Captain Thomas A. Ellery
Captain Thomas A. Ellery, master of the J.E. Mills, is a man of great experience in his chosen calling, and is well acquainted with the lakes and all the marine industries pertaining thereto. He was born in Vermont, May 20, 1837, and when three months old was taken by his parent to Fort Henry, N.Y., where he lived for about ten years, and spent the following five years in Hamilton, London, and Chatham, Canada. At the end of that time he removed to Port Huron, Mich., and in that place and vicinity he has since lived, making his home at present at Marysville, Michigan.
In the spring of 1853, when sixteen years of age, Captain Ellery turned his attention to marine pursuits, to which he has since devoted his entire life. He first went on the schooner Eugene, which was wrecked on Lake Huron, after he had made a trip and a half; his second position was on the Lady Jane as cook and before the mast. While on that boat the captain was taken suddenly ill, and our subject was placed in command, filling the position so well that he was retained in the place, and has since been master of vessels. He was next on the schooner Trader, but remained there only a part of a season, going finally on the Baltic. He sailed the Star for some time, and was later on the Erie as mate and pilot. The following two years were spent in command of the Mary Williams, after which he was on the Dial for a part of a season.
During this time, Captain Ellery, with Jed Spaulding, purchased the sloop Emma, and after converting her into a schooner, sailed her for two seasons. They then bought the brig Preble, which they later sold, and Captain Ellery then purchased the L.S. Noble, which he subsequently sold, when he purchased the William R. Hanna. In 1870 he entered the employ of N. & B. Mills, of Marysville, with whom he remained for some eighteen years, sailing on different boats belonging to the company, with the exception of one season, when he sailed the R.J. Gibbs from Cleveland to Montreal, in the grindstone trade. Captain Ellery bought the Nelson Mills, which he commanded one season, and the season of 1872 was spent on the Mary Mills, and 1873 on the Leader. He was then on Point Avenue until 1882, when he took command of the J.E. Mills, which had just been constructed and which he has since sailed, being a fourth-owner in the same. In the fall of 1884, the boat, containing a part of a load of coal, was frozen in Maumee bay, so that Captain Ellery, his mate and engineer remained upon it all winter, obtaining provisions from Manhattan by means of hand sleds. This was a thrilling experience, but with great care the boat was preserved from total destruction, to which it seemed destined.
Captain Ellery's marine career has been a remarkable one, in that during the forty-three years that he has sailed upon the lakes he has never lost a single season. For a great many years he spent the winters in shipbuilding. He is an honored member of the Ship Masters Association, also of the Order of the Maccabees and the Foresters, and has hosts of friends both on water and on shore.
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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.