Captain Charles Edward Moody
Captain Charles Edward Moody, it may truthfully be said, is a born steamboat master, of quick perception and prompt in execution, of great energy and full of resource in time of peril. He is a son of Capt. James and Emily E. (Armstrong) Moody, and was born on July 27, 1850, in Buffalo, N.Y. His parents were also natives of the great State of New York. His father was a master of vessels for many years, and owner of tugs. Among the notable steamers on which he sailed were the Queen of the Lakes and Princeton, of which he was mate, and he also sailed the Tifft, which was the first tug engaged in harbor towing at Milwaukee; the tug Cleveland, which was sold to the United States Government during the Civil war to be used as a despatch[sic] boat on the Mississippi; he took the tug Jonah Richards to Ludington, and the American Eagle which he purchased in Buffalo to Manistee. After selling her he entered the employ of Wolf & Davidson, of Milwaukee, as superintendent of the dry dock engine works. At one time was sent with a 14-inch Worthington steam pump and wrecking outfit to release the brig Lucy J. Clark, which was ashore near Cross Village. They succeeded in getting her off, and while towing her to harbor a gale came up, and the steam pump was disable causing the vessel to become water-logged and sink. The crew jumped overboard, and Capt. James Moody, the mate and cook were drowned. The Captain's body was found by an Indian a week later at Sturgeon Point. The large concourse of people that attended his remains to the grave was a token of the high esteem in which he had ever been held. His widow is still living in Milwaukee, and is seventy-two years of age. The other members of the family are Cornelia, Clara and Elizabeth.
Capt. Charles E. Moody, the subject of this article, attended public schools in Milwaukee till 1864, or until he was fourteen years old, when he took advantage of an opportunity to ship as boy on the bark Newsboy, joining the brig Starlight the next spring in the same capacity, and going as royal boy on the bark Cream City, with Captain Johnson, in 1866. In the spring of 1867 he shipped on the steamer Governor Cushman as wheelsman, with Captain Thompson, and after further experience as wheelsman outside he went tugging in Milwaukee harbor as linesman on the Robert Emmett and Jonah Richards; then was master of the B.F. Davidson for two seasons; was on the W.K. Muir, American Eagle and Margaret. While on the American Eagle the Captain jumped overboard and saved the life of John Warner, who fell from the boat. The drowning man gave him the dead man's grip. In the fall of 1872 he was wheelsman of the steamer Messinger, with Capt. David Cochrane, one of the best known steamboat masters on the lakes, and was fifty-two days in the ice on Lake Michigan.
In 1873 Captain Moody entered the employ of Stackey Brothers & Co., as master of the tug J.J. Hageman, and sailed her three seasons. He then took command of the tug Welcome, and sailed her eight successive seasons. During this time the Captain was instrumental in saving the lives of three fishermen, whom he took from a capsized boat during the prevailing of a northeast gale. Another episode while on the tug Welcome serves to show the chivalrous type of his courage. At the risk of his life the gallant Captain jumped overboard and saved the lives of two boys, who would have been drowned but for his timely assistance. Although these well-authenticated rescues would seem to entitle the Captain to a live-saving medal, his modesty has prevented his taking any action in the matter. In the spring of 1885 he was appointed master of the crack tug T.T. Morford, owned by J.S. Dunham, of Chicago, and the next spring he again assumed command of the tug Welcome. During the time that he was master of tugs Captain Moody earned an enviable reputation as a wrecking master, and in one instance pulled the Blackhawk, Quickstep, Burnham and consorts off the beach near Milwaukee during one night, and he has a record of having done more wrecking with harbor tugs then any other man. The night the steamer Vernon was lost he towed a wreck into Beaver Harbor. During the time he was master of the tug Welcome, he was the recipient of a handsome gold watch, bearing the inscription: "Presented to Captain C.E. Moody for active and meritorious services during the season of 1880."
In the spring of 1887 Captain Moody was appointed master of the steamer F. & P. M. No. 2, which he sailed two seasons, after which he was transferred to F. & P. M. No. 5, sailing her one season between Duluth and Ogdensburg, and for three seasons between Manistee and Chicago; and it was while in command of this latter vessel that the Captain was instrumental in rescuing the two remaining men from the rigging of the schooner M.J. Cummings, which went ashore at Milwaukee. This he did by taking a tug and towing a scow out to the stranded vessel, and bringing her alongside the boat saved the men's lives. In 1893 he was appointed master of the steamer Nebraska of the Soo Railroad line, F.D. Underwood being manager. His next command was the car ferry steamer Ann Arbor No. 1. In the spring of 1896 he entered the employ of Bessemer Steamship Company, as master of the steamer Washburn, formerly the James B. Neilson, the first one of the fleet out on the lakes. He sailed her until September 17, 1897, when he was transferred to the John Ericsson, the largest whaleback on the lakes previous to the appearance of the Alexander McDougall, and in 1898 he was again promoted to the command of the large steel steamer Sir Henry Bessemer, a ship of 3,293 tons register. The following incident, which took place during the Captain's command of the Bessemer is worthy of mention as one of the many and varied experiences of his life while a sailor: On October 24, 1898, while out on Lake Superior a northeast gale sprang up, and the barge Alexander Holley, a whaleback, in tow with the Bessemer, broke adrift. Captain Moody made nine attempts to pick her up- each time a failure - but the tenth time succeeded in securing the 12 inch manilla line, and as soon as the strain on it parted he rounded to and tried to put the line on her, but a heavy sea and a very dark night preventing, concluded to wait for daylight, and at 6:30 on the morning of the 25th succeeded in picking the Holley up and she was towed to the north shore into smooth water, thence arriving at the Sault Ste. Marie canal the night of the 26th.
During one fall of his sailing career the Captain took the propeller H.J. Jewett (a valuable steamer, having on board a rich cargo) from the Manitous to Old Mackinaw without a rudder. Another incident of note is that he left Milwaukee one night for the Rutter in a southwest gale, and should have reached Ludington in the morning, but the water being shoal ran for the Manitou islands, and was reported lost with all hands, mention of which was made in the daily Inter Ocean of Chicago at the time.
The Captain is an up-to-date steamboat man, and has not cost the company one dollar while in service with them for damages, and his previous record has been amongst the best. He has received licenses covering twenty-nine years. The Captain in every instance has proved himself a first-class navigator on his trips from Chicago to Ogdensburg, and Duluth to Ogdensburg, and there is not a port or harbor on the lakes that he is not familiar with. He is also an expert in the tug business, and is very fond of a nice looking tug. Socially, he is genial and generous, and is well liked by all the lake men, with whom he has dealings, and will always relieve the needs of an unfortunate sailor. He is a Master Mason of Independent Lodge No. 80, of Milwaukee, and a member of the Ship Masters Association carrying Pennant No. 1032.
In the fall of 1881 Captain Moody was wedded to Miss Rose S. Rouch, of Fond du Lac, Wis. Four children have been born to this union; Florence Sybil and Henry James, both pupils of the Milwaukee High Schools; and Hazel and Olive, who died young, the former being but eight years and five months at the time of her death, and the latter but twenty-two month old. The family homestead is at No. 574 Third Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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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.