Captain Edward Gifford Crosby
1842 – 1912
Catherine Elizabeth Halstead Crosby
1847 – 1920
Harriette Rebecca Crosby
1872 – 1941
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Crosby Family Gravesite in Section 11 of Graceland Cemetery in Glendale, Wisconsin

The grave marker for the Crosbys was made possible by the Titanic Historical Society.
The birth years on the gravestone for both Catherine and Harriette are inconsistent with generally accepted dates.
Harriette's name is spelled differently in many accounts and will often appear as either Harriet or Harriete.
by John D. Hays
[ Note: Revised in 2006, 2012 to include additional information. ]

Captain Edward G. Crosby has always been of particular interest to many of us who share an interest in both the history of Great Lakes shipping and the Titanic. Crosby spent his entire career on the Great Lakes where he quickly advanced from the docks of Muskegon, Michigan, to become captain and owner of his own fleet of ships before tragically losing his life aboard the Titanic. His story provides a rare link between the ships of the Great Lakes and the Titanic disaster.

Edward Gifford Crosby was born on February 18, 1842, near Rochester, New York. His family moved to Michigan in 1856, where Crosby subsequently enlisted in the First Michigan Cavalry. He saw action in several Civil War battles including Bull Run, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness campaign, and served under General George Armstrong Custer. Following the war, he married Catherine Elizabeth Halstead of New York. They moved to Muskegon, Michigan, in 1871 where Crosby served as superintendent for the Muskegon Boom Company. Within a few years he had saved enough money to purchase a tugboat and, by 1881, was principal owner of a marine construction business engaged in the building of piers and dry docks. The company became quite successful and was awarded government contracts for several navigational projects on Lake Michigan, including the construction of the Muskegon channel and the Milwaukee breakwall. The Crosbys had three children – Martha (1870), Harriette (1872), and Frederick (1882). Their older daughter, “Mattie,” was stricken with acute appendicitis and passed away at the age of ten in 1880.

Over time, Captain Crosby expanded the original business with what associates described as "an indomitable will and a sterling integrity," forming the Crosby Transportation Company to provide cross-lake package freight service on southern Lake Michigan. The company held contracts with several railroads, including the Grand Trunk Railway, to operate their direct steamship service from Milwaukee to Muskegon and Grand Haven. The Crosbys continued to live in Muskegon until 1897, when they moved to Milwaukee, having purchased a home near the waterfront on North Marshall Street.

Three different vessels sailed the Great Lakes for the Crosby fleet under the name E. G. Crosby. The first was a wooden hull tugboat built for the company in 1892 at Grand Haven, Michigan. The second, a steel hull steamer, built in 1881 as the Wisconsin by the Detroit Dry Dock Company in Wyandotte, Michigan, was purchased by the Crosby Transportation Company in 1896. The vessel, renamed Naomi in 1899, was nearly destroyed by fire in 1907. She finally returned to service as the E. G. Crosby in 1910 following a complete rebuild in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The last vessel to carry the name was built at Toledo, Ohio, in 1903 as the passenger steamer City of South Haven. She was employed under the name E.G. Crosby on Lake Michigan from 1923 until laid up in 1931. The vessel sat idle in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and was all but destroyed by fire in 1935 before eventually being broken up in the early forties.

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E. G. Crosby (1), 1892 - 1910 E. G. Crosby (2), 1910 - 1918 E. G. Crosby (3), 1923 - 1931

In 1912, Edward and Catherine Crosby were vacationing in Europe with their daughter, Harriette, who had spent the previous two years studying music in Paris. The three of them boarded the Titanic at Southampton as first-class passengers. Mr. and Mrs. Crosby were registered in cabin B-22 while Harriette occupied B-26. Crosby lost his life in the sinking; Catherine and Harriette survived and were rescued in lifeboat #7. Catherine Crosby's account of the events on the night of the sinking, as detailed in the affidavit she submitted to the United States Senate Inquiry, can be read on the Titanic Inquiry Project web site.

Edward Crosby’s body was recovered by the MacKay-Bennett (No. 269) and transported to Halifax where it was delivered to Howard G. Kelley, an officer of the Grand Trunk Railway, who had traveled to Halifax to arrange transportation for the remains of another Titanic victim – Grand Trunk president Charles Hays. The funeral for Captain Crosby was held in Milwaukee on May 7, 1912, aboard the Nyack, flagship of the Crosby Transportation Company fleet. Memorial services were also held in Grand Haven and Muskegon. Crosby’s body was cremated and his ashes were interred at the newly built Fairview Mausoleum in Milwaukee. After her death in 1920, Catherine Crosby was entombed beside her husband. Their daughter Harriette, who died in 1941, was also entombed there. The Crosby’s son, Frederick, who had not accompanied his parents on the ill-fated trip, succeeded his father as president of the company and eventually sold the business in 1927. He died in Rhode Island in 1966 and is not buried with the family.

The stately marble and granite Fairview Mausoleum, which had been intended to provide perpetual care for nearly 1,000 deceased, began experiencing financial problems in the 1950s. Conditions continued to worsen over the following decades to the point that the building could not be saved. The City of Milwaukee inherited the deteriorating mausoleum in 1995 and spent $1.8 million to relocate the remains of the Crosby family along with 996 others from the crumbling Gothic structure to Section 11 of Graceland Cemetery in Glendale, Wisconsin, in October 1997. The mausoleum was soon razed; a fire station and small park now occupy the location.

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Fairview Mausoleum, 1996 Memorial at Graceland Cemetery Milwaukee Engine Company 35

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