Captain Egbert Doville
Captain Egbert Doville, now a prominent citizen of Toledo, Ohio, and at the head of the Toledo and Lake Erie Sand Company, was an old-time captain of sailing craft on the lakes. He was born at Sodus Point, Wayne Co., N.Y., November 23, 1836. He is a son of Henry and Mary Lucille Doville, and his brothers are Henry, Joseph, Charles, Frederick and Eugene, all lake captains except Eugene, who was drowned while on the Charger, on Lake Erie. His father was a well-known shipbuilder at Sodus Point and other ports. Young Egbert, the subject of this sketch, attended the public schools of his native town until he reached the age of fifteen years.
In the summer of 1849 he sailed on a pleasure trip on the schooner Isabella with his father, which, apparently settled his career in after life, for he is found in the spring as boy on the lighthouse tender, a little schooner called Enterprise, with Capt. Horace Morley, and the following year in the schooner Hornet; also as cook in the schooner J.E. Rogers. He left her on account of ague. He soon recovered, and shipped on the schooner Henry Doville, Captain Petit, which went to Toledo after a load of staves for Oswego, but after this trip he again took his berth on the schooner J.E. Rogers, with Captain Bates. In 1852 he joined the schooner Free Trader, Capt. William Morley and the following season he shipped as cook on the propeller Oswego, of the Doolittle line. It is evident that Captain Doville was not a conspicuous success as a cook, for he soon shipped with Capt. George Stone on the schooner New Haven till August, then on the bark Sturgis till September, closing the season on the brig Clark, with Capt. Wiley M. Eagan. That winter he went to Oswego and attended the academy. In the spring of 1854 he shipped on the schooner Gazelle, closing the season on the schooner Enterprise, then engaged on the light- house tender contract.
In the spring of 1855 Captain Doville purchased a half-interest in the schooner Charles Walton, a thousand-bushel vessel, which he sailed in the fruit trade, buying fruit along the south shore ports on Lake Ontario and taking it to Kingston for sale, which proved fairly remunerative. He sold his interest in the vessel in 1856, and went to work in the shipyard with his father, as he had done prior to his sailor life, keeping the time of the men, and also keeping the books. The schooner A.A. Cornwall was being built by his father at this time, and on her completion he shipped as second mate on the brig Roscius; while making the harbor at Chicago in the fall gale she passed a fleet of about sixty vessels flying distress signals, but being lumber laden, the Roscius passed over the bar and entered the river in safety. In 1857 he again went into the shipyard to help his father build the schooner Catchpole, which when completed his brother Henry sailed and our subject went as mate. The next year the brothers bought the interest the father owned, and he held the same berth, but later sold his interest to his brother and went as second mate of the Henry B. Mussey. In the spring of 1859 he shipped before the mast with Capt. Frank Morley, on the schooner B.R. Loomis, closing the season as mate of the schooner Winslow, and in 1860 he went as mate of the B.R. Loomis for the season.
In the spring of 1861 Captain Doville was appointed master of the schooner Wanderer, which he brought out new and sailed two years, and cleared $2,900. In the winter of 1862 he helped to plank the schooner A.H. Moss, at Vermilion, Ohio. In 1863 he went to Sodus Point to help build a vessel. They got out the timber, but at this time his father died, and it was a question among the brothers whether they could go on with the work. It was finally determined to make the venture. The boys got together all the funds they possessed and, with E. Doville having charge as builder, laid her down and finished her at a cost of $8,300. She was named William Hunter, and Captain Doville, the subject of this sketch, sailed her. At the end of two years she had paid for herself and paid a dividend. She was then sold for $8,500. In the winter of 1866 he went to Vermilion and built a tug, which he named Cyclone. He took her to Cleveland, where he took a job of wrecking, and cleared $750 in five days. He then took her to Toledo and put her in the towing business. The same year he took her to Saginaw, and finally to Chicago, where he sold her for $8,500.
In the spring of 1867 Captain Doville went to Mystic, Conn., and bought the tug Balize, paying $8,000. He took her to the lakes and sailed her some months. He then sold a three- quarter interest, and went as master of the schooner F.T. Barney, holding that berth until October, 1868, when she was sunk by collision with the Tracy J. Bronson. He then took the schooner A.H. Moss to Cleveland on her last trip that fall, and in 1869 he sailed the schooner J.F. Card, laying her up at the close of navigation.
In 1870 Captain Doville retired from active life on the lakes, and established a vessel brokerage business in Cleveland, with Capt. Henry Miller, and continued in that trade until 1872, when he joined Capt. W.B. Scott in the insurance business, until fall. This partnership was then dissolved, and he went to Toledo and again established himself in the ship-brokerage business, continuing until the fall of 1875. He then returned to Cleveland and traded his farm for the propeller Rocket, but he soon lost the boat. In 1876 he returned to Toledo and sold his interest in a tug for $900, took the money to Kingston, Ont., and bought the Arabia and Robert Gaskin. He dismantled the Gaskin and made a schooner of the Arabia. He traded the Gaskin for the schooner Brooklyn, operating her until 1882, when he went to Milwaukee and bought the steam scow Commerce, which he took to Toledo and went into the sand and gravel business. In 1888 he built the steam sand scow Companion, and put into her steeple compound engines, with Scotch boilers, and with this addition to his working facilities he has carried on the sand trade with good business success, under the firm name of the Toledo & Lake Erie Sand Co. His son Raymond is in the partnership, and is secretary and treasurer of the company.
Captain Doville is a Knight Templar Mason, a member of the Patriotic Sons of America, of the Junior Order of American Mechanics, and an ardent patriot. He was united by marriage to Miss Gertrude M. Bonesteel, of Oswego, N.Y., in 1873. Their children are: Raymond Ermine and Ruby Margaret. The family homestead is at No. 731 Huron street, Toledo, Ohio.
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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.