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James McQueen Forsyth
Rear Admiral, United States Navy
Born at Long Island, Bahamas, British West Indies, January 1, 1842, he came to the United States in September 1853. He graduated from Central High School, Philadelphia, February 1858. He married Mary J. Perkins, August 1, 1871 and was married a second time to Caroline A. Helfenstein, October 7, 1903 after the death of his first wife.

He went to sea as a Sailor Before The Mast, 1851-61, when he entered the Volunter Navy during the Civil War. He was appointed Acting Master's Mate, September 25, 1861, serving throughout the Civil War. He took part in the capture of Forts Clarke and Hatteras, August 27, 1861 and in engagements with Admiral Farragut on the Mississippi River. He was in the engagements with the rebel ram, Arkansas, and in actions against Forts Sumter, Moultrie and other fortifications in Charleston (North Carolina) harbor. He was promoted to Acting Ensign, September 5, 1862 and to Acting Master, August 1, 1864. 

He entered a competitive examination for the regular Navy and passed at number 23 out of 65 admitted out of 900 competing for positions. He was commissioned Master, March 12, 1868, and then promoted through the ranks to Captain, March 3, 1899. He was placed on the retired list, September 25, 1901 at his own request, after 40 years of service, with the rank of Rear Admiral. He had commanded at various times USS Tallapoosa and the U.S. Battleship USS Indiana. He also commanded the U.S. Naval Station at Key West, Florida, during the Spanish-American War. He was commended for efficient service while serving as Chief-of-Staff to Admiral J. C. Watson, commander of the Philippine Fleet, 1899-1900.

He died on August 3, 1915 and was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery. His second wife, Caroline Helfenstein Forsyth (1865-1932), is buried with him.

Veteran of Two Wars Is a Victim of Paralysis

SHAMOKIN, Pennsylvania – August 3, 1915 – Rear Admiral James McQueen Forsyth, United States Navy, retired, died here today of paralysis. He was stricken six months ago and failed steadily to the end.

Admiral Forsyth was born in the Bahamas’ Islands in 1842, and removed to Philadelphia, where he joined the Merchant Marine.  During the Civil War he became an officer in the Navy in which he served until after the Spanish-American War, when he was placed in the retired list.  After his marriage with Miss Caroline P. Helfenstein of this place Admiral Forsyth made his home here. The body will be taken to the National Cemetery at Arlington on Friday for burial.

Admiral Forsyth went to sea on a merchantman at the age of 15, and in August 1861entered the Navy as a volunteer under Commander H. S. Stillwagen, who appointed him a second-class pilot on the Hatteras expedition.  After that he was with Farragut in the engagements from Fort Jackson to Vicksburg, the fight at Grand Gulf, and the battles with the Confederate ram Arkansas.  In September 1862 he became an Ensign and during the remainder of the war served on the Nyack, Water Witch, Pawnee and Nantucket.

In 1868 he entered the regular Navy as Master and served on a number of vessels.  He was Executive Officer on the Constellation during her Irish relief service in 1880.

 He was in command of the Naval Station at Key West when the USS Maine was destroyed. And took care of the survivors and buried her dead. At the end of the Spanish War he contracted Yellow Fever and was sent to the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia. 

In March 1899, he was made a Captain and commanded the cruiser Baltimore in the Asiatic Squadron, shortly after he became Chief of Staff at the Station.  He was transferred to the Brooklyn, his last sea duty being command of the Indiana in 1901.  Admiral Forsyth was retired a month later, having served thirteen years and seven months at sea and sixteen years and four months ashore.

Webmaster: Michael Robert Patterson

DATE OF DEATH: 08/03/1915

DATE OF DEATH: 06/03/1932

Updated: 16 May 2004 Updated: 23 September 2007

JM Forsyth Gravesite PHOTO April 2004
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 23 April 2004