Wilson De Hart
Wilson De Hart is an experienced engineer on river steamers, especially on passenger boats. He was born on a farm near Patriot, Ind., and is a son of Simon and Mary (Graham) De Hart. His father was a farmer and stock dealer. Our subject had seven brothers and three sisters, and attended the district schools until he reached his eighteenth year. He then went to Cincinnati to learn the machinist's trade, entering the employ of the Lane & Bentley Co., on Water street, but owing to ill health he remained with that firm but eighteen months.
Mr. De Hart then shipped on the ferry boat Kenton, plying between Cincinatti and Covington, Ky., as striker, holding that berth about fifteen months. He then joined the side-wheel passenger steamer Bonanza as cub engineer, and after three weeks was advanced to the position of assistant engineer and learned to handle. In 1882 he shipped as striker on the side-wheel passenger steamer City of Madison, running between Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky. His next boat was the Andy Baum, a side-wheel passenger steamer, plying between Cincinnati and Memphis. That spring while she was lying at the foot of Price's Hill, in the west end of Cincinnati, a flood left her on the river bank about fifteen feet above the water. A second flood, which occurred three weeks later, raised her off the bank and she floated as well as if she had never been out of water.
In the spring of 1884 Mr. De Hart joined the side-wheel steamer Ben Franklin, plying between Cincinnati and Louisville, remaining on her six months, when the boat was condemned by the inspectors and laid up. He then visited his home in Patriot, and while engaged in repairing a traction engine of a threshing machine fractured one of his legs, disabling him for about two years. On returning to Cincinnati he shipped on the passenger steamer Fleetwood, and after five months took out his second engineer's license at Louisville. He left his boat at that place and returned to Cincinnati and took the position of second engineer on the steamer J. C. Kerr, plying between Marysville, Ky., and Cincinnati. In the spring of 1887 he transferred to the J. H. Hillman as second engineer. He then joined the Henry De Bus, a towboat running between Cincinnati and New Orleans, and after three months he changed to the passenger steamer Scotia, plying between Cincinnati and Pittsburg. His next boat was the General Pike, on which he remained four months. He then took out a stationary engineer's license and stopped ashore.
In July, 1888, Mr. De Hart went to Toledo, Ohio, and was appointed second engineer of the side-wheel pleasure steamer Pastime, plying between Toledo and Perrysburg, Ohio. At the close of the pleasure season he returned to Cincinnati and joined the passenger steamer Golden Rule, running between that city and New Orleans. After making one round trip on her, she burned at the wharf in Cincinnati. Six lives were lost and all of the effects of the crew. He then shipped on the City of Madison, but after a short time he stopped ashore and put up an asphalt plant on Water street for the Trinidad Asphalt Company, and engineered that until the spring of 1892, when he returned to Toledo and was again engaged as chief engineer of the steamer Pastime. In the fall he again went to his home on the Ohio river and took charge of a heating apparatus in the Frank building. The next five years were passed between Toledo and Cincinnati-in 1892 as chief of the Pastime, and in charge of the heating apparatus in Cincinnati; 1893 as chief of the Pastime and second on the steamer Crown Hill, on the Ohio river; 1894, chief of the Pastime on the Maumee.
His next boat was the stern-wheel steamer Longfellow, and when making his third trip in her she struck the Chesapeake & Ohio railroad bridge, broke in two, and sunk in five minutes. Ten lives were lost in this disaster, including Captain Carter, who had sailed the boat seventeen years, but had just been superseded and was acting as clerk. Mr. De Hart then shipped on the steamer John K. Speed, and in May returned to the Toledo as chief of the Pastime. At the close of the pleasure season he removed to Belleview, Ohio, and ran a harbor boat of that name, after which he transferred to the F. J. O'Connell and Henry De Bus, respectively. In 1896, after the usual season on the Pastime he returned to the Ohio and was made chief engineer of the harbor steamer John Mackey. In 1897 he was again employed as chief engineer of the popular pleasure steamer Pastime. He is a member of the Stationary Engineers Association at Cincinnati.
Mr. De Hart was united in marriage with Miss Bertha Miller, of Toledo, Ohio, in 1893. The family residence is at No. 912 Gest street, Cincinnati, but during the time Mr. De Hart is on the Pastime they reside at No. 214 Oak street, Toledo.
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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.