“A Little About Me & Stories from Milwaukee Lifesaving Station” (Revised)

On the 11th day of July 1863, Charles Carland was born in “Halmestead, Sweden.” In the town of Halmestead, Charles’s father, John Carland was a local: “Fisherman.” I remained in my hometown until the tender age of thirteen, when I decided to become a: “Sailor.” The first vessel I served on was called the: “Barkentine Ludwick.” My career as a sailor aboard this sailing vessel lasted only four short months. I left that ship and headed for the: “Ludwick” in Helsingor, Denmark. My next stop was on the bridge of the “Triepput” where I spent the balance of a single shipping season. The following year, I went to Liverpool, England, where I shipped out aboard the: “Martin,” bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia. I left: “Martin” for the: “Lulah,” that was sailing to Brazil. I remained aboard the: “Lulah” for about eighteen months. I left the Brazilian port and sailed towards our next port of call. A short time later we arrived in: “St. John's, Newfoundland.” We off loaded our cargo and set sail for: “London, England.” Once in port, I shipped out on the: “Bark Star of Bengal,” bound for Calcutta. I made three exciting trips to India while aboard the: “Bengal.” My next adventure was on the: “C.W. Wolf,” out of: “Belfast, Ireland.” Her destined was listed as: “Bombay.” I made one trip to: “Bombay” and then returned by way of: “Baltimore, Maryland.” From Baltimore, I shipped out on the: “Steamer Romeno,” from the: “Wilson Line.”

The: “Romeno” was coming down from the shores off: “Newfoundland.” Unfortunately she sank thirteen minutes into her voyage. 

Author’s Note:
“Everyone aboard the Steamer Romeno was saved.”

Keeper Charles Carlson

In 1876, at the age of thirty, Captain Charles Carlson migrated to the United States. Just off the shores of: “Hull, England,” I spent twenty-five months deep-sea fishing, in the North Sea, My time in “Hull” was interesting but I was getting restless. After weighing my options, I decided to ship out on a vessel bound for: “Spain.” In April 1887, my next voyage was aboard “Scotia” out of: “Buffalo, New York.” I made two trips on the: “Scotia” that was bound for the “City of Chicago.”

In 1890, Charles married Barbara (“Sommers”) Carland in Hasting, Minnesota. Barbara Sommers was born in Ohio in 1850. On the 14th day of September 1892, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Charles & Barbara’s son Frank B. Carland was born. At the time of my birth, my father was stationed at: “Milwaukee Lifesaving Station.” This particular station was situated in the “State of Wisconsin,” along the shores of: “Lake Michigan.” On the 21st day of November 1893, I became a: “United States Citizen.” My citizenship sponsor was Jacob Sinniger, Keeper-in-Charge of: “Jackson Park Lifesaving Station.” Captain Carland spoke fluent: “English” and he had an excellent understanding of the “English” language.

Author’s Note:
            “In 1918 Captain Carland was responsible for rescuing fifty-four orphans that were stranded during the Ohio River Flood.”

United States Lifesaving Service

In April of 1890, I applied for an appointment with the United States Lifesaving Service. I passed the written examination and my physical as per U.S. Government regulations. In 1891, the first station I was assigned to was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and my rank at that time was “Surfman.” At that time Captain N.A. Peterson was the Keeper-in-Charge. He was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the station that was constructed along the shores of: “Lake Michigan.” On the 5th day of April 1898, I was appointed to the position of: “Acting Keeper.” I served in this capacity for about six weeks. Weeks later, I received my permanent appointment to Keeper-in-Charge. The appointment was approved by the: “Government.” I was now fully responsible for: “Milwaukee Lifesaving Station” and those dedicate Surfmen who served alongside me. Here is a list of those men:

o   Frank Gerdis Surfman No. 1
o   Henry Sinnegan Surfman No. 2
o   William Peterson Surfman No. 3
o   John Allie Surfman No. 4
o   Julius Meyers Surfman No. 5
o   Charles Johnson Surfman No. 6
o   Immel O. Peterson Surfman No. 7
o   Richard Wacksmith Surfman No. 8
  They were all fine able body of men and each of them were: “Expert Boatmen’s.” Several of them were: “Seamen” before they were assigned to my station. During his long and outstanding career, Charles Carland received many accolades. Here is just one of them:

“Charles Carland is the right man and in the right place.”

