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G. St. M. Stocker: An Autobiography, 1964: Finding Aid

Published in 1995

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 302
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: G. St. M. Stocker: An Autobiography
  • Dates: 1964
  • Size: 0.15 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 7 folders containing 251 leaves
  • Creator: Stocker, George St. M., 1877-
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: George St. M. Stocker was a seaman, serving first in the U.S. Navy during the Spanish-American War, and later with the Chinese Revenue Service and U.S. Merchant Marine. The autobiography spans Stocker's life from his birth in 1877 to his retirement in 1963, including his service in the Spanish-American War, during the Philippine Insurrection, and as a customs agent and harbor pilot in China.

Biography of George St. M. Stocker

George St. M. Stocker was born on October 14, 1877 in Bracknell, England, the fifth of ten children of the Reverend Edward Seymour Stocker, an Anglican priest, and his wife Fanny Elizabeth Pitts. As a boy in London, Stocker attended the Blue Coat School and the choir school attach to St. Peter's, Eaton Square. From 1887 to 1891, he lived at Titchwell, England, where his father was pastor.

In 1891, at the age of fourteen, Stocker went to sea as a ship's boy. From 1891 through 1898, he served aboard a variety of steam and sail vessels throughout the world.

Stocker joined the U.S. Navy in 1898 as a seaman and served two enlistments, leaving in 1905. He was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, and he saw U.S. Navy duty in China. In 1901, he was briefly the commanding officer of the U.S. Army inter-island transport Pittsburgh in the Philippines.

During his time in China, George St. M. Stocker passed various British exams qualifying him for officer posts on British ships. In 1905, Stocker joined the Chinese Revenue Service and advanced through various positions, retiring in 1917. He then ran a piloting business at Swatow from 1917 through 1937.

In 1937, Stocker left China for the United States. During the Second World War, he served for a time with the U.S. Merchant Marine. Apart from his military and maritime service, Stocker owned a fishing resort in the U.S., which he sold in 1963.

George St. M. Stocker married Gertrude Smith in October 1913, at Foo Chow. Together, the Stocker's had six children.

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Description of Contents

G. St. M. Stocker: an Autobiography is primarily a memoir of Stocker's life as a seaman. The autobiography covers the period from Stocker's birth at Bracknell, England in 1877 to his retirement in 1963.

Arranged chronologically into various time frames, the memoirs start with Stocker's childhood in England. From 1891 through 1898, the memoir discusses Stocker's service in the Merchant Marine aboard a variety of sail and steam vessels. His travels too him throughout the world, visiting such places as South Africa, India, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Great Britain, the United States, and Unalaska Island. Among his experiences, Stocker describes his survival of a brutal tour aboard the Prussian bark Malvina Wendt, the shipwreck of the U.S. schooner Surge in a blizzard, and sailing around Cape Horn in the full-rigged ship Lord Dunhaven.

From 1898 to 1905, Stocker's memoir discusses his enlistments in the U.S. Navy. In 1898, Stocker joined the U.S. Navy with the rank of Seaman. During the War and the subsequent Insurrection in the Philippines, Stocker describes serving aboard the U.S.S. Charleston (Protected cruiser : C-2), U.S.S. Concord (Patrol gunboat : PG-3), and U.S.S. Paragua (Patrol gunboat). Stocker also bears witness to the surrender of Guam, U.S. Navy activities at Manila leading to the city's surrender, various post-war events, and the U.S. military response to the Philippine Insurrection. Included in this section of the memoirs is Stocker's brief command of the U.S. Army inter-island transport Pittsburgh in 1901. In 1901, Stocker re-enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving from 1901 to 1905. The most notable duty described by Stocker during this time was his service aboard U.S.S. Callao (Patrol gunboat) in its mission to show the flag on the inland waters of China and to establish friendly relations with native officials.

From 1905 through 1917, Stocker describes his service with Chinese Revenue Service (customs duties, coast patrol, anti-smuggling operations, etc.). Stocker next discusses his piloting business at Swatow, which he owned in partnership, and later alone, from 1917 through 1937. Due to the upheaval of World War II, Stocker and his family left Swatow for the United States in 1937.

During World War II, the memoir details Stocker's employment, for a time, in the U.S. Merchant Marine as chief officer on the Liberty Ship Henry Bergh. The memoir concludes with Stocker's sale of his fishing resort and subsequent retirement.

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G. St. M. Stocker: An Autobiography is organized into the following seven files:

  • File 1: Synopsis and Foreword, 1964
  • File 2: Childhood (1877-1890), 1964
  • File 3: Merchant Marine (1891-1898), 1964
  • File 4: Spanish-American War/Philippine Insurrection (1898-1905), 1964
  • File 5: Chinese Revenue Service (1905-1917), 1964
  • File 6: Pilot at Swatow (1917-1937), 1964
  • File 7: United States (1937-1963), 1964
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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

G. St. M. Stocker: An Autobiography is 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.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Rear Admiral Kemp Tolley in December 1994. Accession No. 94-75.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Material

Additional material on Stocker's family history may possibly exist in Stocker Family History and Evidences at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Materials Cataloged Separately

