Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company (Part -2)


“Let’s Talk a Little About 45 Years of Service”

Part-2 of this story revolves around some additional research, I did on Otto Bismarck Englisch, Vice President, General Manager & Director, Hewitt Boice, Chairman of the Board, Chas B. Brown, President, Kingston, New York and a few other board members. I also took a deeper dive into the railway and navigation company, some of the vessels, rolling stock, steam engines and company’s overall service history. As I stated in “Part-1” this type of story takes time to develop and in this case, that became even clearer as I went deeper into the company’s history. The further I dug the more information on the Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company came into view. Hopefully all of you will enjoy reading “Part 2” of: “Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company “Let’s Talk a Little About 45 Years of Service”

Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company (Amended)


On the 14th day of June 1904 the Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigational Company was incorporated for the sum of: $250K in Alabaster, Michigan. For the record the new railway & navigation company owned 28 miles of roadway that extend from docks at Alabaster, Michigan to the Detroit & Michigan Railway and from Alabaster to the Michigan Central at Standish, Michigan.

Erie & Michigan Railway Equipment


  • Steam Locomotives: Two (2)
  • Freight Cars: One Hundred & Twenty-four (124)
  • Work Equipment: Six (6)

On the 30th day of June 1904, the: “Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company” was now an operational short line railway. On Wednesday, the 20th day of July 1904, the: “Evening Times Newspaper” located in Bay City, Michigan published this:

“Northern Michigan” “To Build Road and Docks. Alabaster, Michigan, the Erie and Michigan Railway & Navigation Company, recently incorporated in Michigan, proposes to build about 30 miles of road from the docks at Alabaster, Iosco County, to connect with the Michigan Central and Detroit & Mackinac. The D & M already has a line to this place.”

Author’s Note:

            “I would like to thank: The Bay County Historical Society, Butterfield Memorial Research Library, for helping me out with some of the research on this particular subject matter. Special thanks to Ms. J. C. Kamer for all her help.”

The railway and navigational company continued operations & shipping services for another forty-five years. In 1905, the main office and those running the day to day operations of the navigation company were:

  • A. W. Dowler, General Freight & Passenger Agent, Chicago, Illinois
  • John Prindiville & Son, Vessel Agents, Chicago, Illinois
  • Captain P. F. Powrie, Superintendent Boat Line, Alabaster Township, Michigan
  • A. C. Hebel, General Agent, Alabaster Township, Michigan

On the 27th day of March 1905, located in Chicago, Illinois, the “Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company” were the new owners of the steamer barge that were all built by: “W. R. Linn, located in Gibraltar, Michigan.” The vessels they purchased were used and many of them were previously owned/operated by the: “Chicago Lumber Company.” Listed below are those three vessels the navigation company owned and operated:

  • M. T. Greene (Wood Hull) Steamer Barge, tonnage = 1,000
  • Winnebago (Steel Hull) Steamer Barge, tonnage = 1,800
  • Jesse Spaulding (Steel Hull) Steamer Barge, tonnage = 2,000

In 1906, the “Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company” officially opened a short line railway from Alabaster Township, Michigan to Alabaster Junction which is near: “Tawas City, Michigan” and a very short distance from the shoreline of: “Lake Huron” Almost a year to the day the railway signed a lease ten year on the 29th day of June 1907, with the Detroit & Mackinac Railway. A littler less than six months later that lease was amended for the purpose of restating the route and the cost to cover this change was broken down like this:

“Change per value from $100 to $10.”

The Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company continued operations until it was; “SOLD” to the Detroit & Mackinac Railway in January of 1949.

Author’s Note:

            Please keep in mind the Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company only operated within the: State of Michigan. Which if you look back in timeframe there were other small railways operating in the state.”

Otto B. Englisch (My Early Years Amended)

If you recall in Part-1, I talked about Otto Bismarck Englisch came into the world on the 20th day of April 1873. His mother Henrietta W. (Deisseroth) Englisch and father August Englisch welcome him with open arms.

Author’s Note:

            “Both of Otto’s parents were born in Germany.”

