Thursday, February 3, 2011

James N. Ryan - Great White Fleet - San Francisco to Manila

USS Virginia Postcard by Enrique Muller 1907  Credit:

On the third leg of the tour, the USS Virginia, as part of the second squadron, departed San Francisco on July7, 1908. The first port of call was Honolulu, Hawaii. At the time Hawaii was a U.S. Territory.  It would not become a state for fifty more years.  I can't imagine how different Hawaii would have been 100 years ago.

Credit:  Wikipedia - The Great White Fleet

Fortunately for us there was an electrician, Frank Lesher, aboard the USS Virginia who collected items from each port.  He kept medals, programs of activities set up for the sailors, letters, and numerous picture postcards. An example from his collection is pictured at the left.  It is a picture of the former queen of Hawaii.

As the focus of this blog is on family history, I'm going to refer interested readers to a website that includes extensive information on each port of call.  You can read his personal correspondence back "home" and get a feel for the kinds of experiences Jim might have had.
Go to: Hawaii  I can't urge you enough to check out this site.  You can choose from among a list of ports and view some of Frank's collection.

One of the most important ports of call was Yokohama, Japan.  The family is in possession of a beautiful embroidered work that Jim acquired in Japan.  Closeups of this work were featured in a previous post.  Pictured is a ticket issued to the sailors for free train transportation.


The fleet headed to Manila in the Philippines where they were again greeted warmly by the local population. Who could have anticipated what would happen in this area of the world a short 32 years later.

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