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Lieutenant Commander Theodore G. Ellyson to Helen Ellyson


U.S.S. Kansas,

c/o Postmaster, New York,      

Monday, July 30, 1917.

Dearest Nin,

. . . . I cannot hear from you until Saturday or maybe Friday night, as we do not go in until then, and no one bring out the mail. Both the Midshipmen and myself are far less comfortable on here than we were on the Wyoming.1 They all have to sleep in hammocks, but they have very little space. They keep there clothes in a magazine which is five decks down, and rather hard to get to. It comes nearer to being real sea going than the Wyoming, and the experience may do them good. The ship is darkened at 830 p.m. and unlike the Wyoming, all of the switches are pulled, which stops all of the fans as well as putting out all of the lights. I have an inside room without any port, and with only a small skylight overhead, It is hotter than blazes and was the communication office before I arrived. I am fortunate in one respect though, for having been the communications officer, it has both the lights and the electric fan connected on the battle circuits, so I have the lights and fan going at all times, so I am envied by all the other officers, for outside of the Captain and the Executive I am the only one who has had this priviledge. Captain Hutchinson I used to know on the West Coast and he is fine to me personally and officially.2 Roper is the Executive,3 and he is about the most inefficient officer that I have ever run across in the Service, but I know him of old and can handle him, so he wont bother me any. Jack Abbott4 is a great help. Ernestine’s father rented a cottage in Jamestown, and is paying all expenses, all Ernestine has to do is to run the house. Ilene Beig5 is spending the summer with her. The Gunnery Officer Alexander, is in 19076 as is the Chief Engineer, Baker.7 Then comes Beardall, First Lieutenant, and Le Bourgeois, Senior Watch Officer.8 All of the other officers are N.N.V’s9 and Naval Reserves. The allowed crew of the Kansas is 907 men and they have nearly 1300 on board. Out of this number only about 400 are regular, the rest being naval militia. The ship has been in the Navy Yard for seven months, and has been out less than three weeks, so you can imagine what sort of a mess it is. It shows up so harshly after having just come from the Wyoming, which is one of the smartest ships I have ever seen. It seems ages since I have seen you or heard from your, and it will be ages before I hear or see you again. I love you and miss you unutterably. With all my heart.


Gordon, . . . .

Source Note: ALS, DLC-MSS, Theodore Ellyson Papers, Box 2.

Footnote 1: Ellyson was the communication officer aboard the battleship Kansas. Kansas spent the entire war in the Chesapeake Bay, where it served as a training ship for newly enlisted officers and those recently inducted from the Naval Reserves and state Naval Militias. DANFS.

Footnote 2: Capt. Benjamin F. Hutchinson. Ellyson was stationed at North Island, just off the coast of San Diego, from January 1911 until early 1912. North Island was a crucial site in the development of naval aviation, and Ellyson was among the first fliers the service produced. He died tragically in a plane crash on his 43rd birthday, 27 February 1928.

Footnote 3: Lt. Cmdr. Walter G. Roper.

Footnote 4: Lt. John S Abbott. The Ernestine mentioned here was his wife.

Footnote 5: This person’s identity and connection to Ellyson is unknown.

Footnote 6: Lt. George Andrew Alexander graduated from the Naval Academy as a member of the class of 1907.

Footnote 7:  Lt. Guy E. Baker.

Footnote 8: Lt. John Beardall and Lt. Henry B. Le Bourgeois.

Footnote 9: National Naval Volunteers. These men were members of the Naval Militia who were integrated into the United States Navy for the duration of the war. Josephus Daniels, “Official Report on the U.S. Navy during Wartime,” November, 1918., accessed on 20 July 2017,