Captain F. G. Butlin
Captain F.G. Butlin has been one of those master spirits whose energies and enterprises have assisted in developing the present enormous commerce of the Great Lakes. From boyhood he has been associated with the traffic of the lakes, and his boyhood days were spent upon the shores of the beautiful St. Clair river, where daily during the season of navigation he saw sailing by the fleets of white-winged freighters. It was his fortune to become associated with a man whose interests upon the lakes a half century ago were rising into commanding prominence, and his tastes and efforts were turned to marine channels.
Capt. Butlin was born about seven miles from London, England in 1824. When ten years of age he migrated to the New World with his father, who was a farmer by trade and who settled in St. Clair, Mich., in 1834, when that State was yet a territory of undeveloped resources. The education of our subject was such as was afforded by the common schools in the neighborhood of his father's farm, supplemented by several terms in the village schools at St. Clair. An omnivorous reader, and possessed of a strong and inquiring mind, the young man made strides in mental attainments, far beyond the educational opportunities. In 1842 when eighteen years of age, he came to Chicago and entered upon service of the Great Lakes, as cabin boy on Ward's line between that city and St. Joseph. He was soon after wheelsman. In 1845 he was running to the Sault carrying supplies. In 1846 he became mate and pilot of the steamer Detroit, then running to Sault Ste. Marie, and in that year he saw the first iron ore come down from Lake Superior. In the fall of 1847 he became master of the Detroit, and in the spring of 1848 he left the Sault route and came back to Lake Michigan trade, the steamer Detroit being the morning boat between Chicago and New Buffalo. In the spring of 1849, Captain Butlin went to Detroit and brought up the Canada, and sailed her for two seasons. In 1851 he brought up the steamer Arctic, and commanded her until the railroad came around the lakes. During the latter part of 1852 he sailed the E. K. Collins and during the season of 1853 he again sailed the Arctic. He had purchased an interest in the Ward's line, but disposed of it in 1854 when Captain Ward sold out. Captain Butlin then turned his attention to the lumber business at Forestville, Mich., which he followed during the years of 1856 and 1857. In 1858 he resumed relations with the Ward's line, and handled iron for it on Lake Superior. In 1863 he built the propeller Antelope, and sailed her for two seasons. Selling the propeller in 1865, he developed some pine lumber interests in Michigan for several years.
In 1868 he purchased an interest in the Goodrich Transportation Company, and was elected to the position of general superintendent, which he held until 1889. On the death of Joseph Goodrich he was elected vice-president. He became president in 1885, and from that year to 1889 served as president and general manager.
Captain Butlin has been very successful in his business affairs. His motto has been "Eternal vigilance is the price of success," and his observance has brought ample reward. He is one of the prominent self-made men of Chicago. The family of Captain Butlin consists of two children, a son and a daughter, namely: T. G. Butlin, a commission merchant of Denver, and Minerva, now Mrs. Leonard.
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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.