USS West Virginia, ACR-5, WWI

ACR-5 USS West Virginia / USS Huntington

Length: 503 feet 11 inches. Breadth: 69 feet 7 inches. Mean Draft: 24 feet 1 inch. Displacement: 13,680 tons. Machinery: 26,135 IHP; Babcock boiliers, 2 Vertical, Inverted, Triple Expansion Engines, 2 screws. Speed: 22.14 knots. Coal Bunker Capacity: 900 tons normal, 2,098 tons maximum. Batteries: Main Battery: four 8 inch, 45 cal. breech-loading rifles, fourteen 6-inch, 50 cal. rapid fire guns. Secondary Battery: eighteen 3-inch, 50 cal. rapid fire guns, twelve 3-pounder semi-automatic guns, two 1-pounder rapid fire guns, two 3-inch field pieces, six automatic guns, caliber .30, two 18-inch submerged torpedo tubes. Armor: Belt, 6 inches; turrets, 6 1/2 inches; barbettes, 6 inches; deck, 4 inches; Conning Tower, 9 inches. Complement: 41 officers, 850 men (921 as flagship). Built by: Newport News Ship Builders, Newport News VA Launched: April 18, 1903. Class: PENNSYLVANIA

The above is a 3.25" x 4" glass slide of the USS West Virginia as completed in 1905 from my personal collection. The glass slide was taken by A. Loeffler of Tompkinsville, NY and dated 1905. This photo was possibly taken during her shakedown trials.

The West Virginia, armored cruiser number 5, was launched by Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Virginia on 18 April 1903. Miss Katherine Vaughan White, eldest daughter of West Virginia Governor A. B. White christed the new cruiser as a croud of 20,000 people looked on. West Virginia was commissioned on 23 February 1905, with Captain Conway H. Arnold in command.

According to an article in the February 24, 1905 issue of The Atlanta Constitution the USS West Virginia was formally delivered to the government at Newport News, Virginia on the 23 of February. With the crew of the West Virginia numbering 435 standing at attention on her deck and the ships band playing the National Anthem, Captain Arnold read aloud the Commissioning document from the Navy Department. At 11:00 A.M. the Stars and Stripes were hoisted and the West Virginia Officially went into commission among a cheering crowd assembled to watch the ceremony. After her shakedown training, West Virginia cruised with the New York Naval Militia as a unit of the Atlantic Fleet. During 1905 she served as Admiral Brownson's flagship as commander of the 4th Division North Atlantic Fleet.

In the last week of October 1905 President Teddy Roosevelt was in New Orleans and took transportation back to Washington D.C. on board the West Virginia, which was Admiral Brownson’s flagship. The President aboard the West Virginia was convoyed through the Gulf of Mexico and up the Atlantic East coast with the rest of the Armored Cruiser Squadron consisting of the Maryland, Pennsylvania and Colorado. On the 29th of October the Squadron was fighting a rough northwest gale off the South Carolina coast in which the seas were very high. On the 30th the squadron was just off Cape Henry and Lynn Haven Inlet and it was planned that president Roosevelt and his party would be transferred to the United States Dispatch Boat Dolphin. But due to the rough weather that plan was dissolved. The weather was rough enough that Brownson felt it was prudent to put to sea and avoid the shoals along the coast in order to keep the President safe from harm. Brownson announced by wireless that the president would transfer to the Dolphin off Smith’s Point, at the mouth of the Potomac River. The Dolphin had started up the bay for this point several hours before. About half past 8 o’clock, the searchlights of the approaching warships could be seen on the horizon from the Cape Henry observation station, and an hour later the outlines of the cruisers were discernable. No stop was made at Cape Henry and the West Virginia and her squadron passed into the bay and took the bay channel, which runs to the north from the course on to Hampton Roads. All during the day West Virginia had been in communication with the Cape Henry station, about forty messages being exchanged. Some of these were official dispatches in ciphers, others personal messages to the president and officers of the squadron, while others directed the movements of the Dolphin, and made arrangements for the change in the program of the president’s transfer. The transfer finally happened and the president made his was onboard the Dolphin safely to Washington.

