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The Samoa Hurricane of 1889.

This site is being relocated, and the original you have presently reached will be maintained rather infrequently. Before long, when the new site seems pretty stable and is being found by Google, I shall put automatic redirects on each of the pages of this old site. In the meantime, you could click this link to go to the new one: grahamhague.com. Sorry about this!

USS Trenton Crew Stories

The American National Flag, 38 Stars, Navy Ensign

The data here is generally gleaned from published sources. In one or two instances, personal descendants have e-mailed with data. In all cases, the information presented here is given in good faith but should not be considered as factual.

If you have any data, and especally images, of USS Trenton'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 Trenton at Apia in 1889. If any visitor to this site knows of such a crew list, please contact me and let me know.

The images are from American Naval History and Heritage Command unless attributed elsewhere.

If you are an American visitor to this page, please take the time to visit the page The Men Who Perished on which appears an image of the American Flag. It is intended to be the version of the flag flown on the American ships at the time of Samoa in 1889. I wish to be sure that the version I have chosen (from many versions I found on the web!) to be the correct one, and any help I could be given would be gratefully received. It is described as the "38-Star Navy Ensign, valid 1877 to 1890". I have included a small image at the top of this page. If you think I might have got it wrong, please contact me and let me know! I am British and am not sure about these American things.

Ensign J. J. Blandin, USN (1862-1898)

He was a key person in the rescue of personnel of the Vandalia. Some 9 years later he was Officer of the Deck when the USS Maine blew up in Havana Harbor, Cuba, on Feb. 15, 1898, just 2 weeks after he was made Lieutenant. He died 5 months later from the blow that he received on that occasion. He is recorded in the Naval Historical Centre records as having survived the Maine explosion. His service record is: Cadet Midshipman, 28 June, 1878. Ensign, 1 July, 1884. Lieutenant, Junior Grade, 31 July, 1894. Lieutenant, 1 February, 1898. Died 16 July, 1898. He is mentioned by Hoyt in "The Typhoon That Stopped a War" on p. 69.

Details courtesy of Prof. Herman de Haas and the American Naval History and Heritage Command, page now removed.


Captain Norman von H Farquhar, USN (1840-1907)

Captain Norman vH FarquharNorman von Heidreich Farquhar was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, on 11 April 1840 and attended the U.S. Naval Academy during 1854-59. After graduation, he served with the Africa Squadron until September 1861 suppressing the slave trade, and was a Midshipman and Acting Master, 1859-61. He brought to the United States the captured slaver the Triton, with a crew of ten men and no other officer to assist him. Lieutenant Farquhar spent most of the Civil War off the U.S. Atlantic coast and in the West Indies, serving in the gunboats Mystic, Sonoma and Mahaska and the cruisers Rhode Island and Santiago de Cuba. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in mid-1865, a few months after the fighting ended, and was on duty at the U.S. Naval Academy from then until September 1868. For the rest of the 1860s and into the next decade, Farquhar served in the warship Swatara, was Executive Officer of USS Severn and USS Powhatan and Commanding Officer of USS Kansas. He also had two tours at the Boston Navy Yard on ordnance duty and as Executive Officer.

Advanced in rank to Commander in December 1872, Farquhar spent nearly five years at the Naval Academy. He commanded the training ship Portsmouth in 1877-78, and the steam sloops Quinnebaug and Wyoming in European waters in 1878-1881. Five more years of Naval Academy duty were followed by torpedo instruction at Newport, Rhode Island, in 1886. From May 1887 until her loss in the Samoan hurricane, Captain Farquhar commanded the steam frigate Trenton. He then served on several of the Navy's boards and, in March 1890 became the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks. During 1894-97, he was Commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Commanding Officer of the cruiser Newark, and President of the Naval Examining Board.

While holding the ranks of Commodore and Rear Admiral, Farquhar was Commandant of the Norfolk Navy Yard in 1897-99, commanded the North Atlantic Station during 1899-1901 and was Chairman of the Lighthouse Board in 1901-02. He retired from active duty in April 1902, upon reaching the statutory service age limit of 62. Rear Admiral Farquhar died at Jamestown, Rhode Island, on 3 July 1907 and was buried in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery.

