Captain W. J. Robertson
Captain W.J. Robertson, son of Daniel and Caroline (Dwyer) Robertson, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, September 22, 1857. His father, who was a native of Scotland, was a salt-water sailor and afterward for many years master of lake vessels, among which are mentioned the Riverside, William Brandy, Kate Winslow, Middlesex, brig C. G. Breed, and schooner Helena, which he brought out new. Daniel Robertson came to the United States in 1848 and located at Cleveland, where he met and was united in marriage to Miss Caroline Dwyer, formerly of Oswego, New York.
Capt. W.J. Robertson attended the Cleveland public schools, receiving a liberal education. He then joined his father in Smith's rigging loft, and, after remaining there two years, entered upon his career as a sailor, serving as boy in the schooner Middlesex, bark Merrimac and schooner Kate Winslow, until 1877, when he was appointed second mate of the schooner William Grandy, holding that berth two years. In the spring of 1879 he shipped as second mate of the schooner Kate Winslow. The next spring he went as fireman on the tug Levi Johnson, owned by Pennington & Warner, remaining on her two seasons, after which he served in a like capacity on the tugs Old Jack and H. N. Martin, out of Cleveland, Eber Ward, out of Detroit, and Levi Johnson, S. S. Coe and F. C. Maxon, on contract work at Milwaukee. In the spring of 1885 Captain Robertson entered the employ of Capt. Patrick Smith, his first appointment being that of master of the tug James Amadeus, followed by service in a like capacity on the tugs Fanny Tuthill and L. P. Smith. He then took out engineer's papers and was appointed engineer of the tug Maggie Sanborn, on which he continued one season, acting at times in the capacity of both engineer and master. For some time following he sailed the tug Dexter out of Ashtabula, and on his return to Cleveland took command of the tug Tom Dowling, transferring to the L. P. Smith before the close of the season. The following season he brought out the tug W. H. Doan for Capt. Robert Greenhalgh, afterward taking charge of the C. E. Bolton and the Mary Virginia. He then entered the employ of L. P. & J. A. Smith as master of the N. B. Gates, and while in the employ of that firm sailed successively the tugs Patrick Henry and S. S. Stone.
Captain Robertson then went to Fairport, Ohio, and took charge of the R. K. Paige, holding the berth of master three years, during which time he made his home in that port. The next season he went to Ashtabula and was appointed master of the big tug Wisconsin, which he sailed until he was again called to Fairport, to take charge of the Annie. In the spring of 1893 he went to Sandusky with the tug Myrtle, remaining there on contract work three months, after which he entered the employ of the Cleveland Vessel Owners Towing Company, as master of the tug Alva B., one of the smartest tugs operating out of that port; later he was on the Dreadnaught and Tom Maytham. In the spring of 1894 he went to work for the Cleveland Towing Company as master of the S. S. Stone, going to Ashtabula the season following to sail the tug Sunol, on which he was engaged the entire season. In the spring of 1896 he returned to Cleveland and sailed the tug Kennedy for the Cleveland Towing Company. After Captain Dell Moffett resigned the position of master of the tug Chauncey Morgan, early in the spring, Captain Robertson was appointed to her and continues to sail her at this writing. Captain Robertson has been instrumental in saving many lives. In the fall of 1884, he put a new crew aboard the Zach Chandler, which lay at anchor outside the breakwater, leaking badly and under great stress of weather. The act was attended with much danger. He also saved the crew of a vessel while master of the tug Stone. He has eighteen issues of first-class master's papers, and a number of engineers licenses. He is a member of the American Association of Masters & Pilots.
Capt. Robertson was united in marriage to Miss Emily Stevenson, of Cleveland, November 3, 1880. The children born to this union are Mira Elizabeth, Franklin W. and Gracie. The family residence is at No. 60 Harbor Street.
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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.