William G. Fell
William G. Fell is one of those marine engineers best known among Milwaukee men as a man with an open hand, and an enthusiast in the choice of his calling. He was born in Chicago, Ill., July 9, 1845, and is the son of William and Jennie (Turnbull) Fell, natives of Scotland, the father from Clyde, where he learned the machinist's trade, and worked in shops where many of the notable marine engines of that day were constructed. He came to the United States in 1845, locating in Chicago, near which city he purchased a farm, and eventually became quite wealthy. He died in 1856, leaving a widow and twelve children. The mother passed to her reward in 1892. The children all became farmers, except William, the subject of this sketch, who, after leaving school, learned the machinist's trade in the shops of Burlington & Quincy railroad, serving an apprenticeship for four years.
In the spring of 1867 William G. Fell engaged as a fireman on a dredge, and soon became engineer, holding this berth about five years. He then entered the employ of Carkin, Stickney & Cram as engineer of the tug Carkin, which he ran two years, transferring to the Stickney, bringing her out new and engineering her two seasons. The two years following he was engineer of the tugs P.L. Johnson and Relief, the latter of Tonawanda. In 1879 he was appointed chief engineer on the passenger steamer American Eagle, plying the year round between Sandusky and Put-in-Bay, and on one occasion he put a propeller wheel on the steamer while she stuck in the ice in midlake. After two years on this steamer he became engineer on the lake tug Samson, with Capt. J. McNiff, engaged in wrecking and towing, a position which he held two seasons, after which he purchased an interest in the tug Gregory; took her to Cleveland and ran her at that port part of two seasons, when he transferred to the tug Brady.
In the spring of 1887 Mr. Fell entered the employ of R.P. Fitzgerald & Co., of Milwaukee, as chief engineer of the steamer W.M. Eagan, and after two seasons on her transferred to the steamer John Plankinton, Capt. Lewis H. Powell, as chief, a position he has held nine years, giving at all times close attention to his duties, which gained for him the confidence of his employers. He has twenty-four issues of license, and is happy in the knowledge that he had not had any serious mishap to his machinery.
On March 15, 1889, Mr. Fell was united in marriage to Miss Jennie, daughter of Andrew and Mary Ann Hooper, of Glamorganshire, South Wales. The family residence is at No. 406 Greenwich street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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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.