James William Brooks
James William Brooks, one of the most prominent maritime engineers sailings out of the port of Buffalo, was born in Cambridgeport, Mass., September 7, 1851. he is a son of Amos and Martha (Cook) Brooks, and traces his genealogy through a long line of American pioneers, in both Vermont and Massachusetts. He attended the public schools of his native city, after which he engaged in various occupations suitable a boy of his age.
In the spring of 1878 Mr. Brooks came to Buffalo, N.Y., and shipped as fireman on the steamer Badger State, this beginning a career on the lakes which he has continued for many years. He worked hard, attending closely to his business, and this course, combined with a fund of native qualification, insured for him rapid advancement. In the spring of 1879 he shipped as oiler on the steamer Commodore, transferring to the Montana the following season in the same capacity. In the spring of 1881 he was appointed second engineer of the Badge State, and in 1882 he went as second engineer of the City of Rome. In the spring of 1883 he again entered the employ of the Western Transit line as second engineer of the Badger State, which position he held until the fall of 1886, being appointed chief engineer of the steamer Fountain City in the spring of 1887, and remaining in charge of her machinery until the winter of 1890. The spring of 1891 found him chief engineer of his old steamer, the Badger State, which he ran two seasons. In 1893 he was transferred to the Commodore as chief, holding the berth until August, 1895, and finishing the season on the steamer Mohawk of the same line. In the spring of 1896 he again took the steamer Commodore, which he laid up at the close of navigation in Buffalo harbor, thus rounding out a period of eighteen years, with a break of but one year, in one employ. It will be observed that Mr. Brooks advanced from the humble place of fireman to be chief engineer of the largest boat of the line for which he worked. He has seventeen issues of marine engineer's license. Socially he is a Master Mason, being a member of DeMolay Lodge No. 398, Buffalo; he is also an ardent and active member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial association, and was presiding officer of Buffalo lodge for the years 1889, 1894 and 1895. He is also a charter member of the Association, and has taken more than an ordinary interest in matters pertaining to the marine engineers of Buffalo.
In 1866 Mr. Brooks was wedded to Miss Laura E. Duley, of Buffalo, and there were born to this union three sons: William H., Frederick and Nelson M. The family residence is at No. 144 Sidway street, Buffalo, New York.
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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.