The “U.S. Government” noted: Captain Carland was a well-rounded sailor. He had plenty of experienced and was a very reliable man for the position he held. The: “Government” noted, Carland is a self-made man, a born sailor and has the right stuff to run this station.

1898 Rescues (Milwaukee Lifeboat Station)

The most important assistance rendered to vessels in distressed and those mariners clinging to life; was the appointment of Captain Carland appointment to the: “Milwaukee Lifesaving Station.” Since I took over the reins, there have been less than fourteen wreck reports written in the station logbooks.

Schooner D.P. Dobbins (Capsizes)

On 4th day of April 1898, the: “Schooner D.P. Dobbins,” was in need of help. The crew managed to get her back into port. One of the men apparently drowned, while Julius Meyers, Surfman No. 5 was on beach patrol. The: “Schooner Alida,” sprang a leak on 24th day of July 1898. My crew rescued seven men from the schooner. On the 3rd day of August 1898, the crew and I pulled under oars some fifteen miles out into the Lake Michigan. We were rowing: “North” of our station. As we made our way along the lake, the seas became very dangerous. We continued to row on as the waves kept pushing our boat about. In our minds, we knew there were at least six crew members aboard the: “Scow Dan Hayes.” The “Scow” was being dismantled by the heavy seas and was floundering helpless as the seas continued to toss her about like a rag doll.  We managed to pull all six of them off the floundering vessel. On the 17th day of August 1898, we were called out to relieve the: “Schooner Abbie.” The vessel had sprung a leak and was struggling to stay afloat. A little later on, we called out to save two people who were aboard a couple of skiffs that were being tossed about on the lake. A man had fallen asleep on skiff and was in need of assistance. The fisherman in the other skiff was also struggling amidst the breakers near: “South Bay.” On the 25th day of October 1898, the: “Schooner Barbarian,” whose home port was the: “City of Chicago” was caught up in sixty miles an hour gale force winds that were blowing across Lake Michigan. The crew and I rescued all seven men off the helpless: “Schooner Barbarian.”  On the 20th day of November 1898, we saved two fishermen from a watery grave after their boat capsized.

Author’s Note:
“There small fishing boat capsized while the men were fishing out on Lake Michigan.”

In mid-June of 1901, it seems my good fortune ran out. On the 20th day of June 1901, the: “Minneapolis Journal” published a newspaper article in the: “Tuesday Evening.” The article that was published about me was rather large. The title of the article was: “Shipping New of the Lakes”
My name was one of many names and statements that appeared in this newspaper article. The newspaper stated, that I was being removed from my position by: “United State Lifesaving Service, Secretary Gage.” The reason for my removal was stated something like this:

“Captain Charles Carland was being brought up on: “Insubordination Charges.” These allegations were brought against two of the Surfmen who worked at the Lifesaving Station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.”

The U.S. Government decided to review the: “Insubordination Charges.”  During their review they found those two Surfmen innocent of all charges. Subsequently, with the finding in, both men were cleared by: “Secretary Gage.” He removed me from my position as Keeper-in-Charge. On the 29th day of June 1901, I received a tentative appointment as Keeper-in-Charge of “Plum Island,” however due to my record being under strict scrutiny, I was promptly transferred to: “Plum Island Coast Guard Station.” On the 11th day of July 1901, I was quickly transferred to: “Old Chicago Lifesaving Station.”

Tugboat Indiana (Assists in Rescue Efforts)

The “Tugboat Indiana” was one of the first vessels to take passengers off the overturned Steamship Manitou. It was about week ago last Saturday, the: “Steamer Manitou” was now stuck on a: “Sand Bar.” The “Tugboat Indiana” was called in to pull her off.  Captain Charles Carland and his crew Surfmen were also called out to assist in this particular lake operation. Carlson and his crew were there in the event the steamer capsized. The tugboat crew tied lines to the steamer and then went about pulling her off the sand bar. What make this so significant, is even though she was stuck, we managed to pull her free. About an hour after her scheduled arrival time the, “Steamer Manitou” pulled into her Chicago River berth at Rush Street.

Author’s Note:
“In 1893, the Lake Superior Transportation Company introduced the steel passenger Steamer Manitou for the very first time. The steamship was constructed and eventually launched along the shores of Lake Michigan. According to her manifest, the Manitou would cruise from Chicago, Illinois along the shores of northern Michigan and then make her way to other Lake Superior ports.”