This is a painting owned by Paul Dumas D’Arienzo, who’s grandfather, Arthur E. Dumas served aboard the West Virginia for two-years in 1906-07. The painting is marked “W. F. Henry, Vallejo, California” on the lower right and on the back is marked “USS West Virginia heading in heavy seas while conveying President Roosevelt from New Orleans to Hampton Roads, October 1905”

On 30 September 1906 she sailed for duty with the Asiatic Squadron. In February 1907 Captain Arnold's term of service as captain was up and Captain J. B. Milton was her new Captain. During 1907 USS West Virginia along with the cruisers USS Maryland, USS Colorado and USS Pennsylvania formed the First Division of the First Squadron, Asiatic Fleet, Commanded by Rear Admiral Willard H. Brownson. The USS West Virginia was Brownson's Flagship of the Asiatic Fleet and Captain J. B. Milton was in command of the West Virginia. On 2 September 1907 all 4 cruisers were at anchor in Honolulu, Hawaii.

During 1907-08 while on station with the Asiatic Fleet USS West Virginia made the following movements:

Arrival Port Miles Departed
12 May 1907 Yokohama, Japan 1,790 26 May
27 May Kobe, Japan 350 10 June
13 June Chefoo, China 880 27 July
1 August Cavite, P.I. 1,645 10 August
17 August Yokohama, Japan 1,790 22 August
2 September Honolulu, T. H. 3,445 19 September
27 September San Francisco, CA 2,100 12 October
12 October Off Mare Island Light 30 18 October
19 October Santa Barbara, CA 309 9 November
10 November Long Beach, CA 148 20 November
20 November Redondo Beach, CA 30 23 November
23 November Venice, CA 18 26 November
27 November San Francisco, CA 344 29 November
29 November Off San Quentin, CA 11 21 December
21 December San Francisco, CA 11 27 December
31 December Magdalena Bay, Mexico 1,080 15 February 1908
20 February 1908 San Francisco, CA 1,080 21 February
21 February Mare Island, CA 30 17 April
17 April Off Mare Island Light 2 19 April
22 April Port Townsend, WA 800 23 April
23 April Bremerton, WA 45 1 May
4 May San Francisco, CA 845 17 May
18 May Santa Barbara, CA 282 22 May
22 May Venice, CA 45 25 May
25 May Santa Barbara, CA 45 29 May
29 May San Pedro, CA 30 1 June 1908

After duty with the Asiatic Squadron for 2 years, she received an overhaul at Mare Island in the later half of 1908. After her overhaul was completed she joined the Pacific Fleet for duty along the West Coast of the United States. West Virginia cruised as far south as Valparaiso, Chile and must have called on that port as evidence of this comes from the post card from a West Virginia crewman named Baker below.

On the left is the front of the post card showing a street sceen in Valparasio, Chile. On the right is the back of the card with a Valparasio cancellation stamp with two Chiliean stamps. The hand stamp is dated 1909 but the month can not be seen. It has the word "Valparasio" visable. It is from a man named Baker on the West Virginia to Chief Yeoman Howe on the USS Wabash in Boston, Massachusetts. The Wabash in 1876, became the receiving ship at the Boston Navy Yard, Massachusetts. Ultimately housed over to increase internal space, Wabash served in this role until she was sold in November of 1912. The following year, she was burned to facilitate salvage of her metal parts.

In the autumn of 1909, she deployed westward with the Armored Cruiser Squadron and on 5 September 1909 the West Virginia, California, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Colorado and possibly the Maryland departed San Francisco, California and arrived on 11 September in Honolulu, Hawaii steaming 2,100 miles. The force called on ports in the Admiralty Islands, Pago Pago on Tutuila Island on American Samoa, the Philippines, Japan, and China, before returning to Honolulu on 31 January 1910. She remained in Hawaiian waters until she left on 5 October for Nares Harbor in the Admiralty Islands some 3,445 miles away arriving there on 18 October. She made only a brief stop and was on her way the same day to her next port of call 2,206 miles away. On 1 November she reached Manila, Philippines where she stayed until 1 December when she left for Hong Kong, China steaming a short 734 miles and arrived Hong Kong on 3 December 1909. She spent Christmas 1909 in Hong Kong and left there for Kobe, Japan on 27 December. On the 31 December she arrived in Kobe after steaming 1,790 miles. She stayed in Kobe until the 19 January 1910 when she departed for Honolulu passing through Yokohama, Japan. She arrived 1 February in Honolulu and stayed until 8 February when she left for San Francisco and arrived back home on the 15 of February 1910. During her 6 month cruise she steamed a total of 16,176 miles and made 8 ports of call.

