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William Crosthwaite (1821-?)
Shipbuilder: Buffalo, NY; Saginaw and Bay City, MI; Portland, OR.

1868-9 Directory. (Added Aug., 2009)

Directory of Bay City, Portsmouth, Wenona and Bangor, 1868-9.


This branch of industry has been a great acquisition to Bay City and its locality. The enterprising proprietor came from Buffalo, in 1864, and in September of the same year, commenced operations in Bangor, which afforded good facilities for his trade. In Buffalo he was long and favorably known in his line, and the Lakes bear about evidences of his handicraft. Since he came to this point, he has floated from his yard -- where they were built by him, several vessels of different sizes, among which were his namesake, a fore-and-aft schooner, the Wm. Crosthwaite; the three masted vessel John Kilderhouse, 500 tons; the tug E. P. Dorr; the canal boat Charlie, and the American Giant, a three-masted schooner.

He has a sawmill connected with his trade, for sawing long oak, and a Dry Dock 180 feet by 40, which he intends enlarging in view of the removal of the bar mouth of the river, by which vessels of the largest size can come to his dock, and be repaired.

His ship-yard covers eight acres of ground, and he employs about 30 men. He has done a large amount of repairing since he established himself here, and turns out a good job every time.

Page 97.

Crosthwaite, William, Ship Builder, bds Wolverton House

Page 238 (advertisement).

Dry Dock and Ship Yard
Ship Builder and Repairser,

Propellers, Vessels, and Tugs

Built to order, Docked, Caulked and Repaired at
reasonable rates.
All Sizes of Spars and Center Planks
Contantly kept on hand.

1899 Biography: (Courtesy of "Links to the Past" website.)

History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield
Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899.



William Crosthwaite, for many years one of the leading shipbuilders on the Great Lakes, began his career in Buffalo in 1841, in connection with Thomas Banta, one of the earlies shipbuilders in that place. He was subsequently with Bidwell & Banta. In about 1848 Mr. Crosthwaite began building boats on his own account, and during the earlier part of his career he built a great many tugs, the names of which it would be useless to record. In 1856 he converted the Empire into a floating dry dock. In 1862 he built, in Buffalo, the steamer Oneida, and in 1863 the tugs Governor and Tillie C. Jewett, both of which were employed as blockade runner during the war of the Rebellion. About this time he removed to Bay City, Mich., built the first dry dock in that place, and established the shipyard which is now a part of the one owned by F.W. Wheeler & Co. He built the schooner William Crosthwaite, of 371 tons; the schooner John Kelderhouse, of 500.66 gross tons, in 1867; the schooner American Giant, of 365.41 gross tons, in 1868; the schooner A.C. Maxwell, of 469.13 gross tons, in 1870. Removing now to East Saginaw, Mich., he there built the schooner William S. Crosthwaite; the schooner T.P. Sheldon, in 1871; the Morning Star, the Evening Star and the B.F. Bruce. Returning to Bay City, he built the Robert A. Packer, in 1881; the Queen of the West, of 625 gross tons, in 1881; the Nevada, the Iowa, and the L.W. Drake, of 456 gross tons in 1881, and the Oregon, of 845 gross tons, in 1882. Disposing of his interests in Bay City, Mich., Mr. Crosthwaite removed to Portland, Ore., where for a few years he was engaged in the building of vessels for ocean traffic, retiring from active business in 1885. He is now living at Los Angeles, California.

Additional Notes:

  • 1864 - Mr. Crosthwaite established shipyard near the village of Bank, where he built ten vessels for lake trade. [History of Bay Co., MI - Gansser, 1905]
  • 1869 Directory, Buffalo, NY: Crosthwaite, William, boat buider, h. 226 Swan.
  • 1875 - Mr. Crosthwaite's daugher, Hattie L., married Orrin Bump. [Livingstone's History Republican Party, 1900]
  • 1880 Census Portland, Mulnomah, OR: William Crosthwaite, b. 1821 England, married, ship builder. Also Charles Crosthwaite, b. 1858 England, married, ship builder. (May or maynot be subject of bio.)
  • 1881 Bay City Directory: William Crosthwaite, ship builder, p o box 239, also, Charles Crosthwaite, ship carpenter, bds Mansion House.

    Note: Checked California records and found several Williams, but none near subject's birth date.

Related Pages/Notes

1867 Great Lakes Map
(click to enlarge)

Related Pages:
Bump, Orrin
People Referenced
Banta, Thomas
Bump, Orrin
Corsthwaite, Charles
Crosthwaite, Hattie L. (dau.)
Crosthwaite, Wm. (subject)
Wheeler, Frank W
Subjects Referenced
Bangor Vi., MI
Bay City, MI
Bidwell & Banta Co.
Buffalo, NY
Crosthwaite shipyard
East Saginaw, MI
Los Angeles, CA
Portland, OR
War of Rebellion
Wheeler shipyard
Wolverton House
- A.C. Maxwell, schooner
- American Giant, schooner
- B.F. Bruce, schooner
- Empire (dry-dock)
- Evening Star, schooner
- Governor, tug
- Iowa, schooner
- John Kelderhouse, schooner
- L.W. Drake, schooner
- Morning Star, schooner
- Nevada, schooner
- Oneida, steamer
- Oregon, schooner
- Queen of West, schooner
- Robt. A. Packer, schooner
- Tillie C. Jewett, tug
- T.P. Sheldon, schooner
- Wm. S. Crosthwaite, schooner
Internet References
Links to the Past
Online book, "History of the Great Lakes," Vols. 1 & 2, by J.B. Mansfield.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.