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Mason County Memories


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History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



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History Column 293 A K Hoxie Dave Petersen I've recently picked up some new photographs and a little more information on Captain A.K. Hoxie for this weeks column. Captain Alanson (Alan) K. Hoxie who for 58 years sailed on the Great Lakes started first as a cabin boy and deckhand aboard the lumber schooner H. M. Avery in 1896. Hoxie was an important figure in Great Lakes maritime history. When Hoxie started working aboard the lake boats at the end of the 19th century the only navigational aid was the compass and the stars above. It has been said that the wooden boats of old were manned by men of steel. The Implication is that the steel boats that replaced them were manned by lesser men. Nothing could be further from the truth in regards to Alanson K Hoxie. In his 58 years working aboard some of the grandest ships of the Great Lakes Captain Hoxie saw many changes, starting with the diminishing of the schooner fleet that dwindled from 3,000 ships to the end of "Our Son", the last working schooner on the Great Lakes in 1930. The old schooners were replaced by increasingly larger steam powered, coal fired and steel hulled boats in less then 30 years. As a boy in Iowa he built a raft to use in the fields after the summer thunderstorms, and when the family moved to Michigan chose to ride in a boxcar to save the fare money to be used to purchase a rowboat. Hoxie longed to sail on the lakes, a lust for the open water that may have come from his Great Great Grandfather, a whaler in New Bedford Massachusetts. His path to life on the lakes however was paved by the practical joker in the coopers shop he worked at in South Haven. His co-worker came up behind, slapped him on the back and pulled on the nape of his neck. Hoxie swallowed half the nails he had in his mouth. Afterwards the Doctor warned him to get out of coopering and find some employment outside in the fresh air.. He promptly went down to the port, walked on board the schooner and asked for a job. The Master being in a hurry and ready to leave port hired the young man to fill a vacancy. His boyhood dreams of sailing had come true when he began sailing on the lumber schooner H. M. Avery at the age of 17. Pic1 Hoxie went to work for the Pere Marquette Line in 1910 as Captain of the PM #4 and from that point on he always sailed as a Ships Master. He was master of the PM 4 from 1910 to 1913 and again in 1920 after the loss and sinking of the PM 3 on March 7th 1920. Pic2 Hoxie was named Captain of the PM #3 in 1913 and on March 7th 1920 was on vacation for a month when his substitute Captain McCauley took the ship out and it was caught in a field of ice just outside of Ludington along with the PM 17 and PM 18. Pic3 Hoxie soon became Master of the Nevada and served continuously in that position from 1922 to 1935. The Nevada was reportedly his favorite ship. Pic4 Hoxie was also Master of the Illinois in 1936 and 1940, the Illinois was built in 1899 by the Chicago Shipbuilding Company and operated by the Wisconsin Michigan Steamship Company and the Sand Products Corporation from 1933 to 1940 when she was laid up and eventually scrapped in 1947. Pic5 In May of 1941 Hoxie went on to become Captain of the Milwaukee Clipper. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 1954. Captain Hoxie brought the Milwaukee Clipper to Muskegon on her maiden voyage in 1941 and was called back after retirement to skipper the Aquarama on hers.

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