Old Chicago Lifesaving Station

Here are a few of the actual accounts from “Old Chicago Lifesaving Station” keeper’s logbook starting on: “The 18th day of July 1915 and ending on Tuesday the 27th day of July 1915.” All of these entries were handwritten, signed and approved by: “Surfman No. 1, William E. Preston.” Preston’s signature was authorized by the Clerk to the Superintendent of the Twelfth District: “Clayton Vanden Berg.” The “Keeper-in-Charge” at that time was: “Captain Charles Carland

Handwritten Accounts

On Monday the 19th day of July 1915, the station crew was busy cleaning the lifeboats. Captain Charles Carland, Keeper-in-Charge was summoned by Cook County Coroner, Peter Hoffman office.  Hoffman asked me to participate as a member of the: “Coroner’s Jury.” Captain Carlson and the eight other juries were about to hear testimony during an investigation of two young women and three young men who drowned along the city shoreline. According to the station logbook these five people were bathing around the early evening hours at: “Cornelia Bathing Beach.” This particular bathing beach area was less than miles “North” of the: “Old Chicago Lifesaving Station.”

According to several eye witnesses:
“These five young people were last scene at the bathing beach around 5:00 p.m. on Sunday evening the 18th day of July 1915.”

I left my station post at: 10:00 a.m. and I started walking towards the: “Coroner’s Office.” Surfman No. 1, William E. Preston was anticipating my return to the Lifesaving Station just before: 4:00 p.m. that same evening. On Tuesday the 20th day of July 1915, Captain Carland was again “Absent” from his post. According to the logbook, I was back at the “Coroner’s Office” and this time I had F. J. Hoake, Assistant Inspector, Twelfth District, United States Coast Guard’s approval to take the time I needed to serve as a member of the: “Coroner’s Jury.” On Wednesday morning William E. Preston, Surfman No. 1, reported:

“Keeper-in-Charge Charles Carland was absent from: 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Reason given for my absence was listed as: “Personal Business” Over the next few days it was business as usual around: “Old Chicago Lifesaving Station.” Crew members were working around the station. During the early morning hours, they were taking classes and spending time participating in: “Lifeboat Drills”.

Carlson & His Crew (The “Eastland Disaster”)

On Saturday the 24th day of July 1915 at 7:30 a.m., the station received a telephone call from R. H. McCreary, “Deputy Collector of Custom Homes.” He sounded rather panic stricken as he spoke to me. As the call came in, William E. Preston, Surfman No. 1 had the duty watch that morning. This is what Deputy McCreary told Surfman Preston:
“The Steamship Eastland Was Sinking!”

“Old Chicago Lifesaving Station” crew launched their “Power Surfboat” at: 7:45 a.m. and headed towards the “S.S. Eastland.”

Inside the Surfboat were Captain Charles Carland and these seven dedicated crew members:

o   William E. Preston, Surfman No. 1
o   S. Nedeau, Surfman No. 2
o   E. Kristofferson, Surfman No. 3
o   M. J. Muzynski, Surfman No. 4
o   J. LeClare, Surfman No. 5
o   G. A. Lehne, Surfman No. 6
o   J. Ericksen, Surfman No. 7

Surfman No. 2, S. Nedeau was scheduled to leave the station at: 8:00 a.m. on: “Regular Leave” and return to lifesaving station at “Midnight.” Unfortunately his leave was: “Cancelled.” As I dictated my thoughts to William E. Preston, Surfman No. 1, he wrote this in the station logbook:

“We found the “S.S. Eastland” had capsized with a load of passengers aboard. We estimated there were approximately 2,500 people on board and eighty crew members at the time she rolled on her side and sank into the muddy water. We succeeded in rescuing eight-four passengers from the steamship. We had the “Grim” task of recovering: 574 bodies in and around the capsized ship.”

On Sunday morning the 25th day of July 1915, the crew and I left the lifesaving station at: 7:30 p.m. Our destination was the capsized: “S.S. Eastland” that was lying on her side in the “Chicago River.” This time I only had four Surfmen with me:
o   William E. Preston, Surfman No. 1
o   S. Nedeau, Surfman No. 2
o   M. J. Muzynski, Surfman No. 4
o   J. LeClare, Surfman No. 5