His wife, Addie Whelan Pope Farquhar (May 25, 1845 - July 12, 1909), is buried with him.

If family members object to me using this image, they should contact me and I'll remove it immediately.

Details originally courtesy of American Naval History and Heritage Command, page now apparently removed. See Arlington National Cemetary web-site.


Landsman James/Joseph Hewlett/Howelett (?-1889)

One of the African American sailors standing near the starboard "bridle port" when it was stove in by a massive sea and was killed instantly by the force of the blow at around 8.0 a.m. on the 16th March.

His body was repatriated to the United States in June, 1891, and buried with 18 others in a row at the Mare Island Navy Cemetery.

Sources: The Los Angeles Herald, 31 March 1889, Edwin P Hoyt, "The Typhoon That Stopped a War"; p.128 and San Francisco Call, Volume 70, Number 25, 25 June 1891.


Rear-Admiral Lewis A. Kimberly, USN (1830-1902)

Rear-Admiral Lewis A. Kimberly Lewis Ashfield Kimberly was born in Troy, New York on 2 April 1830. He was appointed a Midshipman in the U.S. Navy in December 1846 and served off Africa in the sloop Jamestown in 1847-50. He was in the Pacific on board the frigate Raritan during 1850-52, then returned to African waters in the sloops Decatur and Dale in 1853-1856. During the remainder of the decade and in the early 1860s, Lieutenant Kimberly was stationed at the Boston Navy Yard, in the East Indian Squadron with USS Germantown, and in the Mediterranean in USS Richmond. His Civil War service included duty with USS Potomac in the Gulf of Mexico in 1861-62 and extensive combat experience on board USS Hartford on the Mississippi River in 1863 and at Mobile Bay in 1864.

In early 1865, Lieutenant Commander Kimberly went to Europe with the frigate Colorado. Promoted to the rank of Commander in 1866, he commanded the receiving ship at New York in 1867-70, USS Benicia on the Asiatic Station in 1870-72 and the monitor Canonicus along the U.S. east coast in 1873-74. As a Captain, he commanded USS Monongahela on the South Atlantic Station in 1875-76 and USS Omaha in the Pacific in 1877-78. He also served at the New York Navy Yard during the early 1880s and was President of the Examining and Retiring Board in 1883-85.

Commodore Kimberly became Commandant of the Boston Navy Yard in 1885 and attained the rank of Rear Admiral in July 1887, a few months after he took command of the Pacific Station. He served there until the end of the decade and was senior officer present during the destructive Samoa Hurricane. He wrote a most entertaining pamphlet about his experiences in the hurricane, and made numerous sketches of the vessels. After duty as President of the Board of Inspection and Survey, Rear Admiral Kimberly retired in April 1892. He died at West Newton, Massachusetts, on 28 January 1902.

If family members object to me using this image, they should contact me and I'll remove it immediately.

Details originally courtesy of American Naval History and Heritage Command.


USS Trenton Survivors Present at Apia on 16th March, 1889

W.H. AllenLieutenant 
G. BartSeaman 
Blanden (J.J. Blandin?)EnsignLater Lieutenant
BrownLieutenant 
B.C. DeckerNaval Cadet 
N. von H. FarquharCaptainLater Rear-Admiral
GaltEngineer 
W. GibsonCoal Heaver 
GrahamLieutenant 
E. Hendrickson  
R.W. HuntingtonCaptain of MarinesLater Colonel
L.A. KimberlyRear-Admiral 
MatthewsEngineer 
J. NichollsCorporal of MarinesAccidentally killed in Apia 4 May 1889
B. RicklinSeamanAccidentally killed in Apia 10 June 1889
J.E. RostedtOrdinary Seaman 
ScottLieutenant 
Dr. C.A. WhiteDoctor of Pacific Station 

Sources: JP Dunning account dated February 1890 (Do a "FIND" for Samoa); Admiral Kimberly's Special Report dated 16th April, 1889; Alexandria Gazette, 19 August 1889; Daily Alta California, 7 July 1889.


Officers of USS Trenton Officers of USS Trenton Officers of USS Trenton