Captain C. G. Ennis
Captain C.G. Ennis is a representative steamboat master, an amateur marine artist of genius and fame, a whole-souled, even-tempered man of grand physique, who sailed successfully the largest freight boat on the lakes, the steel steamer Sir William Fairbairn, 440 feet over all. The Captain is the seventh son of a seventh son, and is six feet, three and a half inches high. His father, Clinton Ennis, an old pioneer along the Vermilion river, was six feet, seven and three- fourths inches tall in his stocking feet. His mother, Charlotte (Reed) Ennis, came of a good family, and was a woman of fine presence.
Captain Ennis was born at Birmingham, Erie Co., Ohio, in 1846, and was educated at the district schools of his native town. In 1858 he ran away from home and shipped out of Vermilion with Capt. Joe Moffet, on the schooner F. T. Barney, putting in two seasons in her, the second as seaman. In 1860 he passed the season on the schooner Grace Greenwood, the bark E. Conway, and the brig Isabella, as seaman; in 1861-62 he was on the schooner King Sisters, the last season as second mate with Capt. Smith Moore. In 1863 he shipped with Captain Fitzgerald on the bark Hans Crocker, as second mate, and in 1864 served in the same capacity with Capt. John Moore in the bark Major Anderson. In the spring of 1865 he enlisted in the Ninety-eighth P. V. I., stationed at Danville, N. C., and served until the close of the war, being mustered out at Mt. Pleasant hospital. He returned to his native town, Birmingham, and not long afterwards went to Iowa and bought a farm near Strawberry point, purchased a yoke of oxen and a plow, and went to farming. In the late spring he made his oxen fast to the plow, and drove them into a yellow-jacket's nest. They walked all over the nest, then unshipped the plow and ran away, and Captain Ennis let go the lines and headed for home.
Returning to the lakes, he found that Capt. Smith Moore was in need of a good mate, and he served with him that summer on the schooner Massillon. His next venture was on a fishing expedition with small boats among the Apostle Island, but although the party remained faithfully all summer they did not acquire much wealth. In 1867 he shipped in the schooner Thomas Quayle as second mate for the season; in 1868 again went with Capt. Smith Moore in the Massillon; in 1869 served with Captain Trinter on the H. J. Webb, with Capt. George Judson in the H. F. Tilden, and finally with Capt. Peter Minch in the I. W. Nicholas as second mate. In 1870 he came out as mate on the Brightie, a new vessel and the largest on the lakes at that time; in 1871 he went as second mate on the steamer Horace B. Tuttle, closing the season as mate, and he remained on her five seasons in that capacity. The Tuttle, built by Ira La Frinier, was the first steambarge on the lakes. In 1876 Captain Ennis was appointed master of the schooner George H. Ely, on which he remained five years; in 1881 was master of the steamer Horace B. Tuttle; in 1882 of the schooner M. R. Warner; in 1883 of the schooner James Couch; in 1884 of the James Pickands; in 1885 shipped as mate on the steamer Smith Moor, and closed the season as her master; in 1886 he fitted out the N. K. Fairbanks at Duluth; in 1887 was master of the Frank Perew part of the season, finishing on the Jim Sheriffs; in 1888 he came out on the steamer James Pickands as mate, and continued on her throughout 1889, closing the latter season as master. In the spring of 1890 he went to Detroit and brought out the steamer Lansing, which he sailed for six years as master. In 1896 he was given command of the large new steel steamer Sir William Fairbairn, 440 feet over all, the largest of the Rockefeller fleet. She and her consort brought down on one trip 10,500 tons of ore. Captain Ennis laid her up at Ashtabula harbor at the close of navigation, and resumed command in the spring of 1897. He belongs to the Ship Masters Association, and carries Pennant No. 272.
Captain Ennis was united in marriage in 1866, to Miss Ridella Wiltse, daughter of Dr. Wiltse, of Strawberry Point, Iowa. One son has been born to this union, Claude Melnot, who was master of the steambarge M. D. Neff during the season of 1896. The family residence is in Scott street, Cleveland, and is surrounded by many evidences of prosperity. The walls are adorned with many marine pictures from the brush of the Captain; in one room he has painted a border, about two feet deep from the ceiling, representing the lakes and the boats (both steam and sail) in the chronological order in which he became master of them. They are all life-like, natural and well executed.
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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.