By Dave Patrykus
It’s funny how things happen. In May, 2002, I noted an entry in the guest log of our world-famous website from a woman in Ishpeming, a small city in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Her name was Judy Conrad and it seems that she had purchased some items at an estate sale in the nearby city of Marquette. One of the items was a sterling silver pitcher inscribed: “From The Ward Room Mess – USS Wisconsin”. It also bore the engraved (etched) signatures of 25 of the Ward Room Officers! She had tracked down its history and learned that it was from the first USS Wisconsin (BB-9), which had been scrapped in 1922. Coincidently, the pitcher had been created by the Gorham Silver Company, who had also created the beautiful silver service which is a part of the history of both ships and is proudly displayed at Nauticus!
I contacted Ms. Conrad via e-mail (Isn’t technology great?) to see if she would consider selling the pitcher. I could picture it setting on our mantle beneath a painting of BB-64. However, upon further consideration, it seemed to me that it should perhaps be purchased by our association and displayed somewhere for public view. Where better than near our old ship, her “baby sister”, BB-64?
Ms. Conrad did not wish to sell it at the time but said if she changed her mind she’d let us know. She did so last March 20, via e-mail to our President, Bill Henson. After some back and forth messages, the executive committee voted to purchase the pitcher for a price of $600.00, to be displayed at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, right next to our ship in Norfolk. The pitcher would otherwise have been placed on e-Bay for sale with a reserve of $700.
Marlis and I drove to Ishpeming last spring to purchase the pitcher. We were greeted most warmly by Judy Conrad and her husband “Corky”. After completing the purchase, Judy gave us a sterling silver belt buckle with the engraved monogram, DHM. It seems that the pitcher had belonged to the estate of David H. McClintock, son-in-law of Captain Theodore T. Patterson. Captain Patterson had served aboard (BB-9) from 1917-1919 when she was based upriver from Norfolk in Yorktown, VA. She hoped that we could return the monogrammed buckle to a family member. Based upon information from Ms. Conrad, I located David H. McClintock, Jr., grandson of Captain Patterson, who lives in Lexington, MA. Would he agree to join us in Norfolk to represent his Grandfather? He would be happy to!
Well, on October 22nd, 2005,we met in Norfolk at Nauticus to complete the circle. As an added bonus, we were also able to facilitate a donation by Jim Janz, honorary lifetime member and one of the founders of our association. Jim, whom many of you know, had purchased a cruise book on e-Bay, ca. 1903, from USS Wisconsin (BB-9), when she was flagship of the Asiatic Fleet in the Far East. It was a perfect fit!
Representing the association were President Bill Henson and his wife Nickie, Jim Janz, Dom and Lil Menta, Dick and Claire Hamann, Ira “Gene” Biesecker, Don Falkenberg, his son Tim and daughter, Kalynn. I was pleased and proud to join with Jim to make the presentations on behalf of the members of USS Wisconsin Association. Admiral Jack Kavanaugh represented the USS Wisconsin Foundation and, accepting the items for the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, were Becky Poulliot, Director and Joe Judge, Curator. Our honored guest was David H. McClintock, Jr.. His stories of his Grandfather Patterson, who had served in the first USS Wisconsin, brought a feeling of life to the historic sterling pitcher. Following a luncheon, Mr. McClintock was presented with a USS Wisconsin cap and was also very pleased and touched at the return of his fathers old belt buckle!
Just the other day, I was thinking about how enjoyable our lunch was and how supportive the Wisconsin Association has been to the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Attached is a little write up that our curator Joe Judge put together. I also plan on talking about the loan in my column of the next Daybook.
Thanks for being there for us.
Director of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum
The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is happy to accept the loan of a silver pitcher and cruise book from the first Battleship Wisconsin, BB-9. These items join others on loan from the Wisconsin Association that have been so useful to the interpretation of USS Wisconsin, BB 64. The museum exists to keep the history of these ships alive, and the real history of these ships is the history of the men who served on them.
The museum proudly displays the silver service donated to the first Wisconsin in 1901 by the State of Wisconsin (at the total cost of $5,500!). BB-9 joined Teddy Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” in California in 1908 and journeyed with those other proud white ships back here to Hampton Roads. This epic voyage was the culmination of years of work to bring the Navy back from near extinction after the Civil War.
We are working on a major exhibit that will highlight the period of the white fleet. Our initial plans call for the pitcher to be part of this exhibit, which will be the centerpiece of the museum’s contribution to the celebration called “America’s Birthday” in 2007- the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement and the beginnings of American democracy. Association members can look for news about this exhibit at our web site,
Two ways to view photos: Left Click on thumbnail and photo will fly up. You can now click the arrows to go forward, back or return to the index file. Viewing photos this way also displays photo captions if available. Or you can watch a Slideshow without photo captions
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