In 1861, following Lincoln’s first call for 75,000 Union soldiers, Edwin K. Wood enlisted as a private in Company K, 17th New York State Infantry Regiment. The regiment was involved in some of the bloodiest Civil War battles, fighting with heavy losses at the second battle of Bull Run, Antietam and the Battle of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.
After being wounded, Edwin returned home and taught school for a short time before growing restless and leaving for Iowa to raise sheep. On the train west, he met a timber broker who persuaded him to explore opportunities in the timber country of Stanton, Montcalm County, Michigan, where he remained -- teaching shcool.
In the latter part of 1866 he returned home and married Marian Susan Thayer in January 1867. During his first years in Michigan, Edwin took out contracts to supply logs for a mill and to build a road north from Stanton. Later, he established a general merchandise store to supply items needed in the lumbering community.
In 1874, Marian’s brother, Clarence A. Thayer, joined Edwin which was the beginning of a partnership which would last until Edwin’s death in 1917. They purchased a mill in 1875, and became one of the largest lumber producers in Michigan.
His successful business demonstrated to Edwin that great opportunities could be found on the Pacific Coast. He made several trips to the coast and invested heavily in fir timber in Washington.
Around 1885, Wood sent employee, Spencer E. Slade, to Washington and then on to San Francisco. Slade established S. E. Slade & Company, the first office of what was to become the E.K. Wood Lumber Company. In 1888, Clarence Thayer moved to San Francisco and opened a wholesale lumberyard at the foot of Spear Street.
In 1891, Edwin and Marian moved to Oakland. The E.K. Wood Lumber Company was incorporated in California in 1895, with Edwin serving as president until his death. The company prospered with large holdings in Washington and Oregon, docks in Oakland and San Pedro, a fleet of vessels plying its trade up and down the coast, and local yards and mills in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Rafael, San Anselmo, Fresno, San Francisco, and Bellingham, Washington.
The C.A. Thayer was built in 1895 by Danish-born Hans D. Bendixsen in his shipyard, located across the narrows of Humboldt Bay from the city of Eureka in Northern California. She was named for Clarence A. Thayer.
While the ship still exists and is a part of the San Francisco Maritime Museum, more about C. A. Thayer has not been found to date.
A visit to the Maritime Museum's library in Fort Mason in San Francisco will surely turn up more on a man who has had a ship named after him.