Captain Thomas Gregory
Captain Thomas Gregory, of Cleveland, Ohio, was born in Liverpool, England, April 16, 1827, and sailed his apprenticeship on salt water, going to sea at the age of fourteen years. He served his time on the bark Anna Dixon, of Liverpool, remaining with her from 1841 to 1849, during which time he worked his way to the position of mate. The following year he brought the propeller Dorus to Quebec, for the Canadian Government to use in the lighthouse service, leaving her at Kingston, Ont. Here he shipped in the schooner Governor, said to be the first lake craft to cross the ocean, in which he made a voyage to Halifax and return. Captain Middleton, of the Governor, persuaded him to go on the lakes, and in 1849 he embarked in the brig Quebec. In 1850 he became mate of the brig Mohawk, leaving her in the middle of that season to go as man before the mast in the schooner Jenny Lind, of Cleveland, Ohio, which was the first American vessel in which he sailed. The Jenny Lind left him at Kingston at one time, sailing away with a fair breeze, the Captain thinking all hands were on board, and he caught her at Cleveland by taking passage on the schooner Saratoga, which was about leaving Kingston at the time.
Desiring to take a trip to his native place, Mr. Gregory made preparation for the journey, and in November, 1850, left Cleveland on what he expected to be his last voyage for a considerable period. The Jenny Lind was loaded with grain for Buffalo, and in the early dawn of November 4, a short time after he had been relieved from the wheel, the vessel was run down by the steamer Buckeye State, and went down; her forward deck was freed from the rest of the boat by the collision, and four of the crew found refuge upon it as it floated away, the captain, mate, steward and young Gregory, all of whom were rescued by the Buckeye State and returned to Cleveland the next day. The worldly possessions of Mr. Gregory, when the Buckeye State left him on the dock at Cleveland, were a pair of trousers and a pair of shoes. He did not return to England. Instead he shipped on the brig Cumberland, with Capt. Charles Wilcox, which on his first trip went ashore on Middle island, and by the next morning the vessel was a solid mass of ice, and seemingly lodged for the winter. Captain Wilcox and all hands except Mr. Gregory and the mate left her to go for help, and while they were gone the wind veered around so that it blew directly off shore. The two men made sail, although with much difficulty, and it was not long before the vessel worked herself off and floated free. when the captain returned with a steamer to be used in pulling the Cumberland off he was astonished to see her riding at anchor in the lee of Kelley's island. By this time young Gregory began to regard himself as a "Jonah," and decided not to sail anymore that season.
During the succeeding winter he worked in the shipyard of Moses & Quayle, of Cleveland, Ohio, and in the spring sailed as mate of the schooner H. N. Gates. The following year, 1854, he sailed the schooner Kosciusko, and in 1855 took command of a new schooner out of Lorain, then known as Black River. During the seasons of 1856 and 1857 he was sailing master of the schooner Yorktown, which was one of the first large vessels to pass through the "Soo" canal. He became master of the steamer Gen. Winfield Scott, in 1858, the year of the Lincoln- Douglas campaign for the United States senate. She was unloading a cargo in Chicago at the time when the two candidates were in that city, and Captain Gregoy was introduced to the man who was to become known as "The Great Emancipator." The Winfield Scott possessed one of the finest sets of flags on the lakes, and Mr. Lincoln, hearing of this fact, requested the loan of them for the occasion of the debate which was to take place between himself and Mr. Douglas; Captain Gregory readily assented, and the flags graced the historic meeting. In 1859 Mr. Gregory was mate of the propeller Scioto, and for one trip was master of the twin-screw steamer Sevastopol. In 1860 and 1861 he was master of the bark Cleveland, with which service he closed his sailing career, and he has since devoted his time to matters on shore. In 1862 he was elected harbormaster of Cleveland, retaining the position until 1866, after which he was captain of the Superior street viaduct for two years. Until within a few years of the present time he was engaged in general contracting, but he retained his interest in the lake marine, owning at different times an interest in the tug Old Jack, the schooner Zach Chandler, and the schooner Kent, the last named vessel being lost in 1895. Captain Gregory took the first tug on Lake Superior, the Dan Rhodes, and also commanded the first vessel that ever made use of the services of a tug in the Cuyahoga river, the schooner Kosciusko; the tug was an old-fashioned end-wheel canalboat, the Niagara.
Return to Home Port
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.