Captain Julius Brett
The life of a sailor in its varied aspects, on the ocean, on the large rivers of the United States, and on the Great Lakes, is an old story to Captain Brett, of Cleveland. His experience, extending over a period of nearly fifty years of active sailing, has been full of change and variety, and he is able to relate many interesting narratives connected with his seafaring life.
The Captain was born in Liverpool, England, October 1, 1816, and at the early age of ten years he made his first voyage with his uncle, Captain Julius Brett, who had taken a great fancy to him. He commenced life as a sailor in November, 1830, leaving Liverpool on the ship Lady Gordon for the East Indies, Cape of Good Hope, Batavia and Singapore, and his position on the ship being that of apprentice. He made three voyages from Liverpool to Bombay, and then, shipping on the brig Gypsy, of New Castle, he made two voyages to Bordeaux.
In March, 1837, Captain Brett left Liverpool for Charleston, S. C., on the Nimrod, which was a ten-gun brig, originally belonging to the English navy. At one time that vessel was wrecked off Holyhead, and when raised it was converted into a merchantman. On arriving at Charleston our subject left the Nimrod and walked to Georgetown, where he shipped on a coasting vessel engaged in carrying timber to New York. He made several trips between New York and Charleston on that vessel, and then on the ship Groshus made a voyage to Havre, France. Returning to the United States on the ship Ganges, of Richmond, Va., he later made one trip on the schooner engaged in carrying slaves from Norfolk, where they were raised, to market in New Orleans. Captain Brett spent one winter on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and on leaving the Ohio Valley, at Wellsville, in the spring of 1838, he proceeded overland to the lakes, where he shipped on the hermaphrodite brig Rocky Mountain, taking a load of flour and corn to Green Bay, Wis. Later in the same year he spent some time on the brig Virginia, returning to the Ohio river in the fall and remaining there during the winter. In the spring he went overland from Peoria, Ill., to Chicago with a companion named Burton and took a steamer for Cleveland, where he again shipped on the Rocky Mountain for one season.
Captain Brett was a wheelsman on the steamer Constellation, a vessel carrying a cargo of one thousand barrels of flour. In 1841 was second mate on the ship Milwaukee, in 1842 and 1843 was mate on the brig Robert Hunter, and in 1844 was made master of the latter vessel, retaining command for two seasons. During the next season he sailed the brig Hoosier, and for two years was master of the schooner Lewis Cass. In 1849 he sailed the schooner Hope, and later in the season was mate of the latter vessel. During the two seasons following he sailed the steamer Minnesota, but spent the greater part of 1853 on a farm. In the fall of 1854 he took the steamer Illinois for one trip, and was mate on the propeller Oriental for the remainder of the season. He commanded that vessel in 1855, was master of the propeller Cuyahoga during the greater part of the next year, and then had command of the propeller Racine for the remainder of the sesaon and for the five following years. He sailed the Empire State for two years, the Oneida for one season, the Dean Richmond for two seasons and the Colorado for five years. His last vessel was the propeller Java, which he sailed for one season, retiring in the fall of 1872 to his beautiful home at 532 Woodland avenue, Cleveland, where he is now living, retired. He is held in high regard by all who know him, and his circle of friends and acquaintances is extensive. On December 17, 1842, Captain Brett was married to Miss Eunice Musson, of Cleveland, by whom he had three children: William Dixon Brett and Mrs. Bell Delphine Donaldson live in Buffalo, N. Y.; Stephen Julius Brett was drowned in 1855, at the age of seven years, off the propeller Oriental, at Buffalo.
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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.