Capt. Henry Ernest Ditzel (1863-1956)
Maritime Biography -- born in Buffalo, N.Y., resided in Bay City, MI.
1899 Bio. - Courtesy of Links to the Page website (Jun., 2005).
History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899.
CAPTAIN HENRY E. DITZEL
Captain Henry E. Ditzel is one of the best known tug men on Lakes Huron and
Superior - a thorough officer and gentleman, well read on current events and
companionable in his intercourse with man. He was born in Buffalo, N.Y., November
19, 1863, a son ofErnest H. and Christine (Shepherd) Ditzel. The father, who was
a lake captain, engineer and vessel owner, was born in Saxony, Germany, and came
to the United States with his mother when he was six years of age, locating in
Buffalo. The grandfather, Samuel Ditzel, died on the way from Saxony to the
seaboard. The maternal grandfather, Jacob Shepherd, was a native of Hesse-Darmstadt,
Germany, and the great-grandfather was engaged in the manufacture of nails on an
extensive scale in that Province, and was also a notable soldier in Napoleon's
Ernest H. Ditzel, our subject's father, began his life on the lakes by sailing
out of Buffalo, and the first passenger steamer he owned and commanded was the
Hattie Brown, plying on Lake Ontario and the Niagara River in 1869. He finally
took her to Bay City, Mich., and established a passenger route toBanks, and two
years later the family joined him. He then built the steamer J.G. Hubbard at Bay
City, and operated both boats, the latter from Essexville to Bay City. In the
spring of 1881 he sold both steamers and built a larger and finer boat in Buffalo,
which he named Cora K.D., in honor of one of his daughters. He took her to Saginaw
and put her on the route betweenBay City and Banks, later adding the tug Harley,
and, assisted by his sonHenry, operated both up to the time of his death, which
occurred in 1885. His remains were taken to Buffalo for interment. The mother is
still living in Bay City. They had a family of six children: Anna M., now the wife
of A.C. Fisher, a lumber dealer of Bay City; James W., a marine engineer on the
tug M.D. Carrington; John G., who was drowned in Saginaw River, in 1875, when but
six years of age; Cora K.D. and Arthur D. both graduates of the Bay City high school.
Capt. Henry E. Ditzel attended the public schools until 1871, when he went to
Bay City to join his father, afterward attending school at that place winters, and
also secured two courses at the Bay City Business College. It was in 1871 therefore
that he first adopted his lake faring life, as wheelsman in his father's steamer
Hattie Brown, but had sailed with him during vacations previous to this, however,
for when he was thirteen years old he could sail small steamers quite well, his
father carrying the license and running the engines. His next experience was in
the steamer J.G. Hubbard, of which he was wheelsman until 1880, when he was granted
pilot's license and took command of her, sailing her until she was sold. His father
then gave him the tug Harley to sail in the vessel-towing business on Saginaw
River and bay until April, 1888, when she was sold to Alvin Neil, the Cora K.D.
having also been disposed of in the meantime to Gillenham Bro. He was then
appointed master of the tug Witch of the West by Captain Sharp.
Captain Ditzel then went to Buffalo and built a tug, which he named Arthur D.,
in honor on his youngest brother, and sailed her until she was sold in 1890. He
sailed the lake tug Waldo Avery for the Michigan Log Towing Company, between
Spanish River and Bay City in 1891, closing the season on the tug J.V. O'Brien as
master. The next year he took command of Capt. James Davidson's tug Perfection,
which was sold to Capt. J.S. Dunham three months later, when our subject was
appointed master of the passenger steamer Lora, plying between Bay City and Alpena.
In the spring of 1893 the Captain went to Duluth and entered the employ of Capt.
B.B. Inman as master of the tug J.L. Williams, sailing her two seasons, and in the
spring of 1895 he went to Boston Harbor and took charge of the tug Zenith, which
he brought out new for the Singer Towing Company, and has sailed her up to the
present time. He considers the Zenith the best tug of her time on the lakes, and
with her he does great business for the White Line. Socially, the Captain is a
Master Mason, and a member of the Ship Masters Association, carrying Pennant No. 473.
On July 19, 1885, Captain Ditzelwedded Miss Minnie A. Walrath, daughter of Henry
and Anna J. Walrath, of Bay City, Mich. The children born to this union are: Edward
James, Harley Ernest and Caspar Henry. Although the Captain makes his summer
residence on Lake Avenue, Duluth, the family homestead is at No. 1402 Washington
Street, West Bay City, Michigan.
1880 - Census: West Bay City, Bay, Mich.
Ditzell, Ernest H. - b. 1840 Germany - ferry man.
Christine, wife - b. 1846 Germany
Henry P., son - b. 1864 New York
Mary Ann, dau. - b. 1866 New York
James W., son - b. 1868 New York
Catherine C., dau. - b. 1874 Mich.
1885 - Michigan Deaths: West Bay City, Bay, Mich.
Ernest H. Ditzell, b. 1840 Germany, died May 9, 1885. Father Samuel Ditzell.
1894 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.
Ditzel, Henry E. - b. 1865.
Minnie, wife - b. 1869.
James E., son - b. 1866.
Harley E., son - b. 1889.
1896 - West Bay City Directory.
Ditzel, Catherine A (wid Ernest H.), res s cor 2d and Green, 1st ward.
Davidson, James (Capt.)
Dizel,Anna M. (sis)
Ditzel, Arthur D. (bro)
Ditzel, Casper H. (son)
Ditzel, Catherine C. (sis)
Ditzel, Edward J. (son)
Ditzel, Ernest H. (father)
Ditzel, Harley E. (son)
Ditzel, Henry E. (subject) Ditzel, James W. (bro)
Ditzel, John W. (bro)
Ditzel, Mary A. (sis)
Ditzel, Samuel (g-father)
Dunham, J.S. (Capt.)
Inman, B.B. (Capt.)
Shepard, Christine (mother)
Shephard, Jacob (g-father)
Walrath (?), Anna J. (m-inlaw)
Walrath, Henry (f-inlaw)
Waltrath, Minnie A. (wife)
Banks (village), MI
Bay City Bus. College
Bay City High School
Bay City, MI
Lake Ave., Duluth
Michigan Log Towing Co.
Ship Masters Assoc.
Singer Towing Co.
Washington St. 1402, WBC
West Bay City (WBC)
Vessels: Arthur D. (blt. tug)
Cora K.D. (blt.)
Hattie Brown (steamer)
J.G. Hubbard (blt. steamer)
J.L. Williams (tug)
J.V. O'Brien (tug)
M.D. Carrington (tug)
Waldo Avery (tug)
Witch of West (tug)
Links to the Past Online book, "History of the Great Lakes," Vols. 1 & 2, by J.B. Mansfield.