Washington Navy Yard Station Log Extracts
November 1822 – March 1830

Introduction: United States Naval regulations required all ships and shore stations to keep a daily log or chronological record of events in which the duty watch officers or senior enlisted men were to record events. Watch officers were also obligated to chronicle the weather with particular care to wind direction and cloud formation, and unique seismic events such as the earthquake of 9 March 1828. The Washington Navy Yard (WNY) watch officer was furthermore frequently required to coordinate efforts in responding to fire alarms both on the Yard and in the surrounding communities (see 18 and 20 January 1827 for the fire at Alexandria and 16 June 1828 in Georgetown). The watch officer was also required to record the movement of ships, to and from the Yard and their cargo. Although the WNY was established in 1799, the earliest surviving Station Logs date only from 1822-1830. The extracts below were transcribed from this log book.

One important feature of the log entries are the daily work assignments of the (largely civilian) workforce, especially of the Ordinary, the Laborers and Riggers.1

The term, “Ships in Ordinary,” designated ships held in reserve, or for later need. Normally these vessels had seen hard service abroad and were awaiting restoration, but due to the small naval appropriations of the era, repairs were not possible. To maintain these ships required a substantial number of men to keep these vessels at an acceptable minimum level. The Ordinary was responsible for the maintenance of these laid up ships and was under the command of the WNY Commandant. Ordinary personnel included a small group of officers, e.g., the WNY Commandant, Purser, and Storekeeper and seamen assigned to the WNY Station for indefinite periods. In addition, a number of officers and men in transit were temporarily assigned to the Ordinary. In keeping with naval regulations those assigned to Ordinary, were required to muster periodically for record keeping and pay purposes. At the WNY the number of seamen assigned to the Ordinary varied, but regularly consisted of twenty to forty enlisted men and, informally, various enslaved seamen.2

The specific work assignments of the Ordinary were usually listed in the Log each day.

The Navy Department typically followed the work practices of private shipyards; and hired nearly all its mechanics and laborers per diem and only when there were sufficient funds. The workforce could be rapidly downsized after decreases in the annual naval appropriations and also during winter months when the Potomac River froze as it did on 29 December 1826 and 12 February 1829 or when weather conditions like strong winds and severe cold of 1 and 2 January 1827 and 14 February 1829 constrained workers to sustained periods of forced idleness.3

Frequent snow during the early nineteenth century period required constant removal to prevent damage to the rigging and decks of ships like the Congress and Potomac; see 24 December 1827 and 2 February 1829.

Individual WNY officers and civilian employees are mentioned in the Log, including Thomas Tingey, the Yard’s first and longest serving Commandant, whose death is recorded on 23 February 1829, as is the subsequent funeral ceremony of 25 February. Diarist Michael Shiner, an enslaved seaman, had his movements carefully recorded in the Log on a number of occasions (see 27 September and 28 December 1828). Another enslaved worker with a separate record is Thomas Penn, listed in an entry for 30 June 1827. Lieutenant John Kelly, a nephew of Commodore Thomas Tingey and the owner of Thomas Penn, specifically entered a request to have Penn enrolled in the WNY Ordinary. Also of interest are two women, Betsey Howard and Ann Spieden, the earliest female workers documented at the WNY. They were the subjects of two entries (see 12 and 13 March 1828). In the Log entries, Ann Speiden is always referred to as “the Widow Spieden.” Both women were employed as horse cart drivers, and like their male counterparts, were employed per diem, working whole or part days as required. Anonymous laborers are also recorded, for example the three belligerents discharged for fighting on 16 June 1828. It is fortunate that this early log survived, for it provides some unique insights into the history of the WNY and the careers and work assignments of many of its officers, seamen and civilian employees.4

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 181.14, Records of the Washington Navy Yard (Washington, DC), Station Log Nov. 1822 – Mar. 1830.

