Captain William R. Williams
Captain William R. Williams, whose marine life began in 1851, may be considered as one of the veteran masters now active on shipboard, his remarkable vigor, however, making him seem tireless in the performance of his duties. He is a son of David and Eleanor (Williams) Williams, both natives of Conway, North Wales, where he also was born, on March 12, 1835. They came to the United States in 1845, locating first in Cincinnati, Ohio, remaining in that city but one year, going thence to Waukesha, Wis., where the father purchased a farm. He did not enjoy this new home a great while, as he crossed the dark river in 1847, his widow surviving until 1891.
At Waukesha and Milwaukee, William acquired a public-school education, attending until he was sixteen years of age, when he shipped before the mast in the schooner Traveler. The next spring he joined the schooner Daniel Newhall with Capt. Charles Lewis, and in the spring of 1854 came out in the D.O. Dickinson, closing in the Milwaukee Belle with the same skipper, and shipped in the same schooner the next season with Capt. Thomas Davis. In 1856 Captain Williams went to New Orleans and shipped in the schooner William Pratt, plying on the Gulf of Mexico between Galveston and New Orleans and Havana; he closed the year in the bark William A. Alden out of New York. Returning to the lakes in 1857, he was appointed mate of the schooner Walrus, closing the season in the Falcon, both commanded by Capt. J. Fitzgerald, and remaining on her until 1861, when he was appointed master of the smart brig Racine, of Racine, and sailed her three seasons. The next vessel of which he became master was the schooner, Glenbulah, which he bought out in 1867, and sailed successfully until she was destroyed by the great fire at Chicago in 1871. He then transferred to the bark St. Lawrence, on which he closed that season. The next year he was appointed master of the bark Parana. In the spring of 1873 Captain Williams entered the employ of R.P. Fitzgerald as master of the schooner Joseph Paige, which he sailed twenty successive seasons, the vessel having changed owners in the meantime. It is unnecessary to say that good business success attended the captain while making this notable record. In 1893 he was appointed master of the schooner M.R. Warner. The next year he went to Yellowstone Park and took command of the steamer Cella. In the spring of 1895 he entered the employ of the Milwaukee Tug Boat Company, as master of the schooner Amboy, and has sailed her four consecutive seasons, thus rounding out forty-seven years of active service as mariner, being master thirty- seven years. Socially, the Captain is a veteran Royal Arch Mason, of Wisconsin Chapter No. 7, and a Master Mason, of Wisconsin Lodge No. 13.
In January, 1861, Captain Williams was wedded to Miss Ellen H. Williams, of Milwaukee. The children born to this union are: Mary and Alice, the former being the wife of George Anderson. The Captain has four grandchildren. The family homestead is at No. 260 Twentieth 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.