Captain Frank D. Root
Captain Frank D. Root, one of the most prominent and highly respected lake captains sailing out of Chicago, is a Western man by birth, being born in Green bay, Wis., October 7, 1849, a son of William and Emily (Wheelock) Root. The former a native of Delhi, Delaware Co., N.Y., and the latter of Vermont. William Root, the father, was a lieutenant in the army, stationed at Sault Ste. Marie, and Mackinaw, Mich., and Fort Howard, Wis., where the mother died. Two years after his mother's death the Captain returned to his father's native place, Delhi, and lived with his grandmother Root till 1864, when he shipped as boy on a vessel sailing out of New York, and was on the salt water till 1867, when he came to Buffalo, and not being able to secure a berth on a sailing vessel at that time took the position of deckhand on the old steamer Acma. Thence came to Milwaukee, and shipped as boy on the bark Jessie Hoyt, engaged in the lumber trade, and in 1868 came to Chicago, since which time he has made this city his permanent home. Later on he became identified, as sailor before the mast, with different vessels in the grain trade, plying between Chicago and Buffalo, rising from this position till he became second mate, then mate of steam and sail vessels. In 1872 was on the White Squall when she was lost and was the only one of the crew saved. In 1878 he became master of the bark Unadilla, sailing her till 1881, when he entered the employ of the Wabash line, going as the master of the steamer Marley, from Toledo to Buffalo, and in 1882, while still in the service of this company, sailed in charge of their new steamer Russell Sage. From 1884 to 1888 he officiated as master on the steamer Fred Mercur, belonging to the Lehigh Valley line of Buffalo, N.Y., after which he was in command of the City of Rome for two years, when he was engaged as master with the Minnesota Steamship Company, in 1890 took out the steamer Manola, the first of the Minnesota fleet to be built; 1891 was in charge of the steamer Marina, of the same line and the first steel steamer built at South Chicago yards; was on the Maritana, Minnesota line, also built at South Chicago, from 1892 till 1895, when this same company placed him in command of the Mariposa, he remaining with her till 1898.
The Captain is known as a brave and fearless man, and has been highly commended by the Buffalo press for his courage in times of danger, and it was through his efforts that the crew of the Idaho was saved.
Socially, he is an honored member of the Ship Masters Association No. 3, Chicago, having transferred from the lodge at Buffalo; and is also a prominent member of Harbor Lodge No. 731, F. & A. M.
In 1888, in Chicago, Captain Root was married to Miss Alice Hotchkiss, a native of Bay City, Mich., and they have one child, Manola. The family residence is at No. 9314 Central avenue, South Chicago, Illinois.
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.