The data here is generally gleaned from published sources. I have had no contact yet with any descendants of USS Nipsic crew. In all cases, the information presented here is given in good faith but should not be considered as factual without independent verification.If you have any data, and especally images, of USS Nipsic's crew and you would like to share this with the world, or at least, those interested in the Samoa Hurricane, please feel free to contact me. I have searched the The United States National Archives Catalog and cannot find an index or reference for a crew list of USS Nipsic at Apia in 1889. If any visitor to this site knows of such a crew list, please contact me and let me know. I found a page of Lieutenant Richard G. Davenport's diary which lists the officers of Nipsic when he joined the ship in November, 1887, and have included a table of these men who were most probably, still present at Apia.
The images below are from American Naval History and Heritage Command unless attributed elsewhere.
Please Note: Any visitors to this site who object to the images of family members being portrayed, please contact me and I will remove the images, and /or the details, immediately.
Where there is a photograph of a crew member, please DO NOT use the image for anything at all, without first asking my permission using the contact form. If I do not know the family contact, then I will not be able to give permission for its use. If I do know of a family contact, I will ask them if they give permission, so in the contact form, please give details of how and why you wish to use the image. If they are agreeable, or indeed if not, I will then reply to your enquiry. This not intended to be awkward or unfriendly, I think it is simply good courtesy to ask first.
William Carey Cole, was born in Chicago, Illinois on 23rd August 1868 and was appointed a naval cadet on 5th September 1885. He graduated from the Naval Academy on 7 June 1889 after the storm, returning then to USS Nipsic. In 1907, as Lieutenant Commander, he became navigator of the newly commissioned USS Kansas. In 1919, he served as Assistant Attaché in the London United States embassy, and later Assistant Chief of Naval Operations in Washington. He retired with flag rank on 1st September 1932 and died at the Naval Hospital, Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, on 28th May, 1935.
The image is snipped from one held at the American Naval History and Heritage Command.If family members object to me using this image, they should contact me and I'll remove it immediately.
He was born 11th January, 1849 and started naval service on 13 June 1865 with a practice cruise on USS Macedonian, followed by a number of other practice ships. His first navy ship appears to have been USS Sabine in 1869. He joined USS Nipsic on October 10th, 1887, as navigator, although his diary record shows 1st November 1887, and left July 26, 1890. The records of his naval service finish with USS Castine December 8th, 1896, but as he was later Commander and then possibly Rear Admiral there seems to be later data missing. In May, 1898, he seems to have been Lieutenant Commander in Key West, Florida, possibly on USS Suwanee, immediately prior to the Spanish-American War. The historical data for this man is slightly ambiguous. He died in Washington on May 30th, 1926.
A great many pages from Davenport's diary can be viewed on American Naval History and Heritage Command web-site. They consist of his hand-written notes and often an image of the ship concerned.Davenport did later have a public disagreement with another officer on Nipsic at the time, John L. Purcell, reported in the Indianapolis News newspaper cited below. You need to move to the top of the fourth column of the central page - the transcription on the left is not very accurate.
Joshua Heap was born in Wallasey, England, on December 15th, 1870, the fifth of nine children. His mother was Elizabeth (formerly Ambler, nee Robinson) and Samuel Heap (a local Police Sergeant) was his father. He enlisted in the United States Navy in November 1885 aged just 14 years, and was described as having a florid complexion. It is not known how or why he came to go the States so young and join the US Navy. Most navies of the time had sailors from many nationalities.
His body was repatriated to the United States in June, 1891, and buried on the 27th June with 18 others in a row at the Mare Island Navy Cemetery. He was just 18 years old when he died. His Find A Grave entry sadly does not show a picture of the grave marker.
Sources: Details and links courtesy of Helen Payne, and San Francisco Call, Volume 70, Number 25, 25 June 1891.
Quartermaster Richard H. Taylor was the only American awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the hurricane. The citation simply states: Serving on board the U.S.S. Nipsic, Taylor displayed gallantry during the hurricane at Apia, Samoa, 16 March 1889. He was born September 8, 1870 in Staunton, Virginia and died March 24, 1956. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery Brighton, Massachusetts.
This web-site Find-A-Grave shows some images of his grave and the cemetery.This medal image is the "Navy Convention" Medal of Honor. Taylor was USN, but his record is also on the Army site. The image was kindly sent to me by a lady at the Congressional Medal of Honour website (link below) and is the 1862 version rather than the modern one I incorrectly used before. Many thanks, Laura!
Please note that around April 2017, the link to the US Army web-site doesn't want to connect. This is hopefully a temporary issue.
A visitor to the site has in his possession a walking stick with an engraved silver disk in the top, marked: "Frank Wright U.S.S NIPSIC 1873-1914 from Robert Moran". It is therefore a good guess that Frank, and possibly even Robert, were Nipsic crewmembers. Certainly, Frank would appear to have been on board the vessel at Samoa.Details courtesy of "Colin".
|John Bradley||Chief Boatswain's Mate|
|Brooks Cason||Quartermaster Gunner|
|S.T. Browne||Pay Clerk|
|William Campbell||Private Marines|
|William Cosgrove||Boatswain's Mate|
|Richard G. Davenport||Lieutenant||Later Rear-Admiral|
|Dr. E.Z. Derr|
|T.G. Fillette||Lieutenant of Marines|
|John M. Hawley||Lieutenant||Later Rear-Admiral|
|H.P. Jones||Ensign||Later Admiral? Requires confirmation to be the same person.|
|D.W. Mullan||Captain||Later Commander|
|John L. Purcell||Ensign||Later Lieutenant.|
|John A. Shearman||Lieutenant|
|Frank Wright||Possible crew member, requires confirmation.|
|W.C. Cole||Naval Cadet||Later Admiral|
|J. Corrine(?)||Past. Assistant Paymaster|
|C.A. Doyen||Second Lieutenant of Marines|
|H.C. Fisher||First Lieutenant of Marines|
|H.E. Frick||Past. Assistant Engineer|
|W.W. Gilmer||Ensign||Later Captain, Navy Cross|
|G.W. Hall||Chief Engineer||Died on journey home|
|A.J. Kiersted||Chief Engineer|
|D.P. McCartney||Chief Engineer|
|F. McCurley||Commander||Acting Volunteer Lieutenant on USS Selma.|
|J.A. Tobin||Past. Assistant Engineer|
|H. Webster||Past. Assistant Engineer|
|W.P. White||Ensign||Later Lieutenant Junior Grade? Requires confirmation to be the same person.|
Sources: Lieutenant Richard G. Davenport diary NH 43829.