William L. Webster
William L. Webster, who, for several years was prominently identified with the lake marine, but now chief engineer of the J. Q. Adams school on Townsend street, Chicago, was born in Chatham, Province of Ontario, Canada, in 1857, and is a son of James T. and Alice (Butler) Webster, natives of Scotland and Canada, respectively. In early life the father emigrated to Canada, and is now a resident of Florence, Ontario, where he is engaged in the undertaking business the mother is deceased, having died in Canada.
William L. Webster was reared at Florence, and at Chatham learned the machinist's trade, serving a four-years' apprenticeship. Early in life he also obtained a thorough knowledge of the workings of marine and stationary engines, and for eighteen years was identified with the lakes. In 1880 he sailed from Windsor, Canada, as engineer on the old tug Beaver, and the same season was also on the W. F. McRae, after which he was on the carboat Michigan, running her until the winter of 1881. He then filled the same position on the passenger boat running from Detroit, Mich., to Windsor, Ont., and was next chief engineer on the excursion boat Garland, running to Belle Isle and other points, going thence to the E. K. Roberts, plying between Detroit and Duck island, and the next season was chief engineer of the Chamberlin, engaged in the lumber trade out of Saginaw, Mich. He then brought out the steamer Gogebic, which was engaged in the iron and grain trade on Lake Superior, and the following season was chief engineer of the L. W. Palmer, in the coal and iron ore trade. The next season he was chief engineer on the Chemung, plying between Buffalo and Chicago in the grain and package freight business; accepting a position with the American Steel Barge Company, he was on various boats as chief engineer for some time, then joined the Columbia as chief for three years. During the winter of 1895-96 was chief engineer at Cairo, Ill., on the government dredge Beta, plying on the lower Mississippi, and one of the largest dredges in the service. Its machinery consisted of two engines of 1,500 horse power, triple expansion, and four cylinders, 20-1/2, 33, 38 and 38 x 24, and also an engine of 500 horse power, cross compound. On the third official test, this dredge took out 77.984 4-10 cubic yards of measured sand in one hour and ten minutes, and also cut a channel forty feet wide, six and a half feet deep and eight hundred and fifty feet long in one hour and fifty-seven minutes.
Mr. Webster came to Chicago in 1895, and is now chief engineer of the J. Q. Adams school on Townsend street, while his home is at No. 104, same street. Socially, he is a member of the M. E. B. A. No. 4, of which he is acting secretary pro tem, and also a member of the A. O. U. W., of Portland, Oregon, where he resided for three years while in the government employ. He holds an ocean chief engineer's license, besides those for lake marine and stationary engines.
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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.