Captain William H. Smith
Captain William H. Smith, a master mariner of quiet and courteous demeanor, who gives one the impression that he is a man of great reserve force and energy in emergency, was born in Marine City, Mich., November 30, 1864. His parents A. C. and Martha (Bury) Smith, were both natives of Sombra, Ont., the grand- parents being early pioneers and farmers on the banks of the St. Clair river in that region.
Captain Smith received a liberal education in the public schools of Sombra, and in the spring of 1879 decided to change his mode of life from the farm to the lakes, getting a preliminary experience on the St. Clair river in the ferry steamer Scoville, plying between Sombra and Marine City. In 1880 he shipped as fireman on the passenger steamer Hattie, plying between Fairhaven and Detroit. The next spring he joined the tug W. B. Castle as watchman, and remained on her three years, the last two as watchman. In 1884 he shipped as wheelsman in the steamer Burlington. The next spring he came out as wheelsman in the Don M. Dickinson, but closed the season in the lake tug Admiral D. D. Porter. In the spring of 1886 he joined the tug W. B. Castle as wheelsman, but closed the season as mate of the tug Kittie Haight.
It was in 1887 that Captain Smith took out his first papers as pilot, and was appointed master of the tug O. W. Cheney. In 1888 he entered the employ of Captain Grummond as master of the lake tug Oswego, transferring to the Wm. A. Moore before the close of the season. The following spring he brought out the tug George N. Brady, but closed the season in the W. B. Castle, and in the 1890 he took command of the wrecking tug Henry Howard. This experience with large tugs proved of great value to the Captain, and after sailing a season as mate of the steamer Masabaa, he was appointed as master of the steamer S. C. Clark. She was destroyed by boiler explosion and fire near Sanilac, Lake Huron, the next year, the crew being rescued by the steamer Kaliska. In the spring of 1894 Captain Smith was appointed master of the steamer Wm. H. Barnum, closing the season as mate of the speedy little passenger steamer Unique, plying between Port Huron and Detroit. In the spring of 1895 he assumed command of the steamer Raleigh and sailed her two seasons. He then entered the employ of Capt William Mack as master of the steamer George W. Roby, transferring to the Pascal P. Pratt, and sailed her until the present writing. During these years the captain has proved himself an accomplished steamboat master, and has never found the bottom with any of these vessels, nor lost a man. He was instrumental, however, in rescuing a crew of twelve from the steamer Florida, which sunk in twelve minutes off Presque Isle. He has twelve issues of license.
On February 23, 1888, Capt. W. H. Smith was wedded to Miss Lily, daughter of Capt. Richard and Helen (Marsh) McDougall, of Detroit, Mich. The children born to this union are: Helen Florence, Lewis, Marie Catherine and Dorothy. Captain McDougall was an old-time master, and owner of vessels away back in the 'forties, among them the Jones and the Mary Amelia. The family homestead is in Marine City, Michigan.
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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.