William J. McClure
William J. McClure, chief engineer on the City of Chicago, belonging to the Graham & Morton Transportation Company, is a native of Detroit, Mich., born December 29, 1838. While yet in his "teens" young McClure began learning the rudiments on his life's occupation, that of an engineer. His first experiences in this line were on the engine in a rolling-mill and blast furnace located at Wyandotte, just below Detroit.
In the fall of 1859 he went to Marquette and entered the machine shops of Thomas Healy, where he remained one year, and on the following spring (1861) began life on the water, going on the side-wheel steamer Cleveland as second engineer, which ran between Cleveland and Lake Superior. He was on the Cleveland one season, and the next season was passed on the Michigan, a side-wheel boat plying between Buffalo and Green Bay. In 1863 he was made chief engineer of the Sarah Van Epps, a side-wheel boat that ran between Green Bay and Escanaba. He remained with her that season and a part of the next, and finished out the season of 1864 on the steamer George L. Dunlap, which was also a side-wheel boat, and was on the same route, from Green Bay to Escanaba. In 1865 he was on the tug Zouave, towing on the Detroit River from Lake Huron to Lake Erie, for a part of the season, when he took charge of the side-wheel steamer R.R. Elliott, and that winter took her engines out and put them into the City of Sandusky, a side-wheel steamer built at Sandusky, and ran between Cleveland and Saginaw, and for a time between Sandusky and Detroit. Our subject remained with her until October, 1868, that fall going on the Keweenaw, which ran between Buffalo and Lake Superior, and was with her until the fall of 1872. The Keweenaw carried and landed at Duluth, as it were, the forerunners or advance guard of those who laid the foundations, and set the wheels in motion for that metropolis of today. During the years 1873-74, Engineer McClure was for a period on the tug Wm. B. Castle, a tug towing between the lakes Huron and Erie. In 1875 he was employed at Milwaukee putting the engine into the Flora and running her during the season. The following year he went on the side-wheel steamer Milton D. Ward, and was with her until 1883, her trade for a part of the time being from Detroit to Port Austin, and then from Detroit to Port Huron. Next he put the engine of the Dunlap into the Darius Cole, a new steel boat, which he ran until the fall of 1887, she, too, being a side-wheel boat, and was in the trade between Detroit and Port Huron. During the seasons of 1888-89 he was in charge of the steamer barge Iron Duke, and the steamerbarge F. W. Wheeler, respectively, running on the former one season and part of the next, and then on the latter the balance of the time.
In January, 1890, he went to Bay City and took charge of the City of Chicago, then building, inspecting and looking after her machinery. She was built for the Graham & Morton Transportation Company, of Benton Harbor, St. Joseph and Chicago, our subject serving as chief engineer on this boat, and for two years past has been the chief engineer of the Graham & Morton Company's line of steamers.
He is a thorough and most competent engineer, and has rounded up thirty-five years of experience on the water, and the third of a century as chief engineer. He is a member of No. 3 Post of the Engineers Association of Detroit.
On January 3, 1863, Mr. McClure was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Healy, of Detroit, and to this union were born a family of five boys and two girls: Kate, Colin, Edward, Mary, William, Frank and Walter (the last named dying in March, 1895).
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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.