Captain Thomas Collins
Captain Collins belongs to a race of seamen. His father, Henry Collins, was a prominent shipbuilder in England, nearly all of whose sons followed the water, and Captain Collins' sons also all became identified with the merchant marine of the Great Lakes.
Captain Collins was born in the North of England in 1813. When he was twelve years of age his parents removed to the United States, and settled in Oswego, N.Y. They removed to Sacket's Harbor later, and afterward to Clayton, N.Y., where they ended their days. The elder Collins continued to engage in the building of ships, and many are the crafts of the earlier days that were turned out from his shipyards.
The Captain early took to the water. He was about sixteen years of age when he began sailing, and it was his custom for many years to sail during the summer and work in his father's establishment during the winter. At the age of twenty he had progressed sufficiently in the art of shipbuilding to be entrusted with the work of constructing a vessel alone, and a year later he was placed in command of the same craft. From that time forward he early commanded vessels. The first load of stone used in the construction of the Chicago pier was carried into that port, in 1839, in the schooner Henry Craveland, of which he was master. Four years later he sailed the first passenger steamer plying between the points of Montreal and Coburg, and two years after this he sailed the steamer Western between Montreal and Toronto. In 1850 he was master of the steamer plying between Garden Island and Montreal, and in 1852 he built the steamer Water Witch, to ply between Chicago and Ogdensburg. From 1858 to 1860 he commanded the steamer Northerner, between Lewiston and Ogdensburg, this being the first express boat on this route. Captain Collins sailed for five years the steamer Island Belle, the first regular passenger boat to the Thousand Islands. She ran from Cape Vincent to Alexandria Bay. Captain Collins also built and sailed the Atlanta, and he was known in every port on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence river between Chicago and Montreal.
He married Miss Mary Oades, sister of John Oades, shipbuilder, of Detroit, and this union was blessed with seven children (five of whom are yet living). These were George, who became a vessel master, and died in 1885; Thomas H., a ship-carpenter, who lived in Clayton, N.Y.; William, a ship-carpenter in Cleveland; Nicholas, a ship-carpenter in Detroit, and Simon J., of Cleveland, who is head carpenter of the Cleveland & Buffalo Transit Company.
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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.