Thursday, February 14, 2013

From Lawrence to LAWRENCE

Captain James Lawrence, my 4th great-grandfather  became a naval hero after he died of the wounds that he sustained during the engagement of his ship, the USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon during the War of 1812.


From an oil painting by John Theophilus Lee 'Engagement of the Chesapeake and the Shannon'. Photo courtesy of the New York Historical Society, New York City.
In the 200 years that have passed since his death, the United States Navy has named five ships the 'USS LAWRENCE' to honor him.

Excerpted from the New York Shipbuilding Corporation's event program
The fifth USS LAWRENCE, which was used until 1994, was sponsored and christened in February 1960 by my great aunt, Mrs. Fernie C. (Dorothy) Hubbard, Captain Lawrence's 2nd great-granddaughter. 

Excerpted from the New York Shipbuilding Corporation's event program

The christening at the moment of impact
While my brother and I stayed home in Bozeman, Montana under the watchful care of my paternal grandmother, Dorothy and my mother, Patricia Burrows, traveled to Camden, New Jersey to attend the launching and christening ceremony.

Dorothy Hubbard and Patricia Burrows

When the time for the commissioning of the ship arrived, in January, 1962, family matters in Montana kept Dorothy from being able to attend in her official capacity of sponsor. So she asked her cousin, Sarnia Marquand, to represent her. Sarnia gracefully accepted, and wrote this humorous and touching letter to Dorothy to tell her about the day. I chuckled as I read her account of being "in such a lather to live up to this occasion properly that I; had my dress cleaned...washed my white gloves, bought a new pr. of stockings (2 prs. in fact in case one got a run on my way to Philadelphia!), mended my nightgown (although the Admiral was not likely to see it), got a mild permanent wave (my sisters will be greatly relieved as they have been after me to do this for months), got out my new black swede (sic) high heeled pumps, and even wriggled into a girdle. What more can one do for a Sponsor and the Navy? I tried, anyway. Oh yes, and washed my face with soap, greased it and put on nail polish."   

From a newspaper clipping, source unknown
Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Sarnia, her loving personality is evident from these mementos of a once in a lifetime happening. 

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