William Ledyard Cathcart, Engineer

Updated: Oct 8, 2021

William Ledyard Cathcart (1855-1926) was born on August 12 in Mystic, Connecticut to Reverend William Cathcart and Eliza Caldwell.

William Ledyard Cathcart (1855-1926)

His father William was a well-known pastor at the Second Baptist Church in Philadelphia from 1857 to 1884. He was born in Londonderry county, Ireland in 1825. He came to New York in 1853, and then moved to Mystic and became a pastor at the Third Baptist Church of Groton. He earned his Doctorate of Divinity at Bucknell University in 1873. After retiring from the Baptist church, he spent the rest of his life living in Gwynedd until his death in 1908.

Read his father's publications HERE!

He was educated in the public schools of Philadelphia and at a prep school of Henry D. Gregory on 1108 Market Street.

Clipping from Ambler Gazette (February 15, 1900): Page 4 (1)
Clipping from Ambler Gazette (February 15, 1900): Page 4 (2)
Clipping from Ambler Gazette (February 15, 1900): Page 4 (3)
Montgomery County 1893, Upper and Lower Gwynedd Townships, Lansdale, North Wales, Spring House, Ambler Right; J. L. Smith, Publisher

He attended 2 years at the University of Pennsylvania where he was close to finish his first term of his sophomore year. He was awarded matriculate Latin prize. He later on attended the United States Naval Academy, and graduated in 1875 as a Cadet Engineer.

  • Served in the Engineer Corps in the US Navy on the North and South Atlantic, South Pacific, and Asiatic Squadrons, 1875-1891 (resigned in 1891 to start private business)

  • Professor of Marine Engineering (Webb's Academy of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering), 1897-1899

  • Adjunct Professor of Mechanical Engineering (Columbia University), 1899-1903

He volunteered in the Spanish-American War as a chief engineer in the US Navy. He was ordered to special duty at the Bureau of Steam Engineering on the staff of Admiral George W. Melville. He wrote an obituary for Melville. Read it here!

During his time in his career, he published papers dedicating his experience being in the military as an engineer.

Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., 1916, Plate 29; A. H. Mueller, Publisher

A Special Note

This is a special post to celebrate Father's Day. My dad came to America in 1980 five years after the Fall of Saigon. He was one of the boat people to escape the country from the Communist government. He was one of the lucky ones to survive the treacherous journey to America. He ended up in Japan and stayed for a year before coming to America.

While living in America, my dad attended Villanova University where he earned his Bachelor's in Engineering in 1984. He continued his education until he earned his PhD at a different institution. With his great knowledge and experience, he worked at the Naval Air Engineering Station in Lakehurst, NJ as a senior research engineer. He worked there for many years until his retirement last year.

I am grateful to have a father like him. He wishes the best in his children, and is willing to help us succeed no matter the outcome.

His favorite historical figure of all-time is Albert Einstein. He couldn't stop talking about him whenever I ask about Einstein! He even has a poster of him in his little lab/workshop in the basement of our house. He also likes Benjamin Franklin. He nicknames him "Benji."

I shared a connection about my dad and his little workshop to a nomination I did while I was attending Temple University. Read about it here!

Happy Father's Day!!!!



Leonard, John W. Who's Who in Pennsylvania, Biographical Dictionary of Contemporaries, Second Edition. (New York: L.R. Hamersley & Company, 1908): 137.

Machinery. (New York: The Industrial Press, 1912): 501.

Marquis, Albert Nelson. Who's Who in America: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of the United States, Vol. 7, 1912-1913. (Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company, 1913): 351-352.

Mueller, A. H. Atlas of the North Penn Section of Montgomery County, Pa., Plate 29, 1916.

Smith, J. L. Montgomery County 1893, Upper and Lower Gwynedd Townships, Lansdale, North Wales, Spring House, Ambler Right, 1893.

Twenty Years Later, A Brief Record of the Class of '75 of the University of Pennsylvania, and a Souvenir of the Twentieth Anniversary of the Graduation of the Class, Prepared by the Anniversary Committee. (Philadelphia: Times Printing House, 1895): 13. https://archives.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/twenty-years-after-1875.pdf.

"William Cathcart, D.D." Baptist History Homepage. Accessed June 8, 2021. http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/cathcart.william.bio.html.

"Wissahickon Valley Public Library's Ambler Gazette Collection." POWER Library: Pennsylvania's Electronic Library. Accessed June 8, 2021. http://digitalcollections.powerlibrary.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/wivp-gazett.

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