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Sifrein Fontaine Maury

Sifrein Fontaine Maury
Sifrein Fontaine Maury

Sifrein Fontaine Maury was born Dec. 31, 1891 in Morristown, NJ, into an old established Virginia family with many branches in the northeast of the US.

His father, James Fontaine Maury (1845 – 1929) was the son of the famous Matthew Maury of both the US and Confederate Navies. Matthew became known as a astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist and educator. After a stagecoach accident that broke his leg he began reading old ships logs and charting the winds and weather and even discovered that whales migrated. He was nicknamed 'Pathfinder of the Seas' and 'Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology' and later, 'Scientist of the Seas,'. Tall boots for the young Sifrein to fill. His mother was Kate Carroll Brown Maury (1861 – 1950).

He had two siblings, Alfred Blake Maury (1893 – 1951) Eleanor Maury (1896 – 1915).

He acquired an appointment to Annapolis and graduated with the class of 1914. He was first assigned to the battleship Wyoming as a Midshipman. He was on the Wyoming during the occupation of Vera Cruz and was listed as an Ensign in the newspapers on the Wyoming during the 1915 Presidential Review in New York.

From reported assignments in the newspapers it looks as if he was transferred to the Montana and then back to the Wyoming in 1915.

On November 11, 1915 he married the former Miss Aileen Celeste Johnson, in Baltimore, Maryland.

On June 14, 1916 he was again transferred this time to the Submarine Tender Fulton. Then on December 30, 1916 he was transferred to the former armoured cruiser USS Colorado (ACR-7), that was renamed Pueblo (CA-7).

We have lost track of Maury at this point and and at some point he has been transferred to the west coast where on June 22, 1917, in San Francisco, after a short Illness, an infant daughter, Eleanor Celeste died. She was names for Maury's young sister who had died in 1915 at age 19.

Again, he is still lost in the available records until she shows up as the commanding officer on the submarine USS K-1 in the Azores during World War One. He is cited with a Navy Cross stating; 'for distinguished and heroic action as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. K-1 engaged in the important, exacting and hazardous duty of patrolling the waters infested by enemy submarines, destroyers, and mines protecting vitally important convoys of troops and supplies; and in offensive and defensive action, vigorously and unremittingly prosecuted against all forms of enemy naval activity during World War I.'

After his return to the US he has acquired the command of the USS O-15, a Lake Torpedo Boats Company design submarine. The photo above is thought to show Maury as the CO on the left in this Philadelphia Navy Yard photo taken on Peace Day, June 28, 1919, the day The Treaty of Versailles was Signed and World War One was officially ended.

It seems the Navy life was not to the family's liking and he resigned his commission as a Lieutenant on March 16, 1920 and entered civilian life, Shortly before he resigned or maybe after he resigned he was hired at the Griscom-Russell Company. They made heat exchangers and he was employed as an engineer there. He retired from the company in 1956.

During WW II he did consulting with the War Production Board about heat exchangers.

Coming from a well connected family they lived in the Hamptons on Long Island and they enjoyed an active social life in the higher bits of society and raised two children, A daughter, Aileen Maury, named for his wife and a son, S. Fontaine Maury Jr. who carried his name.

He died on Aug. 9, 1960 and is buried at the Quogue Cemetery, Quogue, Suffolk County, New York

He outlived two of his siblings; Alfred Blake Maury (1893 – 1951) Eleanor Maury (1896 – 1915) but was survived by a brother Carroll Maury.

Thanks to James Haas for additional research.

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