William A. Black
William A. Black is one of the family of five children - four boys and one daughter - of John and Mary J. (Carlisle) Black, both of whom were born in the North of Ireland, the former in County Antrim.
John Black, the father, who was a farmer by occupation, died in April, 1897. He immigrated to Canada in 1837, and eventually located near St. Catharines, Ontario, where he still resides. The mother passed from earth about the year 1877. One of their sons, Robert J. Black, has been an engineer on the lakes for about twenty-four years, and is now a partner in a machine shop at St. Catharines. Another son, Edgar E., is a carpenter by trade, and is located at St. Clair, Mich. The other son died in 1894, and the daughter died in 1887.
William A. Black, the subject of this sketch, was born at St. Catharines, Ontario, November 24, 1856. After attending school at his native place, he was apprenticed in the machine shop of C. M. Able, in St. Catharines, where he remained about four years. He was next employed at the Pond Machine Shop, at Lockport, N. Y., and then went to Buffalo and worked, respectively, in the Eagle Iron Works, Bell's Machine Shop, the Buffalo Grape Sugar Works, Howard Iron Works (two years and a half), and the George L. Squire Manufacturing Co. (three years). In 1884, in the month of September, Mr. Black shipped as oiler on the steamer Clarion, on which he remained until the end of the season. The next three seasons he was second engineer of the same steamer with the exception of the last two trips, in the fall of 1887 becoming second engineer of the Winslow. In the spring of 1888 he was made chief engineer of the steamer Conemaugh, of the Anchor line, and has remained in her in that position steadily ever since. During his experiences on the lakes Mr. Black has been in but one accident of consequence. In the month of October, 1891, while the Conemaugh was coming down the Detroit River laden with flour and package on the way to Buffalo, and when abreast of Smith's Coal Dock, she was run into by the steamer New York and sunk near the Canadian shore, but remained sufficiently out of the water to permit the crew to remain on her until she was raised, none of them even getting wet. As usual a lawsuit resulted. Mr. Black has been a member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association eleven years, and a Mason since 1882, being a member of Buffalo Chapter No. 71, Council No. 17, Lake Erie Commandery No. 26, and of the Mystic Shrine, Ismailia temple.
Mr. Black was married at Buffalo in February, 1887, to Miss Catherine F. Johnson, by whom he has had three children: Ethel May, Raymond Alfred and Hazel, now (1898) aged respectively seven years, five years, and one year. The family resides at No. 261 Whitney Place, Buffalo, New York.
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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.