William Doran has not confined his attention strictly to marine engineering, but has distinguished himself in places of responsibility. He is outspoken and frank to a marked degree, holding his rights to independence of opinion is sacred, and has no hesitation in declaring his views in so decided a manner as to leave no chance for misapprehension. He was born in Donegal, County Donegal, Ireland, May 1, 1856, a son of Hugh and Mary (Brodbane) Doran. His early school-days were passed to good profit in his native town, and after the family removed to the United States (the father having preceded them by about a year), he further added to his education by attending business college in Port Huron, Mich., during 1892. During this period between 1871 and 1878 Mr. Doran worked in the shipyards of Port Huron as caulker, first in Mr. Muir's yards, then in Fitzgerald's, Dunford & Leighton's, and Dunford & Alverson's.
In 1878 he entered the employ of the Grand Trunk Railroad Company as fireman on a locomotive, and on February 8, 1880, he was promoted to the position of engineer, holding that place three years, when he again went into the shipyard as caulker, remaining until October, 1883, when he accepted a position as engineer on the Minneapolis & St. Louis railroad, which he retained until February, 1886. He then entered the employ of the Port Huron Gas Light Company, doing the outside work of pipe fitting, etc. for two years. The following two years were passed in plumbing, and steam and gas fitting for the firm of Doran & Gibson.
In 1890 Mr. Doran shipped as fireman on the steamer Manistique. He later entered the employ of the St. Clair Tunnel Company, working under the direction of the mechanical superintendent, J. T. Eames, and had charge of all the hydraulic work pertaining to the shield of the tunnel, which the company was building under the St. Clair river, to connect the cities of Port Huron and Sarnia. His duties included supervision over all boilers, pumps and air compressors. In 1892 he went to Calcasieu parish, Louisiana, where he had charge, under the direction of Superintendent H. H. Hall, of the hydraulic pumps and machinery for sinking a shaft and mine for the American Sulphur Company. On his return to Port Huron, after an absence of six months, he again went to work as caulker in Dunford & Alverson's shipyard for a time, closing the year by laying mains for the Port Huron water works. In the spring of 1893 Mr. Doran shipped in the steamer S. L. Doty as oiler, remaining until August, when he stopped ashore at Milwaukee, and went to work in the shipyard as caulker for a time. Under the direction of Thomas Murphy, who had the contract, he took charge of the work of setting up and running the machinery of a new crib for the Milwaukee water works. The work was completed without a mishap, and gave great satisfaction. This enterprise had been abandoned by a previous contractor, after ten men had been drowned, during a severe gale which occurred while the men were at work, a heavy sea carrying away their house, which had been built over the top of the shaft, together with the machinery and boilers, and the men in the house; the other men in the shaft were drowned by the carelessness of one of their number, who at this time opened the airlocks, thus letting in water. The man who caused this loss of life was the only man on the work that was saved, he being supported by the hoisting cable to which he clung.
In 1894 Mr. Doran was made foreman of the St. Clair Light and Fuel Company, and attended to all the outside work, and about August, 1895, he engaged with Richardson & Gibson as steamfitter. In the spring of 1896 he shipped as oiler on the new steamer E. W. Oglebay, and during that season secured his license and was appointed second engineer. The next spring he again joined the Oglebay as second engineer, and transferred to the steamer Garden City, then to the Arizona, and closed the season as second on the steamer Business, after which he again took up railroading, entering the employment of the G. T. R. B. R. Co., with headquarters at London, Ontario.
In 1887 Mr. Doran was united in marriage to Miss Alice J., daughter of Peter and Ellen Mullen. Although a railroad man, he still retains a deep interest in the lake craft, with which he was associated in his early life.
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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.