Captain Willett A. Session
Captain Willett A. Session, a young lake master who passed his boyhood amid the fascinating pleasures of yachting, and who was unusually successful in handling some of the crack flyers, notably the Niobe and Irene, determined to adopt the career of a sailor and make it one of the practical issues of his life. He was born in Neenah, Wis., March 3, 1867, a son of L. D. and Margaret (Hodgins) Session. The father is a native of Jamestown, N. Y., born in 1825, while the mother's birth occurred in Philadelphia, Penn., in 1833. They removed to Wisconsin about 1849, first locating at Neenah, and were numbered among the earliest pioneers of that place. The father started a machine shop, and carried on a lucrative business for some years. Later he removed to Oshkosh, Wis., where he entered the employ of the Singer Sewing Machine Company as general manager in that city, and conducted the business for twenty- two years.
Captain Session acquired a liberal education in the public schools of Oshkosh, and as his early experience with yachts fitted him for an officer's berth on shipboard, he joined the steamer North Star, with Captain Booth. In 1884 he purchased the steamer Corona and sailed her. The next spring he went to Ashland, Wis., and sailed the tug Hope for the Superior Lumber Company. In 1886 he was appointed master of the steamer Theresa, operated by G. W. Gates, at Oshkosh, in the interest of the Diamond Match Company. The next spring he returned to Ashland and sailed the tug E. P. Fish until she was sold, when he went to Duluth and took command of the Walter S. Lloyd. In the spring of 1888 he was appointed master of the tug Minnie Karl, owned by the Prentice Brown Stone Company. He passed the season of 1891 as wheelsman and mate in the lake tug Howard, followed by a season in the pleasure yacht Mystic, used in the passenger and excursion business out of Oshkosh. In the spring of 1893 Captain Session was appointed master of the tug Ward, owned by the Ashland Brown Stone Company, trans- ferring the next spring to the tug Hope, which he sailed for the Keystone Lumber Company. In the spring of 1895 he took the tug Edmund P. Fish to Duluth for Capt. W. H. Singer, doing general towing out of that port. The next spring he brought out the new tug Chief, as master, but closed the season in the tug Joe Dudley. During the season of 1897 he sailed the ferry boat Estelle between Duluth and West Superior, and in the spring of 1898 entered the employ of the Duluth Dock & Dredge Col, as master of the tug Effie L., which office he now holds.
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.