SS Henry R Mallory Masters and Commanders

SS Henry R. Mallory

Masters and Commanders

A History of the Civillian Masters and Wartime Commanders and officers of the SS Henry R. Mallory from her Launching in 1916 to her final day of February 7, 1943.

Henry Wilson Barstow

First Master of the SS Henry R. Mallory. Master Mariner, Captain & Commodore of the Mallory Steamship Lines

Henry Wilson Barstow (1860-1940) was a man of the sea and was at the height of his career the Commodore and General Superintendent of the Mallory Steamship Lines during the 1920’s. His story can be told by starting with his middle name of Wilson. On his father’s side his family lineage can be traced back four generations to his Great-grandfather Wilson Barstow. Very little is known about Wilson Barstow, in fact only his name is known. It can be guessed that he was born sometime around 1771–1783 based upon the birth date of his son, Henry Wilson Barstow (1801-1871) who was born on March 1, 1801 in Massachusetts. In fact, the history of the Barstow family goes all the way back to London, England on September 19, 1635. On that day, a ship by the name of Truelove under the command of Jo Gibbs sets sail for New England. Aboard the Truelove are 67 souls, two of which are 23-year old William Beeresto and 21-year old George Beeresto, who were likely brothers. They would give rise to a long line of commerce merchantmen in America who would be intertwined in the growth of the new colonies and the United States from her beginnings through the middle of the 20th-Century. At some point in history the surname of Beeresto was changed to Barstow and in America that was how the family was known.

Much more is known about Wilson’s son Henry Wilson Barstow (1801-1871). It is likely that the Barstow’s were living in Massachusetts for some time when Henry was born in 1801. Young Henry grew into a man and on September 13 of 1827 he married a woman named Mary Lois Brewer who was born in Connecticut on September 25, 1806. The Brewer lineage can also be traced back four generations to Mary’s Great-grandfather, Isaac Brewer who was born in the Colonial States on November 25, 1713.

Henry Wilson Barstow (1801-1871) and his wife Mary in 1850 lived in Kings County of New York where Henry was a merchant by trade. The Merchant business was in the blood of the Barstow family, as several Barstow men would come to take up the trade of merchants both on land and on the sea. At the age of 50-years Henry Wilson Barstow (1801-1871) was listed as a merchant on the 1850 Census. He must have been a successful merchant as he employed two 25-year old Irish women named Rose Denny and Anna Kaue in the home with he and Mary.

Henry and Mary had a large family consisting of 8 children in 1850. They were William Parkman born on March 17, 1829; Louise B. born about 1833; Caleb born about 1835; Samuel born about 1836; Mary E. born about 1839; Christopher born about 1841; Fanny K. born about 1845 and lastly Anna L. born about 1847. All the children had been born in Massachusetts and New York. Henry and Mary and the children had made their home in Kings County, New York where there was much commerce with shipping. Goods and almost everything moved by ships at that time and Kings County being located on the East River waterway in New York was a vital area for the shipping trade.

Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous County in New York State and the second most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County (Manhattan). It is also the westernmost county on Long Island. The first half of the nineteenth century saw significant growth along the economically strategic East River waterfront, across from New York City. Brooklyn's population expanded more than threefold between 1800 and 1820, doubled again in the 1820s, and doubled yet again during the 1830s. The county encompassed two cities: the City of Brooklyn and the City of Williamsburgh, which Brooklyn annexed Williamsburgh in 1854. With the addition of this new area, Brooklyn grew to a substantial community. The building of rail links, such as the Brighton Beach Line in 1878 heralded explosive growth. For a merchantman living along the East River the trading business was booming.

In 1850, the Henry Wilson Barstow (1801-1871) family seemed to be prospering, and of the children Samuel, Mary and Christopher were attending school. The eldest son William Parkman Barstow likely was working along with his father in the merchant business.

William Parkman Barstow (1829) was the father of Henry Wilson Barstow (1860-1940) who is the subject of this narrative. William Parkman Barstow was born on March 17, 1829 and grew up and married and lived in Brooklyn, New York where his family roots had been. William Parkman Barstow was married to Mary L. who was born about 1867 in New York. She and William Parkman had at least 3 children, three sons named Ebenezer S. born about 1857; Henry Wilson (1860-1940) born February 26 of 1860 who took his name from his grand-father (Henry Wilson) and great-grandfather (Wilson); and William P. who was born about 1864. All 3 sons Ebenezer, Henry Wilson and William P. were born in Kings County, New York.

The father William Parkman Barstow (1829) was a merchant in the shipping business. He like his father was a successful man and had employed two Irish women in the home in 1870. They were 19-year old Eliza Nevins and 50-year old Catherine Farrell. As young Henry Wilson (1860-1940) grew up living near the water front in Brooklyn he saw the sea as a vocation. It may have been the lure of the faraway place or his families merchant roots that drew him to the sea but whatever reason it was, it would be his lifelong occupation.

Henry Wilson Barstow (1860-1940) at the age of 18-years in 1878 got his first taste of sea life before the mast of Captain John Anderson sailing aboard the clipper ship David Crockett. She was a 1,547-ton clipper ship of 218-feet in length. The Crockett was rigged with a double fore and main topsail, and three skysails, built in 1853 by the Greenman & Company of Mystic, Connecticut for Handy & Everett, Co. of New York. In 1880, the Crockett was sold to John Rosenfeld of San Francisco and possibly at that time Henry W. Barstow likely transferred to the Guion Line. The Guion Line was also known as the Liverpool and Great Western Steamship Company, and was a British passenger service that operated the Liverpool-Queenstown-New York route from 1866 through 1894.

From a clipping from the March 6, 1887 edition of The Philadelphia Record it was noted that the clipper ship Norris mastered by Captain Barstow and the bark Brazos mastered by Captain Masson puts into Philadelphia coming from the Nitrate Fields in Peru. Nothing much is known about the Norris or how long Barstow was her master. During the late 1890’s Barstow served on several ships, the Granite State in the early 1890’s and was master the Mallory Line Lampasas in the later 1890’s. While serving on the Lampasas, Barstow received notice that his father, William Parkman Barstow had passed away on November 2, 1897. After a short illness, William Parkman Barstow passed away at the family home located at 234 Green Avenue in Brooklyn. He was involved in Barstow & Pope of New York, which was a shipping company his father, Henry Wilson Barstow (1801-1871) had founded several years previous. He was also connected with the Atlantic Dredging Company of 31 Pine Street in Brooklyn. William Parkman was also a member of the St. George Society and the Freemasons. He was survived by his wife Marie Louise, the eldest son Ebenezer who was a ship captain of the Nippon-Yusen-Kalsha Line of Japan, Henry Wilson who was the Captain of the Lampasas of the Mallory line and the youngest son William P.

Barstow was a First Officer aboard the Morgan Line Steamship El Paso by October of 1890. In an article published in the Thursday October 2, 1890 edition of the Galveston Daily News it listed Captain Henry S. Quick as the Master of the El Paso and Chief Engineer George Uhler and Henry Wilson Barstow as Captain Quick’s First Officer. The El Paso was the sixth ship built for the Morgan Line ran by the Southern Pacific Company for use on its New Orleans the New York shipping routes.

Barstow would then transfer back to the Mallory Line about 1893 and served on the Rio Grande, a 2,556-ton screw steamer used on the New York-Galveston run. The Rio Grande was built in 1876 and would be scrapped in 1922. After the Rio Grande Barstow moved to another Mallory Line ship the Concho from 1904-1905. Concho was a 2,640-ton ship used on the Galveston-New York run.

The next Mallory Line ship Barstow sailed on was the Denver, and he was her Master. He may have served on the Denver from about July of 1905. There is a notation from a newspaper clipping dated September 20, 1906 about the Denver, where Captain Barstow puts the Denver into Key West for repairs after becoming disabled at sea. By 1907 Henry Wilson Barstow had become the Superintendent of the Mallory Steamship Line. On April 29, 1907 stevedores of the Mallory Steamship Company working at Piers 15 and 16 on the East River in New York went on strike for an increase in wages from 25 to 80 cents an hour and 45 cents an hour for night work. About 400 men had taken to the strike line. Superintendent Henry W. Barstow had remarked that the strikers were not making trouble and that he would not try to fill their places for several days. Other stevedores from the Ward Steamship Lines who worked near the Mallory Line stevedores were said to also be paid 25 cents an hour but were satisfied with their wages. It was not known how that strike ended, nor would that be the last time Captain Barstow would have to deal with labor issues.

