Captain Edward Comerford
Captain Edward Comerford, who has been a resident of Chicago since 1852, a period of half a century, and widely known in marine circles, is a native of Ireland, born in 1835, in County Kilkenny. He is the son of Patrick and Margaret (Walsh) Comerford, also natives of the Emerald Isle, where the father died in 1844; the mother came to Chicago in 1852, and there passed away in 1876.
The Captain emigrated to this continent in 1847, by way of Quebec, Canada. Thence he proceeded to New York City, and has since been engaged in sailing, shipping first as cook, later as able seaman, on sailing vessels some six or seven years on the American coast.
In 1852 Captain Comerford came to Chicago and at once began his long and interesting career on the Great Lakes. His first vessel was the schooner George C. Drew, engaged in the lumber trade; sailing her for part of the season, he shipped on the topsail schooner Abia, Capt. Sam Wood, running between Chicago and Buffalo in the grain trade. He continued on Abia during the season of 1853, and that year the Abia brought to Chicago from Buffalo the pioneer locomotive named Rock River, which ran for many years afterward on the old Rock River Valley road. In 1854 he sailed the schooner Crescent, with Captain Atkinson, and the season of 1855 he joined the Henry Lansing, with Captain Curtis, and in 1856 was mate of the brig Belle, with Captain Atkinson, and was then mate on the Mark H. Sibley for about three years. The season of 1859 he was on the schooners Leader, Captain Monroe, Lady of the Lake, Captain Boyle, and John Martin, Capt. H.F. Allen. During the whole of the season of 1860 he was mate of the schooner Cascade, with Captain Cherry. In 1861 and 1862 he sailed the schooner Robert B. Campbell, and in 1863 was mate with Captain Atkinson on the schooner Northwest, then one of the fastest sailing crafts on the lakes.
In 1864 Captain Comerford, who had now sailed for twelve years on the lakes, bought an interest in the schooner H.L. Whitman. Sailing her for three years, he sold his interest to his partner, Frank Hutchinson, and bought an interest in the Yankee Blade. This vessel he sailed eleven years - 1867 to 1878, and then bought an interest in the schooner Danforth, which he sailed for four or five years, then selling his interest to F.L. Higgie. He stopped ashore for two years, during which time he had charge of the Vessel Owners Shipping Association at Chicago, and then he bought at Oswego the whole of the schooner Blazing Star, which he sailed one season, but lost her on Fisherman's Shoal, Lake Michigan. He then sailed the schooner Barbarian one year, and then bought the schooner Flying Cloud, and sailed her for four years, but lost her in Lake Michigan in the fall of 1892. He then retired from seafaring life, after a long and varied career.
In New York, in 1857, Capt. Edward Comerford was married to Miss Alice King, who died in Chicago in 1866. By this union there were two children, both yet living: Thomas D. and Edward J. In 1867, in Chicago, the Captain wedded Miss Margaret Brennan, and by her has had four children: Nellie, Margaret, James and Anna.
Captain Comerford may truly be said to be one of the pioneers of Chicago. In 1854 he built on Halsted street the family residence that is still standing. In 1876 he erected a good three-story building, also on Halsted street, containing living rooms up stairs, with a store room below, 20 x 44 feet in dimensions.
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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.