Closely identified with commercial and industrial enterprises in Rhode Island for nearly half a century, William Bohun McBee, of Providence, president of the Blackstone Mutual Fire Insurance Company, long since attained a position of influence and importance in the affairs of New England. Mr. McBee has always devoted his energies assiduously to his business affairs and by a high ambition, an unimpeachable code of business ethics and unflagging persistence has made himself one of the leading mutual insurance operators in the northeast section of the United States. He has always been independent in his political attitude, selecting the man for office who seems to him to offer the best answer to the riddle that confronts the citizen in his desire for sound government, and never considering office himself. He is an active, although quiet, supporter of all civic propositions that appear for the benefit of the entire people, giving his aid wherever it may be of avail. His position in the community is substantial and his progressive operations of great value to Rhode Island and the district into which his activities extend.
He was born in Greenville, South Carolina, June 3, 1862, a son of Alexander and Jane (Alexander) McBee. His father was a planter and merchant and a veteran of the Confederate Army of the Rebellion. Beginning his education in private schools as a preparation for advanced instruction, he first attended the Greenville Military Institute and then the Furman University in Greenville. This was followed by a course of two years at the University of the South Sewanee, Tennessee, and in 1882 he came to Rhode Island, where he became associated in business with Lockwood, Greene and Company, mill engineers, of Providence, and later with the Lockwood Company’s cotton mills at Waterville, Maine. In 1890 he entered the service in a humble capacity of the Blackstone Mutual Fire Insurance Company, worked his way steadily upward and in 1901 became president and treasurer of the institution. He is also president of the Providence Building Company, owner of the Grosvenor Building, and president of the Merchants Bank Building, Incorporated, and is a director of the Providence National Bank.
On Mr. McBee’s father’s side the progenitor of the family was Vardry McBee, who came from Scotland and settled in Maryland in the late 1600’s, later removing to North Carolina, and then settling in South Carolina. On his mother’s side the progenitor of the family was Charles William D’Oyley, who came from Nancy, France, settling in Charleston in 1636. They were all prosperous, progressive men and women and highly respected in the communities in which they lived.
Mr. McBee is a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church and belongs to many clubs and organizations, among them being the Providence Athenaeum, Art and Turks Head clubs; the Sans Souci Country and Poinsett of Greenville, South Carolina; the Rhode Island and Wannamoisett Country clubs, and the Alpha Tau Omega college fraternity.
William Bohun McBee married, September 15, 1886, at Riverside, Rhode Island, Emily Edith Hudson, daughter of Thomas Charles and Emily Edith (Goodwin) Hudson. Mrs. McBee died May 9, 1925. Their children are:
- Alexander Charles, born May 30, 1889, deceased.
- Emily de Bohun, born May 21, 1891, deceased.
- William Rhodes LeRoy, born November 26, 1892.
- Marguerite Edith, born April 25, 1898, now Mrs. Clifford B. Denison, of Providence.
- Floride d’Oyley, born January 31, 1901, now Mrs. Thomas D. Holford, of Providence.
Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.