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Joseph Francis Daniels

Joseph F Daniels
Joseph F Daniels

Joseph Francis Daniels was born to parents William J. Daniels and Rose A. (Roseanna) Sloan Daniels on July 27, 1874 in Providence, Rhode Island. He came from a confusing mixture of brothers, sisters and half brothers and sisters totaling 13 in all.

It looks like he wanted to get out of the house as soon as he could and enlisted in the Navy on July 30, 1891 in Newport, Rhode Island. As a Seaman he sailed first on the USS Richmond, a steam sloop, launched 1860, at this time serving as a training ship in Newport, RI.

His enlistment paperwork gives us a description of him. H was 5 feet 3 1/2 inches tall, he had dark brown hair and gray eyes. His complexion is noted as "Ruddy" with scars on the right side of his nose and on his left cheek. Sounds like he might have been a bit of a scrapper.

He next trained on the sloop of war USS Portsmouth. The vessel was launched 1843 and finally struck in 1915. He then served aboard the USS Monongahela, a barkentine rigged screw sloop of war launched 1862 and disposed of in 1908. In 1893 he is stationed in San Francisco and marries Alice Virginia Purcell. Together they have four children; son, Joseph C Breckinridge Daniels, 1899–1918, Rose Anna Daniels, 1899–1899, Ida Louise Daniels, 1900–1953, and Frances Augusta Daniels, 1914–1969.

Before the Spanish American War broke out he was a Gunner's Mate and was traveling from Key West on the USS Cushing (Torpedo Boat No. 1) to Havana, where the battleship USS Maine was anchored. Also on the Cushing was an officer he highly respected named Joseph Cabell Breckinridge. He was a Lieutenant and they had served together in the past. The Cushing was nearing Havana when Breckinridge went over the side. Daniels dove in after him but failed to save his life though he did manage to recover the Lieutenant's body. Daniels so admired Breckinridge as a man that he named his first son after him. The Maine blew up 3 days later bringing on the Spanish American War.

By 1900 he was stationed at the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, RI. He was an "Acting Gunner" at this time. This may be where he first saw his first submarine, the USS Holland (Submarine No. 1). By October 1900 he is assigned to the USS Wisconsin (Battleship No. 9). His rate was Acting Gunner, a pre-warrant rate.

The Wisconsin, with Daniels aboard, left on her maiden voyage, after completing shake down trials to Hawaii she picked up 800 tons of coal. She was to proceed from there to Pago Pago where Admiral Casey was to conduct a Court Martial of a former Governor of Tutuila for neglect of duty.

March of 1902 saw four men "warranted". Daniels was one of them, from Acting Gunner, to a Gunner and was now technically an officer but still without a commission. He was climbing the ranks. In Navy jargon he was "coming up through the hawse pipe".

In December 1903 he was still aboard the Wisconsin. He has now been in the Navy 11 years as an enlisted sailor but he is reaching about as far as he can go in that direction.

On July 3, 1904 he receives orders transferring him temporarily to the Naval Gun Factory in Washington D.C. He is to leave his command on July 6th. On November 5, 1904 he was transferred from the assignment at the Navy Yard to the USS Alabama (Battleship No. 8).

He received the news on December 7, 1904 that he and six other warrant Gunners had been promoted to the rank of Ensign. One of those other men is of interest to the submarine community, he is Owen Hill who was part of the commissioning crew of the submarine Holland.

After a year aboard the Alabama Ensign Daniels is in receipt of his next set of orders. He is being transfered to the West Coast again, this time he is to have command of two vessels, the submarines Grampus and Pike. These are the only submarines on the West Coast, having been built there.

Once more, come December, 1906, he gets orders, this time he is sent back to the East Coast to the Fore River Shipbuilding Company in Quincy, Mass. to oversee the construction of vessels, primarily submarines, as the Navy Representative at the yard. Fore River was at this time building their first submarines for the Navy, the B and C-class submarines.