West Virginia at Mare Island 22 October 1910

During October of 1910 she again underwent a overhaul at Mare Island where her original fore mast was replaced with a new cage mast. All her sister ships in her class were also being refitted with these new style fore masts. The new cage mast was designed to allow spotters to direct artillery fire as at the time artillery fire was directed by eye sight. This new cage structure was designed to take multiple direct hits from enemy fire without collapsing. One drawback to this design was its flexibility, which gave the spotters a wild ride in heavy seas or when the guns were fired.

These new cage style masts were designed by naval designer Richard H. Robinson. Test firing made on the hulk of the San Marcos fitted with one of the new masts anchored in the Chesapeake Bay proved that these new style masts could take several hits and still stand.

On 24 September 1911 the West Virginia and the Colorado were reported as arriving at San Diego. The California, South Dakota, West Virginia and Colorado arrived at Santa Monica on 7 October 1911 and then sailed for San Perdo. During 1911 and 1912, West Virginia made a cruise with the Fleet to Hawaiian waters and in 1914 steamed on special duty off the west coast of Mexico for the protection of American interests. During the later part of January 1914 the West Virginia was in the Navy Yard at Bremerton, Washington, which is known from post card sent by a newly transferred sailor named Ben. The card was postmarked 29 January 1914 and he stated that he had been transferred to the "USS West Virginia, Bremerton, Washington." It is known that during parts of May 1914 the West Virginia was stationed at North Island in San Diego, California as noted on a post card from one of West Virginia's crewman Bert Harris to his mother, dated 9 May 1914. West Virginia remained off Mexico during the Vera Cruz crisis, and returned to Bremerton, Washington to become a part of the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

West Virginia remained at Bremerton until 20 September 1916 when she again sailed to Mexico for the protection of American lives and property and to back up U.S. diplomacy. While on this service, she was renamed Huntington on 11 November 1916 to permit the assignment of her old name to a newly-authorized battleship, BB-48. After, 5 months service off Mexico, she steamed to Mare Island for the installation of catapult devices on the quarterdeck and equipment to accommodate four seaplanes on the boat deck ways.

Huntington was detached from the Reserve Force and placed in full commission 5 April 1917. Navy recruiters were busy scouring the surrounding towns around the San Francisco area in towns like Vacaville in Solano County, looking for recruits to fill the needs of the Navy. At the time the Huntington was short of a full crew and needed extra men. The California Naval Militia was called into active service on 6 April and was mobilized aboard the ships USS Oregon, USS San Diego and the USS Huntington then at Mare Island. The California Naval Militia was mustered into Federal Service on 3 May 1917 and on 11 May Huntington departed Mare Island and steamed to Pensacola, Florida via the Panama Canal. Detached from the Pacific Fleet after her arrival in Florida 28 May 1917, she spent the next 2 months at the Naval Aeronautic Station, Pensacola, engaging in a series of important early experiments with balloons and seaplanes launched from the deck.

The Huntington at NAS, Pensacola, Florida with an experimental catapult installed over the aft gun and fan tail. Here a seaplane is being checked for launching. These early experiments were the beginnings of US Naval Aviation and was the crucial link to the first Aircraft Carriers of the US Navy.

Another view of the Huntington in the waters off NAS, Pensacola, Florida. Here she is hoisting a Navy Seaplane aboard for catapult experiments.

