Captain James E. Brown
Captain James E. Brown was born at Ashtabula Harbor, Ohio, September 12, 1857, son of Capt. James W. and Rebecca (Woodward) Brown. His father is a well-known lake master and engineer, and is at this writing (1898) sailing the passenger steamer City of Grand Rapids.
James E. Brown attended the public schools of Ashtabula, and when eighteen years of age graduated from the Normal school at Geneva. In the meantime he sailed during the summer months, beginning in the spring of 1868 as boy in the schooner Oneida with his father, and following this service with a season in the tug Ballentine, of Bay City. He then worked in fishing boats about Ashtabula Harbor until 1872, when he shipped in the tug John Prindiville for a season. The next season he engaged as seaman in the schooner Perry White, and in 1874-75 in the Jessie, Wend-the-Wave and Snow Drop, closing the last season as fireman in the tug Dragon. He passed the season of 1876 before the mast in the schooner J.B. Sawyer. He opened the season of 1877 as fireman in the lake tug Sweepstakes, and the two succeeding seasons served in the Dragon. In 1880 he was granted pilot's papers and appointed master of the tug Bradley, of Cheboygan, Mich., sailing her three seasons. During the seasons of 1883-84 he was mate of the passenger steamer Van Raalte, plying between Cheboygan and Sault Ste. Marie, and in 1885 mate of the steamer Messenger, closing the season in the Thomas Friant.
After stopping ashore one season Captain Brown came out as master of the tug Clayt, of Cheboygan. In the spring of 1888 he brought out the tug Cygnet, as master, but closed the season as mate and pilot of the tug Ella Smith, the following season commanding the tug Jennie King. In the spring of 1890 he joined the tug Denis Brothers, at Menominee, as master, but resigned her to go in the tug Favorite, of the Swain Wrecking Company. He was master of the tug B.W. Aldrich in 1891 and mate of the wrecking tug Favorite again in 1892-93. The next spring he was appointed master of the tug Violet H. Raber, and in 1895 he entered the employ of Commodore B.B. Inman, of Duluth, as master of the tug Pathfinder. On September 1, while towing the steamer Joliet on St. Louis bay, he had a collision with the tug Medina and his line got under the bow of the steamer, capsizing the Pathfinder, whose fireman was drowned. His license, of which he then had sixteen issues, was revoked, as was also that of the master of the Medina; in a suit brought for damages judgment was rendered, on July 12, 1898, against the Medina. During the time Captain Brown's license was suspended he was engaged in wrecking with the tug Favorite. On October 7, 1897, he was again granted papers, and appointed master of the tug A.C. Adams, of the B.B. Inman line. In the spring of 1898 he brought out the tug Edward Fisk, sailing her until July 1, when he was transferred to the J.L. Williams, his present command.
In 1885 Captain Brown wedded Miss Jennie Palmer, daughter of George Palmer, of Cheboygan, Mich., and one son, James L., has been born to this union. They reside on Ninth avenue, Duluth, Minn. Socially, the Captain belongs to the Knights of Pythias.
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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.