William H. Hill
William H. Hill was born at Manchester, England, September 15, 1848. His parents, William and Eliza (Davis) Hill emigrated to this country from Manchester, their native place, in 1852, going direct to Buffalo and settling there. The father obtained employment with the Buffalo Gas Light Co., and remained with them steadily until his death, which occurred in 1896, during the last thirty years of his forty years' service holding the position of foreman.
William H. Hill attended Public Schools Nos. 2 and 10, at Buffalo, in his early years. At the age of fifteen he began the best practical work of his life, running a hoisting machine for Deforrest & Co., on the coal docks at the foot of Genesee street, Buffalo, driving a horse the motive power of those days. After a year in this employment he obtained a position at the Lackawanna Coal docks, where he also remained a year. He now entered David Bell's machine shop to learn the machinist's trade, and the first work he did there was heating rivets on the Merchant, which was the first iron boat built. He served his apprenticeship and then, in 1865 or '66, commenced steamboating, his first berth being on the tug Swift, of which he was engineer the latter part of the season. Subsequently he was engineer of the tugs Nellie Cotton and Sarah E Bryant for a period of two seasons, and then went back to Bell's machine shop during the winter. The following year he was engineer on the barge Yosemite for the early part of the season, and in the tug Dayton the balance.
Tiring of boating, Mr. Hill, in 1870, engaged with Pratt & Co., where he remained three years in charge of their bolt department and in 1874 left them to enter the service of the Buffalo Fire Department as engineer at headquarters. He held that position until 1876, when the department was organized as a paid one, and commissioners appointed, and they immediately made him master mechanic with rank of assistant chief. Finally, after eight years in the service, he resigned to go on the road for the LaFrance Fire Engine Co., of Elmira, N.Y. at the expiration of year removing to Erie, Penn., to accept the position of superintendent of the Erie Gas Co., which position he holds to the present time. Mr. Hill has been a stockholder in the Gas company for the past ten years. In 1889, in a partnership with Captain Johnson and James Ash, of Buffalo, Captain James Boyd of Erie, Penn., he organized the Erie tug line, for which they are now building another large tug which will be steel throughout. Mr. Hill has served as fire commissioner two terms for three years each. He is prominent in social circles, being a member of the Buffalo Chapter and Parish Lodge, F. & A. M., of Buffalo Harmony Lodge, A. O. U. W., Buffalo; Erie No. 67 Protective Order of Elks, and vice president of the Merchants Club of Erie.
On December 12, 1869, Mr. Hill was married to Miss Matilda Beyers, sister of Capt. James Beyers, and by her has four children, viz: Robert D, married, who is engineer on the tug Erie; William J., assistant superintendent of the Erie Gas Co.; Ella M., who is married to Albert Boutell of Erie; and Fred G., who is employed in the office of the Erie Gas Co. The family residence is at No. 313 West Fifth Street, Erie, Pennsylvania.
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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.