Transcription: This transcription was made from digital images taken with a Cannon Power Shot A590 when I was researching at the National Archives and Records Administration, where flash is not allowed. This small camera is portable and takes great images with excellent resolution. The images were taken at the National Archives Records Administration, Washington, DC from Record Group 181.14 of the original WNY Station Log Nov. 1822 – Mar. 1830. Most of the transcriptions below are from the years, 1827, 1828 and 1829, with a few from the earlier years. Generally the later Log entries tend to be fuller and provide greater detail and information. All extracts for a particular date are transcribed completely. Hopefully this transcription provides readers some sense of the original log which is yet to be microfilmed. To my knowledge, except for an occasional excerpt, the WNY Station Log has never been transcribed. In transcribing, I have striven to adhere as closely as possible to the original log entries in spelling, capitalization, punctuation and abbreviation (e.g. "…. “ , Do" or "do" for ditto or same as above) including the retention of dashes, ampersands and overstrikes. Where I was unable to discern word or sentence or where it was not possible to determine what was written, I have so noted in brackets. Where possible, I have attempted to arrange the transcribed material in a similar manner to that found in the letters and enclosures.

John G. Sharp
30 June 2011
Concord California

Remarks & Occurrences in the Navy Yard Washington
Thomas Tingey Esq. Commander

Wednesday 4th Dec. 1822

All this day clear & cold wind N.W. Mr. Vidler and his Laboratory repairing the furnace in the chain cable shop Riggers attending survey.

Thursday 5th Dec. 1822

All this day cloudy & Wind N.E. several vessels arrived with timber. Riggers & Labourers employ’d as yesterday shipped on board the Sloop Packet Clark, for Norfolk Shipped viz one 74lbs chain cable and 240 locust treenails of different lengths To the ship Peacock one main course, one fore top gallant sail, one spanker & one flying fifty, hammocks, sixty cots with bottoms, 1000 quilt tubes 50 black lights 50 signal rockets.

Friday 6th Dec. 1822

All this day cloudy wind N.E. Mr. Vidler and two laboratory employees repairing furnace in the chain cable shop. Riggers attending the survey.5

Thursday 28th Dec 1826

These 24 Hours fresh gales from the N.W. attended with heavy frost and cloudy weather. The Laboratory employed in stowing Iron in the Iron House Carts hauling wood for Mr. Winn’s use and other uses in the Yard the Riggers employed in the Loft ordinary Men on various duties of the Yard.6

Friday 29th Dec. 1826

This 24 Hours moderate wind from the S.S.E. and flying clouds Labourers employed in digging at the bank, carts hauling dirt for the wharf Riggers employ’d on various duties in the loft. Ordinary Men on various duties of the Yard. Eastern Branch frozen over and thick ice.

Saturday Dec. 30th 1826

These 24 Hours Cold weather, wind N.W. Labourers employ’d digging at the bank, carts hauling dirt for the wharf and other necessary jobs Ordinary Men in clearing snow off the Ship’s decks. Riggers employed in the Loft.

Sunday Dec. 31st 1826

These 24 Hours cold frosty weather, wind N.W.

Monday 1st January 1827

These 24 Hours strong gales from the N.W. and very cold weather no work for Labourers or Ordinary men weather being so cold.

Tuesday 2nd January 1827

The first part of this day strong gales from the N.W. very cold weather, the middle and latter part more moderate, Labourers could not work the weather being so extremely cold, Ordinary men employ’d in weighting copper bolts & doing other necessary jobs Riggers strapping blocks. All the Carpenters broke off work the weather being so cold.

Thursday Jan. 18th 1827

These 24 Hours fresh gales from the N.W. very severe cold frost morning. Labourers, Riggers, Ordinary Men, Carts & Oxen working as above until half past 11 o'clock A.M. when Bell rung a letter from the Secretary of the Navy read to the Workmen requesting Commandt Tingey to send all the force within his power to Alexandria to extinguish a large fire that took place there; the men took two fire Engines and proceeded to Alexandria where they arrived about two o'clock; at about 3 o'clock they had orders from Capt. Booth to proceed home with the fire Engines as all the fire was extinguished by the exertions of the people of Alexandria, City of Washington & George Town; they got the Engines back to the Navy Yard about 5 o'clock PM. One of the Engineers got broke in some respect in going down but was temporary mended-

