Captain Thomas Wilkins
Captain Thomas Wilkins was born in Wales, and went to sea as a boy. At the age of fourteen he, with one other lad, deserted their ship, then lying at Quebec. They were captured and given the choice of going back on board their ship or joining the English navy, which country was then at war with the United States. Their brutal treatment by the mate of their former ship made them take up arms for the cause of England.
Peace was soon after declared and he remained in this country, locating near Niagara Falls, and later making his home at Erie, Penn. He sailed the lakes in the early days, and commanded some of the best sail vessels of that time. The night his oldest son (Captain Ben) was born, he lay under Frying Pan island (Detair) weathering out a southeast gale. That will give a rough idea of the size of the lake craft at those early days, about seventy-five years ago, for Frying Pan island is no larger than an ordinary city lot.
When he left the lakes he bought a farm on the south side of Erie, afterward taken into the city. He was appointed collector of the port, and served in that capacity several years, or until his death in 1870.
He had two children by his first wife: Capt. Ben and Mrs. Jane Burton; and two children by his second wife: George and Mrs. Anna Sterrett. He left his second wife and all his children to mourn his loss, but all have since passed away.
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.