Captain Willis E. Chilson
Captain Willis E. Chilson, although young in years, has come rapidly to the front, and is now in command of one of the large cargo carriers. He was born in Painesville, Ohio, October 7, 1865, and on both paternal and maternal sides descends from a line of com- petent master mariners.
Captain Chilson is a son of Charles E. and Julia (Lamar) Chilson. His father was also a native of Painesville, having been born there on September 9, 1843, and commenced sailing when he was but nine years old. From boy and man before the mast he became master and owner, and in 1866 he was placed in charge of the schooner H.A. Lamar. He then purchased the managing interest in the schooners C.H. Burton, Columbia, Selkirk, General Franz Sigel, Itasca, Erastus Corning (which went ashore on Poverty Island), the I.M. Foster and the Conrad Reed, and built the steamer Hubbell, but sold out his interest before she was launched; also owned in tug Relief, all of which he sailed at various times, and his son Willis E. being interested with him in many of his vessels. During the season of 1898 Capt. Charles E. Chilson took the schooner Verona, chartered by the Canada Atlantic company, to the coast for Capt. J.C. Gilchrist, and passed the winter in Nova Scotia. The brothers of Capt. Charles E. Chilson were William, who died in October 1893; Capt. D.E. Chilson, who is sailing the steamer Margaret, and James, who has also sailed. Mrs. Chilson's father, Capt. H.A. Lamar, who [is] also an extensive owner of vessels and sailed out of Chicago for many years; he was pilot of the notable steamer Western World and other side-wheelers in early days trading between Buffalo, N.Y., and Monroe, Mich. He was also keeper of the lightships at Waugoschance for many years, and was mate of several of the steamers of the Evans line of Buffalo. Later he became wrecking master for insurance companies, the Griffith, which was stranded off Euclid, being one of his best jobs. He was born in July, 1814, and died at Fairport, on May 15, 1897. His daughter Julia has a good practical knowledge of the uses of the compass, charts and lake lights, having sailed with both her father and her husband.
Captain Willis E. Chilson, after receiving a liberal public-school education in Lorain, commenced sailing in 1879 with his father as boy on the schooner H.D. Root, and two years later he transferred to the Conrad Reed in the same capacity. During the year 1882, his father having purchased a lime kiln at Lorain, he stopped ashore and assisted in running it; but the next spring he shipped as wheelsman on the tug Relief, and remained with her until July 11, 1884, when she was destroyed by fire at the passage on Lake Erie. The crew jumped overboard, and were rescued by the tug Col. Davis. Captain Chilson then shipped before the mast on the schooner I.N. Foster. In the spring of 1885- 86 he was appointed mate of the schooner General Franz Sigel, his father being master and owner, and in 1887 he took command of the schooner Selkirk. This was followed by a season as master of the General Franz Sigel, and three seasons as master of the Itasca. He then sailed the schooner Ed. Kelly one season.
In the spring of 1893 Captain Chilson was appointed master of the steamer A.L. Hopkins, and sailed her until the middle of the season of 1898, when he entered the employ of the Minnesota Steamship Company as second mate of the steamer Marina, closing the year as mate of the steamer Mariska. In the spring of 1899 he will bring out the large barge Manda.
Socially the Captain is a Master Mason of Lorain Lodge No. 52; a member of the Black River Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and of the Ship Masters Association, carrying Pennant No. 1005. His father is also a Master Mason, and a member of the Maccabees. Capt. Willis E. Chilson resides with his parents in their handsome homestead, No. 1317 East Erie street, Lorain, Ohio.
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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.