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Online Library of Selected Images -- Picture Data

Photo #: NH 2889 (extended caption)

"The Old Navy" or
"Old Salts of the Square Rigger Navy"

Photograph taken on board USS Mohican in 1888 by Assistant Surgeon H.W. Whitaker, USN.
The Sailors in the photograph are (from left to right): David Ireland, Gilbert H. Purdy, John T. Griffith and John King.
See below for more information on these men.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 134KB; 740 x 590 pixels



The following information is taken from the "U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings", Vol. 47, Number 215, January 1921. (as reproduced on a typescript filed with the photograph):

"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, are:
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 not known.

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.

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7 April 2000