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Johnston Family Papers, 1865-1992 (bulk 1865-1972)

Johnston Family Papers

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Johnston Family Papers, 1865-1992 (bulk 1865-1972): Finding Aid

United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
Phone: 410-293-6917
https://www.usna.edu/Library/sca/index.php

Published in September 2017



Profile Description

Creation: Machine-readable finding aid encoded in EAD 2002 by David D'Onofrio in September 2017.
Language: Finding aid written in English.

Summary Information

Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
Creator: Johnston family
Title: Johnston Family Papers
Dates: 1865-1992
Bulk Dates: 1865-1972
Size: 3.2 linear feet (3 manuscript boxes, 2 half-manuscript boxes, 6 flat boxes, 1 oversize folder)
Abstract: The Johnston Family Papers, comprising 3 linear feet of documentation, span three generations of the Johnston and Merrell families from 1867 to 1992, with a majority of the documentation ceasing by 1972. The papers record, in varying levels of detail, the lives and careers of John Porter Merrell, Richard Howard Johnston, John Porter Merrell Johnston, and Frederick Halsey Tyler.
Call number: MS 452
Language(s) of material: English

Arrangement

The Johnston Family Papers are organized into the following six series:

Description of Contents

The Johnston Family Papers, comprising 3 linear feet of documentation, span three generations of the Johnston and Merrell families from 1865 to 1992, with a majority of the documentation ceasing by 1972. The papers record, in varying levels of detail, the lives and careers of John Porter Merrell, Richard Howard Johnston, John Porter Merrell Johnston, and Frederick Halsey Tyler.

Included in the collection are certificates, scrapbooks, photographs, correspondence, event programs, invitations, and other pieces of ephemera.

The Johnston Papers are organized into six series. Each of the first five series are devoted to an individual family member, beginning with the youngest generation. Series 1: John Porter Merrell Johnston, focuses on the youngest Johnston's time at the Naval Academy and later career with the National Geographic Society. Series 2: Richard Howard Johnston, consists primarily of ephemera and publications collected by the elder Johnston at his last two duty stations in Newport and Norfolk. Series 3: John Porter Merrell, focuses on the early career and Naval Academy tours of duty of John Porter Merrell Johnston's maternal grandfather. Series 4 consists of material collected by and pertaining to Frederick Halsey Tyler, who was likely John Porter Merrell's brother-in-law. Series 5 pertains to cavalryman George F. Chase, whose relation to the Johnston and Merrell families is unknown. The sixth and final series of the collection consists of photographs, largely in the form of group and individual portraits, spanning all three generations of the Johnston and Merrell families.


Biography of the Johnston and Merrell Families

John Porter Merrell Johnston

John Porter Merrell Johnston was born 4 September 1914 in New York City. A graduate of the Sidwell Friends School, he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from Missouri and graduated as a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1937. Following graduation, his first assignment was aboard the U.S.S. Houston (Heavy cruiser: CA-30).

In September 1939, Johnston joined the U.S.S. John D. Edwards (Destroyer: DD-216), which was deployed to China at the time. His service aboard this destroyer (through 1942) included Pacific combat. Due to a hearing disability, Johnston was next assigned to limited shore duty. Johnston reached his final rank of Lieutenant Commander, 2 January 1942. On 1 April 1943, Johnston was placed on retired active duty status, serving from January 1943 through August 1945 at the Advance Base Establishment and Maintenance Division, CNO.

In 1944, Johnston married Elizabeth Winchester King of Annapolis. Among his civilian accomplishments, LCDR Johnston worked for the Radiation Laboratory (MIT secretariat), earned an MBA from Harvard in 1947 and pursued a twenty-nine year career with the National Geographic Society, retiring in 1976 from the post of Purchasing Officer.

LCDR Johnston died, 25 October 1987, at the Carriage Hill Nursing Facility, Bethesda, Maryland and was interred at the Naval Academy Cemetery.