Friday Jan. 19th 1827

These 24 Hours weather as above, Labourers employed in digging at the Banks, Riggers at work in the Rigging Loft (Ordinary Men shelling corn the weather being so cold they could not scrape).7

Saturday Jan. 20th 1827

These 24 Hours fresh gales from the N.W. extremely cold weather. Labourers employed in digging at the bank. Carts hauling dirt to the wharf, Riggers darning yarns and knotting them for spun yarns. Ordinary Men on various duties of the Yard. (Capt. Booth mustered the workmen at the Yard in the Rigging Loft and gave them a handsome oration on the utility of organizing themselves in companies for the purpose of using the fire Engines in case of fire in any part of the city or Neighboring towns, which they cheerfully aid.)

Friday June 29th 1827

This day breezes & sultry weather, arrived the sloop [illegible] J. D. William Master with knees for sale, which were bought from him & discharged by the Ordinary man Riggers employed making wind sails & scraping blocks piling staves & loading carts with staves, sawing wood, hauling timber to and from Saw Mill. Oxen hauling staves supplying steam engines with chips & other duties.

Sunday June 30th 1827

This 24 hours moderate breezes and sultry wind S.W. Riggers and Labourers did not come work such as were to do militia duty, hauled the mud scow under the sheers, oxen & carts as yesterday the following letter was neglected in its purpose wherefore it is entered now.

Washington June the 29th 1827

Sir, The term for which my man (Thos. Penn) was shipped in the Navy in Ordinary, having nearly expired and being informed that you are about to enter men again in that service, may I submit the favor of you to have Thos. Penn entered again and oblige your Obt Servt.8

Lieut. John Kelly9
(Signed) Wm. E. Howard

Sunday July 1st 1827

This day warm and sultry weather, wind variable S.W. S.E.

Monday July 2, 1827

This day warm & sultry, at 5 p.m. cloud rose to westward, half round to the Southward & Westward with some heavy drops. Arrived, the Schooner Dispatch, F. C. Chilton, master with Oak & Pine lumber. Riggers employed in getting anchors out of mud machine & transporting to her anchorage, hauled the new launch round 6 to the east wing of the Ship House, Labourers in the above work, stowing tanks & other duties, oxen hauling from the wharf & chips & steam engine & from different shops.10

Monday Dec. 23rd 1827

This day clean & cold weather little wind from N.E. cleared the snow off the Ships ports and deck.

Monday Dec. 24th 1827

This day light airs and very variable. Riggers employed at the Potomac Rigging. Some of the Ordinary men clearing snow off the Congress decks others went in a boat to Alexandria. Laborers piling timber on the carts. Oxen hauling timber from the South side to the North side of Ship House No. 2 Horse Cart employed in carrying materials, to the Magazine for filling powder to prove Cannon at the Columbia Foundry at 3 P.M. the boat returned from Alexandria.

Tuesday Dec. 25th 1827

This day moderate & variable winds from N. to S.E.

Wednesday Dec. 26th 1827

This day begins with cloudy, misty weather; Riggers employed in carrying cannon down to the Arsenal along with Mr. Marshal the Gunner. Ordinary men in boats to bring the Scow with the Guns, Labourers employed planting trees. Horse Cart hauling dirt. Oxen at various duties of the Yard.

Thursday Dec. 27th 1827

This day rain at intervals, wind N.E. Riggers employed carrying gun carriages & other materials to the arsenal to mount Guns for proving Ordinary men with Mr. Catalana at Columbia Foundry proving guns, Labourers employed the forepart of the day, in filling of dirt about the trees, this latter part in clearing ships from under the Ship Houses No. 1 & 2. Carts hauling dirt and silt in the afternoon, Oxen hauling chips of wood to steam Engine.11

Monday Dec. 31st 1827

This day moderate breezes and fair weather, wind S.E. Riggers employed at the Potomac’s rigging Labourers and Ordinary men digging holes. Carts hauling dirt Oxen supplying steam engine with wood and other duties.