As early as November of 1911 Barstow was master of the San Jacinto, another Mallory Line ship also used on the New York-Key West-Galveston route. He would serve as the San Jacinto’s master through at least 1915. The San Jacinto had the distinction of launching herself from her builders’ ways at the John Roach & Sons Shipyard in New York in 1903. Just as the launching ceremony was beginning the young Miss Sara Schuyler Long, who was going to have the honors of bestowing the name of San Jacinto onto the ship, the yet un-named ship broke loose and began to slip down the ways. Little Sara was quick with the bottle and did smash the champagne bottle on her hull. But as the great ship slip down the ways unexpectedly workmen were sent running for their lives. No one was hurt but four ships carpenters had a narrow escape. Miss Long had to shout, “I christen thee San Jacinto” to be heard over the shriek of ropes and breaking timbers. As the hull slid into the water the smell of champagne and friction-burned wood was thick in the air that day.

While Captain Barstow was still in command of the San Jacinto his mother, Marie Louise Barstow passed away on May 28, 1915 at the age of 81-years. Captain Barstow’s two brothers Ebenezer who was now working as a manager of transportation for a gold mine in Chinampo, Korea, and William P. were now all that was left of the family.

The Mallory Line had chartered the SS Brazos, a 6,576-ton ship of 401-feet in length from the New York & Porto Rico Steamship Company for use on the Mallory Lines Galveston-New York run and Captain Barstow was given command of her. Barstow as the most experienced Master of the Mallory line was given the Mallory Line’s newest ship, as she was the Queen of the coast-wise shipping at the time. The Brazos steam engines were of the newest quadruple expansion type with twin screws and two funnels, giving her a service speed of 16-knots. But ships at sea at that time sailed without the modern navigation equipment of ships of today.

Out bound from New York for Galveston, Texas on January 22, 1916 Captain Barstow has a general cargo of 3,000 tons and 171 passengers and a crew of 130 aboard the Brazos. Among the passengers on this trip are Mr. & Mrs. Alfred T. Ringling and Richard Ringling of the Ringling Brothers Circus. The Brazos is just off Seagirt, New Jersey in a thick fog as Captain Barstow is on the bridge of the Brazos keenly watching for danger to his ship. All at once a ship’s whistle is heard very close off the starboard bow of the Brazos. It is heard so close that Captain Barstow instantly rings for his speed to be reduced and gives one blast from his horn as a message to the yet unseen ship, that the Brazos would pass to the port side. A whistle came back as an answer that the unseen ship had heard and understood the Brazos signal. Captain Barstow then gave an order to his helmsmen to put the helm hard over to port. Out of the fog came the looming bow of a steam freighter nearly on top of the Brazos. The unidentified freighter was bearing down on the starboard bow of the Brazos and Barstow knew what was going to come upon him. He instantly rang for full speed astern on his engines hoping to turn the Brazos hard to port thereby missing the oncoming freighter. The unidentified freighter was also trying to maneuver but both ships reacted too late. The two collided and the freighters heavy bow cut into the Brazos just aft of the middle of the starboard side.

There was a great jarring, which sent Captain Barstow and some of the Brazos passengers across the deck. The sound of the wood decking breaking and iron on iron was sent shrieking throughout both ships. The cut into the Brazos was deep and as soon as they had collided they backed away separating from each other. Now those on deck of the Brazos could see the name of Suffolk on the bow of the freighter. The hole in the side of the Brazos was 10-feet tall and 4-feet wide leaving a gaping hole into the baggage room. The cut extended below the waterline and quickly that compartment was flooded, but Captain Barstow’s able crew had quickly closed the watertight doors to that compartment. The Brazos took a list but stabilized soon enough.

Being that it was damp and foggy at the time of the collision most of the 171 passengers were in their cabins but quickly came on deck to see what had taken place. The crew of the Brazos reassured them that they were going to be ok and no panic was seen among the passengers of the Brazos. Below decks however the feeling of calmness was not the case. The Brazos had a crew of many Porto Ricans and the engine room took a severe shock, which panicked many of the Porto Rican firemen who hastily ran up on deck. Several of the stokers who were the closest to the impact came up on deck scared white as sheets, but Captain Barstow quickly had his officers order them back to their stations. As soon as Captain Barstow was sure that the Suffolk did not need his assistance he turned his ship back to New York.

The Brazos reached New York about 9 O’clock that evening and tied up at Pier 35 of the Atlantic Dock in South Brooklyn. About 45-minutes after the Brazos made Pier 35 the Suffolk dropped anchor near by the Brazos at the Quarantine Station docks. A more thorough examination by lamplight of the gash in the starboard side of the Brazos was made. On the Pier that evening Captain Barstow was asked of the event and his only response was “All I can say is that he came up out of the fog and hit me. I don’t know any more about it than that.” The Brazos was repaired and put back in service, where Captain Barstow remained as her master.

At noon on April 15, 1916 Captain Barstow gives orders to take in all lines and heads out into the East River from Pier 35. Aboard the Brazos are 152 passengers and a cargo of mail bound for San Juan, Porto Rico. But as the Brazos is passing down the river just past Staten Island the crew stopped work and demanded that Captain Barstow pay an increase in pay. Captain Barstow rang for all stop on his engines and dropped anchor and stood too in the river. Just before leaving Pier 35 the crew did sign papers to work the voyage from New York to Porto Rico and back, but this action was very near a mutiny and in Captain Barstow’s mind it very likely was in fact a mutiny. There was no violence among the 38-menbers of the crew involved in the action that day. They had given notice to Captain Barstow that they were striking under orders of President Furuseth of the International Seamen’s Union and were demanding wage increases ranging from $5 to $15 a month.

The strike call was issued to many ships from President Furuseth of the International Seamen’s Union and was printed in four languages, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese, calling for crews of coastwise and transoceanic vessels in the Atlantic division of the union to strike that day for higher wages and for war risk insurance for those who were sailing in the war zones. Captain Barstow radioed back to his headquarters and told of the strike. John T. Turnbull of the home office was then sent out to the Brazos aboard a Revenue Cutter to meet with the men.

Once aboard the Brazos, Turnbull and Captain Barstow met on the bridge for a time. Captain Barstow then called for his First Officer to take charge of the bridge and he and Turnbull went down to the deck to speak with the 38 mutineers. The strikers consisting of 18 firemen, 10 coal passers, and 10 seamen began to state their written demands to Turnbull and Captain Barstow. Once the strikers were heard Captain Barstow refused to make any concessions and said that all issues should have been settled before leaving the Pier and not while at sea.

Turnbull then returned to the home office in Brooklyn and reported what he had learned. Company President Franklin Mooney was said to have stated, “We can do nothing until tomorrow. This is nothing but rank mutiny and comes under the jurisdiction of the District Attorney in Brooklyn. The men made no demands before sailing. The passengers will have to spend the night down the harbor but they are in no danger.”

That evening there was an impromptu dance held on deck after dinner for the passengers, so they seemed to be enjoying the evening. But back at the home office a new crew was assembled and would be taken out to the Brazos the next morning. The strike on the Brazos and several other ships was the result of Andrew Furuseth of the International Seamen’s Union, and he had been the leading force behind the La Follette’s Seamen’s Shipping Bill.

Specifically called the "Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act." Sponsored by Sen. Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette (R) of Wisconsin, it benefited sailors by requiring decent treatment and a living wage on American ships. Its purpose was to free sailors from the bondage of their contracts and to strengthen maritime safety requirements. In wake of the 1912 Titanic tragedy, it also mandated that merchant ships have lifeboat craft on board in case of emergencies. It was the culmination of twenty years of agitation by the Seamen's Union President Andrew Furuseth. President Woodrow Wilson had supported such a bill at the beginning of his Administration, but in late 1913, United States Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan had been negotiating with the British for a Convention on Safety at Sea Treaty which would have established international, rather than national, standards for the treatment of sailors on ships. The Senate ratified the Bryan Conciliation Treaty on August 27, 1914, and the Secretary urged Wilson to pocket veto the La Follette Bill. One look at Andrew Furuseth in person, however, an almost pitiful looking elderly man dressed haggardly and resembling an old "Popeye the Sailor", convinced both of them to change their mind. Furuseth came to Washington to literally beg Wilson to sign the bill. Bryan was nearly moved to tears, realizing the sincere determination and conviction of a man who had labored for such legislation for decades. The President signed it into law. While good for sailors, shipping companies claimed the unhappy result was the crippling of America's merchant marine, as freight rates spiraled upward with crew's wages.

