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Eckford, Henry (12 March 1775–12 November 1832), naval architect and shipbuilder, was born at Kilwinning, near Irvine (Clyde district), Scotland, the son of John Eckford and Janet Black, whose occupations are not known. At the age of sixteen Eckford was sent to Quebec, Canada, to study shipbuilding under the aegis of an uncle, John Black. He next relocated to New York City in 1796 and for three years labored in a boat shop. In 1799 Eckford married Marion Bedell of Hempstead, Long Island; they had nine children. That same year he established his own boat yard and from 1803 to 1806 enjoyed a profitable relationship with Captain Edward Beebe. Eckford soon became a designer known for ships possessing both strength and speed. Whenever a vessel he constructed completed its maiden voyage, he would personally interview the captain about its performance and make desired modifications at his own expense....

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Webb, William Henry (19 June 1816–30 October 1899), shipbuilder and marine architect, was born in New York City, the son of Isaac Webb, a successful shipwright who operated a yard facing onto the East River in New York City (mother’s name unknown). There along a waterfront hardly a mile in length lay several shipyards that produced the bulk of the packet and, later, the clipper ships built in the United States until the Civil War. Webb had a private tutor, and he attended the Columbia College Grammar School....

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Westervelt, Jacob Aaron (20 January 1800–21 February 1879), shipbuilder and marine architect, was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, the son of Aaron Westervelt, a shipbuilder, and Vroutie Westervelt; his parents were cousins. At the age of seventeen, Westervelt, following his father, served as an apprentice to Christian Bergh, a successful shipbuilder in New York City. After completing his training in 1820, Westervelt established a business in Savannah, Georgia, where he built several vessels. Returning to New York in 1822 at the invitation of his old boss, he became a partner in the firm of Christian Bergh and Company. Westervelt’s timing could not have been better, for the age of the packet ship was dawning, and Bergh’s firm, located on the East River in Lower Manhattan proximate to three other shipyards on the East River, would be the common birthplace of nearly 150 packets that would be built in New York in the next thirty years. In 1825 Westervelt married Elizabeth M. Thompson, with whom he had eight children. Two of his sons would join his firm in the late 1850s and take it over at his retirement....