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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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Capt. William Nequette

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 675 - 676

Capt. William Nequette, who has charge of the United States Life Saving Station at Sheboygan, has had an extensive experience in the line of his calling for one of his years. He was born at Two Rivers, Wis., October 25, 1852, being a son of Frank and Jessie (Dueay) Nequette, both of whom were born in Canada, though their parents came from France. The maternal grandfather, J. Dueay, was employed by contract to build birch canoes for the English Government, to be used by fur-traders and travelers.

Frank Nequette in early life acted as foreman on a large plantation of his father's, but after his marriage, which occurred in Canada, he turned his attention to other pursuits. He was not an educated man, but was naturally highly endowed. In 1844 he hired for five years to the American Fur Company. His business was to carry provisions from Chicago to the fur-traders between that place and Green Bay, and to bring back furs. The journey was made on foot, his load being sixty pounds of provisions or furs, in addition to his own blankets and twelve days' rations for himself. At the end of five years he was paid off, receiving $800 in gold. Going to Green Bay, he was for some time engaged in lumbering. Selling his interests there, he purchased a farm in the town of Mitchell, Manitowoc{sic} County, and after conducting that for a time removed to Two Rivers, where he spent the rest of his life. In his prime, he was a man of great strength and of wronderful powers of endurance. He died of cancer, at the age of seventy-four, his wife having preceded him to the spirit world by a year. Both were active members in the Catholic Church, and, in politics, he was a Democraf. Their family consisted of sixteen children, fourteen sons and two daughters, of whom thirteen still survive.

Capt. Nequette is the eleventh child in order of birth in the above family. When fourteen years of age, he left the parental roof to become a sailorboy, shipping before the mast on the schooner "Island." For two seasons he followed that occupation, and the next summer was engaged in fishing for others on Lake Superior. His next venture was to establish a fishery, in connection with a partner, with headquarters at Bayfield. They ran two fishing-boats, doing a prosperous business for two years. The following year, our subject carried on a fishery at Ashland Bay for other parties.

While at Bayfield, Capt. Nequette wedded, August 22, 1871, Miss Adelaide Boutin, a native of Kewaunee, Wis. To the young couple have been born two children, Ephraim W. and Walter.

In 1872 the subject of this article went to Duluth, Minn., and for two seasons ran the fish-tug "Amethyst," and the uext season he spent fishing at Whitefish Point, Wis. In 1877 he went to Chicago as No. 1 man in the United States Life Saving Service, under Capt. St. Peter, remaining over eight seasons. At the expiration of that period, he was appointed keeper, to open Sturgeon Bay Canal Station, where he remained for over three years. In 1889 he was made Captain of the crew at Sheboygan, consisting of seven men. That station is well equipped, having two surf-boats, an English self-baling and self-righting life-boat, a life car, supply-boat, two beach carts and apparatus, medicine chest, and an international code of signals. The house is well fitted out, furnishing a comfortable home for the Captain's family and quarters for the crew.

Capt. Nequette deserves not a little credit for the tone he has given to the station at Sheboygan. When he took charge there, the business had been so loosely run that it was a laughing-stock for the community, and not one of the crew could get credit for a pound of coffee. By competent supervision all has been changed, and the crew as well as the Captain are sober, debt-paying and respected citizens. The grounds about the station have been improved and beautified, thus showing an interest in and a care for Government property not often manifested. At all hours of the day or night the men will be found at the post of duty, instead of loafing about the streets, as was formerly the case.

Socially, Capt. Nequette is a member of the Catholic Knights. He is a man who thoroughly understands his business, and attends to it with commendable fidelity.


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