Second General Slocum token

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The Zipse family has been very kind to us and donated another token from General Slocum, this time from Bill (William) Zipse, another grandson of the survivor William F. Zipse.

Like the other donated token, this piece was in William Zipse’s pocket when General Slocum caught fire and sank on June 15, 1904 and he carried it with him for the rest of his life in memorial of those that lost their lives, including his five siblings.  We have been unable to find another token like this, so as far as we can tell, it is the only one in existence.   Read more

Sinking of the steamboat General Slocum

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We receive quite a number of amazing donations here at The Mariners’ Museum, but every now and then we receive something this has such an amazing and touching story that we can’t help but be affected.  One such recent donation is an one cent token from the Knickerbocker Steamship Company, donated by Robert Zipse.  This token, and others like it, were used to purchase goods while on one of the Knickerbocker Company vessels.  What makes this particular token (pictured below) so special is the sentimentality and meaning attached to it by the man whose life was forever changed by a day that was supposed to be filled with joy and fun.

On June 15, 1904, St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church chartered the Knickerbocker Steamboat General Slocum for their annual excursion and picnic to Locust Grove.  St. Mark’s was located in area of Manhattan known as Little Germany as there was a large population of German immigrants in the neighborhood, including many who had only recently arrived.  As this excursion was on a weekday, it was mostly attended by women and children.  This included William F. Zipse (pictured below in 1906) who at the time was 15 years old, his mother Sophie Zipse (pictured below on the day of her wedding) and William’s five siblings, Sophia (17), Mary (13), Louise (10), Helen (3) and Albert (1).   Read more

A Head of its Time – Going at Sea

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Introductory panel in the bathroom
Introductory panel in the bathroom

As some people may have heard, we recently opened a new exhibition…in our bathrooms!  It’s called A Head of its Time and features a brief history on going at sea with the tag line of “You have to go…to see”.  And of course it can be found in all of the public restrooms in the museum, on the walls, stalls and even above urinals.  This was the brainchild of the Museum’s late President John Hightower who came up with the idea as a joke.  Others realized the potential of such an exhibition and our VP Anna Holloway took charge of making this into a reality.  The artwork for the panels was done by Walt Taylor, political cartoonist for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper.

Below are some of the images and facts found in this exhibition.   Read more

Service and Honor

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Thomas Kevill portrait, donation from The Descendents of Thomas Kevill.
Portrait of Thomas Kevill.

A couple months ago, Captain Jim Bailie of Norfolk Fire-Rescue called us to ask about items in our collection related to Thomas Kevill.  Kevill was the first paid Fire Chief in Norfolk and a Civil War veteran who served on the CSS Virginia during the Battle of Hampton Roads March 8-9, 1862 as the officer in charge of gun #9.

Thanks to the generosity of Kevill’s descendants, we have two portraits of him, his artillery belt and buckle, a certificate of his military service and a commemorative fire badge.   Read more