Of all the ships that had striking crews the Brazos was the most flagrant example, the crew thinking that the captain would have to give into their demands in order to continue, being that they were already at sea. The facts behind the strike seemed to be in part that the war in Europe had taken away the best firemen and seamen from the American lines and other steamship companies, which were engaged in the Atlantic trade because many of the crews contained German and Austrian men who now were not allowed to sail to British and French ports as they were now active participants in the war. It was pointed out from the various steamship companies that these new sailors, in the eyes of the company, would not be paid and treated as skilled labor.

Fred B. Dalzell, Vice-President of the New York Towboat Owner’s Association was quoted in saying, “The action of the crew of the Brazos is mutiny in every sense of the word and should be punishable under the law as it was before the La Follette Bill came into force. I heard that the Federal Government had taken action in the matter and had sent a Revenue Cutter off to the Brazos tonight to take the mutinous members of her crew ashore.”

In October of 1916 the newest of the Mallory Line ships was nearing completion. That ship was the SS Henry R. Mallory and as the newest and greatest of the Mallory Line the Mallory Lines Commodore, Captain Henry W. Barstow, mastered her. On the Mallory’s shakedown cruise on October 21, 1916 from Hampton Roads, she produced 18-knots speed in the face of heavy seas and gale force winds. Captain Barstow took the Mallory on her first voyage starting from New York on October 26, 1916 bound south for Galveston, Texas.

At the entrance of the United States into World War One the government being in an extreme need for ship tonnage to carry troops and material across the Atlantic acquired the Henry R. Mallory for wartime service. In the spring of 1917 Captain Barstow gave command of the Mallory to Lt. Commander Gilbert Paul Chase, USN, being she was now a US Navy commissioned vessel. At the time, Captain Barstow joined the United States Naval Reserve Force as a Lt. Commander. The Mallory was among the first ships to cross the Atlantic in the first convoy with Lt. Commander Chase in command.

Meanwhile Lt. Commander Henry W. Barstow, USNRF was assigned duty as the officer in charge of the American transport terminals in St. Nazaire, France. He had a very important duty in organizing and seeing that the vast amount of shipping came into and left this busy military port in France on time. After the end of the war he was transferred back to his beloved ship the USS Henry R. Mallory as her Master once again.

Barstow made several trips across the Atlantic returning troops back home to the States. Once the Mallory was released from military service she once again returned to her former owners the Clyde Mallory Line for service on the New York-Key West-Galveston run.

Captain Barstow had a U.S. Passport issued to him on December 20, 1920 from Washington DC and on May 3, 1922 had a second passport issued to him for travel to England and France for pleasure. He was going to sail aboard the HMS Aquitania on June 13, 1922. On his passport, Captain Barstow is described as 62-years of age and 6-feet in height with a high forehead, brown eyes, straight nose, firm mouth, round chin, grey hair, oval face and ruddy complexion. He listed his address at the time as “Captain Barstow, SS Henry R. Mallory, Pier #36, New York, NY.”

Life returned to its normal peacetime pace aboard the Henry R. Mallory. On Friday’s Captain Barstow, his Chief Steward J. N. Slaney and his senior officers make an inspection tour of the ship, checking every stateroom and compartment, making sure they are ready for passengers. They conduct boat, fire and bulkhead drills as passengers’ board during the day.

At 3 O’clock in the afternoons on Friday’s the Mallory departs and heads south from New York. The stewards look after the passengers and dinner is always served from 6-7 PM each night. Breakfast is served from 7:30-9:00 in the morning and Lunch at Noon. While at sea every morning at precisely 11 O’clock Captain Barstow and Chief Steward Slaney make inspections of the ship to be sure all is in order for the passengers. Under Captain Barstow the Mallory works with a precision that speaks of years of experience and shows efficiency and discipline all for the benefit of her valued passengers.

On the 16th of January 1924 Captain Barstow while at sea aboard the Mallory picks up a distress call from a sinking Danish Freighter named Normannia. Captain Barstow rescued the crew of the Normannia with skillful maneuvering of the Mallory with no loss of life to the crew of the Normannia. After the rescue, Captain Barstow was awarded with a Gold Medal from the Life Saving Benevolent Association of New York for his action in saving the crew of the Normannia on January 16, 1924.

In October of 1924 Captain Henry Wilson Barstow retires from active service with the Mallory Lines. He has had 35-years’ service with the Mallory Steamship Company and well over 45-years’ time at sea.

Henry Wilson Barstow and his wife Elizabeth A. who was born in England retired to New Jersey where they live for a time in Kearny at Number 40 Morgan Road. Henry lived in England for about a year around 1884-1885 and that may have been to live with Elizabeth his wife’s family. It is likely that he and Elizabeth were married about 1880 as there is a notation that he was 20-years of age when he was first married. Elizabeth was then 18-years of age. They did not have any children during their marriage due to him being as sea much of the time.

Later in life Henry and Elizabeth moved to New York and lived at 1502 Pacific Street in Brooklyn and then moved again to Rutherford, New Jersey. On May 29, 1940, the 80-year old Captain Henry Wilson Barstow passed away in his home in Rutherford. Elizabeth Barstow, his wife of 60-years survived the old sea Captain.

Captain Barstow’s United States Passport photo from 1922.

Lt. Commander Gilbert Chase, USN
Commanding Officer of the USS Henry R. Mallory during the First World War

During World War One the Mallory would have two Commanding Officers, Lt. Commander Gilbert Chase, USN was her first Navy captain, and later in the war Commander Charles C. Moses, USN, who replaced Chase.

Once the United States Shipping Board took over the Mallory from her civilian owners in early 1917 she was commissioned into the navy where she would need a naval line officer as her skipper, and Lt. Cmdr. Gilbert P. Chase was placed in command. She would now take on the name of USS Henry R. Mallory while under control of the U. S. Navy. Captain Chase would take the Mallory across the Atlantic in the very first troop convoy of WWI sailing on June 14, 1917.

Gilbert Paul Chase was born in Virginia on September 20, 1873, and he entered the United States Naval Academy on September 6, 1893. Chase, after receiving his commission as a Line Officer had spent about 11-years at sea when on July 1, 1909 he was advanced in grade to Lt. Commander. Later that year on November 24, 1909 he was assigned duty on the USS Vermont where he served until at least through 1912.

About 1905 the then Lt. Gilbert Chase took a wife who’s first name was Edelmeria. She was a Cuban woman born about 1886 in Cuba. Her father was from Denmark and her mother was Cuban. Commander Chase was the Commanding Officer of the Supply ship USS Culgoa from September 14, 1916 through December 30, 1917.

By September of 1920 Gilbert Chase was retired from the navy and he and Edelmeria were then living in New Jersey. Chase and his wife had at least one son named Gilbert Jr. who was born in Pittsburgh, PA about 1906.

It is not known when Lt. Commander Gilbert Chase Passed away, but his son Gilbert Chase Jr. may have followed his father’s footsteps into the navy.  There is a minor child of Commander Gilbert Paul Chase USN named Mary Chase buried in section 15, site 482 of Arlington National Cemetery, with a date of death of April 25, 1944.

Lt. John B. Healy, Medical Corps, USN
Ships Doctor aboard the USS Henry R. Mallory 1918-1919

Lt. John B. Healy, MC, USN

John Bernard Healy was a physician and enrolled into the United States Naval Reserve Force during World War One. John was born on October 18, 1889 to Timothy and Margaret Healy.

