Joseph M. Sweeney, Jr. writes:
"Father was born on 16 March, 1899, in Youngstown, Mahoning Co., Ohio,
and baptized, Michael Joseph Sweeney. He used variations of his name throughout
his Naval, (1917-1919) and Maritime, (1920-1922) service. For the next 26 years
he was known only as Joseph Michael Sweeney.
With the death of his father, James Joseph Sweeney, (a brakeman on the CH&D
railroad), in a train accident on 19 November, 1909, his older half-brother, John,
went to work in the Lima Locomotive Works, Lima, Allen Co., Ohio, to support the
family. Dad went to work at Lima Locomotive about 1915, to support his widowed
mother and younger brother, James, after John left home.
When his younger brother became old enough to work at the Locomotive Works, Dad
joined the Navy, 23 April, 1917, WWI. His Navy record shows he served onboard two
ships, USS Covington (Formerly the German S.S. Cincinnati) 31 July 1917-22 March
1918 and USS Santa Barbara 22 April 1918-11 November 1918, this according to his
Honorable Discharge. He was separated from Naval service in March of 1919.
He began his maritime service in June, 1920. First sailing from the Port of
Cleveland, Ohio, on board the S.S. Pocahontas. He signed on the S.S. Steel Inventor
at New York, as a fireman in Dec., 1920, (The 1921 on discharge is a typo?. or the
dates are reversed?) his service being authenticated by a copy of his discharge
from the ship in April, 1921. During the maritime years he also sailed on, S.S.
President Arthur, S.S. President Monroe, S.S. Saugus and S.S. Stonewall. Most often
his duties were as an oiler but a few times he also sailed as a fireman and once
as a coal passer.
His ports of call were, Palermo, London, Cherbourg, Bremen, Queenstown, Plymouth,
Constantinople (Hospitalized) and Gibraltar. The picture was taken at age 21 and
is still attached to his seamen's card, the four staples rusted by his perspiration.
His Maritime service ended in December, 1922 when his younger brother left home
leaving Joseph their Motherís sole support. He returned to Lima and soon began
working in the mailing department of the Lima News. The next 20 years was spent
pasting shipping labels on old sheets of newsprint for the bundles of the daily
paper shipped to surrounding cites. He also had other duties in the mailing department.
In 1930 at the age of 31 he married Velva Ferne Bly, a local 19 year old beauty
from Roundhead, Harden Co., Ohio. They had three children, Joseph, Jr. (me), Mary, and James.
In 1942 he was diagnosed with TB. After some six months in the VA hospital at
Dayton, Ohio, we packed up (1943) and headed for Phoenix, Arizona, the hope being
the hot dry air world help him fight the disease. Mom was unable to find suitable
employment there so, we went further West settling in Alameda, California. Dad
was in and out of the VA hospital in Oakland, California from 1944-1946. He
entered the hospital in early 1947, remaining there till his death on 30 October,
1948. They found a cure for TB circa 1950. His daughter, Mary, became active TB
and was cured in 1952.
Dad is buried in, Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Francisco Co., California.
I went through the crew pages and noted none appeared to be from the 1920 era. I have
many of Dadís papers which, for his maritime years, consist of the discharge from
each ship he crewed on. With the information on the discharge papers I found copies
of the passenger/crew list for nearly all his ships on Ancestry.com, as well as some
ship histories. These lists gave me trip dates, ports of call, duties, and the wages
for each trip. He generally received $60.00 a month. I can take a guess Dad likely
crewed on the first trans-Atlantic crossing of the S. S. Steel Inventor."