The cruiser then sailed for Hampton Roads 1 August and arrived in New York 5 days later. There, Huntington formed with convoy TA15, a convoy of eight troopships consisting of the Pastores, Tenedores, Henry R. Mallory, Anchuria, De Kalb, Huron, Pocahontas and the Orduna bound for France departing 8 September. En route, several balloon observation flights were made, and on one of these, 17 September, the balloon was forced down by a squall and Lt. (j.g.) H. W. Hoyt the observer in the balloon, became entangled in its rigging. Seeing the emergency, shipfitter Patrick McGunigal jumped overboard to release the pilot from the balloon basket, by then overturned and underwater, trailing behind the ship. McGunigal over the side of the ship followed the ropes down to the basket and the submerged Lt. Hoyt and cleared the tangle of ropes getting Hoyt out. McGunigal put a bowline around Lt. Hoyt and he was hauled back onto the deck of the Huntington. Another bowline was passed to McGunigal and he was also pulled to safety. For his heroic action, McGunigal was awarded World War I’s first Medal of Honor. McGunigal died on 19 January 1936 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA. The day after the rescue the convoy was turned over to American destroyers in European waters and Huntington steamed back to Hampton Roads, arriving 30 September.

After replenishing at Norfolk, Huntington sailed to New York 5 October to have her catapult and seaplanes removed. She got underway 27 October and arrived Halifax 2 days later to embark a high-level U.S. Commission to confer with the Allies. Presidential envoy, Colonel House, Admiral. W. S. Benson, General T. H. Bliss and other dignitaries took passage on the Huntington, and arrived in Davenport, England, 7 November 1917, to be met by British officials. Huntington departed for New York, via Hampton Roads, arriving 27 November.

Subsequently, the cruiser returned to the important duty of escorting convoys of troops and supplies to Europe, making nine such voyages to Europe and back between 19 February and 13 November 1918. In addition, Huntington made three coastal convoy passages from New York to Hampton Roads. She entered Brooklyn Navy Yard 17 November 1918 for conversion to a troop transport.

Assigned to Transport Force, Atlantic Fleet, Huntington next sailed for France to bring home veterans of the European fighting. She departed New York 17 December, arrived in the harbor at Brest, France on 29 December 1918. On 2 January 1919 she embarked over 1,700 passengers the bulk of which was the 57th Artillery who had seen much action while in France, to New York 14 January. The ship made five more voyages to France and return, bringing home nearly 12,000 troops, and terminated her last voyage at Boston 5 July 1919.

In the pre-war "pipin days of peace" the Huntington was known as the best ship on the West Coast and, her cups and trophies were counted by the dozen. The spirit that won a first class fighting ship and in the war she won for herself the reputation of doing more than was asked. She always performed her "duty assigned" plus! Statistics are interesting only if you have imagination enough to realize and visualize that for which they speak. Here are the facts in the case of the Huntington. Put a bit of imagination into them and you will have a story of days and days at sea in all sorts of weather; of tons of coal beyond computation stowed away under a sweltering sun or with the thermometer at zero; of tons of meat and supplies put aboard to keep the ship and men going; of hours and hours stood at sea, hoping for a sight of a "tin fish"; of minutes when the guns blazed at suspicious objects and one thought that at last the big minute had come-only to find that the "object" was a spud crate.

The Huntington made nine trips through the War Zone, convoying sixty-one transports. Four short trips were made with eighteen ships from Hampton Roads to a rendezvous with New York convoys. From 11 May 1917, to 29 December 1918, she burned 44,459 tons of coal in steaming 71,391 miles in 6,455 hours under way. In the due course of events many “suspicious objects" were picked up and drew fire to the tune of 809 service charges, classified as follows: 8-inch, 53; 6-inch, 533; 3-inch, 221, and about 1,000 one-pounders.

The armistice made unnecessary ocean escorts, so other duty was found for the Huntington. With twenty-three other battleships and cruisers she was converted into a troop transport and given a "ferry boat schedule" between New York and Brest, France. True to her winning spirit the Huntington carried more troops each trip than any other one of the twenty-three sister ships. On the first trip she carried 1,762 army officers and men. That was going some, but not enough. On the second trip she jumped the total to 1,979.

