Nelson Brown, who is a son of William H. and Ursula (Irons) Brown, was born in Wallaceburg, Ontario, March 12, 1867. His father, an old-time lake captain, retired twenty-eight years ago. Nelson Brown received a good common-school education, continuing his attendance winters until he was twenty-two years of age. He commenced sailing in the spring of 1886, on the steamer J. P. Donaldson, as deckhand, remaining about three months, closing the season on the steamer Cleveland as watchman. The following season he sailed as wheelsman on the tug Oswego, until May 30, when this tug was sunk in collision with the May Richards, near Colchester Light, on Lake Erie. When he came off watch that night he went to his room, and shortly after 1 A. M. the jibboom of the May Richards entered it and came near passing through him; his hand was crushed, and a ring on his finger was bent out of shape. The sustaining rods that pass through the cabin were bent so that he could not get out, and he had to call for help. When he was released from his perilous position the crew, numbering twelve persons, took him to the yawl boat, and after a hard pull landed on the Canadian shore about three miles from Kingsville at 3:30 A. M. The Oswego sank in about five minutes in six fathoms of water. He next shipped on the tug Admiral D. D. Porter, as watchman, until the close of the season.
In the spring of 1888 Mr. Brown shipped on the schooner H. D. Root, of Cleveland, before the mast. The next spring he sailed as watchman on the tug H. Howard, being engaged in towing rafts from Hammond's Bay to Sandusky, finishing the season on the Ogemaw, as wheelsman. In the spring of 1890 he shipped as watchman on the steamer Gladstone, and the following season on the Argonaut, in the Chicago and Ogdensburg trade, and after three months he contracted typhoid fever and was forced to go into the hospital at Buffalo. In 1892 he sailed as wheelsman of the steamer Fayette Brown; in 1893 as second mate of the steamer Russia, second mate of the Scranton, and second mate of the W. B. Morley, respectively; in 1894, second mate of the Fayette Brown; 1895, wheelsman on the steamer Selwin Eddy; 1896, second mate on the Fayette Brown, and 1897, mate of the steamer J. S. Fay. In the spring of 1898 he went as mate of the steamer Colonial, and had a rough time on Lake Huron on the morning of October 22, about twenty miles south of Duck Isle, but found shelter in Thunder bay. This was the same storm in which the steamer L. R. Doty was lost on Lake Michigan. They laid up the Colonial at Tonawanda, N. Y., December 15, 1898. He has seven issues of first-class pilot's papers. He is a member of the Royal Arcanum.
In 1895 Mr. Brown was united by marriage to Miss Grace Crane, of Bathgate, North Dakota. The family residence is at No. 150 Buchanan street, Detroit, Michigan.
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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.