A. E. Kristofferson Surfman No. 3 went on: “Regular Leave” at: 8:00 a.m. He was scheduled to report back “On Station” by “Midnight.” Our orders from the Twelfth District Inspector were to: “Drag” the Chicago River for bodies and do other work: “As Required.” We found the body of a young women floating near the water’s edge. We turned her remains over to the governing authorities. In the afternoon I sent, Surfman No.1, William E. Preston to the scene to: “Render All Possible Assistance” to those victims of this maritime tragedy. The remainder of his crew reported back to the station at: 3:00 p.m. Surfman No. 1, William Preston was back on scene at: 5:30 p.m. On Monday, the 26th day of July 1915 by 7:50 a.m., I had the following Surfmen leave for the: “S.S. Eastland” in our: “Power Surfboat.”

o   William E. Preston, Surfman No. 1
o   S. Nedeau, Surfman No. 2
o   E. Kristofferson, Surfman No. 3
o   M. J. Muzynski, Surfman No. 4

Today my crew and I will work: “Two Shifts” as per our directive from the Twelfth District Office. We will continue to drag the Chicago River for bodies. Keeper Carland note: “None Were Recovered Today!” During the afternoon we rendered all types of services to those working the wreck site. We moved our efforts further down river. We continued to drag the waters near the mouth of the Chicago River. At: 1:45 p.m., the crew and I found a purse that had: $2.00 in it. Inside was some sort of identification that was pretty water logged. As I reviewed the contents inside the purse, I noticed it belonged to “Katherine Kerbel.” According to one of the items in the purse Katherine resided at: 1036 North Karlov Avenue, in Chicago, Illinois. I later discovered that:
“Katherine Kerbel lost her life while aboard the S.S. Eastland.”

We turned the purse and its contents over to the “Chicago Police Department.” The crew and I arrived: “On Station” at: 5:00 p.m. I recalled that one of us fixed dinner. All of us sat down to eat ate. Once dinner was done we cleaned up and left the station around at: 6:45 p.m. We arrived back at the site of the disaster. Our orders were to continue dragging the Chicago River until: 10:00 p.m. On Tuesday the 27th day of July 1915, the: “Old Chicago Lifesaving Station” crew spent the entire day overhauling and cleaning the: “Power Surfboat.” The crew and I had to replace some of the mechanical gears that were worn down and rounded over. My crew also overhauled the engine and transmission of the surfboat. I decided to suspend all boat drills for the remainder of the day. The temperature at sunrise was list as sixty-five degrees. There was a light breeze blowing out of the northeast, the surf on the Lake Michigan was calm and it was raining.
Somewhere in all the National Archives records I remember reading: There was an account by someone who talked with Captain Charles Carland, Keeper-in-Charge of: “Old Chicago Lifesaving Station.” Carlson said:

            “According to the courts a Human Life was worth: $5K

Author’s Note:

“If Captain Charles Carlson had been paid $5K for each of the lives he saved or helped saved over his thirty years of dedicated service, Keeper Carland would have been worth some $250K, if he was instrumental in the preservation of some 5,000 lives?”

Cook County Coroner, Peter M. Hoffman talked about Captain Carland’s character during this maritime tragedy. Cook County Coroner, Peter M. Hoffman wrote:
  “The Eastland Disaster saw “844 people” drown that day. This was one of the high spots in Captain Carland’s life! Charles and his crew of dedicated Surfmen saved the lives of eighty-four passengers and recovered some five hundred bodies from the capsized “S.S. Eastland.”

A few days later I received a package in the mail from Peter M. Hoffman. Inside the envelope was a letter of “Thanks” and a “Silver Star” bearing a reproduction of the “S.S. Eastland?”
The inscription engraved on the “Silver Star” said:
 “For Value Services Rendered to the Coroner, Eastland Disaster 1915”

On the left is the S.S. Eastland docked at Wyandotte, Michigan in 1910, Courtesy of Paul E. Petosky “Private Collection”

Hero Has Passed

On the 24th day of June 1940, Captain Charles Carland passed away. His body was laid to rest in: “Arcadia Park Cemetery and Mausoleum” located in Chicago, Illinois.

Author’s Final Thoughts

This story gives you some real insight into the character and fortitude of Captain Charles Carland and his dedication to his fellow man. Can I reasonably conclude that Captain Carland was a: “Heroic Figure?” In my mind, I would have to say: “Yes” & “No!” The reason for my somewhat simplistic but yet indecisive answer is:

“If it was not for the other dedicated Surfmen that worked right alongside him day after day, Keeper Charles Carlson would not have been able to “Save” or “Preserve” the lives of some 5,000 victims!
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