THE CHRISTMAS TREE CAPTAIN
The following text has been used by permission from the author, Jim Graczyk.
All pictures and text are protected under copyright law.
Thank you. Copyright 2004-2017 Jim Graczyk
Everyone at some point in our lives believes in Santa, but for many people from the Chicagoland area there was an even a more special person they called "Captain Santa." Others called him by a name they knew in which he provided a service, which was the "Christmas Tree Captain." This "Captain Santa" was the warm-hearted Herman Schuenemann of the Rouse Simmons.
a certain time of year, Captain Schuenemann would make a yearly voyage from
Northern Michigan Nursery came about at some point in Schuenemann's career after
he gave up buying trees from suppliers and hired his own crew to go into the
woods and cut trees. Schuenemann further eliminated the middleman by selling
trees himself from the deck of his ship instead of to store owners. Time
eventually took its toll and by 1912 the railroads and highways were making
these ships obsolete.
1912, he owned 240 acres in upper
Captain Schuenemann was realizing he could turn a disaster into profit. The snow
had buried tree farms in
the Thompson Harbor, Michigan trees were being crammed into every available
space on the Rouse Simmons. It was well into the evening when the Captain
ordered more bundles of trees tied on board the deck, row upon row. The schooner
sagged under the weight of her fragrant cargo. Schuenemann expected this to be
his most profitable year he had ever made.
stormy weather, the Rouse Simmons set sail at noon on November 22, 1912.
As the Rouse Simmons swung west-southwest heading toward
the station tower at
Visibility was difficult and a two hour search proving to be unsuccessful. Just then there was a break in the snowstorm and the ship sighted. From what men could make of it, the ship was barely afloat and resembled a floating piece of ice. Rescuers desperately moved full steam ahead and blinding snow again made it impossible to see the schooner. The Rouse Simmons vanished from sight and was never seen again, at least they thought...
divers found the wreck of the Rouse Simmons in 165 feet of water off the coast
Captain Schuenemann's body was never recovered, his wife is buried in
(The Schuenemann grave)
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Copyright 2004-2017 Jim Graczyk. All rights reserved.
Contact Author: Jim Graczyk.