Willis Brown was born October 5, 1866, at Cherry Valley, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, and attended the district schools until he reached the age of seventeen years. He then went to work in a cheese factory in his native town, where he remained two years, acquiring a good idea of this business, and then proceeding to Linesville, Crawford Co., Penn., engaged in the same occupation for the next two years. At the end of this time he began to work on a farm, and followed the life of a farmer for three years. In the fall of 1887 he went to Cleveland and entered the employ of S. Kennard & Sons, shoe manufacturers, with whom he remained two and a half years.
In the spring of 1890 Mr. Brown commenced his career as a sailor by shipping on the tug Chamberlin, of the Vessel Owners Towing line, as fireman, and he has since fired on almost every tug owned by that line. In 1893 he received his license as engineer, and was appointed engineer on the tug C.E. Curtiss in the spring, finishing the season on the Allie May, and the next season returning to the Curtiss. In 1896 he brought out the tug Tom Maytham, but was transferred to the tug Chris Grover on November 1, finishing the season on her.
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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.