Captain William B. Guyles
Captain William B. Guyles will long be remembered as a pioneer in the lake trade. A kindly heart and a helping hand were ever noticeable among his many sterling attributes, his generous nature constantly overflowing with the desire to render assistance to those about him, and many were the recipients of his freely given bounty. He was born October 21, 1815, in Ripley, Chautauqua Co., N. Y., son of Simeon and Hester Guyles, who were of Scotch origin, and died at his home at No. 181 Franklin avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, August 13, 1896. The Captain was twice married, his first wife being Miss Ruby Burnes, of Oswego, N. Y. They had no children, but during their long wedded life they adopted, reared and educated four girls, two of whom were nieces. The kindness which was poured out without stint to these adopted daughters is remembered most gratefully by those to whom it meant the greatest of blessings, and the tender interest of Captain Guyles in their welfare smoothed out the rough places in what otherwise might have been a dreary pathway. Mrs. Guyles died in 1885, and on May 23, 1893, the Captain was married at Northport, Mich., to Miss Esther E. Fenn, of Cleveland, who was born in Brecksville, Ohio, and survives him.
Captain Guyles went early on the lakes, having been employed during his boyhood as cook on a man-of-war. When he was thirteen years of age his parents removed to Erie, and there he attended school for three years, commencing his sailing career at the end of that period. When he was nineteen the vessel in which he was sailing went shore at Grand Haven late in the fall, and he was selected by her master to choose two other men who would remain on the beach with him during the winter to guard the boat. He made his selection and the captain with the remainder of the crew tramped away through the woods to civilization leaving the other three behind. The snow was mountain high and the weather intensely cold, but the men constructed a log hut and managed to make themselves fairly comfortable with the ship's stores, a large part of which they carried on shore. Among other merchandise in the cargo was a large quantity of whiskey and this fact coming in some manner to the knowledge of the Indians, who were numerous in the woods, the remainder of the winter was rendered exceedingly interesting. The Indians were determined to have the whiskey, but the white men well understood what the consequence would be and stoutly resisted their demand, managing to fight it out successfully and to save the vessel and cargo. For this heroism and bravery young Guyles was next year made mate and a year later master, thus becoming captain before he attained his majority. He sailed twenty years as commander and during all that time never had an accident that lost a life or any considerable amount of property.
In 1842 Captain Guyles built a house on Abbey street, Cleveland, then Detroit street, where he lived until his removal to the dwelling on Franklin avenue, where his death occurred. He was an active member of St. John's Episcopal Church, and his straightforward, honest life won for him the respect of every one who knew him. He was a member of the financial committee of the Peoples Savings & Loan Association, and for twenty years after he retired from the lakes was in the employ of the Commercial Mutual Merchants Insurance Company, as inspector and surveyor. Captain Guyles was given the credit of being, in 1870, the pioneer advocate of the construction of the Cleveland breakwater. He was interested in the Bethel and gave much assistance to its enterprises.
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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.