John’s father, Timothy Healy was born in Ireland in March of 1848 and had come to America in 1865. Settling in Connecticut he married Margaret about 1874 and he worked as a mason to support his family. Timothy and Margaret in June of 1900 lived in the town of Meriden in New Haven County, Connecticut where they had seven children. They were Thames F, Mary E., Annie, Timothy Jr., John B., Catherine and the youngest was Margaret. Thames and Mary were the eldest children and Thames was working as a clerk at a grocery and Mary was a packer likely at the same grocery store.

By 1910 Timothy Healy had passed away and Margaret was left to provide for and keep the family together. They were still living in Meriden, CT and all seven of the children still were living at home. John B. Healy graduated high school and wanted to become a physician and he attended Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts where he graduated with the class of 1915 as a Doctor.

At the beginning of 1917 John now a working physician and living at 32 Cypress St. in Providence, Rhode Island, felt the call to put his skills to good use in the navy. On April 18, 1917 he enrolled into the Medical Corps of the United States Naval Reserve Force at the rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade. On July 27, 1917 Healy reported for active duty at the Naval Hospital, Brooklyn, New York. Lt. (jg) Healy would serve there for 15 months until October 11, 1918. On the first day of July 1918 Healy was transferred to the Regular Navy and given the temporary rank of full Lieutenant.

Lt. Healy reported for duty aboard the Hospital Ship USS Comfort on October 15, 1918 and sailed for Brest, France on October 18. The Comfort was the first U.S. Navy Hospital ship to reach France. The Comfort then made three voyages across the Atlantic to bring wounded servicemen home from Brest, St. Nazaire and Ponto del Garda. When the Armistice was signed Lt. Healy was aboard the Comfort while she was in Port at Brest.

Lt. Healy was under orders to transfer to the troopship USS Henry R. Mallory where he would serve on her Medical team, and he reported to the captain of the Mallory for duty on December 28, 1918. While aboard the Mallory, Healy made seven round trip crossings bringing returning soldiers back from France. By September of 1919 the Mallory was ending her service of returning troops and so on September 9, 1919 after her last trip Lt. Healy was transferred to the Receiving Ship at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Lt. Healy was then assigned to duty at Bay Ridge Barracks. The Bay Ridge Barracks was located in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn between Sixty-ninth and Eighty-first Streets along the Shore Road facing the bay. The barracks were two-story buildings with housing for 60-men on each floor. There were 38 barracks plus two separate barrack buildings in the quarantine camp. There were 3 barracks that served as hospital units set up for 20 beds in each unit. In one of the hospital barracks there was set up an operating room. Lt. Healy served there past January of 1920 as on the 1920 Federal Census he was living in a rented room in the home of Ellen Hennessy located at 653 Seventy-sixth Street in Brooklyn. His occupation on the census form was listed as a ‘Medical Officer, US Navy.’

By 1930 Healy had left the navy and was now a Doctor in private practice. He had also married later in 1920 and now he and his wife Mary lived in April of 1930 in a home that they owned on Fire Island Avenue in Babylon, which was in Suffolk County, New York. At that time John and Mary had five children in the home and they also employed a servant. Her name was Catherine Sabizesky who was 20-years old. The five children of John and Mary were Margaret E; John B., Jr; James B; Thomas M; and Mary B. the youngest. All the children were born in New York except the eldest daughter Margaret who was born in New Jersey about 1922.

Sometime before 1951 John and Mary Healy had moved to Rhode Island and in November of 1968 John Healy would pass away. At that time John was living in the Newport, Rhode Island area.

Captain Edgar D. Johnstone, Master of the Mallory during the 1920’s

Edgar D. Johnstone comes from a seafaring family, and was the third eldest son born to John Alexander and Saadi Montrose (De Clifford) Johnstone.

Edgar’s father, John Alexander, was a man of the sea and was born about 1834 in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. John Alexander took the sea as his life and found his way to America, likely due to sea trade in America. During the Civil War John Alexander served as an Acting Master, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant, and an Acting Volunteer Lt. Commander in the United States Navy. He would serve through out the Civil War from 1861-1865. After the war John Alexander kept to the sea life and was master of many merchant vessels.

Saadi Johnstone, Edgar’s mother was born on June 30, 1842 in Virginia, and also has a remarkable historical family line, with two of her ancestors having been signers of the Declaration of Independence. Saadi was a member of the Woman’s Relief Corps during the Civil War and was present on twenty-two battlefields, among them were Gettysburg, Shiloh, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

John Alexander Johnstone and Saadi De Clifford were married on August 22, 1865 in Philadelphia, and after the Civil War the first of nine children was born, a son named Alan S. who was born in New York in September of 1866. Another son named Colin C. born in October of 1868 also in New York followed this.

Edgar D. Johnstone was born at sea on his father’s ship that he was master of in October of 1870. The ship was then on a trip to the West Indies and that is the official place of birth recorded for Edgar. A fourth son, Gaston DePaz was also born at sea on the same ship in April of 1873 also recorded as being in the West Indies. Then the first daughter named Brenda E. born on June 21, 1875 in Block Island, Rhode Island. Then Guy Rene born on April 8, 1877 at sea and recorded as Guantanamo, Cuba. The seventh child Spence Montrose was born at sea on March 26, 1879 aboard the barq Elvina, which his father was master of at the time, and his birth was recorded as Abaco Island in the Bahamas. The eighth child, a daughter named Gertrude S. born in La Moule, Guadeloupe, West Indies on February 27, 1880 and the ninth child a son named Harley who was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 28, 1881.

Like his father and brothers before him, Edgar D. Johnstone made the sea his life. During the Spanish-American War Edgar served in the Navy. After his discharge, he went to work for the Mallory Steamship Lines. In June of 1900 Edgar was living in Queens, New York with his mother Saadi who was now widowed. The Johnstone family home at the time was located on 4th Street in Queens. Saadi who was 58-years old at the time was a Postmaster in Queens. Living in the home with Saadi was Alan, Colin and Edgar all three boys were shipmasters, Gaston who was an officer in the U.S. Navy, and during 1912 was the Captain of the USS Marietta, Guy who worked as a Linotype operator, Spence who was then a law student, and later in life would buck the family tradition of being a ship Captain and served in the Army as a sergeant in the 23rd New York Infantry during the Spanish-American War, and Gertrude who was in school. There is a curious notation on the 1900 Federal Census where it states that Saadi had given birth to 9 children but only 7 were still living. So it appears that something had happened to Brenda and Harley, but nothing is known of them.

One of the ships Edgar was master of was the Mallory Line steamer SS Rio Grande. It is known that during 1903 he was the Rio Grande’s master and this may have been the first ship he was master of.

On February 17, 1903 Captain Johnstone has the Rio Grande moored at Pier 21 in the East River in New York at the Burling Slip. During the day they had loaded 100-tons of general cargo into the holds of the Rio Grande. After the days work the crew of the Rio Grande turned in to get some sleep. That evening near about midnight a watchman by the name of Brett who was employed on a neighboring pier and policeman McKiernan from the Oak Street Station notice flames shooting from several forward cabin windows aboard the Rio Grande.

Policeman McKiernan quickly turned in the alarm and the watchman ran aboard the Rio Grande to alarm Captain Johnstone and eight of the crew who were sleeping aboard ship. The only entrance to the Rio Grande was by the midships gangway, and the watchman and McKiernan started to make their way up when a wall of flames burst up and drove them back down. McKiernan and the watchman then began to yell and make noise and this awakened Captain Johnstone and his crew, who were soon on deck. Once on deck they found the flames were quickly engulfing them and the only means of escape was by sliding down the bow hawsers to the pier below. The men of the Rio Grande quickly took to the hawser lines and made it safely to the pier where they were meet by Battalion Fire Chief Devanny. But as Chief Devanny was rushing to where Captain Johnstone was standing on the darkened pier, the Chief tripped on a ladder leaning in his path and fell to the ground severely injuring his nose. The firemen were quick with their work attacking the flames and soon were moving up the gangway to the deck of the Rio Grande. By then on the riverside of the ship a fire tug the New Yorker and an Erie Line tugboat started to attack the flames from that side of the ship with their water cannons. They quickly kept the fire confined to the cabin from where the flames began.