Richard Howard Johnston

Richard Howard Johnston, father of John Porter Merrell Johnston, was born in Granger, Missouri on February 2, 1880. Appointed to the Naval Academy in 1898 as a member of the Class of 1902, Johnston completed three and half years at the Academy before resigning on October 1, 1901. Following his resignation from the Academy, Johnston served as a public utility engineer.

On January 26, 1906, Johnston rejoined the Navy as an officer in the Supply Corps. Initially serving aboard U.S.S. Tacoma (Protected cruiser: C-18), Johnston was attached to U.S.S. Supply (Steamer), based in Guam, in 1911. In 1913, he returned to the United States, where he married Dorcas Merrell, daughter of Rear Admiral John Porter Merrell, on August 25, 1913. Throughout World War I, Johnston was engaged in transport duty.

Following the War, Johnston was initially attached to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. This duty was followed by assignments to the Mine Laying Squadron Atlantic Fleet (1921-1923), Chief Coordinator's Office of the Bureau of Budget (1923-1927), Destroyer Squadrons Pacific Fleet (1927-1928), Bremerton Navy Yard Accounting Office (1928-1929), Shore Establishment Division of the Office of the Secretary of the Navy (1929-1933), and the Newport Naval Torpedo Station (1933-1936). In 1937, Johnston was assigned to his final duty station at the Norfolk Navy Yard, where he served as Disbursing Officer until his retirement in 1945. Richard Howard Johnston died on May 16, 1967 and was buried at the United States Naval Academy cemetery.

John Porter Merrell

John Porter Merrell was born in Auburn, New York on September 7, 1846 to John Camp and Jane A. Merrell. In 1863, Merrell received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, where he graduated as a member of the Class of 1867. Following graduation, Merrell was assigned to the European Squadron, where he was attached to U.S.S. Minnesota (Steam frigate), Ticonderoga (Screw sloop-of-war), and Franklin (Screw frigate) from 1867 until 1869, as well as the Kenosha (Screw sloop-of-war) from 1869 to 1870. After a brief assignment to Washington for signal duty in May 1870, Merrell was attached to U.S.S. Guard (Steamer) of the Darien Surveying Expedition in the Isthmus of Panama in July 1870. Returning to the United States a year later, he was assigned to torpedo duty at the torpedo station in Newport, Rhode Island in January 1872. That same month, Merrell married Sarah Frances Tyler of Marshall, Michigan.

Between 1875 and 1882, Merrell returned to sea duty on the North and South Atlantic Stations aboard U.S.S. Swatara (Screw sloop) (1875-1877), Marion (Sloop-of-war) (1879-1881), and Shenandoah (Screw sloop) (1881-1882), punctuated by a tour at the Experimental Battery in Annapolis from 1877 to 1879. In 1882, he returned to the Naval Academy as an instructor in the Department of Mathematics. In August 1887, he was once again assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron as a staff member, with service aboard U.S.S. Pensacola (Steamer), Quinnebaug (Corvette), and Lancaster (Screw sloop).

In 1889, Merrell was attached to the Naval Academy for a second time as Head of the Department of Mechanics and Applied Mathematics. Following his separation from the Academy in 1893, he spent three years on the Asiatic Station aboard U.S.S. Baltimore (Protected cruiser: C-3) (1893-1895) and Olympia (Protected cruiser: C-6) (1895-1896). Merrell also served as a member of the State Department's commission investigating anti-foreign riots in Chengtu, China from October 1895 through March 1896.

Upon returning to the United States in 1896, Merrell was assigned to the 13th Lighthouse District in Portland, Oregon as assistant inspector, and then inspector, of lighthouses. He was then attached to the Naval War College in early 1898, but was transferred to U.S.S. Scipio (Steamer) following the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. Merrell finished out the war aboard U.S.S. Glacier (Stores ship), and was assigned to the New York Navy Yard as equipment officer in November 1898. Merrell served as commanding officer of U.S.S. Montgomery (Protected cruiser: C-9) from April 1899 through September 1900, before returning to equipment officer duty, this time at the Norfolk Navy Yard. Command of the New Orleans Naval Station followed in November 1901, after which Merrell was assigned to temporary duty at the Naval War College in June 1903.