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

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

G. St. M. Stocker: An Autobiography, MS 302

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1995. Finding aid written by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1995 and revised by David D'Onofrio in April 2014.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Callao (Gunboat)
  • Charleston (Protected cruiser : C-2)
  • China -- Commerce
  • China -- History -- 20th century
  • Concord (Gunboat : PG-3)
  • Henry Bergh (Liberty ship)
  • Malvina Wendt (Bark)
  • Merchant Marine -- History
  • Merchant Marine -- United States
  • Paragua (Gunboat)
  • Philippines -- History -- Philippine American War, 1899-1902
  • Pittsburgh (Transport)
  • Seafaring life
  • Spanish-American War, 1898
  • Stocker, George St. M., 1877-
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Guam

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
  • Memoirs
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Synopsis and Foreword, 1964

Box 1 Folder 2

Childhood (1877-1890), 1964 Pages 1-7

Family history, childhood and early adolescence, education, Titchwell parish.

Box 1 Folder 3

Merchant Marine (1891-1898), 1964 Pages 8-51; Page 49 missing

Service aboard Mashona (Tramp steamer), Malvina Wendt (Bark), Jessamine (Brig), May Williams (Ocean tug boat), Surge (Schooner), Raritan (Steamer), Carlisle City (Cattle boat), Lord Dunhaven (Full-rigged steamer), Congress (Schooner), and Harry Morse (Bark) with visits to South Africa, India, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Great Britain, the United States, and Unalaska. Includes descriptions of seamen's boarding house system, the Prussian bark Malvina Wendt, the German watch system, brutal conditions aboard Malvina Wendt, punishment for attempted desertion, sailing on Jessamine, surviving the shipwreck of the Surge, sailing around Cape Horn, asserting authority by fighting aboard the American bark Harry Morse, and application for U.S. citizenship in 1899.

Box 1 Folder 4

Spanish-American War/Philippine Insurrection (1898-1905), 1964 Pages 52-132

Service aboard U.S.S. Charleston: audience with ex-Queen of Hawaii, ordered to Guam to destroy enemy forces, continuous drilling, battle preparations, Spanish official at Guam mistake Charleston's shots for a salute, English-speaking bumboatman appointed acting Governor of Guam, U.S. blockade at Manila, German ship Irene attempts to run blockade, Spanish surrender, clearing the mouth of the Pasig River of sunken ships, and brawls between German and American sailors in Hong Kong.

Service aboard U.S.S. Concord: Filipinos demand self-rule, Filipino guerilla movement, U.S. military forces' efforts to end resistance, us of gunboats to control inter-island traffic, U.S.S. Baltimore fired upon, destruction of large gun at Subic Bay, sinking of Charleston off Luzon.

Service aboard U.S.S. Paragua: service as wheelman, expedition to Neuva Carceres, running aground on return to Cavite, transporting Army details in suppression of rebels, raid against town of Dumangas.

Command of inter-island transport Pittsburgh: attack on Pittsburgh by rebels, Stocker loses job after Army switches to all native transport masters.

Second U.S. Navy enlistment: service aboard U.S.S. Vigilant, U.S.S. Solace, U.S.S. Monadnock, and U.S.S. Callao. Aboard U.S.S. Callao, description of: Callao's mission to show the flag in China, surveying work, Canton Harbor, procedures for making official calls, celebration of U.S.-Belgian-Chinese railroad, mercy mission to bring rice to southern provinces, survey of island of Tong Ho, and discharge from U.S. Navy in August 1905.

Box 1 Folder 5

Chinese Revenue Service (1905-1917), 1964 Pages 133-169

Service aboard P'eng Fei: customs duties, sinking of P'eng Fei in typhoon at Hong Kong on September 18, 1906.

Service aboard Kwang Tung as first officer: active patrols, production of survey charts, dealing with salt smugglers, and transfer to Kowloon-Tsai.

Service aboard Kwan Lui: riding out July 28, 1908 typhoon, salvaging of Kap-Tsui-Chai (Chinese revenue service launch).

Service at Foochow: assignment to Native Customs branch of Maritime Customs, learning to read Chinese characters, setting up Native Customs, marriage to Gertrude Smith.

Service at Tientsin: birth of son Leslie Hamilton, writing articles on pay inequities in the Custom Services, lack of pension plan, and rank of boat officer.

Box 1 Folder 6

Pilot at Swatow (1917-1937), 1964 Pages 169-237

Passing the pilot's exam in May 1917, improvements to piloting rules, difficulties with business partner Wood, shipwreck of the British vessel Sung Kiang, wreck of British coolie ship Hong Moh, August 1922 typhoon resulting in tsunami, birth of son Garth, travel with daughter to New Zealand for schooling, dissolution of partnership with Wood, new generation of Chinese pirates in 1930s, British anti-pirate measures, assisting distressed Norwegian vessel Hiram, 1937 war preparations, Japanese air raids on Swatow, attack by Japanese cruiser Niagara on Swatow, and fleeing Swatow for the U.S.

Box 1 Folder 7

United States (1937-1963), 1964 Pages 239-247

Ownership of fishing resort, service in Merchant Marine as chief officer of Liberty Ship Henry Bergh during World War II, 1963 sale of resort, and retirement.

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