The Dodge Family - Page 2
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LETTER FROM THE WALLET OF HORACE E. DODGE SR. - CIRCA 1920
"For the following reasons I am unable to send you the check asked for:
I have been held up, held down, sand-bagged, walked on, sat on, flattened out and squeezed. First, by the United States Government, for Federal War Tax, the Excess Profit Tax, the Liberty Loan Bonds, Thrift Stamps, Capital Stock Tax, Merchants License and Auto Tax, and by every Society and Organization that the inventive mind of man can invent, to extract what I may or may not possess.
From the Society of John the Baptist, the G.A.R., the Women's Relief, the Navy League, the Red Cross, the Black Cross, the Purple Cross, the Double Cross, the Children’s Home, the Dorcas Society, the Y.M.C.A., the Boy Scouts, the Jewish Relief, the Belgian Relief, and every hospital in town.
The Government has so governed by business that I don’t know who owns it. I am inspected, suspected, and examined and re-examined, informed, required and commanded so I don’t know who I am, where I am, or why I am here. All I know is I am supposed to be an inexhaustible supply of money for every known need, desire or hope of the human race; and, because I will not sell all I have and go out and beg, borrow or steal money to give away, I have been cussed, discussed, boycotted, talked to, talked about, lied to, lied about, hold up, hung up, robbed and nearly ruined; and, the only reason I am clinging to life is to see what in the H-ll is coming next."
Many well-to-do Grosse Pointers owned large and luxurious yachts in which they sailed on Lake St. Clair and on across the Great Lakes .Possibly the best known was Horace Dodge’s Delphine. Built in 1920, this grand 267-foot vessel was at the time the largest private yacht in the world. Yet the Delphine was not the only vessel in The Dodge Fleet of Lake St. Clair.
Excerpts from THE DODGE FLEET OF LAKE ST. CLAIR
by John F. Polacsek
Horace and John Dodge, at the turn of the century, joined an elite group of capitalists whose hobby was the costliest diversion in the world - steam yachting. Their automotive ventures provided almost unlimited capital and allowed for the creation of a fleet which can only be described as "elegance afloat’"
Racing steam launches was an interest that both brothers shared, and early on they owned two 40-foot steam launches, the LOTUS and the HORNET. The Detroit shipyard of Peter H. Studer produced both hulls, and it was these two boats that kindled a desire that would not be satisfied easily. While the LOTUS was a standard day launch, the HORNET had a number of engines designed for it by Horace, and he raced it around Belle Isle. It was this interest in racing and experimenting with engines that later developed into the Dodge Marina Division.
Yet a 40-foot steam launch was not the proper vessel for an automobile executive, and in 1905 the shipyard of Peter Studer designed and constructed a sleek 96-foot vessel for the Dodge Brothers. This boat, also called the HORNET, was christened by Mrs. Horace Dodge on July 6, 1905. Following her broadside launch into the Detroit River, the boat was towed to the Orleans Street plant of the Detroit Shipbuilding Company where work was begun on the installation of the boilers and engines. A pair of Dearing boilers capable of 600 pounds pressure were set securely as they were expected to produce 1,000 pounds horsepower. The engines were built by the Dodge Brothers themselves and would drive the sleek craft at more than 35 miles per hour. The vessel drew six inches of water at the bow and three feet at the stern. Measuring 90 feet on the waterline, she was of a tri-screw design and the three propellers help her cut through the water. The new HORNET was a day yacht having a dining area and lounge but no overnight accommodations. With a hull ten feet wide, 20 or more guests could be entertained on board at a time.
In 1911 the HORNET was sold to Ora J. Mulford, owner of the Gray Motor Company in Detroit, and renamed the VIKING. In 1915 the hull was altered and two 8 cylinder Gray gasoline engines were installed. Mr. Mulford renamed her the GRAYLING III and began ferrying passengers to the Old Club at the St. Clair Flats. In 1923 GRAYLING III was sold to the Lawrence Park Company of Miami, Florida, and she left the lakes.
Late in 1910 the 17-year-old daughter of John Dodge, Winifred, christened a new day launch at the Great Lakes Boat Company in Detroit. The designer Alfred Seymour created a steel hull into which the Dodge Brothers placed special engines that they built. The HORNET II was a multipurpose vessel for business, pleasure, and racing.