Otto’s birthplace was listed as: “Calumet, Michigan” located in the county of: “Houghton.” During the early years of Otto’s young life, he and his siblings (Agnes, Paul, Arthur, & Blanche) spent most of their time in and around their home town of Calumet, Michigan. Listed in the 1880 U.S. Census Records, Otto’s age as: “Seven years old.” His family was still living in Houghton County, Michigan. So, what do we know about Otto and his early life up to when he became the Vice President, General Manager & Director of the Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company. Otto early business life started in 1886 to 1890 as a: “Clerk” in a general store located in Scribe, Nebraska. In 1895, Otto’s next position was: “Mining Gypsum” and taking part in organizing a business called: “Blue Valley Plaster Company” near Midland, Michigan. In 1896, Otto’s position within the company was listed as: “General Manager.”

Author’s Note:

            Later, in the company’s history, it was known as: “Midland Plaster Company.”

During 1896, he organized: “Otto B. Englisch Company” & “Englisch Plaster Works” located in Oakland, Genessee County, New York. In 1898, the he setup and organized the: “Big Four Plaster Works.” Three years later all the company’s I’ve talked about and many others were consolidated and reorganized into: “U. S. Gypsum Company” locate in Chicago, Illinois. His position within the newly formed company was listed as: “Assistant to the President of the Company.” Otto’s overall work ethic and keen business sense earned him a promotion to: “2nd Vice President and Traffic Manager,” before he was appointment to: “Vice President, General Manager & Director of the Erie & Michigan Railway and Navigation Company.” What isn’t know Otto was also the: “Vice President & General Manager” of: “Culver & PT Clinton Railway” out of Ohio and: “Director” of: “Englisch Oil & Gas Company” located in Omaha, Nebraska and a member of the I.O.O.F.

Author’s Note:

            “Otto’s office was listed as: 218 LaSalle Street and his residence was listed at: Chicago Beach Hotel.”

Thirteen years (1893) later, Otto B. Englisch married, S. Alice Knobe. In 1908, you could describe Otto Englisch as a man about five feet ten inches tall, brown hair with a high forehead, gray-blue eyes, and was fair complexed living in New York City. The couple had one child they named her: “Lucile Knobe.” Listed in the 1910 United States Census, Frieda Lind born in Sweden was the Englisch’s first family servant that was living with them. Living with the Englisch family were two family servants (Amelia Anderson, from Sweden and Janette Haret from Scotland) who was also listed on the 1930 U.S Census.

Author’s Notes:

            “On Otto’s 1908 “Passport Application” his address was listed as: “Manhattan Hotel, New York, New York”. His occupation at the time was listed as: “Manufacturer.”

S. Alice (Knobe) Englisch


Let’s talk a little about S. Alice (Knobe) Englisch before we go on with this story. S. Alice’s mother name was Lucy Green and her father was Doctor Robert S. Knobe. S. Alice was born in New Haven, Indiana. What I found very interesting about Ms. Knobe, one of her descendants Peleg Green (1747 to 1835) on her mother’s side of the family, was active military. His rank was listed as a: “Private.” He was placed on: “Pension Roll of Vermont 1832” and Peleg spent fourteen months with the: “Rhode Island Line.” Peleg was born in North Kingston, Rhode Island and in 1835 he passed away in: “Clarendon County, Vermont.” Peleg Green is the:  “Englisch’s” family tie into the: “Daughters of the American Revolution” that I talked a little about in “Part-1.”

During 1910, Otto and S. Alice moved to Chicago, Illinois, Cook County and remained there until sometime in 1930. Based on city records Otto’s office was located on the: “9th floor,” at: “184 LaSalle Street.”

Author’s Note:

            “I thought you may find this interesting. In the 1910, U.S. Census Otto’s age was listed as: “30 years old.” In the 1930, U.S. Census, his age was listed as: “57 years old.” Something is out of place here, could it be a miss print or a typo? I will let you decide?”

On the 20th day of October 1935, Otto Bismarck Englisch & Alice (Knobe) Englisch both passed away in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California. At this juncture, I cannot say for sure when Otto & Alice’s remains were laid to rest in: “Oak Wood Cemetery & Confederate Mound, located in Chicago, Illinois, Cook County.”

Hewitt Boice, Chairman of the Board


Sometime in 1850, Hewitt Boice was born to William V. N. Boice and Jane (Davis) Boice. Hewitt’s birthplace was listed as: “Boiceville, Ulster County, New York.” Hewitt grew up in a pioneer family. His father William was a: “Farmer” who spent most of his time dealing lumber and was part of a blue stone business in Olive Township called: “William V. N. Boice & Son’s” until 1875. William V. H. Boice passed away in 1875 and upon his death William’s businesses interests were transferred to: “Hewitt Boice.”

