Captain Joseph Corcoran
Captain Joseph Corcoran, master of the steamer Mahoning, of the Anchor line for the season of 1897, was born in the west of Ireland in 1842. He was the second in a family of four children of James and Mary (Loftus) Corcoran, who were natives of the same part of that country, where they were engaged in farming. The Captain's two sisters are both living and married, one to James Cullen, the other to Michael Murray; they reside at Chicago. The brother Michael (commonly known as John), when last heard of, thirty years ago, was sailing.
When five years old Captain Corcoran was taken to Liverpool by his parents, and there received the ordinary amount of schooling accorded to the youth of those days. He began the first practical work of his life in a wholesale canvas house of that city, where he remained about a year, and then at the age of fourteen shipped as boy on the vessel St. Andrews, of St. Andrews, New Brunswick, running from Liverpool to Savannah, Ga., on which another year of his life was spent. He next went on a brig as ordinary seaman for four months, plying between Liverpool and St. Johns, New Brunswick. After a stay of about a year in the woods of New Brunswick, he commenced railroading on a road just being built from St. Johns to Miramichi, and was so employed about another year, when a desire to sail again seized him, and he shipped on a brig out of St. Johns, New Brunswick, to Bristol, England, for two months. Proceeding by rail from the latter place to Newport, he sailed thence as able seaman aboard the vessel Trade Wind, of St. Johns, New Brunswick, which carried a load of coal to Gibraltar, returning from there to St. Johns, New Brunswick, and then carrying timber to Liverpool, his service on this vessel covering a period of one year. From the last named port he shipped to Richibucto and Glasgow, then took passage to Liverpool, where he shipped in the American ship Progress, to New York, and he was then in the San Francisco clipper, Andrew Jackson, to St. Johns, New Brunswick, from there going on the Gilchrist, to London, and from Liverpool in a bark to Miramichi; then in the English government vessel Brian Boru, from there to Kingston and Bristol; to Constantinople; to Odessa, and back to Bristol. While on the latter voyage Captain Corcoran was relieved from his trick of duty at the wheel by another of the crew, who was killed almost instantly after relieving him, while in the Malta channel.
His salt-water experience after that was limited to a couple of years sailing from Liverpool to Bombay, and as quartermaster of the City of Cork, of the Inman line of steamers, for five months; after this, in 1865 or '66, he shipped in the Republic from New York to New Orleans, and while on this trip, when about seventy miles from Tiba light, she foundered, and thirty of her crew and passengers were lost together with a valuable cargo of specie and merchandise. Twenty-five others took to a raft, and, after days and nights of suffering from thirst and hunger, all but two went insane and died, while raving; of the two one died after reaching a hospital in Brooklyn. Seventeen, including Captain Corcoran, were picked up by the small boats and carried into Charleston, S.C., from where he proceeded to New York. He shipped as fireman on the Quaker City for the entire winter, in order to get enough money to buy wearing apparel, and in the spring went on the Moro Castle, New York to Havana, in the fruit trade, and the Ericsson, of the Pacific Mail line of steamers, to Aspinwall. He was afterward on a brig to foreign ports, for coffee, on which trip most of the crew were ill with fever and one died. Mr. Corcoran was compelled to again go into the hot hold and fire until reaching port at New York. Following this he sailed on several vessels before the mast from New Orleans to New York and Galveston, Texas, and about 1867 began service on the Great Lakes, starting out of Chicago on the schooner Columbia. He was on different boats for two years, being second mate of the Die Vernon when she went down, at Long Point; Lorance Dimick was her captain, and George L. Hogg, of Chicago, her mate. From that time until he became master he was on the R. H. Becker, Andrew Johnson, R. H. Blake, Annie Young (wheeling her two trips and acting as second mate for the balance of the latter season); was mate on the Arizona one season, and of the Annie Young another; second mate of the Japan one season; second and first mate one season of the Wissahickon; and mate of the Philadelphia one and a half seasons. He then attained to the position of master on the schooner Sherwood for one season, and the following one served in the same capacity on the Gordon Campbell. For five seasons he was captain of the Conemaugh, four of the Lycoming, seven of the Clarion, and two of the Mahoning, thus rounding out over twenty years of service with the Anchor line.
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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.