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History Bytes

History Bytes: Dear Santa Claus

Are you hoping for a gift from Santa this holiday season? On December 23, 1882 young Philip Wheaton Rives King wrote to Santa Claus asking for, “a dog and a little sled and a person doll and a trumpet and a whistle and a coat for dolly & a full wardrobe and a gun & a top.” He signed the letter, “I am your affectionate & good little protégé, Philip W. R. King.” Philip, son of David and Ella (Rives) King, Jr. of New York City and Kingscote, Newport, was just three years old in 1882, so chances are he had a little help writing to Santa at Chimney Corner.

Images: Philp W. R. King’s letter so Santa, 1882. King family papers, collections of the Newport Historical Society

History Bytes: The Burial of Admiral Charles de Ternay

This post is by Pamela Rochette, 2017 summer intern at the Newport Historical Society.

On December 16, 1780, a procession starting from the Hunter House on Water Street (now Washington Street) led by military men and nine Catholic chaplains, wound its way through the streets of Newport. A solemn affair, it was a funeral cortège for Admiral Charles de Ternay who had died of typhus the day before. De Ternay had arrived in Newport in July that same year, under the leadership of General Rochambeau, as commander of the French fleet during the Revolutionary War.

One of the French army officers, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine de Verger, briefly noted in his diary for that date, “The Chevalier de Ternay died. The whole army was paraded for his funeral.” The mourning of Admiral Charles de Ternay’s death was a city-wide event, which lasted for over a day. De Ternay died early in the morning on December 15, 1780, a cannon was fired every half-hour for the rest of the day and flags were at half-mast from his flagship, a seventy-four gun ship of the line Duc de Bourgogne.

Following the cortège, sailors from the flagship carried the casket, with senior officers of the fleet as guards of honor, and French seamen and troops marched behind. The entire display was elaborate, long, and impressive. A fifteen-gun salute was fired as soon as the casket came into sight of the Duc de Borgogne, which was anchored in Newport Harbor. From that point on, the cortège continued its way through downtown Newport, past Long Wharf, along Thames Street, and finally to Church Street to the destination of Trinity Churchyard. Although Trinity Church was an Anglican Church, the nine Catholic chaplains completed the burial service of the Admiral. Newport residents lined the streets to watch as the French military commemorated Admiral de Ternay and lowered him into the ground.

Image: Circa late 18th century drawing of the monument to Admiral Charles de Ternay, commissioned by Louis XVI and currently hanging in Trinity Church. From George Champlin Mason’s Extra-Illustrated Reminiscences of Newport, NHS Collection.

History Bytes: Private Bernardo Cardines

This post is contributed by Matthew Baldwin McCoy, State Coordinator for the Rhode Island World War One Centennial Commission

The centennial of America’s participation in World War One provides us with the opportunity to reflect upon the contributions to our country made by immigrants from other nations. One such example is that of Private Bernardo Cardines, an immigrant from Venafro, Campobosso (Isernia), Molise, Italy, who emigrated alone to America in 1909 at the age of fourteen years old. He would later give his life in the service of our country.

When American entered the Great War on April 6, 1917, Bernardo Cardines was employed as a tailor in Newport, Rhode Island. Like other men between the ages of 21 and 31, he registered for the Selective Service on June 5, 1917. He was drafted and inducted into the newly formed National Army.

Private Cardines was assigned to Company M, 310th Infantry Regiment, 155th Infantry Brigade, 78th Division (National Army) at Camp Dix, Wrightstown, Burlington County, New Jersey, for training with other inductees. On May 20, 1918, he and his fellow soldiers boarded the S.S. Northland at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to make the journey to France. The troopship arrived safely in Folkstone, England, on June 5, 1918. After spending a few days at a rest camp in England, he and his fellow soldiers of the 78th Division (National Army) arrived in Calais, France, to join the American Expeditionary Forces led by General John J. Pershing.

Private Cardines’ division participated in the St. Mihiel offensive from September 12 – 16, 1918. After that operation, the 78th Division assumed the responsibility for a defensive area known as the Limey Sector. Private Cardines was one of thirty-one soldiers initially listed as missing in action on September 22, 1918, after they had conducted a raid on a German held position near Thiaucourt. It was later determined by the American Expeditionary Forces that he had been killed in action during the raid.

Private Cardines’ remains were eventually found and initially buried in France. At his father’s request, they were later moved to a cemetery in his home town of Venafro. He rests there today, a hero who made the supreme sacrifice for the United States.

On September 20, 1936, the City of Newport, Rhode Island, renamed Basin Field in honor of Private Bernardo Cardines. The baseball field is one of the oldest baseball fields in the United States. On September 29, 2017, the Rhode Island World War One Centennial Commission will re-dedicate Cardines Field as part of its commemorative events related to the on-going World War One centennial. The re-dedication is an important reminder of the service and sacrifice that immigrants are willing to make to become Americans.

For more information about the re-dedication ceremony, please contact Matthew McCoy at riww1cc@gmail.com.

Images courtesy of Matthew McCoy