Policeman Kiernan from the Oak Street Station reported that when he and watchman Brett turned in the alarm policemen Thompson and Reilly from the Old Slip Station joined them and together they aroused the captain and crew of the Rio Grande. Additionally, on a small lighter named Lifter moored close by the Rio Grande, Albert Oraman, his wife and two children were trapped for a short time by the conflagration and resulting thick smoke. But Policeman Kiernan was able to get them to safety on the pier in short order. There were 3 Alarms called in for this fire aboard the Rio Grande and after an hour’s work by the fireman the flames were extinguished. Acting Chief Purroy placed the damages to the ship at $2,500 and the loss of the Rio Grande’s cargo was valued at another $2,500.

Captain Edgar Johnstone was married sometime about late 1906 or early 1907. His wife was Nellie Bancroft who was born in New York sometime about 1881. She may have been married previously or she may have been pregnant when she and Edgar were married. For it is known that she gave birth to a son named Lincoln Bancroft sometime about 1907. On the 1920 Federal Census Lincoln was listed as being Edgar’s stepson.

During at least 1911-12 Edgar Johnstone was the master of another Mallory Line ship the SS Sabine. She was a 3,328-ton steamer built in 1889 as the SS Leona, but her name was changed to Sabine in 1901. She was scrapped in 1922. During the years Captain Johnstone was the Sabine’s master she was used on the Mallory Lines New York-Key West- Tampa-Mobile route.

On December 26, 1911 Captain Johnstone aboard the Sabine was loaded and ready to sail from New York for stops in the Gulf to deliver his cargo. But the Sabine’s wireless operator was late and overdue so Captain Johnstone anchored in the river until nightfall waiting for his wireless operator to arrive. But the operator never arrived and Captain Johnstone, rather than lie at anchor all night gave orders to weigh anchor and proceed to his destination with out the wireless operator. Johnstone left instructions that when the operator arrived he was to go by rail to Brunswick, Georgia, which was the Sabine’s first port of call. The operator did as instructed, but as Brunswick is more than 200-miles from New York, Captain Johnstone was held guilty of a technical violation of the law. Several months later in August of 1912, Judge Mayer in the United States District Court fined Captain Johnstone $100. Captain Johnstone pleaded guilty to the charge of operating a merchant vessel without a wireless operator.

During the First World War Edgar Johnstone again served in the navy as he did during the Spanish-American War.

By 1920 Edgar Johnstone and his wife Nellie were living in a home, which was a rented apartment in a larger building located at 642 West 172nd Street in Manhattan, New York. Edgar, his wife Nellie and Nellie’s son 12-year old Lincoln Bancroft lived in the apartment while Edgar was still a shipmaster with the Mallory Steamship Lines.

During the 1920’s Captain Johnstone was the master of the SS Henry R. Mallory, one of the premiere ships of the Mallory Line. Captain Johnstone may have taken over the Mallory when Captain Barstow retired in October of 1924. The Mallory during the time Johnstone was her master was used on the New York-Miami-Galveston run. It is not known how long Captain Johnstone was the master of the Mallory but it was likely that Captain Joseph E. Wood succeeded Captain Johnstone.

In 1930 the Edgar Johnstone family lived at 73 Henry Street in the hamlet of Merrick, which is located within the city of Hempstead, New York on Long Island. The house was owned by Edgar and Nellie and was then valued at $8,000. Lincoln the stepson who was now 23-years old was single and working as a waiter in a restaurant. Edgar was still working as a shipmaster and was by then 60-years old.

The end to Captain Johnstone’s story is not known and little is known past 1930.

Captain Joseph Edward Wood, Master of the Mallory during the 30’s

“Captain Joe” Joseph Edward Wood 1878-1935

Joseph Edward Wood was a man of the sea. His father before him was a seafarer and had passed it down to his son Joseph Edward to carry on the tradition of sea life. On the last day of Joseph Edward Wood’s life, he held true to the tradition of “The Captain goes down with the ship.”

Captain Wood had been chosen to be the Master of the Ward Line steam ship SS Mohawk. The Mohawk was a 6,000-ton Clyde-Mallory line ship that had been leased to the Ward Line and Captain Wood was selected to be her Master. The Ward Line was using the Mohawk on the New York-Cuba-Mexico run and on January 24, 1935 she was making her first voyage on this route with Wood as her Master. On January 25 a tragedy struck the Mohawk and within 70-minutes she was gone from the surface of the ocean, with 46 dead and missing.

On that day there was a collision with the Mohawk and the Norwegian freighter Talisman. According to the words of the Mohawk’s Chief Steward Julius Jensen he stated this about Captain Wood, “He had as good of a chance as any of us to get off the boat, but he was not thinking of himself. He was helping everyone else.” The fact of the matter was that at the moment the Mohawk was going down Captain Wood remained on her bridge and at the last moment he went into his state room and locked the door, never to be seen again.

Joseph Edward Wood was born in Nova Scotia, Canada about 1878. His father before him was a man of the sea and little is known about his father. About 1887 the Wood family had immigrated to the United States and Joseph became naturalized in 1904. About this same time Joseph Wood began to work in the shipping trade, with little known of his early life behind the mast. It is known that he worked for the Clyde-Mallory Steamship Line for well over 30-years, and that he also was awarded the Congressional Medal for Bravery.

Captain Wood was not a stranger to dangerous times on the ocean. It was known that once Wood weathered a hurricane lashed to the bridge of his ship. It seems that while on a outbound trip from New York the ship ran into the Hurricane force weather and near Charleston he instructed a member of his crew to lash him to the bridge and through out the next three days and nights old “Captain Joe” rode out the storm.

During the First World War, he was in the service and his ship, the SS Baltic, had the honor of transporting General John “Blackjack” Pershing and his staff to England on May 20, 1917.

Later in 1934 Captain Wood was the Master of the Mallory Line ship SS Henry R. Mallory and rescued 3 people off the sinking 30-foot Yacht Departure, which was sailing outbound from New York bound for the West Indies. Captain Wood brought the Mallory along side of the Departure keeping her against the Mallory’s lee side to protect her from the wind. Those on board the Departure climbed up through the sails to the safety of the Mallory’s deck.

Captain Wood left the Henry R. Mallory and was made Master of the Mohawk, which would be his last ship he was Master of.

Sometime about 1912 Joseph Wood married Lillian Creaser who was born in South Carolina about 1885. Together she and the captain had one daughter who was also named Lillian in honor of her mother. Joseph and his wife and daughter made Jacksonville, Florida their home. And for several years Lillian’s mother Nana Creaser lived with them in the house on Park Street in Jacksonville.

Captain Wood’s daughter and wife shown waiting at the Hotel Carteret in New York, for word of the fate of a father and husband. Lillian Wood, 22, shown on the left holds her mother’s hand as they await news of what happened to the crew and passengers of the Mohawk. Old “Captain Joe” had always returned from the sea before and Mrs. Wood refused to give up hope of her husband’s safe return. She was quoted in saying, “I am still hoping against all hope that there will be some word from Captain Joe.” It is likely that she thought the old salt would wash up on a beach lashed to the wheel of the ship as he had before, but this time his luck ran dry.

Captain Sigurd S. Staalesen, Master of the Mallory 1941-1942

On the southern coast of Norway in the town of Flekkefjord lived the Staale Ommundsen Staalesen family. Little is known of this family while they were living in Flekkefjord except that there were at least two brothers in this family. They were Sigurd Severin Staalesen and Anton Staalesen. Growing up in Flekkefjord, which sets on the fjord called Flekkefjorden, which opens up to the North Sea, both brothers, and possibly their father had seawater running in their blood, like many Norwegian men did. For a Norwegian, life upon the sea was like home. The sea would call both brothers away from their family and home, and take them quite literally a world away.

Sigurd, who is the subject of this history was born on July 24, 1893 and Anton was his older brother. Anton, who was born on April 13, 1869, was 24-years older than Sigurd.

Growing up in Norway Sigurd would see his older brother go off to sea and likely he saw his father go to sea also. Anton was known to hold a Masters certificate, and it was thought that the father also was a ship master during his life. So, it was only natural that when Sigurd got of age that the sea would be his profession, and or his life.