Detached from Transport Force, she was reassigned to Cruiser Force and became flagship of Flying Squadron No. 1, on 8 July 1919. Huntington decommissioned at Portsmouth Navy Yard, Portsmouth, N.H., 1 September 1920. In July of 1923 the Navy organized itself as it would be if war broke out and the Huntington along with the Pueblo, Frederick and St. Louis were assigned to Cruiser Division Three.

She was struck from the Navy List 12 March 1930 and sold in accordance with the London treaty for the reduction of naval armaments 30 August 1930.

Voyages of the USS Huntington after 11 November 1918

East/ West Bound Sailing date Port Arrival date Port Units on board
East Bound 17 Dec. 1918 New York 29 Dec. 1918 Brest, France
West Bound 2 Jan. 1919 Brest, France 14 Jan 1919 Hoboken, NJ 57th Arty., CAC
West Bound 1 Feb. 1919 Brest, France
New York Elements of the 41st Div.
West Bound 12 Mar. 1919 Brest, France
New York 134th MG Bn, 37th Div.
West Bound 16 May 1919 Brest, France
New York 356th Infantry
West Bound
5 July 1919 Boston, MA

The USS West Virginia / Huntington as she looked during 1919

The West Virginia/Huntington Muster

If you know of someone who served with in the hulls of the West Virginia/Huntington, please email me and I will add thier story.

Commander Elmer F. Stone, USCG
Commander Stone is famous for having been the pilot and navigator of the first successful trans-Atlantic flight. It was his Navy seaplane the NC-4 that made the historic crossing. Stone was assigned to the Huntington as an Ensign from July 1917 until he was detached in September 1918. Stone on 8 May 1919 started his famous transatlantic crossing with three Navy Curtiss Flying boats the NC-1, NC-3 and NC-4 from Rockaway Beach, New York and finally touched down in Lisbon, Spain on 27 May 1919.

Admiral Marc Andrew Mitscher
Admiral Mitscher was a famous WWII Admiral and was Captain of the Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet that carried Doolittle and his B-25 bombers on the famous raid on Tokyo in April 1942. Mitscher was assigned to the Huntington on 6 April 1917 for duty in connection with aircraft catapult experiments. He was detached from the Huntington in February of 1919. Soon after that Mitscher was pilot of the Navy flying boat NC-1 that took part in the first successful trans-Atlantic flight with Commander Stone.

Fireman, 3c, Leslie Eugene Johnson
Fireman 3c Johnson was drowned on the Huntington 26 May 1917. Johnson entered the Navy at Mare Island, California and may have been in the California Naval Militia. His next of kin was his mother Jessie Johnson of Hamilton City, California.

Lt. Frederick D. Powers
Lt. Powers was from the Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was born in Carroll, Iowa 14 August 1882 and was the son of Ella and John L. Powers. Frederick D. Powers entered the Naval Academy, Annapolis and graduated in the class of 1914. Was assigned to the USS Huntington where he made 9 trips escorting troopships without the loss of a single ship under escort by the Huntington.

Captain John Robinson Keeler
Captain Keeler was Commanding Officer of the Huntington during WWI. Captain Keeler was from Detroit, Michigan and was awarded the Navy Cross for "Distinguished service as Commanding Officer, USS Huntington, engaged in important duty of escorting and protecting convoys"

Seaman 2c, Thomas Riley Berkley, Service No. 185-12-48
Thomas Berkley enlisted into the Navy on 19 May 1917 at the Recruiting Station, St. Louis MO. He was 17 Years 2 months old and lived at 1430 Sullivan Ave, St. Louis MO. Apprentice Seaman Berkley was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Chicago, IL from time of enlistment until 30 November 1917. He was advanced to Seaman 2nd Class and was assigned to the Receiving Ship at Philadelphia, PA from 30 November - 12 December 1917. He was assigned to duty on the USS Huntington from 12 December 1917 until his death of Lobar Pneumonia, or Bronchial Pneumonia on 16 February 1918 as the Huntington was in New York. Seaman Berkley's next of kin was his father, Thomas H. Berkley.

