Charles H. Wilcox
Charles H. Wilcox, one of the most prominent marine engineers of Milwaukee, and who has sailed the lakes for thirty-two years in different capacities, was born in Buffalo, N.Y., September 8, 1851, a son of Don C. and Nancy (Ramsey) Wilcox, who were natives of New York State.
The father was one of the most efficient stewards during the days of the elegant passenger steamers Western World, Plymouth Rock, and St. Lawrence, and officiated in that capacity of those steamers and on many others. He went to Milwaukee about 1861 as steward on the old side-wheel steamer Milwaukee, then plying in connection with the Detroit and Milwaukee Railroad Company. He was also a trusted express messenger on the Buffalo & Erie, Cleveland & Erie, and the Philadelphia & Erie railroads, and traveled many a time by a stage before railroads were built. He was killed in a railroad accident.
Charles H. Wilcox attended the old No. 14 School at Buffalo, until thirteen years of age, when he shipped as cabin boy on the steamer Winona, then plying in connection with the New York Central railroad, retaining that berth two seasons. His next berth as cabin boy was on the steamer Sheboygan, of the Goodrich line, when she came out in 1869. He then entered the employ of the Ingleman Transportation Company as fireman on the steamer Messenger, after which he transferred to the Ironsides, and was with her when she was wrecked, and twenty-three lives were lost; out of the engineer's crew of eight Mr. Wilcox, oiler, George Cowan, first engineer, and one fireman were all that were saved. After the loss of the Ironsides, he shipped on the propeller Bertchy as oiler, and was with her when she went on North Point, near Milwaukee. After receiving his first license as engineer, he was appointed second engineer on the steamer Manistee, plying between Duluth and Marquette, which berth he held for two seasons. It was on this boat that he had previously filled the position of oiler, and was on her when she was locked in the ice in Lake Michigan for sixty-four days, and suffered severely from the extreme cold, and from lack of food. He was on the side-wheel City of Toledo when she went on the beach at Manistee. He then went to Milwaukee and engaged in tugging out of that port, first with the Independent Tug line as engineer of the F.C. Maxon for two seasons, followed by four seasons on the tug Hagerman, of the Milwaukee Tug Boat Company, and in 1881 he brought out new the tug W.H. Wolf, running her five seasons in Chicago harbor, after which he again engineered the tug Hagerman three seasons.
In the spring of 1889 Mr. Wilcox was appointed chief engineer of the Goodrich steamer Menominee. That winter he entered the employ of the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad Company as chief engineer of the F. & P.M. No. 2, and remained with that company until September, 1895, during which time he was chief of No. 2, and No. 5, respectively. The next year he was appointed chief engineer of the Ann Arbor car ferry steamer No. 2, plying between Frankfort, Menominee, Kewaunee and Gladstone, on which he remained until February, 1896, when he was appointed chief engineer of the steamer Frank L. Vance, remaining on her two seasons. In the spring of 1898 Mr. Wilcox was appointed chief of the steamer Fred Pabst, holding that office until he received the appointment he now holds, that of chief engineer of elevator E., owned by the Milwaukee Elevator Company.
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.