William Wilson (deceased). Closely connected with the commerce of the Great Lakes is the family of which the subject of this sketch is a member. There were few more conscientious men in the vessel business than the late William Wilson, of the Wilson Transit Company, brother of the general manager, Capt. Thomas Wilson. He stood high in the esteem of all with whom he was brought in contact.
He is the son of Thomas and Ann (Ried) Wilson, and was born in Pathead, Fifeshire, Scotland, August 7, 1837. At the age of five years he moved with his family to the North of Ireland, on account of a transfer of situations in the Custom House Department to which his father belonged. In 1855 William crossed the Atlantic to Philadelphia, Penn., and sailed some years in the New England coast trade, chiefly between New York and his adopted home. About 1860 he crossed the country to California, and for several years engaged in a flourishing river trade at that time carried on between San Francisco and Sacramento. By leading a careful, upright life, Mr. Wilson was enabled to accumulate quite a sum of money during his stay in California, most of which he lost through the failure of a bank in which he was a heavy depositor, and he was therefore compelled to begin anew.
About the time his family had decided to move to northern Michigan, he returned to Philadelphia and joined them in locating on Sugar island, St. Mary's river, near Sault Ste. Marie, where they occupied fertile and valuable farming property. In 1881 Mr. Wilson came to Cleveland to enter the office of the Wilson Transit Company, assisting his brother, Capt. Thomas Wilson, who was and still is president and general manager. Mr. Wilson was also owner of considerable stock in the Wilson company. In 1892 he made a trip to Europe with some of his best friends. Part of the winter of 1894 he spent in California, and soon after his return he was seized with a serious illness from which he suffered until April 24, 1895, when he died at his home in Cleveland, Ohio.
Shortly after his removal to Sugar island, Mr. Wilson was married to Miss Mary McKewin, of Detroit, who survives him. To bless their union came three children: William R., Thomas H. and Jenny E. Many worthy traits were to be found in Mr. Wilson, he was modest and retiring, but generous to a fault, willing to be deprived for the happiness of others.
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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.