Trevanion William Hugo
Trevanion William Hugo, a well-known prominent citizen of Duluth, Minn., was born July 29, 1848, in Bodinnock, by Fowey, Cornwall, England, where his father was working at his trade, that of shipwright, with the firm of Marks & Rendle, shipbuilders. The father, who served a nine-years' apprenticeship with this firm, married the eldest daughter of the senior partner, our subject, the eldest born of that union, having first seen the light in his grandfather's house in the shipyard over the moulding loft.
In July, 1843, the father of our subject, sailed as ship carpenter on the bark Royal Adelaide, of Fowery, to Quebec, which voyage was followed by several others, one of them being to New Orleans, in 1844, and the return cargo was cotton to Liverpool, for which was received a freight of $52.00 per ton (2,000 lbs.). In March, 1846, he was entered as an officer of Her Majesty's steamer Myrmidon during her trip to Ireland with relief supplies at the time of the famine. He afterward worked at his trade in Plymouth dock yards, and in other shipyards on that coast.
In August, 1850, a portion of the family left for Quebec on the bark Rose, and joined the rest of the family who had arrived there the year previously. In November of the same year the father went to Kingston, on Lake Ontario, and helped to build the steamboat Maple Leaf for the Royal Mail line, in John Counter's yard; then worked on the steamer Bay of Quinte, for Mr. Gildersleeve, and in May, 1852, he left Kingston on the steamer Cherokee, built as a gunboat at the British Government dock yards, Kingston, during the war of the Rebellion, and calculated for service on the lakes; but the advent of peace rendered her services unnecessary, and she was sold to Capt. Robert Gaskin and three others, share and share alike, for 4,000 pounds sterling. It was determned to put her into ocean service, but drawing too much water to run all rapids, one of her paddle boxes, with the sponsons and wheel, was taken away, and she ran the rapids as far as Cornwall canal with one wheel, finally arriving safely at Montreal, where she was re- fitted. Thence she made a quick trip to Halifax, where she was chartered to carry the mail and passengers to St. John's, Newfoundland. At St. John's she was bought by a Mr. Greaves for 9,500 pounds sterling, to be delivered to him in Boston, which was done; and this, the first ocean steamer built on the Upper Lakes, was afterward sold for 19,500 pounds sterling to the Brazilian Government for a man-of-war to guard their Guano islands.
After returning from this trip, Mr. Hugo, Sr., continued his work as a shipwright in John Counter's yards, Kingston, and engaged in the building of a large three-masted schooner, also called Cherokee, which was taken to Liverpool and sold to such good advantage that orders were given for two more vessels of larger tonnage (one of them a full-rigged bark, called Cataraqui, and the other a full-rigged ship, called the Eliza Mary) under his superintendence. On the arrival of these vessels in Liverpool, however, it was found that the market was glutted, and while the Cherokee was sold, Captain Gaskin sailed the Eliza Mary for several years before he sold her.
The Hugo family had now acquired permanent residence in Kingston, Canada, and here the subject of this sketch received a common-school education, at the end of which time he won a scholarship in the Queen's University and Grammar School, which continued two years. He then entered Davidson & Doran's steam engine works, serving a five-years' apprenticeship, after the completion of which he went as second engineer on the propeller East, running between Montreal and Chicago; during the next season he was on the propeller City of London, and a part of the next on the propeller Scotia. About the middle of the season the owners of the Scotia brought out the steambarge Lincoln, and Mr. Hugo was given charge of her; celebrating his chiefship by getting married to an old school mate in Kingston. The next year (1873) he was chief engineer of the steamer Lake Michigan, of Hamilton, Ont., holding that position two seasons, working in the shops during the winter months. Shortly after the beginning of 1875 he was engaged by Smith & Keighley, of Toronto, as chief engineer of the propeller being built at Owen Sound, which would have had put in her an old engine and boiler of the City of London (a steamer that had been recently burned, and the machinery removed), but as the cold season had come on the wreckers rather suddenly, they very unceremoniously dumped the different parts of the machinery on the banks or in the river anywhere, in fact, so long as they could get their scow out before it became frozen in.
The situation was a very trying one. The snow that winter was five feet deep on the level, the stage ride from Meaford to Owen Sound being over fences and on a level with the trees in the orchards; portions of the engine were lying either in the ice or under the snow; not a trace of a sketch or drawing to be found; the machine shops fitted for only agricultural machine work; not another engine in the vicinity; the men on the spot totally unaccustomed to such work - and all this away up in the wilds, on the dismal shores of the Georgian Bay! Truly the prospect was anything but a pleasant one; but "do or die," was the motto, and the work was pushed to a perfectly safisfactory completion, so much so that Mr. Hugo remained on the City of Owen Sound (as the boat was called) for six years, leaving her in the middle of the season to go to Montreal, there to take charge of the steamer Campana, which had been purchased by the same owners to take the place of the City of Winnipeg, which had burned in Duluth harbor, and whose remains were disposed of only this summer (1898) by being towed into the lake and sunk. The Campana was a twin- screw iron steamer, with two compound engines, built for the Argentine Republic, originally, and to be run on some of the rivers where the bottom of the boat would rest in the mud. The bottom of the boat was so designed that at each side of the keep the shape was that of an exaggerated "S," rising from the keep about four and one-half feet, then dropping down to form the bilge; this formed a tunnel, when the boat was on or near the bottom, through which water found its way to the wheels; she was fitted with surface condensers, and being in the livestock trade had a very large supply of water tanks and a fresh-water condensing apparatus. She brought out to Montreal a general cargo, and immediately after its discharge went into Tait's dry dock to be cut in two, a problem difficult of solution as the bulkheads did not come in right, and pontoons were built to go under the stern and under the bow to keep the proper draught of water for the canals. Each end was towed separately, and all went well until the head of the canal, at the Rapid du Plat, was reached, when the current caught the bow part and stove one of the pontoons against the bank; some time was consumed in repairing this damage, but eventually both parts were safely landed on the timbers in the Port Dalhousie dry dock, and riveted together again very successfully. This was probably the first screw steamer taken from the ocean and brought to the Upper Lakes this way.