Tuesday January 1st 1828

This day air light and variable. Riggers not at work Labourers and Ordinary men employed in the for noon putting molds in boxes on board of a scow which was delivered to Rosenneck wood and discharging a long boat or scow that came from Columbia foundry with sixteen cannonades Oxen hauling timber to the saw pit and saw mill supplying steam furnace with wood Bell did not ring after dinner consequently no work in the afternoon being new year’s day.

Wednesday January 2nd 1828

For the first part of the day moderate breezes from the South West and heavy rains at intervals in the after part more moderate with light rains Riggers employed at the Potomac rigging Ordinary men getting some water casks for rain casks from the officers dwelling labourers did not work today.

Thursday Jan. 10th 1828

The first part of this day heavy rains & cloudy weather, the latter part cloudy and moderate breezes from N.E. Riggers employed working Tarpaulin for covering cannon at Green Leafs Point, Labourers putting planks into the scow to be sent to Alexandria & left the wharf at about Noon. She returned at midnight, after delivering the molds. Oxen hauling timber to and from Saw Pit and Saw Mill, Oxen and Horse Carts hauling dirt & in other duties of the Yard &c.

Saturday March 8th 1828

This day moderate breezes from the N.E. Riggers, Labourers, Ordinary Men, Oxen and horses employed as yesterday, send 1200 lbs. of junk to E. Simms to be picked into oakum.

Sunday March 9th 1828

This day moderate breezes from the N.E. and cloudy, misty weather a slight shock of an earthquake about 11 o’clock, P.M.12

Wednesday March 12th 1828

The first and middle part of the day cloudy weather and variable winds, at sun set commenced raining. Riggers employed as yesterday, labourers, some employed trimming coals which were set out of the Schooner Rising Sun, some cutting junk to be sent out to be picked into oakum. Ordinary men on various duties of the Yard, sent out to E. Simms 3424 lbs. junk to be picked into oakum. Hired Betsy Howard’s horse and cart and widow Speiden’s horse and cart, oxen and horses on various duties and of the yard, hauling coals from the Rising Sun.13

Thursday March 13th 1828

This day pleasant and clear weather, wind variable from N.W. to N.E. Riggers employed about the Potomac, rigging, detailed four labourers scraping the sloop of war St. Louis, the remainder of the labourers working about coals (oxen hauling timber the bull being sore was taken out of the yard. Widow Spieden’s horse and cart and Mrs. Howard’s horse and cart hauling coals from the schooner Rising Sun, yd cart hauling from the Rose In Bloom Ordinary men went to Alexandria with Mr. Kelly, at two they returned, rec from Mr. Simms 239 lbs of oakum).14

Friday March 14th 1828

The first and middle part of the day, moderate breezes from the S.W. and flying clouds, at 4 p.m. Heavy squall of wind and rain from the S.W. at 5 the wind shifted around to the N.E. With heavy rain, thunder and lightning at 8 p.m. pleasant and clear weather, Riggers, Labourers oxen and carts employed as yesterday, send out 2504 lbs. of junk to Mr. Simms and rec. 258 lbs of oakum, and in discharging the Rose in Bloom of her cargo of coals. Carts employed as yesterday.

Monday March 24th 1828

This day cloudy weather, wind from N.W. to S.W. at 7A.M clear weather, Riggers employed strapping blocks to Sloop of War St. Louis. Labourers clearing the wharf of rubbish & getting chips out of the Frigate Columbia. Ordinary on various duties of this yard, Oxen and Horse clearing away chips from different parts of the Yard for the steam engine.

Tuesday March 25th 1828

This day moderate breezes and fair weather, excepting heavy showers of rain in the night time, Riggers employed strapping blocks for the sloop of war St. Louis. Ordinary men piling gun - stocks in the Navy Cellar. Labourers at different kinds of work cleaning up & Oxen and carts hauling away chips and dirt from different parts of the Yard. Howard’s Cart at work all day Comm. Bainbridge & Chauncey and civil engineer inspected Rec’d from Mr. Simms 922 lbs., of oakum & from the poor house 255 lbs.15

Wednesday March 26th 1828

This day moderate breezes from the N.E. & S.E. and clear weather, Riggers Ordinary men, Labourers, Oxen and carts employed as yesterday. Rec’d 922 lbs. of oakum from Simms and 200 lb. from the Poor House. Mrs. Howard’s Cart ¾ and Mrs. Spieden all day.