In August 1904, Merrell assumed his final seagoing command as commanding officer of the battleship U.S.S. Oregon (Battleship: BB-3) of the Asiatic Fleet. Roughly two years later, he assumed the final command of his career, as President of the Naval War College. Although placed on the Retired List on September 7, 1908, Merrell continued as President of the War College, with the rank of Rear Admiral, until October 1909. John Porter Merrell died on December 8, 1916, and was buried at the Naval Academy Cemetery.

Frederick Halsey Tyler

Frederick Halsey Tyler, son of Samuel Tyler of Marshall, Michigan, was appointed to the United States Naval Academy on June 20, 1868 at the age of sixteen as a member of the Class of 1873. Upon separation from the Academy, Tyler was attached to U.S.S. Ossipee (Screw sloop-of-war), and later, Juniata (Sloop-of-war). Following promotion to ensign in July 1874, Tyler was attached to U.S.S. Wyandotte (Monitor) from 1875 until June 1876, when he was ordered home. Tyler's next sea duties were aboard U.S.S. Swatara (Screw sloop) and Marion (Sloop-of-war) until November 1879. Promoted to master on July 11, 1880, he next served aboard the training ship Saratoga (Sloop-of-war) until July 1881. On March 3, 1883, Tyler was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade), accompanied by duty aboard U.S.S. Nipsic (Gunboat) until being granted sick leave in November 1885. Tyler was promoted to full lieutenant on May 19, 1886, and following assignment to the receiving ship Franklin, was attached to the Norfolk Navy Yard in April 1887. In July 1888 he was attached to U.S.S. Yantic (Gunboat), and a year later was transferred to the training ship Portsmouth. In November 1892, he was reassigned to the Norfolk Navy Yard, where he remained until his death on April 27, 1895. Tyler's widow, Josephine, later remarried to Supreme Court justice Henry Billings Brown.


Subject Headings

These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.

Brown, Henry Billings, 1836-1913
Chase, George F.
Johnston family
Johnston, John Porter Merrell, 1914-1987
Johnston, Richard Howard, 1880-1967
Merrell, John Porter, 1846-1916
National Geographic Society (U.S.)
Solar eclipses -- 1948
Tyler, Frederick Halsey, 1852-1895
United States Naval Academy -- Curricula
United States Naval Academy -- Social life and customs
United States Naval Academy. Class of 1937
Certificates
Manuscripts
Photographs
Printed ephemera
Scrapbooks

Restrictions

Access

Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Johnston Family Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.


Administrative Information

Custodial History

Notes, exercises and examinations from John Porter Merrell's tours in the Naval Academy's Department of Mechanics and Applied Mathematics were transferred from the Activities of Faculty and Staff, Personal Papers series of the Records of the United States Naval Academy in October 2017.

Preferred Citation

Johnston Family Papers, MS452

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of RADM Randolph King on October 5, 1992, October 26, 1992, December 17, 1992, April 27, 1993, and May 20, 1993.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in September 2017. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in September 2017.


Related Material

Additional material pertaining to the careers and midshipman experiences of John Porter Merrell Johnston, Richard Howard Johnston, John Porter Merrell, and Frederick Tyler Halsey is available in their respective Midshipman Personnel Jacket/Conduct Record and Alumni Jacket (John Porter Merrell Johnston and Richard Howard Johnston only).

Additional correspondence from John Porter Merrell Johnston to Richard Howard Johnston is available in the John Porter Merrell Johnston Letters, MS 358, Special Collections & Archives, Nimitz Library.


Separated Material

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.


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