The steamer then worked her own way through the new Welland canal, a special arrange- ment having been made so that this could be accomplished, as the canal had not been accepted at that time. The trip through Lake Erie and up to the Lime Kilns was unevent- ful; but in the morning, when daylight appeared, it was found that the news of this fast Canadian craft had preceded her, and that the tug, which "carried the broom" on the river, was on hand to try conclusions. The race up to Sarnia was an exciting one, but was a victory for neither, and although the Campana did her best she was at the disadvantage of being really on her trial trip, as far as the crew then on her was concerned. After arriving at Collinwood she was loaded for Port Arthur, calling at Owen Sound on her way; but the weather having turned cold, and it being necessary that the boat should be near at home for necessary cabins, &c., it was decided to go no farther, and she was laid up there during that winter, when a full cabin was put on her.
Mr. Hugo was engaged for the next season, but shortly after the holidays, while engaged in the overhauling, having received a telegram from the Lake Superior Elevator Company that a job was awaiting him at Duluth, he was relieved of his engagement with the owners of the Campana; at the same time they offered to keep the place open for him for two weeks, so that in case he did not like his new venture his old position would be still open for him. Mr. Hugo then engaged in the service of the elevator company in the winter of 1881- 82, as engineer of elevator B, the first of their elevators, and since 1884 he has taken charge of the elevators, now belonging to the Consolidated Elevator Company, until the present time. In addition to this he does a general consulting engineer business, and is the special agent and inspector for the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, which does a large business in Duluth and vicinity.
Mr. Hugo has always been a very studious man, and during his watcches on he lost not a minute from the reading up and solving of some engineering problem or other as each would present itself. While residing in Owen Sound, during two winters, he taught a class in the several branches of engineering without fee or reward, unless we mention a case of drawing instruments presented to him by his scholars - and their gratitude; which case of instruments is today on of his most treasured mementoes. Indeed, throughout his life any person has freely and promptly had the full benefit of his knowledge and experience for the simple asking.
Mr. Hugo has been foremost in every move tending to the advancement of his brother engineers, being a charter member of the Duluth Association N.A. Stat. Engineers, and occupying the position of State national deputy. He is also an honorary member of the Duluth Marine Engineers Association, and has been a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers since April, 1882; has contributed a couple of papers to the Transactions, and is considered one of the best posted men on the fire protection of grain elevators, having made several improvements in that line, so that the elevators under his charge are considered "models."
Although an indefatigable and industrious worker, Mr. Hugo has found time to cultivate the social virtues, and it is not, therefore, surprising to read that his recreation has been in the line of the work of secret societies. His first entrance was into the I.O.O.F., at Kingston; then he organized the Owen Sound lodge, and was its first noble grand; next as the first senior warden of Collingwood Encampment, I.O.O.F., refusing the first place; then as the first chief patriarch of Owen Sound Encampment, which completed his Canadian career. When leaving for Duluth the members presented him and his wife with a silver service. Finding Duluth Oddfellowship with only the Subordinate lodge, he took up the matter shortly after his arrival there, and succeeded in organizing Duluth Encampment, of which he was the first chief patriarch, and afterward the North Star Canton, I.O.O.F., of which he was the first commandant. He served as grand patriarch of the State, and represented it for two years as grand representative in the Sovereign Grand Lodge.
In Masonic circles Mr. Hugo has been active in all branches, particularly in the Knight Templar and Scottish Rite; he is the ranking past commander of Duluth Commandery; past grand commander of the State of Minnesota, and has been appointed grand marshal of one of the divisions for the Triennial Conclave to be held in Pittsburg this fall (1898). He is called the "Father of Scottish Rite Masonry" in Duluth, and ever since the organization of the bodies in that city he has been the presiding officer of the four bodies, now in his fourth three-year term. He received the thirty-third degree at Washingon, in 1890, and in 1895 was the recipient of the honor and jewel of the Grand Cross of the Court of Honor, "for special services rendered the Rite." He is a member of the Royal Order of Scotland, and for two years was the potentate of Osman Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, located at St. Paul, Minnesota.
As a citizen Mr. Hugo has shown his fidelity to his adopted country, by being always active in political work; he served as alderman of his ward for four years, during three of which he was president of the council, and is yet referred to as the model president. For four years he was a member of the executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce of the city of Duluth, was one of the charter members, and for two years was its president. In matters educational he has always taken an active part, now (1898) retiring from the board of education, of which he has been a director for three years, during two of which he was its president.
In his family affairs Mr. Hugo has been most fortunate and happy; and although there was considerable moving around in the early days, a necessary adjunct of steamboat life he is now comfortably situated where the lake, bay and boats can be watched at all times, and where his family, consisting of his wife and two sons, can recall the pleasant times of their steamboat career, and entertain their many old friends who from time to time drop in to see them from off the familiar steamers. The eldest son graduated at the University of Minnesota as a Bachelor of Engineering; the other son is attending the high school in Duluth.
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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.