From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Freeman Crosby '70

Date of birth: May 23, 1849

Date of death: August 18, 1894

Age: 45

Naval Academy Register

Freeman Hopkins Crosby was admitted to the Naval Academy from New York on July 30, 1886 at age 17 years 8 months.

Naval Academy Photo Album

Biography & Loss

Freeman in a group photo from Harper's Magazine.

From researcher Kathy Franz:

Freeman died with four others on a whaleboat from the coast survey steamer McArthur on August 18, 1894. It capsized while making a landing through the rough surf at Jo creek, 15 miles north of Gray’s Harbor, Alaska. The other men were John Fryer, Jens Gudmundsen, William Nehm and Alexander Smith. The group was to land and erect a hydrographic signal station. They had come into the shore daily without any mishap. Two breakers hit the whaleboat, the last throwing it ten feet high and turning the boat over. Freeman was last seen swimming for the whaleboat, but he sank and drowned. Mr. W. M. Kenney was thrown off when the first breaker hit and survived to give the account. He didn’t like the breakers, and Freeman had laughed and tossed him a life preserver to put on. Kenney said that they watched as Alexander Smith waved and said his last words: “Good-bye boys, I am going.”

Freeman was survived by his wife Julia Halsey, whom he had married on December 18, 1884, and their children Halsey, born in 1887, and George, born in 1892. When Freeman died, his family was living in Ocosta, Washington. They moved to Binghamton, New York, where she received a widow’s pension of $25/month. In 1897, it was raised to $35/month with $2/month extra per child until they reached the age of 16. Julia died on October 5, 1935.

Born in Poland, New York, Freeman lived with his father Elikman, mother Angelina, brother Walter, and sisters Ellen, Kate, Emma, Anna and Mabel. Additionally, by his father’s first wife, his brothers were Alonzo, Henry, and Erastus, and his sister was Cornelia, a schoolteacher. By 1880, the year his father died, the family lived in Jamestown, New York.

The family was friends with the family of Albert Sprague, Class of 1866, and they lived two miles apart. His daughter Katherine remembered Freeman often waving hello on his way home. She wanted to write a biography of Freeman for the Chautauqua County Historical Society. When Freeman came back from the Greely rescue in 1884, she remembered that a dinner was held in his honor in Jamestown, and he spoke with the high school students. Freeman was executive officer of the Bear, one of four vessels in the Greely rescuing expedition. Known as the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition 1881-1884, it was led by Lieutenant Adolphus Greely. Of the original 25 men, only 7 survived the expedition to the Arctic.

Freeman was commanding officer of McArthur (1874) (which was not a navy ship but owned by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey).


From the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Midshipman, 30 July, 1866. Graduated 7 June, 1870. Ensign, 13 July, 1871. Master, 8 November, 1874. Lieutenant, 30 August, 1881. Drowned 18 August, 1894.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

January 1871

Midshipman, Guerriere

January 1872

Ensign, Guerriere

January 1873

Ensign, Portsmouth

January 1874

Ensign, Portsmouth

January 1875

Master, Benecia

January 1876

Master, Lackawanna

July 1877

Master, Lackawanna

July 1878

Master, Lackawanna

January 1879

Master, Training Ship Constitution

Others at this command:

January 1880

Master, Tennessee

Others at this command:

July 1881

Master, Despatch

January 1882

Lieutenant, Despatch

January 1883

Lieutenant, Coast Survey steamer Blake

January 1884

Lieutenant, Bear

January 1885

Lieutenant, commanding officer, Coast Survey steamer Gedney

January 1886

Lieutenant, commanding officer, Coast Survey steamer Gedney

February 1887

Lieutenant, commanding officer, Coast Survey steamer Gedney

January 1888

Lieutenant, commanding officer, Coast Survey steamer Gedney

October 1888

Lieutenant, Richmond

January 1889

Lieutenant, Richmond

January 1890

Lieutenant, Richmond

January 1891

Lieutenant, Navy Yard Washington

January 1892

Lieutenant, Navy Yard Washington

January 1893

Lieutenant, Navy Yard Washington

July 1894

Lieutenant, commanding officer, Coast Survey steamer McArthur

Memorial Hall Error

Freeman is not included with his classmates in Memorial Hall. This omission was discovered by researcher Kathy Franz.

Class of 1870

Charles is one of 5 members of the Class of 1870 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.