Just shy of his eighteen-birthday young Sigurd Staalesen came to America for the first time on March 10, 1911, arriving in Brooklyn, NY aboard the RMS Mauretania. When Sigurd filled out his Petition for Naturalization to the United States form, he listed that he was working as a seaman, and had left Liverpool, England on March 4, 1911 bound for New York aboard the RMS Mauretania. It was known that Sigurd’s father was working for the Hubbard Brothers Company of New York as a private yacht Master for Mr. S. T. Hubbard, who was one of the Hubbard brothers.

When Sigurd arrived in America he lived with his older brother and possibly his father at No. 62, 4th Place in Brooklyn, New York. Likely Sigurd’s father who had been working for the Hubbard Company since at least 1895 arranged for his son to be employed as a deckhand on one of the vessels that his father was Master of.

Seven months after arriving in America Sigurd Staalesen filled out his Petition for Naturalization to the United States on September 29, 1911. On the form Sigurd had to have witnesses to his character, and three men signed their names to attest for Sigurd. His brother Anton was one of the men who signed the document. Anton listed his occupation as seaman. The other two were Marcellus Hansen who was listed as a porter, and Oscar Larsen who was a carpenter. All three fellow Norwegians, and likely may have worked on the same ship as either Sigurd or Anton. It would not be until March 14, 1918 that Sigurd Severin Staalesen would raise his hand and swear Allegiance to the United States and become a naturalize citizen.

Sigurd would work for the Hubbard Brothers & Company of New York for the next several years. The Hubbard Brothers were brokers in stocks, bonds, cotton and grain. There is a personal affidavit from a Mr. S. T. Hubbard dated October 3, 1919 attesting to the character of Sigurd Staalesen. It states that S. T. Hubbard has known Sigurd since about 1910 when he came to America, and that Sigurd’s father, Staale Ommundsen Staalesen, has been employed by S. T. Hubbard for the past 23-years as Captain and Master of Hubbard’s private Yacht’s. Hubbard goes on to state that Sigurd had been employed on these yachts as a sailor for the past 3-years and had been in command of Hubbard’s schooner for the past year.

It was on June 5, 1917 that Sigurd had to register in the first call up for the Federal Draft during WWI. On the draft form, he stated he was working as a sailor for the S. T. Hubbard Company of New York. He listed his home address as No. 62 4th Place in Brooklyn, so he and his brother Anton, and possibly his father, were still living together then. So, by this affidavit, and the draft card, we can see that Sigurd was working for the Hubbard Brothers prior and during the early part of the first World War.

During the First World War Sigurd, had left the employment of the Hubbard Brothers and took work on the SS Cauto, a cargo ship then under contract by the Army to carry Army cargo to France for the war. In July of 1918 the U. S. Navy had a policy that ships being used to carry troops and military cargo to France would come under control of the U. S. Navy, and have U. S. Navy officers but the crews were civilian. Sigurd made at least one and possibly two crossings of the Atlantic as 4th Mate on the Cauto. Sigurd in late summer 1918 then transferred off the USS Cauto onto a Mallory line ship named SS San Saba.

The San Saba was built in 1879 and was a passenger/cargo steamer of 306-feet in length and 39-feet across her beam, having a gross tonnage of 2,810. She was originally named SS Colorado, but in 1915 a fire gutted the vessel and she was refitted and renamed SS San Saba. Sigurd Staalesen was then in the summer of 1918, serving as the San Saba’s Third Officer, under Master Bergan G. Birdsall, and was aboard when that vessel was struck by a mine on October 4, 1918.

The San Saba had left New York with 2,500-tons of cargo on October 3, bound south to Tampa, and then on the Mobile, Alabama. She was carrying in her forward holds metal bars known as Magnolia Frictionless Metal for the United States Railroad Administration. This was a lead based metal used in making Babbitt metal bushings used in the railroad industry. And the rest of her cargo was just general cargo including glassware, brass, .22 caliber bullets, and various pieces of china.

The German U-boat U-117 had just laid a mine field about 15-miles southeast of Barnegat Light on the New Jersey coast, and at the same time the SS San Saba was steaming south from New York bound for Tampa, Florida, when she ran into the mine field. The San Saba was steaming along and had the Barnegat Light off her starboard beam at 12:25 in the morning of October 4. Five-minutes later at 12:30 am the San Saba changed course to the southwest and steamed on for another 15-minutes without zigzagging. At 12:45 am there was heard a loud knocking noise along the ships side and then came the explosion. The force of the explosion was deep below the ship’s hull and nearly broke the ship in half, and in fact may have done so for within five minutes the ship was gone. The noise was the ship scraping along the tethered mine and then the mine detonated about amid ships.

Today the ship lies in 80-feet of water and is broken in two parts. Her bow section lies about 250-feet away from the stern section. Divers routinely find ingots of the Magnolia metal in the forward half of the ship.

As the ship went below the surface she took 30 of her crew as they had no time to get away and went down with the ship. The San Saba carried no wireless radio and she did not have any secret code books other than her routing sheets, which were lost in the sinking. There were only four of her crew that were saved. They were: Adolph Beer, the Second Officer; Sigurd Staalesen, Third Officer, Edwardo Simons, Seaman; and Pedro Aceredo, coal Passer. Second Officer Beer was clinging to a life buoy and was picked up by the Norwegian ship SS Breiford at 4:00 in the morning. Staalesen, Simons and Aceredo were hanging onto floating wreckage and at 4:30 that morning were picked up by the Breiford.

The SS Breiford offloaded the four survivors in Norfolk, Virginia the next day. This same mine field on September 29 nearly sunk the Battleship USS Minnesota when she hit one of the mines from the same field laid by U-117.

Having survived the sinking of the San Saba, Sigurd made his way back to New York and likely reported in at the home office of the Mallory line to report for his next assignment. Being that he had lost all his possessions and papers he needed to apply for a Seaman’s Passport in order to continue working at sea. It was on October 9, 1918, five days after the sinking of the San Saba, that the Mallory Line Assistant Marine Superintendent John N. Staples, wrote a letter to the Customs Office in New York asking them to issue him another Seaman’s Passport.

The next day October 10, 1918, Sigurd Staalesen is issued another Seaman’s Passport in New York. At the time, he is 25-years old five-feet, eight and one half-inches tall, weighing 136-pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He is also described as having two dots tattooed on his left hand.

Just over a year later another big event would take place in Sigurd’s life. He was going to be married to an Irish woman named Emily, who was born in the village of Moy, Ireland on November 2, 1889. Emily had been living in Brooklyn, NY since about 1910 and like Sigurd worked at sea aboard ships. No doubt this is how the two met and began a courtship together.

Emily had returned to Ireland on April 26, 1919 to be with her mother, and later in the fall Sigurd would join her there. Sigurd applied for a Passport to travel to Ireland and then on to Norway to visit his parents. His father must have left America and went back to Norway by this time.

On Sigurd’s Passport, he stated that on or about October 29, 1919 he had booked passage on the SS Cedric for travel to Ireland to wed Emily. But he may not have made this sailing as according to the passenger manifest of the White Star line SS Megantic sailing from Montreal, Canada to Liverpool, England on November 10, 1919, Staalesen is listed as a passenger traveling alone. He was listed as a seaman, so he may have been working aboard the ship in order to get to Ireland. It was on November 21, 1919 in the Parish of Charlemont, County Armagh, Ireland that Sigurd and Emily were married. They were likely wed in the St. Peter’s Parish Church.

After the wedding Sigurd, still a man of the sea, kept on working aboard ships, and likely Emily did also. Working on ships, Sigurd and Emily likely were able to travel back to Ireland and Norway many times to visit family. It is known that Sigurd and Emily travel back from Stavanger, Norway aboard the Norwegian-American Line SS Stavangerfjord arriving in New York on November 27, 1928, as they are listed on the passenger manifest for that voyage.

By 1930 Sigurd and Emily had a rented apartment, where the rent was $55 per month, which was located on 72nd Street in Brooklyn, NY. Sigurd was working for the Mallory Steamship Line as an Officer aboard ship. By the summer of 1937 Sigurd was then the First Officer of the SS Iroquois. She was owned and operated by the Clyde-Mallory Line and was Mastered by George Graber. At the time the Iroquois was then employed on the New York to Miami route, but she would also haul cargo to and from Mexican ports.

