Captain William Disher
Captain William Disher, one of the most prominent and highly esteemed lake captains sailing out of Chicago, was born in Canada, in 1853, a son of Charles and Nancy (Stewart) Disher, the former a native of Philadelphia, Penn., and the latter of Scotland. The father engaged in the manufacture of brick in his native city during early life, but after his removal to Canada gave his attention to the shoe business. He was married in that country, and there he died in 1897, at the extreme old age of ninety-six years. The death of his wife also occurred there.
The boyhood and youth of Captain Disher was in passed Canada, and he began his business career as horse boy for ships, and later as driver on the towpath of the Welland canal. He also engaged in tugging on that canal and the Grand river being thus engaged as early as 1864, prior to sailing before the mast. In 1867 he sailed from the Canada shore on the bark Alexander, engaged in the lumber trade, but continued to make his home in Canada until 1872, when he went to Buffalo, N. Y., and shipped on various barks during that season. Coming to Chicago on the Mont Blanc in 1873, he engaged in sailing from that port chiefly in the lumber trade, and in 1881 was made master of a vessel owned by C. R. Kramer. After that he was master of the John Blaver, Jr., of Chicago, for the season of 1884, and then sailed all the vessels owned by Dahle, remaining in his employ for four or five years. His next vessel was the James Mullen, engaged in the lumber trade, but he subsequently returned to the employ of Mr. Dahle for one year. In 1886 Captain Disher purchased the schooner A. J. Morley, which was also engaged in the lumber trade, and on selling her, in 1887, bought a one-fourth interest in the steambarge Fayette, which he sailed for ten years in the lumber, grain, iron ore and general merchandise trade. He sold his interest in that vessel, and in March, 1898, took command of the steamer John Duncan, which he now sails. He has rapidly risen from the lowly position of horse boy on the canal to master of some of the best boats on the lakes, and has always had the entire confidence and respect of his employers, as well as the high regard of all who know him.
Captain Disher is a leading and influential member of the Ship Masters Association No. 3, of Chicago, of which he has been vice-president; is also a charter member of the Masters and Pilots Association No. 33, of the same city; Covenant Lodge No. 526, F. & A. M.; Corinthian Chapter No. 61, R. A. M.; St. Bernard Commandery No. 33, K. T.; Medinah Temple No. 1, and Eastern Star No. 41. He has first-class pilot papers on all the lakes.
Since 1878 the Captain has made his home in Chicago, and there he was married that year to Miss Mary Jane Gamble, a daughter of William Gamble, a sailor and shipmaster, now deceased. Three children have been born of this union, namely: Lillie I., Lottie I., and Hattie I. The family residence is at No. 250 Homer street, Chicago.
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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.