Captain A. J. Brown
Captain A.J. Brown, one of the early and prominent lake captains and vessel owners of Chicago, was born in Aberdeen Scotland, a son of George and Isabella (Hair) Brown, the former a native of Aberdeen, the latter of Glasgow, Scotland. The father, who was a manufacturer of brass goods, came to the United States and located in New York City, where his death occurred; the mother passed away at Liverpool, England.
Choosing a sea-faring life, Captain Brown went before the mast from Liverpool, and for some time sailed on salt water. At the age of sixteen he came to New York, and in 1849 took up his residence in Chicago, out of which port he sailed in April of that year, on the schooner Mint, engaged in the lumber trade, remaining on her as a common sailor until August. His next vessel was the brig Iroquois, plying between Chicago and Green Bay, but the following season he made a trip to Liverpool, England, and on his return to New York City, shipped on the Atlantic to Antwerp. Again returning to New York, he shipped on the Buena Vista to Savannah, thence to Liverpool, returning by way of New Orleans, after which he spent some time in the coasting trade on the Gulf of Mexico in the schooner Octavia. In April, 1851, he shipped on the Oswego, bound for New York. From there he shipped on the brig Castalia for Buffalo, remaining on this boat from May to September. He then went to Chicago, from which he shipped on the schooner Edith Henderson, engaged in the lumber trade, but finished the season on the schooner Levant, just launched. The following season he was on the brig Castalia, from Buffalo, and in August transferred to the brig Chicago, but finished the season as mate on the Levant. That fall he went to New Orleans and engaged in the coasting trade as master on the schooner Pompodore, after which he shipped as second mate on the bark Aquillo to Boston. From that city he went to Malaga, Spain, and on his return to Boston went to New Orleans as mate on the bark Yarmouth, where he engaged in coasting as master on the schooner Locust. Later he returned to Boston on the bark Aquilla as second mate, and from there proceeded to Buffalo, N.Y., where he joined the brig Harman and came to Chicago, remaining on that vessel until August, when he transferred to the Brig Bell and finished the season on her. He then went to New Orleans, where he again engaged in the coasting trade as master on the schooner Locust; but in the spring returned to Chicago and shipped as mate on the schooner Levant, engaged in the lumber trade. After one season on her he returned to New Orleans, and after coasting as master on the schooner R. T. Moore, through the winter, returned in the spring to Chicago, where he shipped as mate on the Palo Alto, of Oswego, N.Y., engaged in the lumber trade, remaining on her until August, when he transferred to the Lady Jane, holding the same position. After another winter spent in the coasting trade from New Orleans as master on the schooner R. T. Moore, he returned to Chicago and shipped on the schooner Caledonia as mate, remaining on her through the season of 1857, and fitting her out the following spring; but after making one trip on her as master, transferred to the schooner Odin, where as mate he finished the season. In 1859 he was on the barque Cleveland in the capacity of mate, in the lumber trade; in 1861 on the schooner Convoy as second mate, plying between Chicago and Buffalo; the latter part of 1861, as second mate, on the schooner Egan, engaged in the grain trade; in 1862 was first mate of the same vessel; and in 1863 was mate of the Plover.
In that year he enlisted at Chicago in Company A, 57th Ill. Vol. Inf., and was mustered in at that place. With the Army of the Tennessee, under Gen. Sherman, he participated in a number of important engagements; the march to the sea; was in the Carolina campaign; and took part in the Grand Review at Washington, D.C. At Chicago he was honorably discharged in July, 1865, and again engaged in steamboating out of that port. In 1868 he was made captain of the schooner Erie, engaged in the lumber trade; the following three years was mate of the propeller Favorite, of Houghton, Mich., belonging to the Chicago & Northwestern railroad, and remained on her a part of the season of 1870, finishing it, however, as master on the Hilton. Quitting the lakes, he was a member of the Chicago police force for five years, but in 1876 returned to the water, as mate of the Gertrude for one season. He was derrickman of the new custom house in 1877 and 1878, but the following year sailed as mate on the Marinette Barge line, engaged in the lumber trade. In 1880 he joined the Delos DeWolf in the same position, in the lumber and grain trade between Chicago and Buffalo; from 1881 to 1891 he served as her master. The following year he purchased the schooner Adirondack, which he used in the grain and general freight trade for three seasons, but in 1893 was taken seriously ill, and his vessel was lost in Lake Michigan, since which time he has practically retired. He at one time was a member of the Ship Masters and Vessel Owners Associations. No man is more entitled to, or receives more fully the respect and esteem of all who know him.
On October 26, 1865, in Chicago, Captain Brown was united in marriage with Miss Mary Jane Henderson; a native of Toronto, Canada, and a daughter of Angus Henderson, who was born in Scotland, and as a sailor shipped out of Chicago in early days. He died of cholera in 1854, and Mrs. Brown passed away August 18, 1894. The children born to this union are as follows: Anna D., now Mrs. Killham, of Chicago; George S., a sailor; William T., Alexander B. and Charles, all clerks; Harry M.; Grant and Harvey. The family residence is at No. 2823 Bonfield street, Chicago.
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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.