The first ship that Sigurd may have been Master of was the Clyde-Mallory Line passenger-cargo SS Henry R. Mallory. He was the Master at least on the voyage made from New York to Bahia Brazil in September of 1941. It was thought that Sigurd was master of the Henry R. Mallory throughout 1941 and 1942. When Sigurd registered for the Draft on April 25, 1942 he listed his employer as Fagainard at 38 Pearl Street in New York City. This is at the southern end of Manhattan near Battery Park. This company may have been another shipping company, but no record of who or what they were exists today. At the time Sigurd and Emily lived at 215 Hart Blvd. in West Brighton, New York. This was a two-story frame house with a wide-open front porch and it still stands there today.

During the Second World War, Sigurd was serving in the United States Naval Reserve at the rank of Lieutenant, but it is not known what his duty was. After the war ended in 1945, Sigurd Staalesen worked as a Coast Pilot and lived with his wife Emily, in Florida directly after the war ended and into the early 1950’s.

Later in the 1950’s Staalesen was working the sea lanes of the New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island seaways as a local coast pilot. On September 24, 1957 Captain Staalesen was piloting the MS Belleville, an 8,400-ton Norwegian cargo ship. Captain Staalesen who was then 64-years old, was the Pilot aboard the Belleville then sailing from Singapore going to New York, Boston, Philadelphia and finally Houston, Texas. Captain Staalesen was, on the morning of the grounding, navigating by visual means and not using the local charts. Weather was a bit choppy and visibility was not the best. When nearing Seal Rock, in the Brenton Reef, near the Brenton Reef Lightship, just outside of Newport, Rhode Island, Captain Staalesen had the Belleville too close to the granite ledge in order to meet a pilot boat, and hit fast aground on the rocky granite bottom.

The Belleville was carrying a cargo of tapioca, 1,138-tons of tin, 2,700 bales of rubber, 140 bags of black pepper, and 750 bags of coffee, and 580 chests of tea in her holds. In the days after the grounding most of the cargo had been removed to barges. Her owners Skibs A/S Solstad of Oslo called in Merritt-Chapman & Scott, Marine Salvagers, and they sent their salvage vessel Curb to get the unloaded Belleville off the ledge. Once the unloading of the cargo was completed in early November, salvage operations began in trying to dislodge the vessel from the bottom. She was stuck fast and could not be removed. During a storm on November 11, the Belleville split her hull and broke in two. Afterwards the hulk of the Belleville was abandoned and sold to Submarine Specialists, Inc. of Scituate, Massachusetts, for $52,000 and was scrapped. The insurance claim for the Belleville was 2-million dollars.

The United States Coast Guard in October 1957, held a court of inquiry into the events of the grounding of the Belleville while being Piloted by Captain Staalesen. During the Coast Guard inquiry, it was noted that Captain Staalesen had come aboard the Belleville in Boston, and had navigated her through the Cape Cod Canal heading for Newport. Captain Staalesen stated that he had mistaken the Coast Guard Cutter Spar, for a Pilot boat, which was to have picked him up and taken him to shore. It was then that the ship hit the granite bottom of the reef and ran fast aground. Captain Staalesen also commented that a light on a key buoy in the area of the grounding was not operating properly at the time and that this may have caused Staalesen to misjudge the location of the ship. But Commander Frederick K. Arzt, USCG, the senior investigating officer of the Coast Guard, charged Captain Staalesen with negligence.

Albert Begelman, the president of the Maritime Coast Pilots Association testified that Captain Staalesen was one of the most capable pilots in his organization. Begelman said that he still considers Staalesen a good pilot and in fact Begelman assigned Staalesen to pilot another ship two-days after the grounding.

The Court found Captain Staalesen guilty of Negligence in the grounding of the Belleville. The Court handed Captain Staalesen a very stiff sentence considering that piloting was his livelihood. The court awarded Staalesen a six-month suspension of his pilot’s license, with a one-year probation.

Captain Staalesen went back to sea again after the wreck of the Belleville. He Piloted ships for several more years until finally retiring from sea duty. He and Emily never had any children and would live on Staten Island in Richmond, New York when the good Captain Passed away in August of 1972.

Sigurd S. Staalesen shown from his 1918 Application of Seaman’s Certificate of American Citizenship form. Photo on the right shows Emily Staalesen, Wife of Sigurd, shown from her 1920 Passport Application form.

Cpatain John Lawrence Mobley, Jr.
Master of the Mallory 1942 - 1943

John Lawrence Mobley, Jr. was the Master of the SS Henry R. Mallory just before the Second World War and was in command until he left the ship in late January of 1943. Captain Mobley held a Masters license and had worked for the Clyde-Mallory Line, which was a subsidiary of the AGWI (Atlantic, Gulf & West Indies) Steam Ship Company for many years. Mobley had likely taken over the Mallory when Captain Wood left the ship.

In the very early days of America’s involvement in the Second World War the Mallory began to carry cargo and troops for the Army. She had under the command of Captain Mobley, sailed on at least one eastbound convoy, SC110, which sailed on November 17, 1942 from Boston to Iceland. Captain Mobley’s last trip as Master of the Mallory was on the return convoy ON 152, which left Iceland on December 10, 1942. Captain Mobley’s First Officer was Horace Rudolf Weaver who would take over as Master of the Mallory once Captain Mobley left when they returned to Boston.

John Lawrence Mobley, Jr. was born on April 13, 1889 in Georgetown, South Carolina. His father was John Lawrence Mobley, Sr. and was a Civil War veteran. John Mobley, Senior fought on the Confederate side and had enlisted on June 24, 1861 in Martin County, North Carolina as a Private in Company H of the 1st Regiment, 1st North Carolina Infantry. Mobley had been promoted to full Sergeant on March 30 1864 and was with the 1st Regiment from 1861 through the end of the war in 1865. They had fought at many battles such as Gettysburgh in July of 1863, and at the Wilderness in May of 1864, and the last battle being in Athens, Georgia in May of 1865.

The elder Mobley would return to South Carolina after the war and began to farm where he would later become married to Mary Virginia Braswell. Together John and Mary would have 14 children, of which only 8 would live past childhood. Among the eight was a son named after his father, John Lawrence Mobley, Jr. born on April 13, 1889.

It is not known how or why the younger John Lawrence Mobley found the sea as his calling but being that Georgetown is located on Winyah Bay, which is at the confluence of the Great Pee Dee River, Waccamaw River, and the Sampit River, which made Georgetown the second largest seaport in South Carolina, this may have been the answer in part. In the years after the Civil War, the south was economically depressed and as the years progressed commerce began to pick up and as a result sea trade with southern ports was beginning to see much new life. Work was the likely the calling card of sea life for the younger John L. Mobley.

Little is known of his early life at sea but by the late 1930’s John L. Mobley was a sea captain and was working as a Master for the Clyde-Mallory Line. About 1919 John L. Mobley, Jr. married Annie McKie of Georgia. Because John was working for a shipping company, likely the Mallory Line, he and Annie lived in Brooklyn, New York.

In April of 1930 Annie and John were living in a home they owned located at 302 Puritan Avenue in Brooklyn. John was then working as a seaman aboard a freighter. At that time Annie and John had two daughters, Martha (b. abt 1924) and Mary (b. abt 1926), they would be the couple’s only children. Also living in the home was Annie’s brother, Julian McKie and his wife Ruth. There was also a boarder by the name of Mary McDermott living in the home, so the house must have been quite large.

Early in 1942 or late 1941, Mobley became the Master of one of the Company’s well-traveled ships the SS Henry R. Mallory, named after the Lines founding father, Henry R. Mallory.

In June of 1942 Captain Mobley and the crew of the Mallory rescued several men from the torpedoed merchant ship SS Westmorland. On April 26, 1942, the 9,512-ton SS Westmoreland under command of Captain Ernst Arthur Burton, set sail from Wellington, New Zealand bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia where she would join a eastbound convoy for Liverpool, England. She transited the Panama Canal May 22-25, 1942 and was steaming in Caribbean waters. On the morning of June 1, 1942, the Westmoreland is 215-miles north northeast of Bermuda when the ship was attacked by a German U-boat. Captain Burton seeing that his ship was mortally wounded sounded abandon ship and 65 men left the ship alive in three lifeboats, while two men died during the attack.