Seaman 1c Ted R. Montgomery
He was from Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Seaman 1c Thomas D. Gear
He entered service from Portland, Oregon 27 May 1916 and first stationed on the U.S.S. Cleveland at Goat Island, California. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Huntington at Seattle Washington. While aboard the Huntington he cruised to Acapola, Mexico and Santa Crus, Mexico and back to San Francisco California during the Mexican Crisis. He was on convoy service 15 months with the Huntington during WWI and had several encounters with German submarines and received official credit for sinking one submarine. Gear was discharged at New York, 13 December 1918.

Seaman 2c Thomas Lincoln Johnson
Seamen Johnson died of pneumonia on board the USS Huntington, 17 July 1917. His mother, Emma Johnson was listed as next of kin and she lived at 315 West 5th St. in Pueblo, Colorado. Seamen Johnson entered the Navy from Denver, Colorado.

Bert Harris
Bert Harris wrote a post card to his mother and the photo on the left is that post card. On the back it was cancelled with the postal stamp of the USS West Virginia and dated 9 May 1914. It is not known if Bert is in the photo. He wrote this to his mother:

"My Dear Mother,

Your nice letter has been received. Am delighted with the way you all are making out. You are surely doing well. My love to all.

Lovingly, Bert

PS: Getting dinner while in camp on North Island, San Diego, California."

This was addressed to Mrs. George E. Harris, 113 RFD Westwood, MA. Bert's mothers name was Celia D. and was born about 1862-1863 in Massachusetts. Celia's father was born in Massachusetts and her mother was born in Vermont. George E., Bert's father, was born in about 1863-1864 in Massachusetts and his father was born in New Hampshire and his mother in Massachusetts. George E. Harris was a carpenter by trade and lived with his wife Celia at 241 Oak Street in Westwood, Massachusetts according to the 1920 Federal Census.

Gunners Mate John Koontz

These two photos were shared by Capt. George Steller who's Aunt Louise Zeni/Parkin had these photos. She passed away 1987 and had these along with many other photos of 1918 -1930 era. This man was a USS Huntington crewman and his name was John Koontz. It is not clear what the relationship was between Louise Zeni/Parkin and John Koontz was but she must have known him. The photo on the left show John Koontz in his dress blues and he has two service stripes in his left sleeve and his rating patch looks to be that of a Gunners Mate. On the right John Koontz poses for the camera under the barrels of the Huntington's main 8-inch guns.

Petty Officer, Calvin McVaugh, Water Tender 1c

The Great-grandfather of Maureen Coon was in the Navy and served on both the USS Charleston and the West Virginia. His name was Calvin McVaugh. Maureen has a letter that he sent to his 7-year old son, Maureen's Grandfather, Kenneth McVaugh in Buffalo, NY, stating that he was serving on the USS West Virginia. He said he had been in the service for eight years starting as a Coal Passer, then in 2 years he rose to the rank of Fireman Second Class. He reenlisted and became a Fireman 1st Class and at the time of the writing of the letter which was November 6, 1911, he was a Water Tender 1st Class Petty Officer. His return address was Calvin McVaugh, USS West Virginia, Pacific Station via San Francisco, CA.

This is a transcription of the letter:

U. S. S. West Virginia
San Diego, California

November 6, 1911

Dear Son:

Upon hearing very good news about you I thought I would write you a few lines hoping their arrival will find you and you grandparents in good health. As for myself, I am enjoying the best of health - and wishing I was up in Buffalo to see you. If nothing happens from now until the time I am discharged from this service which will be next year, I will be in Buffalo to see you.

My friend reports to me that you are doing good as a whole. That's what I like to hear about my son. Always try to know your lessons. Never let them get beyond you. For a good education is the works of the world.

I am now serving in this service going on 8 years and I have advanced very rapidly. I came in as a Coal Passer and after two years was advanced to Fireman 2nd class. I then re-enlisted and was advanced to Fireman 1st Class. I am now a Water Tender ranking as a 1st Class Petty Officer. I can only go one step higher than this to Chief Water Tender. The last rating draws a very high salary and I am going to try on my next enlistment to advance that high.

I am sending you a post card of this ship so you will see on what I am serving and you will see what the ship looks like.

