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Among the passengers on the Cunard Steamer LUSITANIA which was sunk off Kinsale, Ireland, on May 7, was James Blaine Miller, of the Coast and Geodetic Survey. He had taken passage on the Cunard Steamer CAMERONIA which was requisitioned by the British government at the last moment, and her passengers transferred to the LUSITANIA. No information in regard to him has been received since that disaster was announced, his name is not among the list of survivors, and there is practically no doubt that he went down with the vessel.

Mr. Miller was one of the most active and efficient young officers of the Survey. Last summer he was in command of the Survey Steamer PATTERSON on the coast of Alaska which made a remarkable voyage of 1,600 miles to the rescue of the crew of the Revenue Cutter TAHOMA, wrecked on a hidden reef in the Behring Sea. The PATTERSON was the first vessel to start to the rescue of the TAHOMA, although two other vessels, the CORDOVA and the KODIAK, arrived at about the same time. For this service he was presented with a handsome medal by the rescued officers and crew of the TAHOMA. This voyage, undertaken late in the season, was attended with considerable risk, the PATTERSON being one of the old vessels that the Survey is now trying to replace.

James Blaine Miller was born in Erie County, Pennsylvania, October 30, 1883, and was therefore in his 32nd year. He graduated from Oberlin College, Ohio, in June 1903, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He was appointed an Aid in the Survey June 18, 1903, was promoted to Assistant September 1, 1906, and during his 12 years of service was employed chiefly on hydrographic and leveling work in various localities. In 1904 he was engaged in surveys in Puerto Rico. In 1906 he was in command of the Steamer ENDEAVOR in the survey of Chesapeake Bay; in 1906 he was placed in command of the Steamer RESEARCH in the Philippine Islands; in 1909 he was transferred to the command of the FATHOMER; in 1911 he returned to the United States and in the fall of that year he was placed in command of the Steamer PATTERSON for surveying work in the Hawaiian Islands and on the coast of Alaska. He was detached from the command of the PATTERSON in March of the present year, and had been granted leave for several months to take a vacation trip abroad, leaving Washington April 28.

He was a hard and indefatigable worker, devoted to his profession and during his 12 years of service completed a large amount of valuable work. His reports and descriptions were remarkably full, clear and concise. He maintained excellent discipline on the vessels under his command. Of a quiet and reserved disposition, he was much liked by those who knew him best.

His father is Thomas C. Miller, Attorney-at-law, in Erie, Pennsylvania. It is understood that he had a sister living in Chicago; a brother, a cadet in the employ of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and other relatives in Pennsylvania. On July 20 a body which has been positively identified by articles found in the clothing as that of the late James B. Miller, formerly with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, who was lost with other passengers of the Cunard Ssteamer LUSITANIA, was washed ashore at Rineen, Ireland. The remains were interred at Ennistymon.

A notebook was found on the body containing among other addresses that of R. G. Harrington, care of Navy pay office, San Francisco. In reply to an inquiry, Mr. Harrington wrote from Shelbyville, Kentucky, stating that from the description given and for other reasons he was positive that the remains were those of James B. Miller, who had shortly before sailing secured his address and entered it in his notebook. He was the only person on the LUSITANIA with whom Mr. Harrington was acquainted. Mr. Harrington was also able to identify another address found in the notebook and other objects found in the pockets.

A passenger on the LUSITANIA who survived was talking to Captain Miller when the torpedo struck the vessel. They had been looking at the shore of Ireland; both saw the torpedo, and when the shock came went to secure life belts. Miller remarked that the situation seemed desperate, and requested if he should not survive that his sister in Chicago be notified. They were separated in the confusion and shortly afterwards the vessel went down.


Paper, 5/28/1915
C&GS BULLETIN 8/1915

 


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