In October 1907 Daniels is ordered from Inspector of Submarines at Fore River shipyard to command of the submarine Tarantula (Submarine No. 12) when it is commissioned. He has been promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade during this time frame.

In early February 1908 the submarines Tarantula, Cuttlefish and Viper, all B-class submarines are ordered to Annapolis, but the weather is just too sloppy for what is to be the longest voyage for U.S. submarines to date, 420 miles, all but 100 of that in open ocean. They were to travel in company with the gunboat, USS Hist, acting as a tender. The weather proved to be better the next day and the trip commenced.

On May 19, 1908 Daniels is one of 600 guests at the launching of the new collier Vestal at the New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn N.Y. Vestal was to be converted in a few years to become Fleet Repair Ship No. 4 on September 3, 1913 with CDR Edward L. Beach, Sr. in command. he was the father of Edward L. Beach, Jr. of WW II fame.

In October of 1908 Daniels and others were part of the study being looked into about towing the next set of submarines to the Philippines. Previous A-class subs were taken there as deck cargo but the newer B and C-class were bigger and heavier.

In mid-June 1909 orders arrive transferring him from command of the submarine Tarantula to the battleship Minnesota (Battleship No. 22). The Minnesota was to spend the 4th of July at Marblehead, Mass. Battleships of the Atlantic Fleet were at ports on the New England coast. From July 2 to 6 the sailors aboard were given shore liberty for that holiday and part of a good will gesture on behalf of the Navy by opening ships up to the public.

The 1910 US Census comes around and we find Daniels still aboard the Minnesota and a number of other interesting names are on that list also. The future CDR Claudius. R. Hyatt is shown as an Ensign aboard as is the future Admiral Felix X. Gygax. Both were early submarine commanders.

The civil census shows his family home is in Newport, Rhode Island with wife Alice and his two children, son Joseph C. B. Daniels, age 10 and daughter Ida who is 9 years of age.

On November 11, 1910 Daniels was in receipt of orders transferring him to duty at the Engineering Experimental Station at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. He was to stay at this duty station until late July or early August 1913 when he was sent as the commanding officer of the USS Burrows (Destroyer No. 29). The Burrows, prior to World War I, was attached to the Torpedo Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet, and operated with the fleet along the east coast and in Cuban waters, according to the established schedules of tactical maneuvers, war games, torpedo practice, and gunnery.

In April 1914, the Burrows, part of the Fourth division of torpedo destroyers was sent to Mexican waters as part of the blockading force, Daniels was still in command of Burrows. Future Admiral Harold R. Stark was in command of a sister ship in the same division. In sister division Five was the future Admiral William F. Halsey in command of the destroyer Jarvis.

In November 1915 he is 41 years old and is again transferred to a battleship this time he was sent to the USS Nevada (BB-36) then under construction at Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, Mass where he had spent considerable time as the Navy Submarine Inspector.

On August 29, 1916 Daniels was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. In November 1916 he is back at the Engineering Experimental Station at the Naval Academy. What this position is isn't known. He may be an instructor. He is now 43 yeas old.

At the outbreak of WW I Daniels was put in command of a destroyer and sent to Europe where shortly after arriving was put on the personal staff of Vice Admiral Sims, in charge of naval operations in Europe. In May 1918 Sims sent the now Commander Daniels, via the liner SS Aquitania, on a special mission to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, (no relation). He so impressed the Secretary that he decided to retain him as his Naval Aid due to his knowledge of the European naval situation. This made him a valuable assistant in consideration of various important questions before the department in connection with the war.

On August 26, 1918 his son, Joseph Cabell Breckinridge Daniels, joined the Navy as an enlisted man. Soon after his enlistment he contracted influenza that was covering most of the U.S. and Europe at this time. He died in the Naval Academy Hospital on October 16, 1918 of complications of pneumonia related to the flu. He was buried at the Naval Academy Cemetery.

