Captain William H. Johnson
Captain William H. Johnson is a shipmaster well known to the sailing craft of the Great Lakes, standing high among them as one experienced in and well acquainted with all the different branches of the marine industry. He well merits the high respect in which he has been held by his employers, always having had a career fortunate to himself, and for those for whom he is command. He is the son of J.O. and Mary Ann (Bansey) Johnson, both of whom are deceased; the former having been occupied the greater part of his life as a farmer.
The subject of this sketch was born September 1, 1856, at Annawan, Ill., and at that place spent the first four or five years of his life. From where he moved with his parents to Algonac, and in that place or immediate vicinity he has since made his home. In the public schools he obtained a good common-school education, and in 1872 decided to follow a marine life, to which he has since been an ardent devotee. His first experience was on the Belle Case, of St. Clair, where he remained about two years, then going on different lumber barges until 1877. Upon the Katie Brainard and John W. Hanaford he spent one year before the mast, and then went upon the H.R. Newcomb, in tow with D.W. Rust. After spending on season on the D.K. Clint as able seaman, he came on the John N. Glidden, and served as wheelsman. In the spring of 1882 he served in the same capacity on the E.B. Hale until June, and then shipped as second mate on the steam barge Ohio, of Sandusky, he remaining throughout the season and the next year upon his boat, and then entered P. Minch's employ, going on the A. Everett. There he spent three months as second mate and was then given the position of mate on the same boat, then in command of Capt. Peter Minch, who was lost on the Western Reserve on Lake Superior, while taking a pleasure trip. Upon the William Chisholm Captain Johnson acted as mate part of the season with Captain Minch, and part with Capt. Andrew Greves, after which he returned to the A. Everett, and acted as mate one season, with Captain Gerlach.
In 1888 he was given command of the Margaret Olwill, and sailed her throughout the season, coming the next year again to the John N. Glidden, where he remained on command for the next five years. The seasons of 1894, '95, '96 were spent as mate of the Onoko, when she was laid up for repairs at Buffalo, which Captain Johnson superintended. This boat was the first iron steam barge on the Great Lakes, having been built in 1882 in Cleveland, and brought out by Capt. William Pringle. It was during 1888, and upon the Onoko, that Capt. William Trenter, under whom Captain Johnson acted as wheelsman while on the John N. Glidden, was killed by a deck engine catching his coat when he was making a sail. During the seasons of 1897 and 1898 he was in charge of the steamer I. W. Nicholas, owned by the same company that owned his former boat, the Onoko.
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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.