Captain Charles K. Pederson
Captain Charles K. Pederson, master and controlling owner of the towbarge Commodore, is a native of Norway, born in 1857. He is one of the family of eight children born to Peter and Mary (Knudson) Larson, only three of whom are sailors; Peter is a shipcarpenter on an ocean vessel, and Ole has been boatswain on the ocean ship Sarah Swigfield for over five years. The father was a carpenter by occupation; the mother still resides in Norway.
Before making his permanent home in the United States Captain Pederson was on salt water for about eleven years, and during that time he was wrecked once, about fifty miles from the Bermudas. He began sailing when he was but twelve years old, shipping out of Christiansand on the Norwegian ship Hooray, on which he remained about two and a half seasons, visiting the ports of Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Trieste (Austria), Pernambuco and Philadelphia. The succeeding three years he was on a voyage around various foreign ports aboard the Norwegian ship Henri Nicoli Knudson, and for the remainder of the time until he came to the lakes he was on American ships out of New York harbor. His first experience on fresh water was in mate's berth on the brig Mariner, on which he continued thus for two seasons, following with three seasons as her master. He was next master of the towbarge Henry W. Hoag two seasons, and then of the Chester B. Jones five successive seasons. From the beginning of 1892 he has been master of the towbarge Commodore, she and the Chester B. Jones being consorts of the steambarge P. H. Birckhead. Captain Pederson has never lost a vessel, but while master of the brig Mariner he had a thrilling experience endeavoring to reach Buffalo harbor in a gale that blew from seventy-six to eighty miles an hour, after being dropped by the steamer Benton, which was towing the Marine, and the Henry W. Hoag. This occurrence was on October 9, 1885. The Mariner was the sailing vessel in the tow, and on the trip down parted her line ten miles off Rondeau Point. With the exception of her foresail and staysail her canvas was soon blown away and her yawl smashed to pieces. The mate had left at Tawas, and Captain Pederson had with him but four sailors; but in spite of all these disadvantages he made his way under the Buffalo breakwater thirty-six hours ahead of the Benton, the Hoag having been lost in the meantime. The gale was so terrific that the breakwater was partly washed away, and the schooner Hutchinson went to pieces in the sea about five miles from Buffalo harbor.
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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.