The 99-foot-long vessel was noted for having two brass smoke-stacks to accommodate the steam power plants for two 1,000 horsepower, four-cylinder quadruple expansion steam engines that were built in the hull. These engines enabled the HORNET II to reach a speed of 41 miles per hour, making it the fastest yacht in the world. The HORNET II was active until 1921 when it was abandoned—but it’s legacy lives on. One of the engines was removed and donated to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., where it is today a monument to Horace Dodge’s engineering ability.
Racing steam launches brought Horace and John into a group of dynamic steam and gasoline boaters. In late 1913 Horace was elected Commodore of the Detroit Motor Boat Club. The organization had recently moved up the Detroit River from Water Works Park to a new Club House adjoining the Windmill Point Lighthouse. Horace succeeded Commodore W.E. Scripps Marine Motor Company, and the man who sent the 37-foot motorboat DETROIT from Detroit all the way to St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1912.
A cruising yacht was needed by Horace and John Dodge, and on December 20, 1913, Horace’s daughter Delphine christened the new steam yacht NOKOMIS in South Brooklyn, New York. The firm of Gielow and Orr of New York was responsible for the design while the Robins Dry Dock Company of Brooklyn constructed the 145-foot yacht. This was a true yacht with staterooms for the owner and guests, a crew of 30, and designed with a clipper ship bow and stern. The vessel was used for business promotions, and during the summer months it could sail at a top speed of 16 knots anywhere the 8-foot draft would allow it. Like her namesake (the mother of Hiawatha), the NOKOMIS became well known around the Great Lakes.
Horace and John only used the NOKOMIS for three years. Due to the outbreak of World War I, their yacht was requisitioned by the U.S. Navy. In May 1917 a farewell ceremony was held at their Detroit dock and a special poem was included in a farewell booklet:
The wind is lashing the somber lee,
And the foam-flecked waves roll high,
And my heart is stirred like the stormy sea,
As you sail from the shores of “Used-to-Be.”
Goodbye, Nokomis, Goodbye!
You’ve served me well in days of yore,
When the sun shone bright on high,
Go now and weather the storms of war,
And make me proud of the name you bore,
Goodbye, old friend, goodbye!
The U.S. Navy commissioned the NOKOMIS as the U.S.S. KWASID on December 5, 1917, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Two three-inch guns and two machine guns were added as armament. A crew of six officers and 57 sailors patrolled the East Coast on the lookout for submarines. After the war the yacht was sold and spent the rest of its days on the Hudson River as the SAELMO, and on the Chesapeake Bay as the DUPONT.
Apparently the NOKOMIS had not satisfied the Dodge Brothers, and a new yacht was commissioned to be designed by the firm of Gielow & Orr. The hull was to be 243 feet long with a 31-foot beam, and it would take 12 feet of water to float her. The NOKOMIS II was built at Wilmington, Delaware, in the Pusey & Jones Company Shipyard. As was the fate of her predecessor, this vessel was requisitioned by the U.S. Navy before she was finished. The only opportunity that the Dodge Brothers had to sail her was when she was delivered to the Brooklyn Navy Yard upon completion.
The U.S.S. NOKOMIS was commissioned on December 3, 1917, and was listed as a patrol vessel/yacht with a crew of 103 men. Her two propellers could provide a speed of 16 knots while on duty along the Atlantic coast. At the end of the war she was scheduled to be sold, but was not, and remained in the U.S. Navy until 1938.
With two vessels being requisitioned by the U.S. Navy, Horace Dodge began looking around for a vessel that would represent his stature in the maritime community. In late 1917 he purchased the steam yacht CAROLINE from Edward Ford of Toledo, Ohio. The CAROLINE was built in 1914 at New York, and was 187-feet long with a width of 24 feet. In 1918 she was listed as enrolled out of Detroit.
In 1919 the yacht was renamed the DELPHINE in honor of Horace’s daughter. This was not the first Dodge DELPHINE to grace Lake St. Clair, for in 1914 Horace purchased a gasoline launch from the Elco Company of Bayonne, New Jersey, and named it DELPHINE. The 45-foot launch was used to commute to downtown Detroit and was raced on the Detroit River.
The year 1920 began on a tragic note with the passing away of John F. Dodge on January 14. The highlight of the year, however, was the marriage of Horace’s daughter Delphine to Jim Cromwell on June 17, 1920. After the elaborate wedding and reception at the Dodge Estate, the newlyweds boarded the 187-foot DELPHINE and cruised the Great Lakes.
