Jerry Kuntz (Writer)

Exploring American History through Unique Individuals

Poignant Letter of Reference

In the summer of 1862, a wagon-maker from Charles City, Iowa returned to his former home near Detroit, Michigan in order to volunteer for the United States Army, now at war with the South. His name was Elliot P. Harrington, and six years earlier he had accomplished the most stunning feat in the history of underwater exploration to that point. However, his fame had been a brief few weeks, and did not earn him any great reward. He retired from diving and moved to Iowa to earn a living as a mechanic.

When war came, Harrington knew he had a skill that might be needed–underwater work. But he needed to document his background in that vocation. Therefore, he contacted the people who best remembered his exploits and could vouch for him: officers of the American Express Company. The following letter of reference is included in the Charles Harrington papers collection at SUNY Fredonia:

20140903_101732

“Office of American Express Company, Buffalo, Aug 8, 1862,

To Whom it May Concern,

In the month of August, 1852, the money chest of the American Express Company was sunk in the steamer Atlantic to the depth of one hundred and sixty feet off Long Point, Lake Erie. Was recovered by E. P. Harrington in the month of June, 1856.

For American Express Co., William B. Peck”

With this credential, Harrington was assigned work on the Union wrecking steamship Dirigo.

 

Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s