Naval Historical Center
805 Kidder Breese Street SE
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5060
Frank Marion Bennett was born in Cass County, Michigan on 7 May 1857. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy as a Cadet Engineer in 1874 and graduated in 1879. Following his graduation, Bennett served on USS Powhatan, Tennessee, and Richmond, receiving his commission as Assistant Engineer, with the rank of Ensign, in June 1881 after the mandatory two years of service. Transferred to USS Monocacy on 29 March 1883, Bennett remained there until March 1884 when he was granted one year's leave abroad.
Upon returning to the United States, he spent two years at the Manual Training School in Illinois, followed by service onboard USS Trenton, Chicago, and Enterprise. Leaving Enterprise in 1890, Bennett was assigned to the Navy Department's Bureau of Steam Engineering from July of that year until July 1893. During his service with the Bureau, Bennett was promoted to Passed Assistant Engineer on 24 April 1892 and on 25 August received the relative rank of Lieutenant (jg). Before reporting to USS New York in April 1895, he served on USS Amphitrite and USS Texas. While on New York in November 1896, he was advanced to the relative rank of Lieutenant. He served on New York until detached for special duty at the Paris Exposition in September 1898.
Bennett's duties at the Exposition ended just a few months later and he returned to the Bureau of Steam Engineering in November 1898, serving in that office until September 1899. That November, Bennett was transferred to USS Chicago for duty as a line officer, his commission having been changed from Passed Assistant Engineer to Lieutenant on 20 May. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander in April 1902, he served on Chicago through 20 August when he was reassigned to USS San Francisco. By October 1902, Bennett had become executive officer of the receiving ship Franklin. Subsequently, he was executive officer on USS Topeka and Glacier, and became commanding officer of Glacier in July 1906. On 9 January 1907, while in command of Glacier, Bennett received his promotion to Commander with date of rank set at 2 November 1906.
In November 1907, Bennett reported for duty as equipment and ordnance officer of the Pensacola Navy Yard in Florida, where he served until transferred to duty as Inspector, Seventh Lighthouse District in July 1908. Promoted to Captain in September 1910, he took command of the armored cruiser South Dakota. His next assignment was as Captain of the Navy Yard at Mare Island, California from January to April 1913, and Commandant of Mare Island through April 1917.
On 30 April 1917, shortly after the United States entered World War I, Bennett assumed the duties of Commander, Division 4, Atlantic Fleet, with his flag onboard USS Minnesota. From August to October of that year, he commanded Division 3 and, after brief duty in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Boston Massachusetts, became Commander of the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Florida on 29 October 1917. Transferred to the Retired List in August 1919, he was relieved of command at Pensacola and from all active duty on 15 October 1919.
Captain Bennett died on 11 February 1924 at Cassapolis, Michigan.
Scope and Content Note
This collection consists largely of the journals kept by Captain Frank M. Bennett during his naval service. The journal is made up of 24 volumes, dating from 1879-1921. They are all hand-written in ink, and many have hand-drawn diagrams and maps, some in color. The journals also contain many tipped-in and laid-in items, often newspaper clippings, photographs, and illustrations. Loose items inserted into the journals have been removed to separate folders for preservation purposes. The location of each item has been noted to maintain context information. These folders follow the journal volume from which the items were removed.
The final box of the collection contains a scrapbook kept by Bennett's wife, Dorothy. The scrapbook contains over 1,800 black and white photographs of the Bennett family and people and events related to Captain Bennett's naval career.
While the paper in the journals is in good condition, the bindings are quite fragile. Flattening a bound volume for photocopying places great stress on the bindings, which these journals cannot withstand. For this reason, photocopying of the journals will not be permitted.
This collection should be cited as Papers of Captain Frank M. Bennett, Operational Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.
Subject Headings (LCSH)
United States. Navy--History--Sources.
World War, 1914-1918.
3.75 cubic feet
3 June 2002