Friday March 28th 1828

This day warm sultry clear weather, wind, Southward & Westward, Laborers Riggers, Ordinary men, Ox and Horse Carts employed as yesterday. Mrs. Howard & Mrs. Speiden’s horses and carts employed to day Rec’d 576 lbs. of oakum from Simms.

Saturday March 29th 1828

This day moderate breezes from the N.E. and fair sultry weather Riggers employed in strapping blocks for the sloop of war St. Louis, Labourers piling timber, getting out the St. Louis, new spars for painting & Some Labourers at various duty of the Yard, agents for the Cooperation took charge of the mud scow to get her ready for clearing the bar, all the carts employed as yesterday. Mrs. Howard and Mrs. Spieden carts working all day discharged them in the evening. Rec’d 1957 lbs of oakum to day from Mr. Simms.

Sunday 18th May 1828

This day fresh breezes from the N.W. and fair weather Teppit has not made his appearance.16

Friday June 13th 1828

This day light winds from the SW and NW cloudy weather at intervals. Riggers employed as yesterday, Labourers piling spars, timber with some ordinary men, ox carts hauling timber up to the wharf for piling. Horse carts hauling chips and other duties of the yard – Entered some of the Ordinary men.

Saturday June 14th 1828

This day clear weather, wind from the Southward Riggers Labourers & Ordinary men employed as yesterday Ox Carts, hauling timber Horse carts hauling sand for the foundry.

Sunday June 15th 1828

This day light winds from the Southward and clear sultry weather.

Monday June 16th 1828

The first part of this day cloudy weather, wind from the SE to SW the middle and ladder part sultry weather with light rain about midnight we were appraised by the beating of the drum and ringing of the yard bell of a fire, took out one Engine, there not being enough men to take out the other, at about 1 AM discovered the fire to be in George Town, at 2, the Engines returned, Riggers employed knotting yarns and wharfted one tenth of rope. Labourers stowing timber and docking knees. Ordinary men moving tin from the Cooper Shop to the Sail Loft over the Navy Store, Oxen hauling timber & knees, horses hauling and three labourers discharged for fighting in the Yard.

Thursday July 3rd 1828

This day weather as above, Riggers Labourers Oxen Carts and Horse Carts employed as yesterday, the Ordinarymen preparing the Yard Boats to go to the procession, the 4th of July.

Friday July 4th 1828

The day moderate breeze and flying clouds from the N.W., cool for the Season, the Bell did not ring to day and all the Yard Boats went to the procession, in the evening returned.

Saturday September 27th 1828

This day pleasant airs from the SW and fair weather Michael Shiner who has liberty out from Wednesday till Friday Morning has not come to the Yard.

Sunday, 28th December 1828

This day pleasant airs from the SW and fair weather. Michael Shiner got home this evening.

Friday January 9th 1829

This day fresh breeze and flying clouds from the N.W. and very Cold weather Send carts down to Long Bridge Carts hauling timber from the Saw Mill and wood to Steam Engine Ordinary men baling water out of the boat [illegible] off the Frigates Decks.

Monday February 2nd 1829

This day Cloudy weather and rain in the forenoon wind variable from the East No Laborers to work in the forenoon except a few in doors in the Loft. Labourers employ’d in cleaning the Snow off the road from the office to the Gate. Ordinary men employ’d cleaning snow off the Potomac & Congress’s decks & on various duties of the Yard & supplying Steam Engine with fire wood.

Tuesday February 3rd 1829

This day cold weather, wind N.W. Labourers employ’d in piling spar timber in Ship House No. Ordinary men cleaning the Potomac & Florida’s decks of Snow Carts various duties of the Yard.

