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Captain William Barrett (1844-1929)
Native of Fort Stanley, Canada and long-time resident of Bay City, MI. City.

Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx (April 2008).

The Bay City Times - Sunday, November 9, 1924 (Page 5)

Interesting People of Bay City

Captain William Barrett Has Filled 80 Years Of Life with Thrilling
Experiences, Becoming a Sailor at the Age of 15, Serving
During Civil War in Army and Navy, and Retiriing
From Active Worker in His 79th Year

Not many of us who reach the age of 80 years have interesting lives to look back upon as has Captain William Barrett of 300 Warner street, north, who went through the thick of the Civil war, was a master of a boat sailing the Great Lakes for 30 years, did government work in Lansing for a quarter of a century, and retired one year ago this month, so as to be able to enjoy the less active side of life. What he now enjoys perhaps more than anything else is to think back to those days when although but a youth of 15 years he joined a ship’s crew which was taking cotton to France from New Orleans. It was on the return trip that, hailing a ship off Havana, it was learned that New Orleans was blockaded and that war was broken out. So young Barrett landed at New York instead of the intended destination, and there joined the navy. He was assigned to the “National Guard” a ship in which the government was sending the stores to Admiral Wilkes squadron at Turtle Harbor, Fla. Students of history will perhaps recall that it was Admiral Wilkes who fired on the British mail boat “Trent” which was carrying Mason and Slydel, two southern ambassadors, to England to ask assistance of that country in the recognition of the south as a nation and the raising of a blockade.

Next Mr. Barrett was one of the 60 who were drafted on the gunboat “Octorora” at Key West, Florida. He cruised about the Bahamas and West Indies for several months, and was transferred to the western gulf blockading squadron at Mobile, under Admiral Farragut. Barrett was in a side-wheel ship which was lashed to the frigate “Brooklyn” and these two boats led the fleet going into Mobile, together with Farragut’s flagship “Hartford” which was lashed with the “Metacomet”. Captain Allen of the “Brooklyn” was the senior captain of the ships, and after one of the gunboats had been torpedoed and sunk, he ordered Farragut to stop shouting Torpedoes ahead!” But Farragut was not to be stopped and shouted “Damn the torpedoes! Go ahead !” Capt. Barrett loves to relate this stirring incident of his life-the tenseness of the situation. Farragut plunging ahead against the advice of his senior captain, torpedoes bursting not far away. He was soon transferred to the frigate “Colorado” with 700 others and received his discharge at Portsmouth, N. H. February 10,1864.

Joins the Army

Army experience came next in his career. Coming up to New Haven, Conn., he enlisted in Co. C 10th regiment Connecticut Volunteers in which he served for three years. It was this regiment which followed Lee until he surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse and the state flag of this regiment was the first to fly on Fort Gregg defending Petersburg, a fact to be proud of this.

After these three years Barrett came back to Richmond where he did provost duty until 1865, receiving his discharge at Hartford, Conn., October 31, 1865. He went up to Buffalo, then once more took to sailing . For the next 20 years he was captain of a ship sailing from Duluth To Quebec, and for 25 years following this life which was full of adventure, romance, harrowing and delightful experiences, he served as clerk in the state land office at Lansing. Bay City was his home however for he brought his family here back in 1884, and spent weekends and vacations here.

In November of 1923 Captain Barrett thought it time to retire, although judging from the activity of his daily life, he is far from a “retired” gentleman, in the strict sense of the word. A ten mile walk is an ordinary occurrence with him and according to his wife finds enough to keep him busy about the house a goodly share of the day’s 24 hours. Also he is commander of the Henry S. Burnett post in which there are but five members now. He has held this office for five years.

Captain Barrett was born at Fort Stanley, Canada in 1844 but has resided in the United States since 1860. His first glimpse of Bay City was many years ago when as a lad he was part of a crew on the schooner “Telegraph” bringing salt to this territory from Buffalo. His wife was formerly Mary E. Samier of Belleville, Ont. Whom he married in 1876. They have three children, Mrs. John McCullough, of this city, and two sons; Donald and William, both of Detroit.

Addtional Notes.

    1900 - Census: West Bay City, Mich.

  • Barrett, William - b. July 1847, age 52
  • Mary, wife - b. July 1859, age 40, Canada Eng., sailor
  • Ethel, dau. - b. July 1880, age 19, New York
  • Donald, son - b. Aug. 1882, age 17, Canada Eng.
  • Grace, dau. - b. Sept. 1884, age 15, Canda Eng.
  • William Jr., son - Mar. 1895, age 5, Mich.

    1929 - Date of Death - Ancestry.com

  • William died Feb. 15, 1929 in Bay City. He had seven Children: William R., Donald D., Jessie T., William E., Ethel M. Grace F., and Abraham R.

Related Pages/Notes

Capt. Barrett

Burial: Oak Ridge Cemetery, Bay City, Bay, MI.
Related Pages:
Civil War History
People Referenced
Allen, Capt.
Barrett, Abraham R. (son)
Barrett, Donald (son)
Barrett, Ethel M. (dau)
Barrett, Grace F. (dau)
Barrett, Jessie T. (dau)
Barrett, Wm. (subject)
Barrett, Wm. E. (son)
Barrett, Wm. R. (son)
Farragut, Admiral
Lee, Gen.
Mason, Ambassador
McCullogh, John Mrs. (dau.)
Samier, Mary E. (wife)
Slydel, Ambassador
Wilkes, Admiral
Subjects Referenced
10th Reg., Co. C, Conn. Vols.
Bay City, MI
Belleville, Ont.
Buffalo, NY
Civil War
Detroit, MI
Dulth, MN
Ft. Gregg
Ft. Stanley, Can.
Greal Lakes
Henry S. Burnett post
Key West, FL
Lansing, MI
Mobile, AL
New Orleans, LS
New York
Ports Mouth, NH
Turtle Harbor, FL
West Indies
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.