Charles A. Fitts
Charles A. Fitts, one of the most reliable pilots of the beautiful Maumee, was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1872, son of Capt. Albert S. and Lizzie (McDonald) Fitts. He is a young man of magnificent physique, a little above the average height, a pleasant speaker and a good companion. His muscles are like iron, and he is a strong swimmer and an athlete in every sense of the word. Mr. Fitts acquired his education in the public schools of Toledo and made good use of his time, although he was constantly dreaming of the life on the lakes which he proposed to follow. In the spring of 1886, after leaving school, he shipped on the steamer Monohansett, as wheelsman, and after serving one season in this capacity he joined the United States revenue steamer Commodore Perry, as able seaman, remaining on her eighteen months, during this time he acquired a good nautical experience. In the summer of 1889 he shipped as pilot on the steamer Pastime, which his father sailed out of Toledo to Presque Isle and other resorts, continuing in this berth two years, and in 1891 he went on the powerful tug Schenck as pilot. After a service of two years on that boat he returned to his old berth on the Pastime, which he is still piloting between Toledo and Presque Isle at this writing.
Mr. Fitts has had many interesting adventures in his lifetime, and it will not be out of place to mention some of them here. In the fall of 1888 while he was filling the berth of wheelsman on the steamer Wokoken, at Ashland, Wis., a squall capsized a small boat and spilled a young man and woman into the lake, the accident occurring about two hundred yards away from his propeller. The young man made every effort to save himself and left the girl to perish but Mr. Fitts jumped overboard and rescued her. Later, while on the hurricane deck of the steamer Pastime, passing down the river, he saw a boy fall off the dock into the stream. He jumped overboard in a moment, swam to the young fellow, who was near his last breath, and conveyed him ashore, where he was resuscitated. His next effort in the life-saving line occurred shortly after at the foot of Jefferson street, Toledo. Three young men were out on a small yacht, and on trying to round to, the boom swung and swept one of them overboard. As none of the men were practical sailors they did not know how to come to, and the yacht, therefore, kept on its course, leaving the unfortunate struggling helplessly in the water. Mr. Fitts swam out to the young fellow and succeeded in landing him on the deck of the Pastime, where the pump was applied and he recovered.
In the fall of 1896, after laying up his boat, Mr. Fitts made a pleasure trip to Madison, Ind. One day while hunting in the woods about seven miles from town, he heard cries for help, and on looking out over the Ohio river he saw a skiff capsize with two girls. Realizing their danger he threw off his clothing and swam out to their rescue, reaching them just as one of the girls was going down for the last time, to death; he dived for her, and succeeded in reaching the boat; her companion had supported herself by taking hold of the skiff, and they all floated down the river with it. In the meantime Mr. Fitts' friend, who was with him in the woods, ran down the river and procured the boat, with which he intercepted the unfortunates, but there was so much sea on that they could not get the girls on the boat for danger of capsizing, and Mr. Fitts acted as a link between the two boats while his companion rowed ashore, landing on the Kentucky side of the river, where all were cared for. He is a strong swimmer and these episodes have served to make the Toledo people think highly of him. He is considered the strongest man in that city, and he has had many friendly contests in bouts of strength. He plays with bar dumb bells weighing 210 pounds and can use some weighing 95 pounds, one in each hand, putting them up for fifteen minutes. He is also a champion jumper at five and one-half feet high, and at twelve and one-half feet for a flat jump.
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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.