Wednesday February 4th 1829

This day Cloudy weather N.E., at about 10 A.M., wind shifted around with Sharp Cold weather. Laborers piling Spar Timber, Ordinary men on various duties of the Yard Carts clearing away Cole Carrying them to the Foundry.

Thursday February 5th 1829

This day light winds from the N.W. and Cold weather. Labourers Employed in Cleaning Snow off timber getting Timber out of the pile of pine Timber for the New Shed One cart hauling Copper from the Navy Store to the Master Plumbers Store the other Cart and Ordinary men on various duties of the Yard.

Friday February 6th 1829

Moderate Breezes and Cloudy weather and likely for rain wind N.E. Labourers Employ’d piling live Oak Timber in Ship House No.1 Ordinary Men drawing and Knotting yarns and other duties of the Yard. Carts hauling dirt from different parts of the Yard up to the Banks by the Foundry.

Tuesday February 10th 1829

This day cloudy weather with some snow and rain. Labourers Employed in piling wood. Some men employed in splitting wood for Steam Engine. Cart on various duties of the Yard. Ordinary men drawing & Knotting yarns moving molds and mending sails.

Wednesday February 11th 1829

This day moderate breezes and fair weather wind N.E. Arrived Sloop Express Joseph Noost, Master, with Brick, Sands, and Pig Iron on Freight from Baltimore Labourers & Ordinary & Carts employed as Yesterday in the Afternoon Hauling Bricks.

Thursday February 12th 1829

Day very cold weather N.W. the Branch was frozen across this morning Labourers to Owners wharf for some board brough them over in the scow in the afternoon scow hauling bricks from the Sloop Express Ordinary men in the Rigging loft darning & knotting yarns.

Friday February 13th 1829

This day some snow wind from the N.W. to N.E. and Cold Weather Labourers Employed moving board and live Oak Carts on various duties of the Yard Ordinary men in the Rigging Loft.

Saturday February 14th 1829

This day Extremely Cold Frosty weather gales from the N.W. such of the Labourers who worked outside had to break off and go out. Carts on various duties of the Yard. Ordinary men as Yesterday.

Friday February 20th 1829

This day begins with heavy snow wind N.E. at about 10 AM the weather cleared after a fall of snow 9 inches deep, wind shifted round to N.W. Labourers & Ordinary men clearing away snow about the dwellings & streets. At about 4 PM a cry of fire which turned out to be the Center House of the Barracks which was consumed to the ground by 8 PM. The Engines and hose from the Yard was taken out at the Cry of Fire.

Saturday February 21st 1829

This day Strong gales from the N.W. and frosty weather in the fore noon Labourers and Ordinary men & Carts employed in bringing in the Fire Engines Hose Ladders fire horse &c., in the afternoon Employ’d in Cleaning Snow.

Sunday February 22nd 1829

This day fresh breezes from the S.W. and shifted around to the N.W. at Noon.

Monday February 23rd 1829

This day strong gales from the N.W. and clear weather 10 A.M. Died Commodore Thomas Tingey Esq. at the advanced age of Seventy nine years the Bell did not ring in the afternoon in the forenoon the Labourers & Ordinary were clearing away snow from the different streets of the dwellings in the Yard in the afternoon the Labourers were kept in to work.

Tuesday February 24th 1829

This day moderate breezes from the N.W. and Cloudy weather at A.M. sent the steer carts to haul fire wood from the Capitol for the Poor the Ordinary men employ’d in getting flag staffs up on board the Potomac & Congress and hoisted colors half-mast at the meridian and fired 13 minute guns by Order.

Wednesday February 25th 1829

This day Constant rain Cloudy weather wind N.E. at one P.M. the Funeral Started from the Late Commandants Quarters to the place of Interment in the Eastern burying Ground.

Friday March 27th 1829

This day moderate Breezes from N. W. and fair weather Labourers Employ’d in doing jobs on duties of the yard and sorting anchor Irion in the Iron store and weighing a parcel of it Carts hauling fire wood for steam Engine and hauling manure from the stable yard to grass plat at 9 an alarm of fire up in the City Carried the Engines as far as the gate when the alarm subsided.