In April 1919 he was transferred, with a number of other high ranking officers, as an aids to Rear Admiral Harry Shepard Knapp. Soon after the armistice, Knapp was Naval Attaché in London with staff duties and on February 4, 1920 assumed command of U.S. Naval Forces operating in European waters. Daniels leaves staff duty and takes on duties at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. In June 1920 he assumes command of a destroyer division in Norfolk, Virginia.

There seems to be some trouble brewing on the home front during the years between 1918 to 1922. After the death of their son, Joseph in 1918, wife Alice seems to have left the household and the couple divorced. Documentation of this is yet to be forthcoming of when this happened.

In February 1921 while commander of the destroyers in Norfolk he is given command of the USS Leonidas (AD-7) a destroyer tender which he decommissioned in November 1921. At this time he was detached and transferred to the USS Denebola (AD-12) a Altair-class destroyer tender and became her commissioning Commanding Officer.

On May 1, 1922 Daniels retired from the Navy after 31 years. 12 of those years were as an enlisted man and 19 as a commissioned officer. He had served aboard sailing war craft that had auxiliary steam propulsion, climbing the rigging as a young 17-year-old seaman. He had sailed in numerous battleships of various vintages and had command of a number of submarines and destroyers. There was lots of saltwater under his belt.

On July 17, 1922 he married Elsie Annie Bollons, she is a 26. Elsie had immigrated from England in 1919 with a one year old daughter named Stella. The couple settled down in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1924 daughter Jacqueline is born and stepdaughter Stella is 8.

We have a bit of a blank in his life right after retirement. But the sea was never that far away from his life. In 1925 he took command of the Pennsylvania Nautical School as commandant and also commander of the schools training ship ex-USS Annapolis that was used to train officers for the Merchant Marine. The ship took prospective merchant officers on training cruise of two to four months or more. Usually there were more applicants than places available and a only the the best were graduated to the Merchant Marine. Daniels remained in this position until March of 1927, he was now 53 years old.

Also in 1925 he and Elsie seem to be taking in another family as borders.

Daniels seems to be interested to generate an income for his family and shows up in a an advertisement in a 1928 newspaper promoting the use of Postum as a non-caffeinated substitute for coffee, siting his time as commandant of the training school for its use. By 1929 he has gotten into the discussions involving the repeal of the 18th Amendment, repealing prohibition and methods to implement it. By the 1930 census the family is living in Newport, RI, Joseph is 55 years old, Elsie is 34 years old. The family shows up again in 1932 when they are on a ship's manifest, the M/V Lochgoil, sailing from the Canal Zone. There is a reference alluding that this may be government related but wife Elsie and daughter Jacqueline are on the manifest.

He is becoming harder to find after this. The 1940 census has the family has moved to Long Beach, Calif. And he is now 65 years old with a 44 year old wife and 16 year old daughter at home. They show up in the 1942 Glendale voter lists. They lived at 441 W. Glenoaks Blvd, Glendale, Calif. In 1944 they are living in Long Beach at 5421 E 8th Street. Both are registered as Republicans. In 1946 they are still living at this same address. Daniels is now 71 years old and Elsie is 50.

The 1948 voters register shows the Daniels have not moved and are still at the 5421 E 8th Street address in Long Beach as the 1950 list and also does the 1952 list. By the time the 1954 list is published the couple are now back in Glendale at 1325 N. Central Ave. Joseph is 80 years old and Elsie is 58.

Joseph Francis Daniels passes away on March 20, 1962. He is 88 years old. Elsie is now 68 years old. Joseph is buried at Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, Virginia, Plot: Sec: 8, Site: 533-A.

Elsie eventually moves to Freeland, Washington on Whidbey Island when she passes away at 91 on March 2, 1987. She is buried at Arlington with Joseph.

First wife Alice died in 1943 and was buried near her son Joseph Cabell Breckinridge Daniels at the Naval Academy.

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