Hon. William J. White
By good business methods he early attained a comfortable competency and acquired rank among the financiers, as well as among those whose knowledge and keen insight make them the leaders of men. In 1888 he was elected to the office of mayor of West Cleveland, serving two years, and was then elected representative from the 20th Ohio District of the Fifty-third Congress, refusing renomination in each case. During his term in Congress he introduced and piloted to successful passage the law known as the "White Bill," an Act to regulate navigation on the Great Lakes and their connecting and contributary waters. This was one of the most important and elaborate bills introduced during the session, and it was a very difficult matter owing to its details and scope to bring it to a successful issue; and it could not be brought before the House and Senate before the dying hours of the Fifty-third Congress. This law in its minute specifications regarding lights, signals, speed, and steering of vessels, has been recognized as international by England, France, and America, and has been incorporated in the Great Lakes Registers and Masters Manual, Bureau Veritas and International Register of Shipping. The rules and regulations defined in this Act are now well known, and followed by all lake masters and pilots.
In December, 1888, Mr. White purchased the steamer Britannic, which was valued at $95,000, and a year later he became the owner of the steamer Ballentine, taking the latter vessel off the hands of the underwriters to whom she had been abandoned. He rebuilt the Ballentine, cutting ten feet off her length, and putting in new boilers, and steeple compounding her engines. Mr. White then rechristened her the Quito, after the capital of Equador. After these changes were made the vessel carried 12,000 bushels of wheat more than before, made a knot and a half more speed per hour, and burned less than half as much coal as before. The Britannic was lost through a collision in the Detroit river in 1895. Mr. White also owns the steamyacht Say When, built by Herrshoff, which he purchased on the Atlantic coast in 1890. The yacht had been a failure on salt water, but Mr. White increased her draft from fifty-four to seventy-four inches by giving her a 6,000 pound steel shoe and 2,000 pounds of dead wood, an improvement noted as essential by Mr. White, and it is unnecessary to say that she is now one of the best and stanchest yachts in heavy weather afloat. The Say When is capable of making a speed of twenty miles an hour, and during the World's Fair she made the run from Chicago to Cleveland in forty-five hours and thirty-five minutes, actual running time.
Mr. White is one of the original stockholders in the Cleveland and Buffalo Transit Company, and he now holds 751 shares of the stock of the corporation, being the heaviest individual owner; he also has a large interest in Owen Transportation Company. He is a stockholder of the First National Bank, the Columbia Savings and Loan Company and the West Cleveland Banking Company, the last named of which he is president. He is an extensive owner of real estate in various parts of the country, has a large farm in Canada, business blocks and apartment houses in Chicago, Cleveland, Lorain and other cities. He is also the founder of the Yucatan Gum Factory, which gives employment to hundreds of people, and ships its product to almost every country on the face of the earth.
While yachting has been to him a pleasant recreation, he has also found much enjoyment in the breeding of fine trotting and racing stock. His Two Minute Stock Farm is located about eight miles from the Cleveland Public Square, and embraces 500 acres. Here at this time he has 125 blooded horses, at the head of which are the noted sire Gay Wilkes, record 2:15-1/4, and Star Pointer, record 1:59-1/4, the latter being the only two-minute horse in the world.
On April 23, 1873, Mr. White was married to Miss Ellen Marie Mansfield, of Cleveland, daughter of Orange and Marietta (Howard) Mansfield. Seven children born to this union are now living: William Benjamin and Harrie Walter, both of whom are now associated with their father in his business enterprises; Gloria Marie, Pearl Marietta, Miles Arthur, Adah Melora and Ralph Royden, the first named being (at this writing) twenty-four years of age, and the last named eight. The family homestead, "Thornwood," is a magnificent modern structure on Lake avenue, Cleveland, and bears evidence of the refinement and home love of its occupants.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.