Captain W. E. Clarke
Captain W.E. Clarke, a son of Capt. George H. and Katherine (Cronyn) Clarke, was born August 31, 1861, in Buffalo, N. Y., in which place he obtained his education in the common schools. His mother died in that city in 1883. His father has sailed the Great Lakes for many years in various capacities, and previously was on salt water, having sailed substantially all over the world. The Captain has really been a sailor since he was three weeks old, for at that early age he accompanied his mother on one of the annual voyages which she was accustomed to take with her husband. However, he did not begin serving in responsible positions until 1875, when he shipped as boy on the schooner Erastus Corning, and he remained on that boat until 1881, being gradually promoted as his merits deserved and opportunity offered until he became mate. For a month during the next season he was second mate of the Tacoma, but he finished as mate on the Corning. In 1883 he was mate on the schooner Champion and the following season second mate and mate of the schooner James D. Sawyer. In 1885 he was mate of the steambarge Susan B. Chipman, and the following two years of the Russia, the river tug Brockway and the steambarge Joys. In 1888 he was mate of the steambarge Robert Mills. In 1889 Captain Clarke was made master of the steambarge Susan E. Peck, and continued as such until the close of the season of 1890. On the 10th of October, of that year, she made herself famous by blocking the channel of the Sault Ste. Marie river at Lake George Flats, after having collided with the barge George W. Adams, consort of the steamer Aurora, at that point. The Peck was bound down with 60,000 bushels of wheat, and after the vessels came in together she swung across the channel, thereby obstructing navigation until she could be lightened off, which occupied about a week, no vessels being able to pass in the meantime. The effect of this blockade was to cause almost complete suspension of traffic to and from Lake Superior for the time. Freight had to be sent by rail to Lake Michigan ports; Duluth was blockaded with grain, ore docks had to be shut down; and the reaction when the wreck was removed was so great that freight rates were higher than ever before or since. On wheat alone, they were over ten cents per bushel from Duluth. The following season Captain Clarke was mate of the steambarge Robert Mills, and since 1894 he has been master of the steamer Saginaw Valley.
Captain Clarke was married, in 1884, to Miss Mary Bonner, by whom he had three children, one still living - Eugene. Mrs. Clarke dying in 1890, the Captain was again married in 1891, his second union being with Miss Mary Bagen. They reside at No. 211 Southhampton street, Buffalo.
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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.