End Notes

1. Riggers - men employed on board ships to fit the standing and running rigging, or to dismantle them. The riggers in the naval yards, who rig ships previous to their being commissioned, are under the master-attendant, and perform all anchor, mooring, and harbor duties also. Riggers could put their rope skills to work at the Yard, in lifting and hauling, in an era before mechanical haulage, and cranes, ropes, pulleys and muscle power was all that was available to move anything. Smyth, William Henry, The Sailors Word Book: An Alphabetical Digest of Nautical Terms, London: Blackie and Son, 1867.

2. Early naval regulation prohibited the enlistment of African Americans free or enslaved. See, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddard to Lt. Henry Kenyon, 8 August 1798, Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War Between the United States and France (Washington, 1935), I, p. 281.

3. Descriptions and records of weather occupy a large portion of the WNY Station Log and were a major interest, and an important factor in shipyard work life. Changes in weather were crucial since most employees worked out of doors, especially laborers and slaves. The large workforce was primarily composed of per diem workers, and the practice at WNY and other federal shipyards was to retain only the absolute number of these men necessary for a given shop to operate or complete a ship repair. Accurate weather observations were therefore useful in projecting the number and types of workers required. Cold weather meant that large numbers of laborers (unlike carpenters painters and blacksmiths who could work indoors in a shop or shed) would be laid off until warmer weather made outdoor projects feasible. Early records reflect this trend as work was often reduced by 20% or more during the winter months (American State Papers, Volume 1: 848). Commandant Isaac Hull recognized this as a problem and did his best to keep as many laborers on the station rolls through the winter as possible observing that, "[t]hey have large families and cannot make a cent to support them except what they receive from their labor at this yard. If I discharge them now I see no way for them to live through the winter." Maloney, Linda M. The Captain from Connecticut: The Life and Naval Times of Isaac Hull. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1986 p. 422. See also, Kevin Ambrose, Dan Henry and Andy Weiss, Washington Weather: The Weather Sourcebook for the D.C. Area. Fairfax, VA: Historical Enterprises, 2002, p. 32-34, regarding the severe weather in the District during the early nineteenth century.

4. See Sharp, John G., History of the Washington Navy Yard Civilian Workforce 1799-1962, http://www.history.navy.mil/books/sharp/WNY_History.pdf.

5. Edward Vidler, Overseer of the Laborers and Laboratory; see the muster of 1811, http://genealogytrails.com/washdc/wny1811.html.

6. Timothy Winn Purser, USN, 1773-1836, see http://genealogytrails.com/washdc/will_winn_t.html

7. Rigging Loft - a long room or gallery in a dockyard, where rigging is fitted by stretching, serving, splicing, seizing, &c., to be in readiness for the ship. See Smyth, The Sailors Word Book.

8. Thomas Penn - Ordinary Seaman, a slave of Lt. John Kelly. Michael Shiner, in his Diary records, that following a large fire in Alexandria which members of the Ordinary had help suppress. Tom Penn enslaved Ordinary Seamen was placed on report for “insolence” and came close to being whipped. Michael Shiner described what followed:

