Captain Joseph White
Captain Joseph White, one of the prominent steamboat masters sailing out of Chicago, is quite popular with the public traveling between that port and Duluth by water. He was born in Sombra, Ont., April 18, 1854, and is a son of Jeremiah and Louise (Moselle) White, both of whom were of French parentage, his father's name, as written in that language, being La Blanc. The family moved from Quebec to Sombra, where the father owned a farm and engaged in the lumber business, and being a man of great energy he prospered in his undertakings.
The Captain remained at home assisting his father on the farm and in his business, getting out timber for the shipbuilders on the St. Clair river, attending school in the meantime during the winter months. In the spring of 1877 he shipped before the mast on the schooner Thomas Quayle, going home when she was laid up. The next spring he shipped on the tug William Livingston, Jr., and in 1879 was wheelsman on the steamer Lawrence, plying between Chicago and Point Edwards, and in 1880 was on the steamer Iron Age, with Captain Millan, James Carney being mate. In the summer of 1882, after remaining on the farm a short time he joined the steamer William H. Barnum, as wheelsman, remaining in this position till September 3, 1882, when he entered the employ of the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior Transportation Company, as wheelsman on the steamer Peerless, with Captain McIntyre, holding that berth until August, 1883, when he applied for and was granted pilot's license, and was appointed second mate of the same. He speaks with great praise of Captain McIntyre for the assistance kindly rendered at that time. After holding the office of second mate on the Peerless five seasons, he was appointed mate on the steamer J. L. Hurd, with Captain Twitchell, remaining one season. In 1889 he was transferred to the City of Traverse, as mate, and remained on her until the spring of 1891, when he was promoted to the office of master of the steamer Jay Gould, which he sailed for many seasons with good success, and has given eminent satisfaction to the officers of the company.
On October 13, 1893, the time that the steamer Dean Richmond and many other good vessels went to the bottom in a living fall gale attended by blinding snow, Captain White fully realized the terrible responsibility devolving upon the master of a passenger steamer. He stood off in Lake Superior, bound from Portage canal to Sault Ste. Marie, and rode out the tempest for forty-five hours, a period to test the nerve and resources of the most experienced master. The copper stowed in barrels between decks broke away and became so many demons; the gangways were broken in; there was water in the firehold to the depth of five feet; two of the lifeboats were borne from the davits and washed overboard; and the wheel and tiller chains parted; but during these long hours of peril the Captain and his officers labored unceasingly for the salvation of the steamer and the lives under their charge. Especially does he commend the chief engineer, A. P. Williams, who stood by the throttle until his face and hands were seriously burned, but he did not leave his post until the steamer had found comparative safety under Bay Mills Point.
On May 28, 1894, Captain White was united in marriage to Miss Rose, daughter of Alexander McAuley, of Chicago, formerly of Sombra, Ont. Two daughters, Genevieve E. and Eleanore Marie were born to this union. The family residence is at No. 6337 Langley avenue, Chicago, Ill. Socially the Captain is a member of the Ship Masters Association, and carries Pennant No. 440.
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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.