As a member of a shipbuilding and seafaring family, William Collins began early in life to follow in the footsteps of those who preceded him. A son of Capt. Thomas and Mary (Oades) Collins, the former a shipbuilder and vessel-master of New York State, he was born in the year 1847, and as soon as he was able to handle the tools he began to work in his father's shipyard. After devoting several years to this pursuit, he gave it up to become a sailor, following that occupation for upwards of twenty years. During this time he sailed as seaman, wheelsman, and mate on the schooners Irene, the John Tibbetts, the Senator Blood, the Hoboken, the Montpelier, the M.F. Merrick, the Wyandotte, the Clayton Belle, the M.I. Wilcox, and the scow Misel, the steamer Commodore, and many other vessels on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence river.
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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.