On the same day as Delphine’s wedding the keel and frames for a new yacht were laid at the Great Lakes Engineering Works at River Rouge, Michigan. With the completion of the new DELPHINE in 1921 the DELPHINE/CAROLINE was sold in May 1922 to Mrs. Joseph B. Schlotman of Grosse Pointe Shores. She renamed the yacht the STELLARIS, and it was active until the mid-1930’s. At that time a wooden structure was built around the upper deck, and it sat in the Belle River at Marine City, Michigan. The yacht was eventually sold in 1941 to the New York Waterway Yacht Cruise Company for tours of New York Harbor and was given the name SYLPH II.
As the new DELPHINE was the only vessel constructed at the Great Lakes Engineering Works in 1920 and 1921, Horace Dodge had the whole shipyard at his beck and call. Horace would commute in the 53-foot cruiser ANNA D, from the dock on Lake St. Clair to the slip at River Rouge. The ANNA D was built in 1920 at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and it allowed Horace to come up next to the ways where the DELPHINE was being built and ride on a special aerial perch which was suspended from a gantry crane. Unfortunately, due to failing health, Horace was not able to see the DELPHINE completed. He died on December 10, 1920.
The work on the yacht continued under Mrs. Anna Dodge’s watchful eye, and on April 2, 1921, the largest private yacht in the world was side launched into the waiting slip. Amid the accompaniment of music, huzzas, and saluting whistles, Delphine Dodge Cromwell smashed a champagne bottle across the bow. In respect for her father she wore a mourning veil, but red roses touched up her gown’s somberness.
The yacht was a floating mansion and matchless in its outfitting. The DELPHINE was 258 feet overall and 250 feet at the water line. It had a cruising range of 7,000 miles and there were five decks orlop, lower, main, saloon, and boat or upper deck. Along with the owners’ stateroom, which was 25 x 20 feet, there were guest staterooms each 14 x 14 feet, nine in number, and private connecting baths. The main deck contained a music room in which was installed a $60,000 pipe organ. Aft of the music room was a passenger lounge inlaid entirely in teak. The DELPHINE was well worth the $2 million price tag.
It took a crew of as many as 60 under the able command of Captain Arthur A. Archer to run the yacht. The regular crew consisted of two mates, three engineers, three wheelsmen, three watchmen, eighteen sailors, three oilers, three firemen, a steward, chef, two porters, two wireless operators, a doctor, a carpenter, and a boatswain. The radio room was equipped with a Marconi wireless capable of receiving messages from any where on the Great Lakes.
There were nearly 3,000 electric lights on the vessel. Every room was equipped with a telephone and an annunciator system with push buttons that enabled the guests to call maids or porters. The power plan was a quadruple steam engine with water boilers and oil as fuel. A special apparatus could change the air in the entire vessel every six minutes.
The new DELPHINE, built along navy lines with her ram bow, short overhang, and destroyer type stern, was different in design from any yacht ever built. The unusual profile was the result of the designer H.J. Gielow of New York and his effort to provide maximum deck space in the length. There was a restriction on the size of the canal locks through which lake craft enter the ocean and the DELPHINE was built within ten feet of the canal limitations.
The yacht was ready by May 1921, but due to her draft she did not immediately go to her dock behind the Dodge Mansion on the Lake St. Clair. Here the water depth was only 5 to 7 feet and the DELPHINE drew 14 feet of water; when 325,000 gallons of fuel and 200,000 gallons of water were taken onboard, she drew 16 feet. In order to get the yacht to her mooring, a 3,000 foot channel, 34 feet wide, needed to be dredged from the main shipping channel to the shore. Then 200 feet of catwalk and another 240 feet of timber and rock-filled pilings needed to be constructed. When this work was completed the DELHPINE arrived at her new home.
Cruises on the Great Lakes aboard the DELPHINE included the area of Tobermoray and Georgian Bay and up into Lake Superior during the summer months. During the winter months the yacht was taken through the Welland Canal and down the coast to Mrs. Dodge’s Florida residence.
In September 1926, while in transit to Florida, the DELPHINE caught fire in the Hudson River and sank off New York City. The fire started September 22nd while Mr. & Mrs. Hugh Dillman (Mrs. Dodge had remarried in 1926) were at the Hotel Ambassador. The police department was notified by the wireless operator who shortly had to leave the radio room, and two fire boats were dispatched. By the next morning the yacht was lying on her port side on the bottom of the river. Two months went by before a cofferdam could be constructed around the vessel, and then it was moved to James Shewan & Sons Shipyard in Brooklyn.
