W. C. D. Gillespie
W.C.D. Gillespie, who is quite popular in marine circles, as well as with all who have had the pleasure of his acquaintance, is now chief engineer of the Rookery building, Chicago, having held that responsible position since 1886; but previous to that time he had spent the greater part of his life upon the lakes as an engineer.
Mr. Gillespie was born in New Orleans, La., in 1844, a son of George W. and Mary E. (Copeland) Gillespie, the former of native of New York and the latter of the West Indies and of English descent. At the age of sixteen years, the father went South, and for some time engaged in steamboating on the Mississippi river, running from St. Louis to New Orleans, the first season as second clerk, and later as clerk. He also became part owner of boats on the lower Mississippi but in 1850 sold his interests in the South and removed to Buffalo, from which port he sailed on the Great Lakes for many years, being on the Saginaw, Bucephalus, Westmoreland, Buffalo, Antelope and Globe. He was on the last named when she was blown up in Chicago. He sailed on the lakes from 1850 to 1888, with the exception of five years when he served as street commissioner at Buffalo. In 1889, he removed to Chicago where his death occurred January 20, 1898. His wife had died in the same city in October, 1892.
The subject of this sketch was reared and educated in Buffalo, and at the age of fourteen years, entered the Old Eagle Iron Works of that city, serving a four years' apprenticeship at the machinist's trade. In 1862 he manifested his love of country by enlisting at Buffalo, in Company H, One Hundred and Sixteenth New York Volunteer Infantry, for three years or during the war, and was mustered in at that place, his regiment being assigned to the Nineteenth Army Corps, Army of Louisiana and Texas. He participated in the battles of Stone Plain, Port Hudson, and Jacksonville, La., and in the Red River and Texas campaigns, also for the last six months at the siege of Petersburg, Va. The war being over and his services no longer needed, he was honorably discharged at Buffalo, in 1865.
In spring of 1866, Mr. Gillespie began steamboating on the lakes, sailing out of Buffalo as engineer on the tug Daisy Lee, bound for Racine, Wis., remaining on her for one season. She was wrecked off North Point, Racine, Wis., December 7, 1868, during a heavy snowstorm and the crew in order to same themselves were obliged to swim ashore. In 1867 he fitted out the tug Margaret at Buffalo; was on her as engineer for three seasons, and in 1870 sailed her as captain, being engaged in the wrecking business along the shore of Lake Michigan. Remaining ashore in 1871, he spent three years as superintendent for the Comstock & Simpson Lumber Co., at Oconto, Wis., and for two years was financially interested in the company. In 1874 he came to Chicago, and that year and the year following was engineer on the tug Burton at that port. During a part of the season of 1876 he was on the tug Crawford, at Chicago, but in the fall of that year entered the employ of the Union Steamboat Company, as engineer of the steamer Gould. He remained with that company for twelve years, during which time he was engineer on the Gould, Canisteo, Blanchard and Portage, of their steamship line. With the exception of the Canisteo, which was wrecked off Waugochance (Mr. Gillespie still her engineer) at two o'clock in the morning of October 20, 1880, the other boats are still in commission.
In 1885 he was made assistant superintendent of the Baker & Smith Steam Heating Co., but the following year accepted his present position as chief engineer of the Rookery building. In 1874 he was one of the promoters and organizers of the old M. E. B. A., No. 4, of Chicago; and he is also a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, having assisted in the organization of all branches of that order at Auburn Park. He belongs to Auburn Park Lodge No. 789, F. & A.M., of which he has been master; Auburn Park Chapter No. 201, R. A. M., being honored with the office of high priest; Englewood Commandery No. 59, K. T.; Medinah Temple No. 1; and Auburn Park Chapter No. 167; Order of the Eastern Star, of which he has been patron.
In 1868, at Racine, Wis., Mr. Gillespie was married to Miss Amelia Yout, a daughter of Simeon C. Yout, one of the early pioneers of that city, who gave his attention to the insurance business. Two children were born of this union, only one of whom is living: George H. The family residence is at No. 107 Gale avenue, River Forest, Illinois.
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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.