The Westmoreland stayed afloat for nearly 3-hours, and the German U-boat surfaced and shelled the ship until she sank. For some time, all three lifeboats kept together but due to rough weather became separated. On the sixth day after the sinking of his ship the SS Henry R. Mallory rescued Captain Burton’s lifeboat on June 6, 1942.

The Mallory was then steaming north to New York and had came upon Captain Burton and the 19 men in his lifeboat. The men in the lifeboat had a red sail flying and Captain Mobley aboard the Mallory was a bit suspicious of the lone lifeboat. Thinking it was a German trick to lure unsuspecting merchantmen into a kill, Captain Mobley took the better part of a half hour to investigate the lifeboat and only after he was satisfied that it was not a German trap approached the lifeboat. Likely due to the mid-day sun the lookouts aboard the Mallory could not see the red flair the men in Captain Burton’s lifeboat were waving. As easy as parking a taxi Captain Mobley parked the Mallory along side the Westmoreland’s lifeboat and took the 19-men and Captain Burton aboard the Mallory. The men were a bit sunburned but otherwise in good shape. By June 8 the Mallory with the 20 men from the Westmoreland arrived safely in New York harbor.

Early in 1942 when America began its movement of troops to Europe many ships like the Mallory were pressed into service to be used as troopships just has had been done during the First World War. It was determined that troopships coming from America would land in Newport, Wales, and one of the first ships across was the SS Cathy. She landed her load of troops in Newport on May 14, 1942 and this marked the beginning of the American troops arriving in the United Kingdom leading to the build up and eventual invasion of France in 1944. As much as the American’s wanted her English cousins to see that they were up to the task at hand there was an event in Newport that had everyone wondering if the American’s were really up to it.

On July 24, 1942 Captain Mobley has the Mallory steaming just outside the entrance to Newport Harbor. As they enter the channel and approach the inner dock and its protective gate somehow the orders from Captain Mobley and the engine room get misinterpreted. Down in the engine room they put the engines at full speed ahead as they understood the order, which causes the Mallory to lurch forward. This resulted in the Mallory ramming into the gate of the inner dock. This accident effectively puts the harbor of Newport out of commission for the better part of a month. If the English did not know the American’s had arrived they certinally did now.

Captain Mobley left the Mallory in January of 1943. By 1942 the Mobley family had relocated from the Puritan Ave. home to a home located at 7 Virginia Place also in Brooklyn.  It its not known what ship he would have gone to after leaving the Mallory but he did remain working at sea for the AGWI Lines Steamship Company for the rest of his life. After his retirement from a lifetime at sea, John L. Mobley, Jr. returned to the city of his birth, Georgetown, South Carolina. There he would live until his death in May of 1972 at the age of 83.

Horace Rudolph Weaver, the Last Master of the Mallory

The last Master of the Henry R. Mallory was Horace Rudolph Weaver, who was Killed in Action as a result of the sinking of the Mallory on February 7, 1943. The end for Captain Weaver and several other men including Dr. Grabenstein, the Mallory’s, ships Doctor, was witnessed by Army Chaplain Father Whelan, who reported as seeing the Captain’s lifeboat getting away from the side of the mortally wounded Mallory when she rolled deeply and swamped the lifeboat and none were seen to survive the swamping of that lifeboat.

When the Mallory left New York days before Captain Weaver had just been made master of the Mallory, but this was not his first trip on the Mallory as he was previously her First Officer. Weaver was a Merchant Mariner and had been with the Clyde-Mallory Line for several years previous to his death.

Horace Rudolph Weaver was born in 1909 in North Carolina to Thomas W. and Agnes Weaver. At the beginning of 1920 the Thomas Weaver family lived at 1114 South 4th Street in Wilmington, North Carolina. Thomas was working as a steel worker for the railroad and he and Agnes had seven children; Madeline (b. abt. 1903), Paul (b. abt. 1905), Lillian (b. abt. 1907), Horace (b. abt. 1909), Aubry (b. abt. 1911), Thomas jr. (b. abt. 1914), and Florine (b. abt. 1916).

After Horace graduated from High School he looked to the Cape Fear River for work. His parents home on 4th Street was only one quarter mile from the waterfront and likely as a young boy Horace may have spent many a day standing on the banks of the Cape Fear River dreaming of where the waters of the Cape Fear would lead to, never dreaming that as a man many years later the waters of the Cape Fear would lead him to his death in the icy cold Atlantic waters southwest of Iceland.

By 1930 at the age of 21, Horace Weaver was working for the Mallory Steamship Lines on the SS Comal as one of her three Quartermasters. The Comal was built in 1885 and scrapped in 1935. She was 340 feet long with 3 decks, and could carry 3,000 bales of cotton. The Comal had rooms for 100 first class passengers, and more in steerage class. The Mallory Line (New York & Texas Steamship Co.) was one of the old family-owned passenger lines in the coastwise passenger and freight trade. There were eight ships on this route, which connected New York with Galveston, Texas with twice-a-week arrivals and departures.

Horace Weaver rose through the ranks of the Mallory Line until he gained his Masters Certificate. When America was drawn into the Second World War, Weaver was serving as the First Officer aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory. In Late December 1942 after the Mallory had returned from her last Reykjavik, Iceland to Boston run, her current Master, J. L. Mobley and a good share of her crew were transferred off the ship. First Officer Horace Weaver was given command of the Mallory and she may have been Weaver’s first ship he was Master of.

The only known descriptions of Captain Weaver’s personality come from one of the Mallory’s crew, Able Seaman Thomas A. Hebenton of the Mallory’s Deck Division. Hebenton would be aboard for that last fateful trip in February 1943 and would survive the sinking that day. Hebenton later recounted the events of the sinking and stated that Captain Weaver was a friendly man, speaking to each man in his deck division who he was near every day. Hebenton stood many a day at the wheel of the Mallory and had many hours in the Mallory’s wheelhouse with Captain Weaver and grew to know him some. Hebenton remarked, “Captain Weaver was a nice guy, he’d even buy us a beer if we were ashore. In the Merchant Marines we were not as spit and polished as the Navy guys were.”

Weaver was only 34-years old when the Mallory sank on February 7, 1943 and he was married. Horace and his wife Francis had 3 children. About 1935 the first child, a son named Thomas Wright was born, followed by another son named Barry. At the time of the sinking of the Mallory, Francis, Horace’s wife was expecting another child. It will never be known what Captain Weaver’s last thoughts were as he was being swamped in the lifeboat and thrown into the deadly Atlantic waters on February 7, 1943 but he may have been thinking of his wife and sons and how he would never get to hold that as yet unborn child Francis was still carrying. Francis after the sinking and death of her husband gave birth to a third son and named him Horace R. Weaver, Jr. to honor her husband.

Back home in Wilmington, word of the sinking did not reach the family for some time and it is not known if the Navy listed Captain Weaver as Missing in Action or Killed in Action, but his wife Francis understood she would never see her husband again. All she could do was to look upon the waters of the Cape Fear River and know that they were somehow connected to the waters where Horace Rudolph Weaver forever more rested with many of his countrymen, always and forever on eternal patrol.

Horace Rudolph Weaver, circa 1941 Photo of First Officer Horace R. Weaver aboard the Mallory with his wife Francis. Standing in front is the eldest son Thomas Wright Weaver, and Horace is holding his infant son Barry Weaver in his arms. This photo was likely taken about 1941.

On the left is the youngest son of Horace and Francis Weaver. His name is Horace Rudolph Weaver Jr., he was the baby Francis was carry at the time of Captain Weavers death. On the right is Thomas Weaver. He is the son of Wendy Kreger, who is the daughter of Thomas Wright Weaver and the granddaughter of Captain Horace Weaver. Wendy relates about her family, “I would hope that someday my son Thomas can understand my indescribable feeling of pride that I feel towards a man I have never met. My grandfather should never be forgotten and left unknown to the world because of his braveness and determination that the surviving soldiers lived their life after WWII.”

This page was created on February 16, 2017, and last updated on February 16, 2017

If you have research comments or additional information on this page e-mail them to: Joe Hartwell

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