Captain Lyman B. Woodruff
Captain Lyman B. Woodruff, a pleasant and courteous gentleman, who has lived a life of integrity and honor, may still look forward, to all appearances, to a score or more years in the locker. He was born February 12, 1840, in Sheffield, Lorain Co., Ohio, and has filled every berth on the lakes from cook to master and owner. He is the son of Capt. Horace and Nancy (Lewis) Woodruff, natives of Stateline, Mass., who moved west soon after their marriage, locating at Sheffield, three miles from the shore of Lake Erie. Here Lyman Woodruff was reared and educated, and he still lives on the old homestead. The father was a vessel owner and master, his last boat being the scow Berkshire, which he sailed several years. She was wrecked near the Sand Hills above Long Point, out on the north shore of Lake Erie. Capt. Horace Woodruff died in 1845, his wife passing away some years later. The sons of the family who followed the lakes were Edwin, whose last command was the schooner Redwing (he went to Los Angeles, Cal., where he died); Frederick, who was master of the schooner P. S. Marsh for several years (he died in Elyria, Ohio); and Harvey, whose last commands were the schooner F. L. Danforth and tug Relief.
In 1850, when he was very young, Lyman B. Woodruff became a sailor, shipping as cook on the schooner Black Swan, with Capt. Henry Moore. The next season he went on the schooner Prince of Peace, with Captain Sheldon, and in 1852 in the scow Cousin Mary, with Capt. Henry Root. The following year nothing would serve his ambition but a 22,000 bushel vessel, and he shipped in the big schooner Marquette, trading between Chicago and Oswego. In the spring of 1854 he decided to become a sailor in earnest, and engaged before the mast in the William H. Craig, owned by the Bradley Brothers, receiving $18 per month. His next vessel was the schooner Game Cock, which was quite a smart craft, as some of the old-timers will know. In 1856 he was appointed mate in the schooner Sunbury, in the lumber trade between Saginaw and Buffalo, holding that office two seasons, and following with a season in the schooner Soo, as mate, with his brother, Edwin. He then spent some time in the fishing business out of Mackinaw. After this digression the Captain became master of the schooner W. S. Lyons, and after leaving her spent two seasons in the Ann Maria, of Conneaut, also as master, subsequently sailing the schooners Selkirk and Mocking Bird a season each. He now entered the employ of Capt. Alva Bradley as master of the schooner Exchange, and finding a warm personal friend in the Captain, continued in his vessels for thirteen years, sailing the schooner S. H. Kimball four seasons and the D. P. Rhodes eight seasons. While master of the last-named vessel he was severely injured, by the line tearing a chock from the rail and striking him; he was taken home on a lounge, put to bed and did not recover for eight months, during which period of enforced idleness Captain Bradley continued his salary as master. Later he joined the Phineas H. Marsh as mate.
Captain Woodruff finally purchased the schooner E. R. Williams, which he sailed successfully for five seasons, and selling her purchased a third-interest in the steamer Otego and consorts Monticello and Montmorenci, sailing the steamer one season, after which he sold his share. The Captain then turned his attention to steam, receiving the appointment of mate in the steamer Oscar Townsend, and as the years passed he held the office of mate in the steamers Specular, Britannic, C. W. Elphicke, Specular, Marquette, T. S. Christie, James Pickands, Sarah E. Sheldon, Britannic, a second time with Captain Mansfield., serving on these boats until 1896, when he was appointed second mate of the large new steel steamer Zenith City. In the spring of 1897 he joined the steamer Corona as mate. In 1898 he came out as mate of the steamer Vega, but closed the season on the Corona as mate with Capt. Samuel Murphy.
Socially, the Captain is a member of the Ship Masters Association and holds Pennant No. 622.
Captain Woodruff was united in marriage on March 22, 1861 to Miss Diana A. Miller, daughter of Alexis and Caroline Miller of Avon, Ohio. Of the children born to this union Addie is now the wife of George Blake, of Brownhelm, Ohio; Frederick L. was drowned while master of the schooner Monticello, in 1892; Alice is the wife of Burke Farragher, of Lorain, Ohio; Alva is employed in the machine shop of the Cleveland Shipbuilding Company at Lorain, Ohio; Walter is second engineer in the steamer P. J. Ralph; Nellie is a graduate of Sheffield and Lorain schools; George has remained on the farm; Elmer is porter on the large new steamer Presque Isle. They reside in the old homestead farm at Sheffield, Ohio, but the Captain owns another farm of 137 acres, near Oberlin, to which he expects to retire when the frosts of the winter of life come upon him.
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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.