Captain W. E. Comer
Captain W.E. Comer was born October 4, 1837, at Rochester, N.Y., and there lived until he was two years of age when he went to Buffalo, from whence he went to Detroit, which is his residence at the present time. At the age of fourteen years he shipped out of Detroit on the steamer Wisconsin, under the command of Harry Whitacre. Upon this boat he acted as decksweep one season, and then acted as cabin boy on the Julius D. Morton, running from Buffalo to Green Bay; and the Caspian, running between Buffalo and Cleveland. He then returned to Detroit and entered a printer's shop where he stayed about nine months, after which he began sailing again, and shipped on the Pacific, running between Detroit and Cleveland. Upon this boat he acted as second porter and with the rest of the crew was transferred to the London. The machinery of this boat was then put in the Forester at Marine City and the following spring he shipped on the Arctic. The crew of this boat was transferred to the E.K. Collins, which was brought to the route between Cleveland and Sioux river, and burned at the mouth of the Detroit river October 8, 1854. Captain Comer spent the rest of the fall on the Buckeye State, running in the same route, and the next spring did not go out early but later in the season shipped as porter on the Planet. In 1856 he acted as wheelsman on the Arrow and spent the three years following in the same position. After three years spent on the Forester as wheelsman, he acted as second mate two years on the same boat. After acting as second mate on the Planet, and a short time spent on the Huron he was given command of the Susan Ward, which he held five years, running between Saginaw and Cleveland. He then commanded the Neptune, Marine City, W.R. Clinton, Serwood, Eighth Ohio, and returned to the Marine City. On this boat he remained five years, until she burned on Lake Huron August 29, 1880. For his brave acts and timely service at this time he was presented with a gold watch by his friends and members of his crew. The same fall he went on the Flora and there remained six seasons, after which he spent one year on the steambarge Mackinac. After leaving this boat he sailed the steambarge Messenger, afterward the Metropolis about a month, then transferred to the Darius Cole. Captain Comer has had a long and eventful experience in sailing and is held as an invaluable man by his employers.
February 13, 1863, he was married to Miss Mary A. Davis, of Detroit. They have eight children: Robert E., who is a motorman in Detroit; William F., who has been a sailor; John F., who acted as second mate on the Yale during the season of 1896; Mary M., who resides at home with her parents; George J., who is a motorman; Walter C., who is a graduate from Detroit public schools; and Blanche J. and Joseph A., who are attending school at the present time.
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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.