriters to the Valley Camp Coal Company for $358,000. Resold by Valley Camp to their Canadian representative, James Playfair of Midland. Rebuilt at Detroit and Midland, the ship was returned to service by Playfair in 1918 under the ownership of the Great Lakes Transportation Company Ltd. Lengthened to 494.0 by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Company Ltd. in 1924, Gross 5461, Net 4268. Acquired 1926 by Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal. Retired in June 1962 when boilers and engine mountings were condemned during inspection at Collingwood. Laid up at Toronto and sold later in 1962 to the Steel Company of Canada Ltd. for scrapping at Hamilton. It was intended to use the mid-section of her bottom as a derrick barge, but this did not materialize and she was completely broken up.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.