George Blow served as a lieutenant aboard the ill-fated USS MAINE. He managed to survive the explosion, and later commanded the USS POTOMAC which was involved in the raising of the INFANTA MARIA TERESA. He commanded the USS VULCAN when during the ill-fated attempt to tow the INFANTA MARIA TERESA back to the United States.
George Preston Blow, son of Judge George Blow and Elizabeth Taylor Allmand was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1860. Perhaps his lifetime love of the sea was inspired by His great grandfather, Richard Blow, who had served as an officer in the Virginia Continental Line while his armed merchant fleet in Norfolk operated under letters of Marque from the Continental Congress in harassing the British during the Revolutionary war . Reportedly he was carried as a child to the roof of his father's house in Norfolk to watch the battle of the USS MONITOR and the CSS VIRGINIA.
He was enrolled in the United States Naval Academy at the age of 15 as a member of the class of 1881, one of the first Southerners allowed to matriculate after the War Between the States.
Shortly after his graduation he was a member of the volunteer crew of the USS PINTA on its controversial trip from Norfolk to Alaska around South America in 1883. He later served on the USS PENSACOLA under Captain George Dewey in the Mediterranean. In 1887 he was appointed navigation officer for the attempts to raise the treasure ship DeBraak in Delaware Bay.
In 1890 as aide to Admiral Brown, he was detailed to King Kalakaua of Hawaii during the king's fatal visit to California and was later knighted by Queen Liliuokalani (He was not authorized by Congress to accept the honor until March, 1897. The decoration was then forwarded to him by the Navy Department and was lost on the Maine - along with everything he owned onboard).
In 1893 he married Adele Matthiessen of LaSalle, Illinois.
He was assigned as a Lieutenant to the USS TEXAS in 1895 and USS MAINE in 1896. Surviving the explosion on February 15, 1898, he later commanded the USS VULCAN during the Spanish American War, in which he held the temporary rank of Commander and later of Captain. He was in command of the USS POTOMAC which assisted in raising the INFANTA MARIA TERESA, sunk in the battle of Santiago Bay, and later commanded the USS VULCAN, which was towing the Spanish warship to the United States when it was lost off Cat Island in the Bahamas.
During his naval career he also established the U.S. Hydrographic bureaus in Cleveland and Chicago and invented several naval devices including the depth-charge.
Following his resignation from the Navy in 1900, he served, until his retirement in 1920, as president of the Western Clock Company (Westclox -General Time Corporation), the Matthiessen & Hegeler Zinc Company, and the LaSalle Machine and Tool Company. In 1914 he purchased and restored to it’s original state the Nelson house at Yorktown, Virginia.
He was a founder and director of the International Chamber of Commerce, serving as a delegate to its organizational meeting in Boston (1918) and to its conventions in Paris (1919) and London (1920).
He died in Washington DC in 1922 survived by his wife and four children and was buried with the Naval Academy Class of 1881 in Arlington National Cemetery.
His grandson, Michael Blow, is the author of A
Ship to Remember - the Maine and the Spanish-American War.
William and Mary Quarterly Historical Magazine 2nd ser., v.5, pp. 300-10 Also 1st ser. v.4, pp. 275-76
Record of Service; 1917 C.W. Stuart, Superintendent of Naval Records & Library Hawaiian Royal Orders; Gordon Medcalf c1963, Oceania Coin Company, Honolulu, Hawaii
A Reporter at Large, The Treasure of the DeBraak; Paul Brodeur 8/15/1988, The New Yorker Magazine
National Cyclopedia of American Biography 1940
What it Ought To Have Been - Three Case Studies of Early Restoration Work in Virginia by Marilyn M. Harper, February 19, 1989
Great Georgian Houses of America; Architect's Emergency Committee, LCC 71-105663
A Ship to Remember - the Maine and the Spanish-American War ; Michael Blow. 1st ed. New York Morrow, c1992 [pp 95, 98-9. 114. 158-9, 168, 446]
Remembering the Maine by Peggy Samuels, Harold Samuels. Smithsonian Institute Press Publication date: April 1, 1995 ISBN: 1560984740 [pp 107, 197]