My beloved son I know you cannot write a letter yet to me. If you wish to do so you can ask your grandmother to be kind enough and write it for you. I would dearly to hear from and would cherish the first letter you send. Please drop me a few lines about you and I will do anything you ask me to do.

Well, dear son, as this is my first letter to you I will not tire you in the beginning so will close here hoping to hear from you soon.

I remain as ever, your Father, Calvin McVaugh
U.S.S. West Virginia
Pacific Station via San Francisco

My best wishes and regards to you and your grandparents.

Please answer soon.

(next page)

Mrs. Rhoda Foote
78 Baxter Street
Buffalo, New York

Dear Friend:
May I ask you to read the enclosed letter to my son and if he cannot write I ask you to forward me a few lines once in a while.

Thanking you beforehand I am yours truly,
Calvin McVaugh

p.s., Please enclose a short note.

Maureen states that this is the only information that she has and she very eager to learn more about him. Maureen and her family never heard what happened to him; in fact they do not know where he was originally from. She did know that he met his wife at the Exposition in Buffalo, NY, which is where President McKinley was assassinated. Their marriage eventually failed and unfortunately, there are no living relatives who can fill in the missing information.

Calvin McVaugh was born 27 July 1883 in the state of Pennsylvania. Both parents of Calvin were also Pennsylvania born. Calvin married his first wife at an unknown date previous to 1903. Her name was Stella Pearl Foote of the Buffalo, New York Area. Stella's parents were David William Foote and Rhoda Sprague Foote. There is a story told with in the family that Calvin and Stella met at the Pan-American Exposition that was held in Buffalo, New York in 1901. This must have been before Calvin joined the Navy, which is believed to be sometime during 1903. Sometime between 1901 and 1903 Calvin and Stella married and had one son named Kenneth McVaugh born on 23 March 1903. It is assumed that Calvin and Stella lived in Buffalo and that was where Kenneth was born. Calvin for an unknown reason joined the Navy the about the same year Kenneth was born. The marriage between Calvin and Stella eventually fell apart and according to the letter above Calvin writes to his son Kenneth who was living with his grandparents, which would have been Stella's parents in Buffalo, New York. Calvin at the bottom of the letter asks Rhoda Foote, Stella's mother to write Calvin a note with how his son was doing. There is no mention of Stella in this letter, which leads me to think that there were some bad feelings between Stella and Calvin but Calvin still was able to talk to Rhoda her mother. Stella would later remarry 3 more times her second husband was William Tauffener, third husband was John Hart and fourth husband was William Boisse.

The first recorded record of Calvin comes from the 1910 Federal Census where he is listed as being a Fireman 1st Class serving aboard the USS Charleston. At the time of the taking of the census (10-18 June 1910) the USS Charleston was anchored in the harbor in Kobe Japan. McVaugh was listed as being single and 26 years old, so this would indicate that he was not married to Stella (Foote) by 1910. Sometime after June 1910 Calvin was transferred to the USS West Virginia where the letter above dated 6 November 1911, puts him on that ship at his grade of Water Tender First Class.

During WWI Calvin had to register for the draft and he did so on 12 September 1918 at the age of 35. He at the time was living at 612 South 61st street in Philadelphia with Kate Francis McVaugh, which was his second wife. The name of his employer cannot be read but it may have been a company by the name of "American Transit Ship Corp."

The paper trail next leads to the 1920 Federal Census. Calvin is listed as living at 2979 Alabama Ave., in Camden, New Jersey. Calvin lived with his second wife Katie who was English and was listed as being 36 years old in 1920. Katie may have come to America in 1888 with both her parents who were listed as being born in England as was Katie. The home Calvin and Katie lived in on Alabama Avenue was a rented home. Calvin and Katie had one son listed in the 1920 Census and his name was Calvin L. McVaugh born 15 January 1917 in Pennsylvania and died in December of 1976 in Doylestown in Bucks County Pennsylvania. Calvin was listed as working in a shipyard. Also living in the house on Alabama Avenue was an Uncle. It is not known for sure if it was Katie's uncle but he was born in England and came to America at the same time Katie did in 1888. Both parents of the uncle were born in England. His last name was Williams. It is hard to read his first name and initial but he was 75 years old in 1920. He was listed as a Portrait Artist.