Upon raising the vessel it was discovered that mud to a depth of several feet filled the hull. Decks and every piece of woodwork were torn out, the hull cleaned, and every piece of machinery was completely dismantled. The contract for refurbishing the yacht was left to Tiffany & Company. In rebuilding, the original layout was followed with minor exceptions in that rooms were made much brighter. The repairs on the DELPHINE started on February 1, 1927, and she was returned to service on June 15, 1927, after the insurance paid the $800,000 fee.
The DELPHINE again cruised the Great Lakes during the summer months and in August 1931 went aground north of Manitoulin Island. Upon her arrival at Great Lakes Engineering Works, nine bottom plates were removed, and one new one was added. It took 4,017 hours of labor, a staff working 10-hour days, and 3,117 pounds of rivets to complete the job, and she was quickly put back in service.
Keeping the DELPHINE in condition was a costly affair, and in July 1934 the Wayne County Board of Tax Review fixed an assessment on the yacht of $500,000. To make matters worse a legal battle broke out in which both Grosse Pointe Farms and the City of Grosse Pointe were given the rights to asses the 14-year-old vessel. It was declared that both municipalities had the taxing power since the yacht lay in a channel with 3.3 feet of its 34 foot width in Grosse Pointe Farms and the remainder in the City of Grosse Pointe.
From 1935 to 1940, because the Dillmans were now summering in Europe, the DELPHINE was encased in a canvas cocoon to keep the weather out and was moored at her private dock on Lake St. Clair. In 1940 with their travel plans thwarted by World War II, the Dillmans had the yacht reconditioned.
In January 1942 the U.S. Navy requisitioned the DELPHINE, just as they had done in World War I when they took over the NOKOMIS and NOKOMIS II. The U.S.S. DAUNTLESS, as the DELPHINE was renamed, was fitted with armament and radar, and became the flagship of Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander and Chief of the United States Fleet. The new patrol yacht spent the war years in Chesapeake Bay as Admiral King was assigned to Washington D.C.
The DAUNTLESS was used as a floating conference room, and a major portion of the naval war in the Pacific was planned onboard.
Participants along with Admiral King were Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall and reportedly President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Nine hash marks were added to the smoke stack to represent the 52 months that the DAUNTLESS was in service.
After the war Mrs. Dodge (she was divorced from Mr. Dillman in 1947) reportedly spent $300,000 to make the yacht livable again following its return to her. Cruises on the Great Lakes kept the vessel active until 1955. When the DELPHINE was no longer used to cruise the Great Lakes, she became a landmark and was tied up in front of Rose Terrace. Only a chief engineer and two seamen cared for the vessel, which stood out at her berth like a small liner.
In October 1962 two tugs towed the DELPHINE from her dock to the Nicholson Dock Company in Ecorse, where a refitting took place. The vessel was reportedly being prepared for an ocean voyage, and was towed out the St. Lawrence Seaway to New London, Connecticut, where the rest of the work was to take place. She spent a year in New London, then three years at Salt Pond Boat Yard at East Matunuck, Rhode Island, which was operated by the DELPHINE’s captain of twenty years, William Knight.
In 1966 the yacht was moved to a Boston drydock and underwent an inspection. It was reported that a sea-going school in Virginia hoped to purchase her and combine classes with world tours for its teenage student body. Another report had the DELPHINE sold to the Toledo Galleries and that she was to sail to Jacksonville, Florida, to become a floating antique gallery.
The vessel was finally sold in 1967 to the Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship at Piney Point, Maryland, near the mouth of the Potomac River, an area where the DAUNTLESS had cruised during World War II. The DELPHINE was up for sale again in 1986 and was ultimately purchased by the Seasun Cruises, a subsidiary of the Singpore based Seafix. In 1990 Seasun hired crews to rework the engines, boilers, and electrical wiring to place her back in service.
The DELPHINE sailed under her own power across the Atlantic. After making the crossing up to Malta in 1993, the French owner towed her to Marseilles France; in 1997 the Bruynooghe family bought it and completed a six year restoration. In 2003, HSH Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, became the godmother of the vessel; and has since chartered cruises in Mediteranean between Monaco-St Tropez - Portofino - Napels, and Capri. Visit the Delphine website: