History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield
Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899.
William Hay is one of the oldest and most prominent engineers sailing out of the
port of Bay City. He was born in Banffshire, Scotland, July 29, 1835, a son of
Peter and Mary (McConnachie) Hay. Mr. Hay's parents died in Scotland, when he was
quite a young lad, and he was thus compelled to depend upon his own resources. He
obtained but an elementary education in the public schools, and came to America in
1856, first locating in Guelph, Wellington Co., Ontario, where he secured employment
as a teamster, engaging in kindred work until 1865, when he went to Wyandotte, Mich.,
and worked in a rolling mill. He then went to Tipton, Mo., on the Union Pacific
railroad, returning to Grafton, Ill., where he stopped but a short time.
In the spring of 1867 Mr. Hay went to Bay City, Mich., and as the opportunity
offered he shipped as fireman on the tug H. P. Smith. In 1869 as fireman of the tug
Annie Moiles, finally becoming engineer, remaining in the employ of Mitchell & Boutell
until the firm was dissolved. It was in the spring of 1874 that Mr. Hay was appointed
engineer of the fine tug Laketon. He remained in her seven years, followed by four as
engineer of the tug Music. In the spring of 1885 he was appointed chief engineer of
the steamer A. Folsom. After assisting in putting in the machinery he brought her out
new and ran her twelve consecutive seasons. Owing to the illness of his sister, a
lady of advanced years, for whom he had provided a home, he did not join his steamer
in the spring of 1898, the office, however, remaining subject to his convenience.
While he has been in the A. Folsom, he was concerned in the rescue of three people
from a capsized yawlboat off Grand Marais, Lake Superior, and at the time of the
foundering of the steamer California, between the island of St. Helena and the main
land in a storm, he was instrumental in the rescue of four out of a crew of twelve.
Mr. Hay is a member of the Order of St. Andrews. Notwithstanding the fact that he is a bachelor apparently beyond redemption, he has provided himself with a homestead,
over which his sister presided until her death.