Author’s Note:

“If you recall, I talked a little about Hewitt and his father businesses in lumber and blue stone. Well I can say with some certainty the company’s annual earnings were list between $300K to almost $500K and they owned five barges and one 350-ton schooner.”

In 1866, Hewitt married: “Caroline (Sinclair) Boice.” From what I have been able to gather the couple had one child. Their daughter name was listed as: “Virginia Boice.” The Boice’s daughter married Rev. F. B. Seely. The couple was blessed with one child, but just after his birth their infant son passed away. Their son’s name was missing from the U.S. Census records. Some 33 years (1899) later Hewitt’s wife Caroline passed away.

In 1901, Kathryn DuBois (Seyo) Boice and Hewitt Boice were married in Kingston, New York. Hewitt Boice was a prominent man in the local community and was referred to as an esteem citizen who at that time was living in Kingston, New York. Based on what I read through, Hewitt Boice was self-made man amongst those who knew in Ulster County, New York. Hewitt Boice was the Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company’s: “Chairman of the Board.” Hewitt also owned a stone yard and mills until 1901, when his interest in all of the businesses were purchased by: “The Hudson River Blue Stone Company.”

Brief History (Steam Barge Jesse Spaulding)


On the 1st of January 1897, local district in Chicago, Illinois, was being towed in after lying at the foot of LaSalle Street along the Chicago River. Somewhere within her engine room the steamer barge caught fire. The blaze damaged most the internal wood work within the engine room. Cost of repairs back them were listed as: “$25.00.”

            On the 30th day May 1904, while in tow the steamer barge was on the South Branch of the Chicago River with the O. B. Green. Around 3:00 p.m. the: “Jesse Spaulding” was pulled over by a steam barge and then sank to the bottom of the: “Chicago River.”

The O. B. Green sustained some minor damaged. After a complete investigation took place, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Labor stated there were: “No Lives Lost” or “Persons Injured.” A few weeks later, the Steamer Barge Jesse Spaulding was floated to the surface, tied off to a tug that towed her to a drydock for repairs. On the 20th day of November 1904, the: “Steamer Barge Jesse Spaulding” was stranded on the bank of the: “Bark River Reef.” The “Spaulding” was loaded down with six hundred tons of: “Iron Ore.” The entire load of ore went overboard after the Jesse Spaulding colliding with the rocky reef. The Department of Commerce and Labor stated there were: “No Lives Lost” or “Damage to the Steamer Barge.”

On the 16th day if June 1913, the Steamer Barge Jesse Spaulding managed to make its port destination that was located in: “Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.” According to the: “Sheboygan Press,” the Steamer Barge came into port with her: “Steel Bow Caved In.” Once the barge was tied off, Captain L. A. Garu telegrammed the Chicago Office. Garu reported he and the crew were: “OK.” We managed to make it into port, but the bow was caved in. The only information Captain Garu was able to tell the Chicago Office was:

 “He believes the: “Jesse Spaulding” collided with the “Steamer Wilpen while running along the lake in: “Dense Fog.”

Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company (Court Proceedings)


The Chicago Tribune Newspaper published an article about the railway & navigation company. The title of the article was: Asks Court to Cancel Lease,” subtitled: Erie & Michigan Railway & Navigation Company accused Its Former General Manager of Fraud. The date of article was the 8th day of March. I haven’t had a chance to pull the actual court transcripts on this matter, what is known the General Manager O.B. Englisch and former Vice President of the company has been accused of defrauding a number of leasing contracts for some three hundred freight cars. What struck me as odd, as I continued to read the article the O.B. Englisch’s legal team has asked the court asked to set aside the leases and the amounts due. There thought on this is to prove the client (O.B. Englisch) is equally the owners of those three hundred freight cars. On the other side of these court proceedings, U. S. Gypsum Company, who also guarantee these leases has also filed suit and has the court to relieve them of their obligations. There reason to get out of this was stated as: “It’s Unjust and Fraudulent.”

Author’s Note:

            “Hopefully I will learn more about this court proceedings and be able to give you even more information about how it comes out”