William Elliott has, perhaps, more experience as an engineer of steamers navigating the lakes during the winter months than has fallen to the lot of any other member of his profession. He has been found equal to the most trying emergencies, and has the persistent Scotch courage to face them. He was born May 16, 1847, the son of Thomas and Mary Ann (Lorain) Elliott, of Dumfriesshire, Scotland. The family removed to America in 1852, first making a home at Beverly, Ont., where they remained about three years, going thence to Sarawak, where they located a homestead and there the father died. After her bereavement the mother joined one of the children at Owen Sound, Ontario.
William Elliott began the battle of life early, his schoolboy days being limited to a few years at Syrawack, Ont. After leaving school he eventually found his way to Michigan and entered the employ of the Phoenix Iron Works Company, at Port Huron, as an apprentice to the machinist's trade, and in four years, by close attention to the different phases of the business, became competent to hold a place on the floor of any machine shop. He then worked at the trade in other shops until 1872, when he applied for and was granted marine engineer's license. He then shipped as second engineer in the steamer Mary Mills, holding that berth two years, and in the spring of 1874 he was promoted to the office of chief on the same boat, running her three seasons. He then entered the employ of the Port Huron & Sarnia Ferry Co., and was appointed chief engineer of the side-wheel steamer Sarnia, and during the time he was with that company he was chief of the steamers O. M. Conger, James Beard and J. L. Beckwith, successively. His next billet was in the steamer Henry Howard, of which he was chief engineer two seasons. In the spring of 1886 Commodore B. B. Inman, who had become possessed of a strong fleet of tugs operating at Duluth, sent for Mr. Elliott to become chief engineer of the line, which consisted of the tugs John L. Williams, Walton B., Record, David Sutton, Mary Virginia, O. W. Cheney and the steamer Ossifrage, running each of these boats as occasion required and looking after all repairs necessary to their machinery during the three years he remained in that employ. During the winter months of each year he took charge of the steamer M. F. Merrick, chartered by the Grand Trunk Railroad Company as an ice breaker. In the spring of 1889 Mr. Elliott was appointed chief engineer of the steamer Ogemaw, operated by the Michigan Salvage & Wrecking Co, of Detroit, and ran her two years, and in 1891 he became chief of the steamer Osceola, plying winters between Port Huron and Washburn. It was in the spring of 1892 that he entered the employ of the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Northern Michigan railroad as chief engineer of the car ferry Ann Arbor No. 1, bringing her out new and remaining in her until September, 1895, when he transferred to the car ferry steamer Shenango No. 1, closing the year with her. In the spring of 1896 he transferred to the Shenango No. 1, both operated by the United States & Ontario Navigation Co., but later being chartered by the Detroit, Grand Rapids & Western railroad.
On July 4, 1871, Mr. Elliott was wedded to Miss Truey A., daughter of Uriah Foster of Port Huron, Mich. The children born to this union are: Thomas W., who is second engineer of the steamer Bulgaria; Mary A., wife of Samuel Sylvester, now second engineer of the Shenango No. 2; Rachael S., wife of George A. Collinge, chief engineer of the Shenango No. 1; and Anna and Eliza, the school girls of the family at this time. The family homestead is at Conneaut Harbor, Ohio.
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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.