Solano County

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For nearly forty years Captain Henry Williams, officer in charge of the great steamer Solano, plying the waters of the bay between Benicia and Port Costa in the ferry service of the Southern Pacific Railway Company and known as the largest ferry boat in the world, has been a familiar figure along this coast and there is probably no one here who has a wider and a better acquaintance in marine circles and among the general public than he. Though of European birth, Captain Williams has been a resident of California since the days of his young manhood, having arrived here as a young sailor in 1887, and he ever since has been in marine service, thus acquiring a familiarity with the waters of the bay country that gives a special value to the service he now is rendering.

Captain Williams was born in the city of Amsterdam, Holland, October 6, 1867, and when thirteen years of age, following the examples of a long line of seagoing Dutch ancestors, "took to the sea," going out as deck boy on a vessel sailing out of his home port. Ever since then his activities have been connected with the sea. From deck boy he rose to the grade of able seaman and as such had sailed the seven seas, gaining an acquaintance with all the important ports in the world, when in 1887, as a member of the crew of the bark County of Pembroke he reached the port of San Diego, on the coast of California, he then being twenty years of age. The bark had come up around the Horn and when it put in at San Diego the crew was discharged. Young Williams took service with the salmon fleet, cruising in Alaskan waters during the summers and during the winters fishing in the straits off Sherman island. For ten years he was thus connected with the fishing fleets, and then, in 1897, he entered the service of the Southern Pacific Railway Company, going on as a deck hand on the old steamer Thoroughbred, in the company's ferry service between San Francisco and Oakland. On November 8, 1902, he was given a pilot's license and was made second officer of the great ferry steamer Solano, with which vessel he ever since has been connected, this service now covering a period of twenty-three years. On May 1, 1905, he was made first officer, and on December 19, 1914, was made captain of the Solano, which executive position he since has occupied.

As noted above, the Solano is the largest ferry boat in the world and has for years been used in the service of the Southern Pacific Railway Company in transferring its trains across the bay between the land terminals at Benicia and Port Costa, all trains going east by way of Sacramento and all trains north to Seattle by that route being transported across the water gap on this huge vessel of which Captain Williams now has long been in charge. The Captain is an active member of Local No. 40, Mates and Pilots Union, and has for many years been an influential figure in local marine circles. He also is a member of the local lodge of the Knights of Pythias (No. 99) at Benicia and is likewise affiliated with the San Francisco branch of the Sons of Herman. He has a daughter, Miss Dorothy Williams, wife of E. V. Treanor of San Francisco.

History of Solano County, California By Marguerite Hunt and Napa County, California By Harry Lawrence Gunn. From Their Earliest Settlement To The Present Time. Chicago. S.J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1926. 883 pages.

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This page was last updated 22 Oct 2007

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