Deceased , Historic




Herman Edgar Knust was instrumental in salvaging two sailing ships and converting them to passenger use, permitting thousands of people to enjoy sailing. One of them, renamed Victory Chimes, is featured on the back of the Maine quarter, and has become synonymous with Maine windjamming.

The following biography was submitted by Jac Knust:
Herman Edgar Knust was born on January 21, 1892 in Kitchner, Ontario, Canada and moved with his parents to Jessup, MD at age 2. He later became a naturalized citizen in Ellicott City, MD. Growing up in landlocked Howard County, MD allowed little access to a life on the water.

However, when he was twelve years old, his father, Frederick Knust, apparently caught him using tobacco and punished him. For whatever reason, Herman ran away to Southern Maryland and began working on an oyster boat at age 13. It is speculated that he had read a book in school about a boy who ran away to sea and that this book and his difficulty with his parents inspired the escape to the water. He must have assumed a different name and his parents had great difficulty in locating him. His disappearance was reported in the local papers and by the Washington Post in a series of articles in 1905. Essentially the stories were: “1) Boy ran away, parents frantic, 2) Runaway boy located, Mother goes to retrieve him, and 3) Boy comes home, parents happy.”

Herman Knust learned a trade as a blacksmith and either joined or followed the Calvary of the Maryland Militia to Mexico to fight General Pancho Villa in 1916. General Pershing was unsuccessful in capturing Villa and returned to the U.S. in 1917 to fight in World War I. Herman Knust later worked in management for the B&O Railroad in Baltimore, MD and Camden, NJ.

At some unknown point in his life his resumed his interest in the sea and sailing and bought a sailboat for pleasure use in New Jersey. After retiring from the B&O Railroad, he formed a company called “Chesapeake Bay Cruises” and purchased two Chesapeake Bay rams in 1945 that were originally designed for commercial trade in the C&D Canal and in the inter-coastal waterways along the East Coast. One of the ships was featured in a story in Life Magazine in January, 1947, which chronicled a trip from Annapolis to Miami via the Intercoastal Waterway.

When Herman Knust purchased the ships, they were in poor condition and were rehabilitated and repurposed for passenger use in the Chesapeake Bay, sailing out of Baltimore and Annapolis to points south. Chesapeake Bay Cruises continued to operate the passenger ships, Edwin and Maud and Levin J. Marvel until 1954 when both were sold.

Each ship faced a very different fate. The Levin J. Marvel ran aground in August, 1955 off Annapolis in a tropical storm and 14 lives were lost. The tragedy led to the passage of a maritime law that now requires all wind powered passenger vessels meeting certain criteria to carry life vests and safety equipment. The Edwin and Maud was purchased by a Maine Syndicate and sailed for many years off the Maine Coast. At one point, the ship was owned and substantially restored by Tom Monahan, the owner of Dominoes Pizza. Two captains who worked for him bought the vessel from him and returned it to Maine, where it still sails today as the Victory Chimes. It is recognized as a historic vessel on the National Historic Vessel Registry and was the ship that is depicted on the reverse side of the Maine State Commemorative Quarter.

Herman Knust passed away in October, 1977 while living in Florida.

-Submitted by Jac Knust, 2013

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