Biography of Capt. Hugh Hastings
Erie County, OH Biographies





CAPT. HUGE HASTINGS. Of the many fine characters that sailed the Great Lakes it is doubtful if there was one who represented a better type of physical manhood and thorough manliness than the late Capt. Hugh Hastings, who is deserving of long memory in Erie County, particularly at Milan, where he lived for more than half a century and where his widow and daughter still have their beautiful home. Captain Hastings was a true sailor, and life on the water was to him a delight as well as a profession. He lived past eighty years, and to the last retained the splendid physical proportions which were an excellent environment for his sterling character. He made a most imposing figure on the bridge of the vessels which he commanded on Lake Erie for many years, and while he was a strict disciplinarian and a prompt and vigorous executive, he was also noted for his essential kindliness in his relations with subordinates.

His life began in County Down, Ireland, October 6, 1834, and came to a close in the beautiful home at Milan, January 6, 1915. His father, Robert Hastings, was of an old Protestant Scotch-Irish family of County Down. The splendid physical attributes which Captain Hastings exemplified were more or less characteristic of the entire family, since most of them were large in build and proportions, and distinguished for strength of body and mind Robert Hastings married a native of his own county and in 1840 the little family set out for the United States. The voyage was made on a slow sailing vessel, and from New York they came on west by the Hudson River, Erie Canal route to Buffalo, and thence in a small boat to Huron and Milan. At that time Milan was the center of traffic in Northern Ohio for the grain products raised in the surrounding agricultural neighborhood, and was also one of the prominent ship building centers around the lake. Besides the parents there were the following children who came to Milan fully seventy five years ago: Jane, Hugh, James, Robert, Jr., and Maria. Two bothers were born at Milan, William and Maggie. All these are now living except Jane and the late Captain Hugh and all of them married and had families except Robert, Jr. Robert Hastings, the father, after coming to Milan acquired a few acres of land, and followed farming. His wife died when about three score years of age at Huron. The father later worked on the lake on boats captained by his son, and at his death was quite an old man. Robert and his wife were members of the Presbyterian Church and in polities he was a republican.

Capt. Hugh Hastings grew up in Milan, acquired his education there, and from early childhood all his desires and thoughts were of a seafaring life. While a child back in his Irish home, which was close to the sea, he would stand for hours watching the vessels that sailed by, and this early longing and imagination proved the dominating influence in his life. When still a boy he gained his first practical experience on lake boats and when hardly past twenty one was master of a vessel, the Darian Later he became captain of the Jura, the Hyphen, the Amaranth and others, and for ten years was in command of several vessels operated by the Valentine Fries Company. After more than forty years in the lake service he retired in 1900, and there was no veteran mariner on the lake who had a better record for efficiency, for safe conduct of his vessel and cargoes, and for all round ability as a seaman than Captain Hastings. In lake marine circles he was one of the most familiar figures and had a host of friends and acquaintances at every port around Lake Erie, and it is of record that he made the fastest run of any master between the ports of Toledo and Buffalo.

In the meantime his home for a great many years had been at Milan and there he spent the months when lake navigation was closed, and lived there in quiet retirement for the fifteen years before his death. His wife, while he was away engaged in his duties, put up the beautiful home in which she now resides. This is a twelve room modern residence on Center Street, and is located on the same lot where they occupied a small cottage after their marriage more than fifty years ago. For ten years Captain Hastings was a member of the cemetery board at Milan and held that position at the time of his death. He was a strong republican, a Blue Lodge Mason with Milan Lodge 239, F. & A. M., and had maintained that affiliation since he was twenty five years of age.

At the Village of Milan September 23, 1864, Capt. Hugh Hastings married Miss Elizabeth E. Edridge. She was born in Norwalk, Ohio, seventy four years ago, but was reared and educated at Milan, and had taught school before her marriage. She is a woman of thorough culture, and for a long period of years has been devoted to home and family and to kindly service among her friends and the community. For more than half a century her home has been on one lot in Milan, where she and Captain Hastings started housekeeping in a small cottage and she still owns that cottage. She has other valuable property interests in the village. Her parents were Charles and Nancy J. (Latham) Edridge. Her father was born in Gloucestershire, England, about the year 1810, and was a young man when he immigrated to the United States and located at Norwalk in Huron County, Ohio, and a little later met and married his wife there. She was a native of New London, Connecticut, and had been brought when an infant to Norwalk, where her father died not long afterwards, and the widow then returned to Connecticut and spent the rest of her years there. Mrs. Edridge and her twin sister subsequently returned to Norwalk, and she lived there until her marriage to Mr. Edridge, after which they lived in Huron County for several years and then made their home in Milan. Mr. Eldridge was a grocery merchant at Milan for a number of years and died in that village when nearl fourscore years of age His widow passed away some years later and was ninety three years six months old. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mrs. Hastings had a brother and sister, Nelson and Mary, who were twins Nelson is married and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while Mary, who is deceased, was the widow of Capt. John Coulter, another old Lake Erie captain. Of the Coulter children there are two living daughters, Fannie and Libby, the latter now married. Captain Hastings and wife had only one daughter, Carrie E., who grew up in Milan, received good advantages in the schools, and is now living with her mother in their beautiful and attractive home.

From:
A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio
By: Hewson L. Peeke
Assisted by a Board of Advisory Editors
The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1916


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