Captain Z. L. Wood
Captain Z.L. Wood is a pioneer and patriarch of Conneaut, Ohio, whose early life was passed as a lake mariner, from boy to master. Although he has reached the good old age of seventy-eight years none of his faculties have been noticeably impaired, and he bears himself with the deliberation and dignity of a man who has lived an upright life. Captain Wood was born October 25, 1820, son of Silas and Olive (Kennedy) Wood, of Connecticut and Vermont respectively, who were among the earliest settlers of Conneaut township. The Captain's wife, who is a daughter of William and Deborah (Thompson) Harper, is a remarkable woman and as cheerful a housewife as in her youthful days. They were united in marriage on January 1, 1845, and, celebrated their golden wedding on New Year's day, 1895, the happy event being attended by their children, grandchildren and friends for miles around. Both families, the Woods and Harpers, acquired large tracts of land in and about Conneaut, much of which is still retained by their descendants. Captain Wood and his wife are now enjoying the old homestead of the Harpers, on the east side of the Conneaut river at the harbor. Their children have all established themselves in homes of their own: William Silas, the eldest son, is carrying on a grocery business in Conneaut: Henry Z. is in the drug business in Forest, Ind.; Ida M. is the wife of Thomas Foran, a conductor on the Nickel Plate railroad, residing in Buffalo. There are five grandchildren.
Captain Wood began his career on the lakes away back in 1837, as cook in the scow Free Trader, which was wrecked and rebuilt the same year and renamed the Commercial. The next spring he shipped in the schooner William G. Buckner, with Capt. Jacob Imsen, as cook. In 1839 he advanced to the dignity of sailor before the mast in the Benjamin Barton, and changed into the schooners Joliet, H.H. Kenney and others until the spring of 1842, when he was appointed second mate of the schooner Benjamin Barton, later receiving promotion to first mate's berth, and finally taking command of her. In 1848 he joined the schooner Big Z, as mate, closing the season on the steamer Benjamin Franklin, as wheelsman and second mate, and the next spring he was appointed master of the schooner Albany, which he sailed two seasons. In the spring of 1846 Captain Wood brought out the brig Lucy A. Blossom, but after one round trip she was sold and he assumed command on the brig Saginaw, sailing on her the balance of the season. His next vessel was the schooner Stambach. She was caught by a gale off Conneaut and capsized, the mate, cook and one seaman drowning; the other members of the crew clung to her bottom until rescued. One of the number, who had never been known to perpetrate a joke, remarked that "this would be a good opportunity to caulk her bottom." In the spring of 1848 Captain Wood was appointed master of the schooner Harriet Ross, following with a season in the brig Sultana, which hailed from Chicago. In 1850 he joined the schooner Grand Turk, which nine years later went down to the sea on a voyage from Detroit to Hamburg with a cargo of ship plank. Captain Wood says she also made a voyage to Constantinople. After sailing various vessels the Captain purchased the scow Times, which he commanded, and in the spring of 1870 he bought the schooner John Fretter, which he sold after sailing her with good results for four seasons, retiring to the ease and comfort of farm life. He is now occupied for the most part in looking after his real estate. It is safe to say that he and his good wife enjoy life as fully as the youngest mariners, with a comfortable competency and the consciousness that their work has been well done.
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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.