The next record on Calvin comes from the 1930 Federal Census where he is living at 59 Taunin or Tannin Road in Worchester, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The family lived in a rented home where the rent was 12 dollars a month. Calvin worked as a laborer in an Iron Mill at the time. Calvin was listed as being a veteran. By April of 1930 Calvin had been re-married, as his third wife's name was now Jane E. who was also the same age as Calvin. Jane E. was born in Pennsylvania and her father was born in England and her mother was born in Northern Ireland. Calvin and Jane E. were married at age 37 so that would make it in 1920. This would have had to been after the time of the taking of the 1920 Federal Census in February of 1920 when he was still married to Katie.

Living with Calvin and Jane E. at the Taunin Road home was 13-year old Calvin L. (b 15 January 1917 d. December 1976 in Doylestown, PA.) This would have been Calvin and his second wife, Katie's son.

After 1930 information on Calvin McVaugh is not known and his date and place of death is not known. Maureen Coon who shared this letter is the daughter of Alice Marie McVaugh (b. 3/15/1923) and Alice is the daughter of Kenneth Calvin William McVaugh (b. 3/23/1903 d. Feb 1977) and Adeline Johanna Louise Tauffener (b. abt 1900 d. 1933) McVaugh who was the son of Calvin McVaugh. So that would make Maureen the great-granddaughter of Calvin McVaugh the subject of this research project.

Kenneth McVaugh: According to the 1930 Federal Census Kenneth McVaugh was a police sergeant in a rubber tire factory.

The West Virginia/Huntington was part of the Coal Powered Navy

The West Virginia was a coal powered ship as were all the other ships in her class as well as most of the ships in the Navy during WWI. These "Black Diamonds" were the backbone of the Navy and it was a hard and labor intensive task as well as a dirty one to coal a ship. The West Virginia had a maximum coal capacity of 2,098 tons, all of which had to be loaded by hand. During a coaling of the ship a barge filled with coal known as an "Coal Lighter" would be brought along side the ship. Usually every man on ship was required to help move the precious "Black Diamonds". Officers were not immune from this task and had to do their share to. The only men who got out of this were the men in the band as sometimes they were required to play while the rest of the crew toiled away. Men would hand shovel the coal into baskets that would be lifted on board the ship by the use of the ships crane. Then dumped on the deck and re-shoveled into the coal bunkers. Sometimes bag coal would be stowed any place it could be stowed away when extra coal was required. This was a dirty process and coal dust was a way of life for the sailors of that time. They worked in it, slept in it and ate it, coal was as much a part of them as the uniform they wore. The photo on the right shows the Huntington's crane lifting a large bag of coal as the men move the coal by hand on the barge.

Four unnamed "Coal Scoffers" of the USS Huntington

A view off the side of the Huntington looking at a "Coal Lighter" along side while she is being coaled. The bags were filled by hand and hoisted aboard and then dumped into her coal bunkers. One bag is being lifted while 4 others are being filled. Some seasoned "Coal Scoffers" taking a break and pose for the camera in this undated photo.

Life on the Huntington

Caption on this photo reads: "The Largest and smallest juciers on the Huntington."

Sunday Church Services held under the guns of the Huntington's stern 8-inch guns. This would have been during one of her troop carring voyages returning troops from France after the war.

A little excitement on the Huntington. A pie eating contest, 4 July 1919 while on transport duty. This was taken at sea on her last return trip from France with returning soldiers. The next day on the 5th of July she would make port in Boston completing her service with the Transport Force.

The Huntington's bow as she makes her way across the North Atlantic During WWI. Photo shared by Capt. George Steller who's Aunt Louise Zeni/Parkin had these photos. She passed away 1987 and had these along with many other photos of 1918 -1930 era.

Sunday in the Mid-Atlantic During WWI as the Huntington is returning doughboys from France. Spring of 1919. Photo shared by Capt. George Stetter.

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This page was created on 5 April, 2004 and last modified on: 3/16/14

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