Hampton Roads, VA Battleship Minnesota Launch Ship Sinks, Jun 1907


NORFOLK, June, 12.----It is reported today that the disaster in Hampton Roads oMnday[sic] night, which resulted in the sinking of a launch of the battleship Minnesota and the drowning of 11 men, including six midshipmen, returning from an army and navy ball, at the Jamestown exposition, and five seamen, crew of the launch, resulted from the launch being run down by a tug and coal barge, which the tug was towing. Their identity is as yet unknown. An investigation is in progress.

Disaster Is Reported.

WASHINGTON, D. C., June 12----The loss at one time of six bright young midshipmen fresh from the academy at Annapolis and a boatswain and four enlisted men attached to the big battleship Minnesota, eleven men altogether, was reported to the navy department in a dispatch from Rear Admiral Evans, in command of the fleet at Hampton Roads, which says:

"A ditty box belonging to the fireman of the Minnesota's missing launch has been picked up near berth No. 47, and I am forced to conclude that the launch with all on board is lost. I have ordered a board of investigation. Steamer last seen at exposition pier about midnight last night."

The missing midshipmen are:

Frank P. Holcomb, of Delaware; Henry C. Murlin, jr., of Ohio; Philip H. Field, of Colorado; Walter C. Ulrich, of Wisconsin; W. H. Stevenson, of North Carolina; Herbert L. Holden, of Wisconsin.

The other missing are:

R. H. Dodson, seaman; H. L. Dorne, ordinary seaman; F. R. Westphal, fireman, first-class; Jesse Conn, coal passer.

Relatives Are Notified.

Acting Secretary of the Navy Newberry tonight sent telegrams to the relatives of Lieutenant Randall and others notifying them of the disappearance of the Minnesota's launch. Following are the facts regarding the next of kin and other details so far as known at the navy department:

The midshipmen:

Phillip H. Field was born in Alberamrle county, Virginia, January 3, 1885, and is the son of Wm. C. Field, of Denver, Colo. He graduated from the naval academy in 1906 and was appointed to that institution from Colorado on recommendation of Senator Patterson.

William Hollister Stevenson, of Newbern, N. C., is the son of M. B. Stevenson. He graduated in 1906.

Franklin Portens Holcomb, born at Newcastle, Del., son of Thomas Holcomb, a clerk in the comptroler's[sic] office at the treasury department and brother of Lieutenant Thomas Holcomb, of the U. S. marine corps. He was apointed[sic] to the naval academy as a cadet at large from Delaware on the recommendation of Representative Houston. He graduated in February, 1907.

Herbert Leander Holden, son of Susan A. Holden, of Portage, Wis., was born in Chicago, May 6, 1885, and was appointed from Wisconsin on the recommendation of Representative Adams. He graduated in February, 1907.

Henry Clay Murfin, jr., son of Henry Clay Murfin, of Jackson, Ohio, was born in that city January 1, 1885. He was appointed to the academy from Ohio at the instance of Representative Morgan. He graduated in February, 1907.

Walter Carl Ulrich, son of Carl Ulrich, of Milwaukee, born at La Crosse, Wis., April 10, 1884. He was appointed to the academy at the instant of Representative Otjen and graduated in February, 1907.

Washington boy in List.

Sailors, all attached to the Minnesota:

Robert H. Dodson, next of kin, father, E. F. Dodson, 158 West Eighty-fourth street, New York.

Jesse Conn, next of kin, father, J. C. Conn, 2824 Cleveland avenue, Louisville, Ky.

Frank R. Plumber, next of kin, mother, Eada Kitchen, of Mabton, Wash.

Harley L. Vandorne, next of kin, father, C. L. Vandorne, 318 Sixth avenue west, Cedar Rapids, Ia.

George Westphal, next of kin, sister, Mrs. C. B. Harding of Meenab, Wis.

The conclusion was reached at the navy department that either on account of the lateness of the hour of the return trip the Minnesota's launch in her haste, had been driven hard into the heavy sea that prevailed in Hampton Roads last night, or had been run down by one of the giant tramp steamers that make use of the roads as a refuge in time of storm.

Lieutenant Randall, United States marine corps, who was included in the first list of missing, has arrived in Norfolk. He did not take passage on the Minnesota launch, as had been supposed, having missed the launch and remained over night at a hotel.

Exact Number Not Known.

While the launch carried a good-sized party, no one has been found who can say exactly how many occupants the launch contained. The men in the launch, apeared[sic] to be in high spirits after an evening of dancing. How the launch, buoyed up by so many air-tight compartments, could have been lost is yet a mater[sic] of speculation. One theory is that is[sic] was run into and cut in two by a passing vessel, which may have passed completely over the unfortunate occupants, and another is that the boiler in the launch exploded, tearing up the launch and killing the occupants.

Olympia Daily Recorder, Olympia, WA 12 Jun 1907



But Three Victims of Naval Accident Yet Missing.

Washington, June 18.----Rear Admiral Brownson, chief of the Navigation Bureau Navy Department, tonight received a dispatch from Rear Admiral Emory in command of the fleet at Hampton Roads starting that the bodies of two more of the victims of the Minnesota launch were recovered late this afternoon. Besides (probably error in transmission and meant for Midshipman Herbert L. Holden), and Seaman Robert H. Dodson. Midshipman Holden was from Portage, Wis.; Dodson from New York City, where his father, E. R. F. Dodson lives. This makes eight bodies recovered, leaving only Midshipman Henry C. Murfin, Jr., of Jackson, Ohio, and Seamen F. R. Plumber and Jesse Conn still missing.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 19 Jun 1907