Captain W. J. Willoughby
Captain W. J. Willoughby, although a young man, has by right living and close application to business and a good knowledge of business methods and seamanship, advanced rapidly in his marine career. He was born in Goderich, Ont., July 8, 1865, and he attended the public schools of his native town until he reached the age of sixteen years, after which he was connected for two and a half years with a firm engaged in the boot and shoe business. In the spring of 1884, at the age of nineteen years, he began his career as a sailor, shipping as steward on the small schooner Heather Bell. The vessel was commanded by Capt. William McKay, of Goderich, and on the first trip was wrecked in a southwest gale on Lake Huron, twenty miles above Southampton, by dragging her anchors and going ashore on May 2, 1884. This was his first experience in sailing, and he received no remuneration for his services, as the Captain lost everything. After leaving the vessel on the beach, he returned to Southampton with the Captain, and engaged with Captain John Quinn to help wreck the side-wheel steamer Manitoba, then on Chantry island, and returned with him to Detroit. Being still anxious to sail and finding shipping very dull, he shipped on the new steamer Schoolcraft as deckhand, owned by Alger, Smith & Co., of Detroit, and commanded by Capt. Thomas Hackett. Here he remained four seasons, the last three of which he served as wheelsman, and then was appointed second mate and transferred to their new steamer Volunteer, which boat he helped to fit out on the stocks. He remained on her three years, and in the year 1891 was appointed mate of the steamer Gettysburg, of the same line, remaining there about two months and finishing the season in the steamer Norman, of the Menominee line. The following season, 1892, he shipped as first mate of the steamer Sachem, and finished the season as mate of the steamer Fred Kelley, of M. A. Bradley's line. In the spring of 1893 he again shipped as mate on the steamer Schoolcraft, remaining on her in this position until 1895, when he was appointed master of the barge Keweenaw, of the same line, and owned by the Thomas Nester estate, of Detroit.
In the year 1894 he took out master's papers and the following season after laying up the Keweenaw was through his own exertions appointed master of the steamer Birckhead, owned by Mr. William Warren, of Tonawanda, which berth he later resigned on account of illness and death in his family which for a time threatened to ruin his own health. He, however, recovered sufficiently to take command of the steamer Quito, owned by the Hon. W. J. White, of Cleveland, which steamer he sailed two years very successfully, and was then appointed master of the side-wheel passenger steamer State of Ohio, of the Cleveland & Buffalo line, which steamer he laid up at Lorain, Ohio, closing the season of 1898.
Captain Willoughby is a member of the Cleveland Branch of the Ship Masters Association, Lodge No. 4, and also belongs to Bigelow Lodge No. 243, and to Detroit Lodge No. 6, A. O. U. W., and is a third-degree Mason. He resides at the corner of Beech street and Scovill avenue, Cleveland, Ohio.
Return to Home Port
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.