Captain Michael Carr
Captain Michael Carr, a man well known about the harbor of Buffalo for many years and on the lakes as well, was born in County Monaghan, Ireland, December 25, 1844. He was brought to this country by his parents when he was about six months old and received a common-school education in Public School No. 3, at Buffalo. His father, John Carr, was for many years teamster for H. W. Hager & Co. His mother's name was Bridget Clark.
Captain Carr began his practical life very early, becoming a ferry boy on Buffalo creek at the age of ten years. His next employment was a cook on the schooner Post Boy, on which he remained three months in 1855, and was before the mast on the schooner J. W. Lyon for the rest of the season. In 1856 he went to New York where she shipped as royal boy, and later as seaman on the packet ship Shamon, which hailed from Bath, Maine. She belonged to the Black Ball line, from New York to Liverpool, and carried passengers. After a year in this service he shipped as ordinary seaman on the Old England, from Liverpool to New Orleans, and went as pilot on the steamboat Elephant, which plied the Mississippi from New Orleans to St. Louis. At the end of three months he left that employ, transferring to the Unicorn, which ran between New Orleans and Cincinnati, and was her pilot for three months, at the end of that time returning to Buffalo. In 1859 he shipped before the mast on the bark Morgan, remaining on her three seasons, the last one, however, as second mate. In 1862 he became master of the schooner Henry Norton, out of Sheboygan, Wis., in the lumber trade between Green Bay and Chicago, and was with her two seasons. She was the only standing keel boat on the lakes at that time.
In 1864 Captain Carr returned to Buffalo and became master of the harbor tug O. L. Swift, continuing on her three seasons, and was part owner as well as master. During the latter part of the season of 1867 (November 22), the Swift was lost a few miles out of Buffalo harbor in a heavy gale; she left Buffalo about seven o'clock in the evening, and when about six miles out, off Windmill Point, the tug sprang a leak in her stern pipe; about two o'clock in the morning of the succeeding day she filled and went down. Before she sank, however, Captain Carr and the crew, realizing the inevitable consequence then in prospect, tore loose the roof of the pilot house and some doors and made a raft. Upon this improvised life boat they jumped and with wind and sea to propel them drifted to the Niagara river, passing the dummy light about four o'clock. As they found themselves carried along by the current of the river they made an outcry, which was fortunately heard by Daniel Mahanny and John Moore of the car ferry boat International, who put out from the shore in a small boat and succeeded in rescuing them and landing them on the Canadian shore. The proprietor of the American hotel at Victoria was roused, and the men were all made comfortable until such a time as they were able to travel, when they left, and made their way to Buffalo to report the loss of their tug at the office. Captain Carr has always been known as a man who does not use liquor of any description, and even on this occasion when he arrived at the hotel above mentioned, after being in the cold and wet for many hours, he declined the whiskey freely offered, going out into the snow, which was two feet deep, and running backward and forward to get warm rather than use whisky for that purpose. The cook of the Swift, Hugh Moore by name, some time afterward composed a song entitled, "The Loss of the O. L. Swift."
In 1868 Captain Carr bought the schooner Chisholm, and was her master for a period of three years. She was lost on November 30, 1871, off Iron Bound Coast, seventeen miles east of Erie, Penn. The accident happened on the mate's watch and while the master was asleep. She mis-stayed when too close to shore, went on the rocks, and was in pieces in three days. In 1872 Captain Carr made another purchase, this time buying the schooner H. D. Root, of which he was master and owner one season, selling her at the end. The next season he was master of Buffalo harbor tugs. In 1874 he bought the schooner Almeda, plying between Buffalo and Chicago, and was her master and owner for three years, at the end of which time he sold her also. In 1875 Captain Carr became master of the Charles C. Ryan, a propeller, which during the latter part of the season, while on Lake Huron with two vessels in tow, loaded with ice, on her way to Buffalo, sprang a leak. The master let go his tug line and started for Sand Beach, hoping to reach shallow water and run her aground, but at eleven o'clock in the evening she had ten feet of water in her hold and soon after went down. The mate, who insisted on taking his chances on an impromptu lifeboat made out of the cupola of the steam dome, was not seen or heard of after the steamer sank; but the crew, who took the regular lifeboat on the advice of the captain, were picked up after a fatiguing cruise of three days, without food, by Captain Mahoney, then sailing a Canadian schooner, and subsequently reached Buffalo from Port Huron. Captain Mahoney was afterward rewarded by the United States Government with a handsome two-hundred-and-fifty-dollar gold watch for meritorious services in this, and one previous instance, where he had rescued American sailors from drowning.
During the season of 1876 Captain Carr was employed about six weeks carrying out his contract for getting the schooner Gardner off Rose's Reef, Canada, and from that time has been engaged in business on shore. In addition to the services above narrated, Captain Carr served as wheelsman on the old steamer Globe, deck hand on the Dewitt Clinton, wheelsman on the Plymouth, second mate of the Plymouth and wheelsman on the propeller Scotia each a season, watchman on the side-wheel steamer Fashion half a season, and master of the schooner Fair Play on Lake Michigan two seasons. The last named vessel was sold at New Orleans. He also built the following steamyachts: Two Brothers, which was sold to the city authorities of New Orleans as police patrol; Edward B. Smith, which was taken to and sold on the Ohio river; and the Eugene A. Galvin (named from the son of Capt. Michael J. Galvin, supervising inspector for the Ninth District of Buffalo), which he took to and sold at Houston, Texas. He also built the barge Point Abner, and was her master two seasons. He was also made master of the side-wheel steamer Harrison a couple of seasons, the Pearl one season, and the old steamer Gazelle, formerly owned by John P. Clark, of Detroit, part of a season. He is not steadily engaged in business at present, but will occasionally accept a good paying diving job. Captain Carr was a charter member of the Buffalo Harbor Tug Pilots Association.
On February, 18, 1858, our subject was married at Buffalo, and is the father of four children: Peter S., now (1898) aged thirty-seven years; Elizabeth, aged thirty-five, who is the wife of John Hartnett, a clerk in the commission house of J. J. White; Edward, thirty-two years of age, at present master of the State tug Queen City; and William F., aged twenty-three years. P. J. CARR
P.J. Carr, engineer of the M. C. Neff, was born in New York City, July 17, 1852, and there lived until he was six years of age. At that time he removed to a farm in Steuben County, N. Y., where he lived for eight years, at the end of that period entering the salt works of Syracuse, N. Y., working for four years in the cooper department there.
The following two years he spent on the City of Canandaigua, as wheelsman, running on Canandaigua Lake. In this position he obtained his first marine experience, and he commenced his life on the Great Lakes as fireman on the Olean. After a season on the water he went to the West and there spent five years, upon his return shipping from Cleveland as fireman on the Samson. He then spent two years on the Robert Wallace as fireman, and two years as second engineer, afterward serving as second on the J. C. Lockwood and H. A. Tuttle. The season of 1892 he sailed as chief of the Margaret Olwill, and the two seasons following was in the same capacity on the Superior. In 1896 he spent some time on the tug Howard, and then came to the M. C. Neff, in which he holds the position of chief engineer.
On March 18, 1890, Mr. Carr was married to Miss Annie Vatarick, of Cleveland, and they have two children: Bessie and Bertha. In social connection Mr. Carr is a member of the I. O. O. F., Phoenix Lodge No. 233, and North Wing Encampment, No. 88, of Pearl Council, No. 573, Royal Arcanum, and of the M. E. B. A., of which he has been secretary three years.
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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.