James Cotter, the oldest of two sons of James and Ann (Mahany) Cotter, of Ireland, who emigrated to this country in the year 1857, and settled at Buffalo, was born at Cape Clear, County Cork, Ireland, on November 1, 1856, and when but a year old his parents left him in the care of an aunt, while they came to this country to make a home. When nine years old he came over to meet his parents, and then attended public schools No. 4 and No. 34, at Buffalo, which was the first schooling he had. After six years of study, or when sixteen years of age, he began sailing as boy on the William Vanatta, for one season, and the next two seasons was decking and firing on the tug Jason Parker, of which he was engineer during the season of 1872, taking her to and laying her up at Charlotte. Next season he sailed the Robert J. Cooper, which at the close of the season was sold, and taken by him to Montreal. In 1874 he brought out new the Oscar Folsom, which he later took to Toledo and laid up, then came back and finished the season in the Jason Parker. The season of 1875, he started in the employ of Bennett & Barry, of Rochester, as engineer of their passenger boat Wilcox, remaining on her throughout the season, and the next brought out new the excursion steamer Charlotte and ran her for the same company, then on the City of Rochester for them the following season. In 1878-79-80 he was engineer of E. K. Hart's (the Albion banker) pleasure yacht Loraine, and the five succeeding seasons on the tug George D. Gillson, after which he was on the Oneida three seasons, and John S. Heath one season. In August, 1895, he brought out new the James Kennedy, which he ran during the seasons of 1896 and 1897. During the interval preceding the advent of the Kennedy he was on several sailing vessels, among them the George D. Ruffen and General Worth.
Mr. Cotter's father was a lifelong sailor, and died in 1892, and his brother, also deceased, followed the life of a sailor, and the fact that he has twenty-three issues of papers, is proof enough that the love of sailing is hereditary. The family residence is at No. 68 Sandusky street, Buffalo, New York.
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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.