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                                   CAPT. WILLIAM H. DOBSON
                                         Biography
                                    Cook County, Illinois

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Information contributed for use in Cook County ILGenWeb by
        Sherri Hessick, added May 2001.



CAPT. WILLIAM H. DOBSON

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County,
Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended
(Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 84-85

CAPT. WILLIAM HENRY DOBSON, one of the most popular and
worthy of the old-time lake captains, died at his home in
Chicago on the 24th of May, 1894, and his remains were
deposited in Rose Hill Cemetery.  But little is known of his
parentage or early life, although it is certain his
ancestors were English.  He was born in Bangor, Maine, July
11, 1819.  This was but a short time after the arrival of
his parents from England, and no relative save his two
daughters is known to exist in this country.

At twelve years of age, against the wish of his parents,
and, in fact, without their knowledge, he left home to go to
sea, sailing as a cabin-boy.  He continued for some years
upon the ocean, and came West about 1840, making his home at
Chicago, and sailing for many years upon the Great Lakes.
He acted as mate on several vessels, and served in that
capacity with Capt. Samuel Langley, of St. Joseph, Michigan,
on the brigantine “Frances Mills.” He was subsequently the
commander of one of the finest vessels on the Lakes at that
time.  This was owned by ex-Mayor Thomas Dyer, of Chicago,
was built about 1851, at Michigan City, Indiana, and called
the “C. P. Williams.”

On his retirement from the Lakes, Captain Dobson engaged in
business as a ship-chandler on South Water Street in Chicago
for many years.  He was a partner at one time with Capt.
Nelson Napier, under the title of Napier & Dobson.
Subsequently the house was known as Bruce & Dobson.  Later
he was employed by Harding & Hall, to whom the business had
been sold, and retired from business about 1863.
Subsequently he built houses, which yielded him a
comfortable income.  He was hampered by no extravagant
habits and was a successful business man, becoming possessed
of considerable valuable real estate in Chicago.
Captain Dobson was of a peculiarly reticent disposition, but
had a very even temper and was never known to show anger or
other violent emotion.  He always exercised a marvelous
self-control, and throughout his long career, and even while
upon the water, he was never known to speak above an
ordinary tone of voice.  Although his early education was
extremely limited, he was a keen observer of men and things;
he was an extensive reader, and became a very well-informed
man.  He was especially fond of the study of history, and
was an interesting conversationalist when he could be drawn
out, surprising his listeners by the beauties of his mind
and character.

In religious faith Captain Dobson adhered to the church of
his fathers, the Protestant Episcopal, and he was an
enthusiastic and unswerving adherent and advocate of the
political principles of the Republican party. He was much
interested in the work of the Masonic fraternity, in which
he attained the thirty-second degree, and was active in
organizing lodges in Chicago.  He was affiliated with
Cleveland Lodge, Washington Chapter, Oriental Consistory and
the Chicago Commandery of that order.  He was a generous
contributor to charitable objects, although little of this
was known previous to the examination of his papers by his
executors.  Captain Dobson’s contemporaries, among whom may
be mentioned Capt. John Prindiville (whose biography appears
in this work), speak of him only in the warmest terms of
friendship and commendation.

On the 18th of January, 1854, Captain Dobson was married, at
Chicago, to Miss Jane Backus, a native of Harbor Creek, Erie
County, Pennsylvania, whom he met while she was on a visit
to friends in this city.  She died only six years after
their marriage, at the age of thirty years, leaving two
daughters, Emma J. and Mary A.  The former is the wife of
James I. Cusack, and the latter is Mrs. G. F. Tieman, all
residing in Chicago.
		




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