Captain E. Tormey
Captain E. Tormey is one of the most experienced wrecking and towing masters on the lakes. He is the son of George and Kate (Green) Tormey, who sailed from Galway, Ireland, in 1843, for America, locating at Amherstburg, Ontario. The entire journey was made by water. They reached Buffalo by way of the Erie canal, going thence to Amherstburg on a Lake Erie schooner, and on arrival were numbered among the pioneers of that section. Edward Tormey was born April 3, 1845, and after attending the schools provided by the Dominion of Canada for the allotted number of years made himself useful to his parents. His career as a sailor began in 1864, when he shipped as deckhand with Captain Grummond on the tug Dispatch. At the close of the season the captain (since deceased), who is known to have been a very liberal minded man, took young Tormey home and employed him about the house, sending him to school during the winter. The two following seasons he continued on the Despatch[sic], in the capacity of wheelsman and watchman. During the winter of 1866, he returned home and worked in a flouring-mill, in the spring of 1867 returning to the Despatch, as wheelsman with Captain McGuire, whose brother was killed in the naval engagement between the Kearasage and Alabama when that notorious Southern privateer was captured, Captain Tormey next served on the L. L. Lyon, owned by John Demas, and the lake tug Constitution, with Captain Lundy, operating at Sault Ste. Marie. He then took passage on the propeller Portsmouth, to Buffalo, where he shipped as watch four trips. Leaving the Portsmouth at Buffalo he took passage on the St. Louis with Captain Goldsmith, for Detroit, where he shipped on the tug Tawas, remaining on her until the close of the season. That winter he again lived at Captain Grummond's house, doing chores and going to school.
In the spring of 1868 Captain Tormey again joined the Despatch as wheelsman and watch with Capt. Martin Swain, and in 1869-70 he served as mate on that boat. In the winter of 1870-71 he kept ship on Captain Grummond's steamer Island Queen, and sailed on her until July 8, plying between Detroit and Gibraltar. He then went as mate with Capt. B. O'Neil, now harbormaster at Detroit, on the lake tug William A. Moore. In the spring of 1872 Captain Tormey was appointed master of the Island Queen, which had been purchased by Capt. Robert Hackett, sailing her until June, when he joined the William B. Castle, closing the season on the W. A. Moore as mate with Capt. George Kimball, H. A. Hawgood being chief engineer. On October 1, while on Lake Erie, with four barges in tow, the Moore was overtaken by a fierce gale, the lines parted, and the barges Baltic, Capt. John Van Norman, and Adriatic, Capt. David Murdock, both went down with their entire crews off Port Stanley. There were six men and one woman on the Baltic and six men and two women on the Adriatic. During this crisis Captain Tormey proved himself equal to the emergency, took charge of the Moore, and rendered all the service he could to the other distressed barges. Captain Kendall was afterward appointed on the Detroit police force and was shot and killed while on duty. In the spring of 1873 Captain Tormey again joined the W. A. Moore as mate with Capt. M. Madden. In the spring of 1874 he was appointed master of the lake tug Gen. George B. McClellan and sailed her two seasons; 1876-77 he sailed the lake tug Oswego; 1878 he came out as master of the Oswego, commanding her until July, when he was appointed master of the passenger steamer Grace Grummond (formerly the government survey steamer Search), in the excursion business out of Detroit until September. He then resumed command of the Oswego, continuing on her until the close of the season of 1880. During the winter he made his home in Detroit, and in the spring of 1881 he brought out new the large wrecking tug Martin Swain, which he commanded for nine years in the wrecking and towing business. During this time he had but one mishap; in 1889, while off Bois Blanc Island with the schooners Marengo and Maria Martin in tow, the propeller Jay Gould collided with and sunk the Martin Swain. In 1890 Captain Tormey sailed the Gladiator, towing rafts and long timber between Saginaw and Buffalo.
In 1891-92 Captain Tormey was reappointed to the command of the Martin Swain, which he also brought out the following season. On one trip the propeller Fred Mercur ran down the schooner John B. Merrill, which he had to tow, near Bar Point lightship. The Swain pulled the schooner into American waters, where she sank. He then transferred to the Champion as master for a time and then back to the Swain; was next appointed master of the passenger steamer Michigan, plying between Mackinaw, Port Huron and Cleveland; took command of the passenger steamer Atlantic, which he laid up in Detroit, and went down to Cleveland to assume command of the passenger steamer Flora, plying between that city and Port Stanley, which he also laid up at Detroit. During his absence an attachment was issued against the tug Swain for the sum of $20,000, and he ran her over to Amherstburg and left her. He then took charge of the tug Champion, closing an eventful season on her during the season of 1894-95 he was mate of the wrecking tug Favorite, stationed at Cheboygan, Mich. The next year he came out as master of the steam barge Haywood, transferring to the tug Howard as master and closing the season as mate on the steam barge Schoolcraft. In 1897 he sailed the lake tug Howard until the close of the rafting season, after which he was appointed master of the tug Swain, which had been purchased by Capt. James Davidson, of Bay City, closing the season on her. The Swain always carries a full wrecking outfit, together with an electric plant. Captain Tormey is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Fraternal Order of United Friends.
The Captain wedded Miss Mary McMullen, of Amherstburg, Ontario, in 1876, and after her death he was again married, this time, in 1880, to Miss Samantha Chamberlain, of Gibraltar, Mich. To this union has been born three children: James E., who died young; Hattie Lucy, and George W. The family homestead is at 64 Elizabeth street West, Detroit.
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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.