"The Old Navy", photograph taken by Assistant Surgeon
H.W. Whitaker, U.S.N., on board USS Mohican at sea in
the Pacific, 1888.
The four men, with a brief transcript of their services,
1. Gilbert H. Purdy, who is standing addressing the others.
Purdy was born in 1828, and therefore was 60 years old when the
picture was taken. He was a physically powerful man and was remarkably
well preserved, as is shown by the photograph. He died December
24, 1912, at San Diego, California, at the age of 84, being at
the time of his death the oldest man on the retired list of the
Navy. During the Civil War he served as sergeant in Battery K,
4th U.S. Artillery, and as a seaman on board several Naval vessels.
He, also, had the honor of serving under Admiral Dewey on the
Olympia during the Spanish-American War. He was transferred
to the retired list on February 7, 1900. Purdy served as captain
of the hold on board the Mohican from May 25, 1885 to
August 28, 1888.
2. David Ireland, seated with arms folded. Ireland was born
in 1833, and was, therefore, 55 years old when the picture was
taken. He first enlisted in the Navy on April 8, 1850, so he
had seen 38 years of service ... He served on many ships in all
parts of the world and died at the Mare Island Hospital on January
16, 1894, aged 61 years. He served on board the Mohican
from May 25, 1885, to November 20, 1890, as captain of the forecastle,
seaman, and captain of the hold.
3. John King, seated on ditty box. King was born in England
in 1834, so at the time the picture was taken was 54 years old.
He followed the sea in merchant ships for a number of years before
enlisting in the Navy, which he first did on April 9, 1875, he
then being in his 42nd year. He was finally discharged on April
2, 1896, and admitted to the Naval Home at Philadelphia. He served
on board the Mohican from May 25, 1885, to January 25,
1889, as chief gunner's mate. The exact date of his death is
4. John T. Griffith, seated with hands behind his head. Griffith
was born at Albany, New York, December 25, 1826, being 62 years
of age when the picture was taken, and the oldest man of the
group. The record of his first enlistment is not at hand, but
he last enlisted on October 18, 1888, and was finally discharged
on December 10, 1889. He served on board the Mohican as
chief carpenter's mate from June 3 to June 30, 1888. The date
of his death is not known.