Captain Erastus Day
Captain Erastus Day, the genial founder and superintendent of all of the docks in Conneaut, Ohio, has perhaps more appreciative friends and acquaintances than any other man on the lakes. Whoever has had the pleasure of meeting this courteous gentle- man, valiant captain and obliging superintendent, desires to be thought well of by him because he is a man. He is true and sincere, and has a pleasant word for everybody.
In the way of genealogy, the Captain is a descendant of an old Vermont family by both branches of the ancestral tree. His paternal grandvather was Nathaniel Day, a heavy dealer in lumber for shipment to Europe. He had a family of six sons and one daughter. On the maternal side was grandfather Alvin Simons, who was blessed with a good old-fashioned American family of twelve children. Both families removed to Ogdensburg, N.Y., where Samuel Day and Perseus Simons grew up together and were married, and they were the parents of Erastus Day, the subject of this article, who was born in Ogdensburg in 1831. He received his public-school education in that city. His father, Samuel Day, was an accomplished steamboat master, and sailed the William IV, which was a novel craft, carrying four smokestacks, one more than the great steamer North Land can boast of. He also commanded the passenger steamer Transit, which, when the passenger trade did not pay, towed vessels and logs. The old steamer Traveler was another of Captain Day's boats. She was a side-wheeler, and had two walking beams. He sailed her two seasons, after which he retired, removed to Michigan and located thirty miles north of Detroit, where he died. His widow some time after went to live with her son Erastus in Cleveland until 1896, when she passed to a better world.
Captain Erastus Day was quite young when he commenced to make his individual way in the world, as he shipped as cook on the schooner H.M. Kinney, in 1844, with Captain Davidson, and in 1845 he occupied a like berth on the schooner John E. Hunt, with Capt. Wm. F. Simons. The next season he shipped as seaman with Capt. D. Sweetland, on the schooner Josephine, passing the next two years on the schooner Rip Van Winkle as seaman, and the third season he was promoted to the berth of second mate of that schooner. In the spring of 1850, he was appointed mate of the schooner Lavina, retaining that position three seasons, when he assumed command of her. Thus by close attention to his duties which he has since shown in his business life, the Captain in nine years rose from the humble position of cook to that of master of a big boat, which carried all the way to 9,000 bushels of wheat. In those days grain was transshipped from canal-boats to vessels in buckets which were passed from hand to hand along a line of men, and weighed in a hopper aboard the vessel.
In the spring of 1854 Captain Day was appointed to the command of the three-masted schooner W.F. Allen, which had a capacity of 14,000 bushels of grain. The next two seasons he sailed the fore-and-aft schooner Marquette, of equal tonnage. >From 1857 to 1859, inclusive, he had command of the speedy and handsome schooner Cascade, and in 1860 and 1861 the stanch bark B.A. Stanard, a monster capable of carrying 28,000 bushels. There was but one larger vessel on the lakes. In the spring of 1862 he again became master of the Cascade, and paced her decks for three seasons. Having acquired a neat little sum of money, the Captain then purchased the Mayflower, not the historic ship that so many of the American citizens of to-day had ancestors on, but a much better craft, with a carrying capacity of 10,000 bushels. He sold the Mayflower in the fall, retired from active business life on shipboard and entered into business affairs in Cleveland. He took immediate charge of the ore docks of A.B. Stockwell, remaining with him two years. He then leased some dock room and went into the dock and commission business, which he conducted successfully for fifteen consecutive years. In 1872 he was appointed superintendent of the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio ore docks in Cleveland, in addition to his individual business, managing both until 1892, when he left Cleveland to inaugurate the building up of the great monument of his life, the construction of the fine system of docks at Conneaut harbor. How he has succeeded in that enterprise is known from one end of the chain lakes to the other, and has made the port of Conneaut popular to all lake men. The fathers of the harbor have named a street in honor of Captain Day.
Captain Day has an inventive mind, and it was his inception that has produced the present system of hoisting and conveying machinery, now in use of all docks, for the handling of ore. The Captain has also simplified the handling of railroad rails by the invention of a hoist for that purpose. By the old system but one rail could be raised at a time, but by this device the number of rails is only limited by the power of the whirley to which it is attached, holding them until they are easily and speedily placed in the hold of a vessel, seven rails being the number first experimented with, the appliance working to perfection. The Captain is also the discoverer of the tug Erastus Day, which bears his name.
Capt. Erastus Day was wedded to Miss Sarah M., daughter of Benjamin Kenyon, of Theresa, Jefferson Co., N.Y., the ceremony being performed in 1854, after which they went aboard the schooner W.F. Allen for a round wedding trip. The children born to this happy union are Charles, now a foreman in the docks at Conneaut; Edward, who occupies a like position; Lula, the wife of G.C. Shepard, of Medina, now a mechanical engineer at Cramp's shipyard; Lillian, the wife of T.R. Gillmore, of Lorain, Ohio (a nephew of Gen. Q.A. Gillmore), now superintendent of docks at Huron, Ohio. The family homestead is handsomely situated on Hilliard avenue, Lakewood, Cleveland, Ohio. Socially, the Captain is a thirty-second-degree Mason, which comprises Bigelow Lodge, Webb Chapter, Cleveland Council, Holywood Commandery and Al-Koran Temple.
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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.