“Went down that day to alexdranina and Mr William Speedon went down that day which at that time was clerk to Mr Wind the purser all the Master Workmen and Mechanics and Laborers of all classes went down that day a circumstance accrued between sailing master edward Barry and a colled man by the name thomas pen ton [penton] didnt conduct himseve so Well When we wher a coming home and Mr Barry gave him a repramand and it apears that tom pen gave him some insolents and Mr Barry when got home he reported him to captin Booth friday the 19 day of January 1827 We all hands of the ordernary men Wher cauledup in to the rigin loft to giv an acount of our selves captin Booth Wher present in the loft first lieutenant thomas crab and Sailing master edwar Barry who had prefered the charge against thomas pen captin Booth sais now thomas pen you are brought befor me for usin abusive and insultin language to an officer of this yard what have you got to say for your selve captin thee had kein a ben drinkin and if the said anything to Mr Barry out of the Way they are sorry for it and if thou pleases and if Mr Barry pleases to excuse the will never do so no more sire dont you no the danger of givin insolence to an officer Well tell the captin if thou please excuse me this time never do so no more sire Mr Barry reply i will excuse him this time captin now Thomas pen i will let you oft as Mr Barry has excuse you Now captin and Mr Barry the[y] is ten thousand times oblige to thou for letin [him] off captin Booth and first lieutenant crab sail Master edward Barry Boatswain David eaton turned their backs and laught and told Tom to go on now and behave your selves and never struck him a crack When pen got up to the ordernary house among the men are sais Tom pen by the powers of Mol kely didnt the(y) tell thou if ever thou let the[e] get into quaker sistom that thou would never Wip the[e] so Tom pen got clear of the cats [cat of nine tails] that day by talkin quaker to captin Booth and the rest of the officers”
Source: The Diary of Michael Shiner Relating to the History of the Washington Navy Yard 1813-1869, p. 19-20.

9. Thomas Tingey to Benjamin Crowinsheilds, 4 September 1815, RG 45/M125, NARA; reference to Midshipman John Kelly: “he being nearly related to the family of my first wife.”

10. Ship Houses Number 1 and 2 were built to insure a safe area for the building of naval vessels. This space kept the ship being built or repaired somewhat secure from the weather and gave the ship carpenters, and caulkers a relatively dry space to work. The first ship house was located somewhat South East of where Building 1, the historic Commandant’s Office is today.

11. Salvatore Catalano Sailing Master, USN, 1767-1846; for more information, see http://genealogytrails.com/washdc/obit_catalano_sm.html.

12. The earthquake of 9 March 1828 was felt over a wide area, including seven Eastern States and the District of Columbia. Although no damage occurred, it was reported to be "violent" in D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. John Quincy Adams, then President of the United States, left the following account in his diary of the occurrence as he observed the shock at the White House: March 9, 1828.

“There was this evening the shock of an earthquake, the first which I ever distinctly noticed at the moment when it happened. I was writing in this book, when the table began to shake under my hand and the floor under my feet. The window shutters rattled as if shaken by the wind, and there was a momentary sensation as of the heaving of a ship on the waves. It continued about two minutes, then ceased. It was about eleven at night. I immediately left writing, and went to my bedchamber, where my wife was in bed, much alarmed.”
Source: United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, Earthquake hazards program, http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/district/history.php

13. Betsey Howard, Horse and Cart Driver, is first recorded on the 1819-1820 employee listing, see, http://genealogytrails.com/washdc/WNY/WNYpayrollmech&lab1819to1820.html. Howard was the first woman to be employed by Department of the Navy for whom we have documentation. She is most likely a relation of Thomas Howard, Clerk of the Yard.

14. Ann Spieden, or “Widow Spieden,” born in Melrose, Scotland, in 1773, was married in 1797 in the District of Columbia to Robert Spieden. Robert Spieden died young and her son, William Spieden (1797-1861), then went to work at WNY for Purser Timothy Winn. Winn most likely helped Ann Spieden secure the position of horse cart operator, which provided her essential income. Her son William later became a Naval Purser and served with Commodore Perry’s expedition to Japan.

15. The Washington Asylum, popularly known as the “poorhouse” or “almshouse,” was a government-run facility supervised by the District Aldermen and the “Guardians of the Poor.” The first District poorhouse was established in 1814, and was similar and patterned after those in most large 18th and 19th century English and American cities. The Washington, D.C., Ordinances of 1821 specified that the Asylum was "for the accommodation of the poor, infirm and diseased persons, vagrants and other purposes." The Asylum had a standing agreement with the Yard to supply finished oakum to the Yard for use in caulking ships. http://genealogytrails.com/washdc/lawprisons/poorhouser.html.

16. There is no other documentation for Teppitt. It is possible that this laconic entry refers to a slave, since the notation is similar in tone to that for Michael Shiner.