Kossuth Niles – Rear Admiral, United States Navy

Collapses While Reading a Book and Expires Before Aid Can Reach Him
First Enlisted In Army
Retired Two Years Ago After Long Service,
Which Included Two Cruises Around the World

NEW YORK, New York, December 7, 1913 – Rear Admiral Kossuth Niles, retired, died suddenly yesterday afternoon in Conder’s Bookstore in Twenty-Eighth Street just east of Fifth Avenue.  The Admiral lived at the Van Rensselaer Hotel, 17 East Eleventh Street.  He left his home after breakfast and it was about noon when he got to the bookstore.  A lover of books, it had been his habit to drop into the bookstore at frequent intervals and look over the volumes displayed there.

A. J. Conder, the proprietor of the shop, who knew him well, chatted with his customer for a few minutes, then the Admiral picked up a French novel and seating himself in front of a desk, began to read.  Mr. Conder turned to his other duties.  He was next attracted to Admiral Niles by hearing him breathing heavily, and saw that he had had half slipped from the chair, that the book lay beside him on the floor and that the officer’s head had fallen back.

A clerk summoned Dr. Sellening from the Hotel Seville, but before he arrived Rear Admiral Niles was dead.  The physician said death was caused by heart disease.  After the body had been viewed by the Coroner it was taken to the West Thirtieth Police Station, and Mrs. Niles and the Admiral’s brother, Colonel Lotus Niles, retired, who lives at the Army and Navy Club in West Forty-Third Street, were notified.  Later a representative of the Army and Navy Club called at the police station and identified the body.

Admiral Niles lived with his wife and his nieces.  The family left their Summer home, “Afterflow,” in West Holls, Winsted, Connecticut, about a week ago and came to the Van Rensselaer Hotel.

Kossuth Niles was born in Belleville, Illinois, on June 14, 1849, the son of Nathaniel Niles.  He was mustered into the military service in the One Hundred and Forty-Second Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, in June 1864, and entered the Naval Academy on September 23, 1865.  His first naval service was on the United States ship Sabine.  In 1870 he won his promotion to Ensign and was transferred to the Pawnee of the North Atlantic Fleet.  He served on her a year and after another year on the monitor Terror he was placed on land duty at Mount City, Illinois.  In 1872 he went with the Nicaragua Canal Surveying Expedition.  That expedition lasted into 1873 and upon its return Niles was made Master and went to the Torpedo Station and then to the Frolic on the North Atlantic Station.

The Admiral commanded the schooner Silliman on the Coast Survey and then the steamer Barataria.  He was serving on the Barataria when, in 1876, he was promoted to a Lieutenancy.  He commended the Constellation, which in 1878 carried the American exhibit to the Paris Exposition, and went upon two historic cruises around the world.  The first was in 1878-81 on the Ticonderoga, flagship of a fleet that went upon a special cruise.  His next trip around the world was a commander of the Louisiana.  He joined her at San Francisco, succeeding Richard Wainwright, who had just been made a Rear Admiral.

He saw service on the European Station and in the South Atlantic, and was on the Yantic in 1893 during the Brazilian Insurrection.  His land service included ordnance duty at the Washington Navy Yard and at Midvale, Bethlehem and Reading, Pennsylvania.  He was for a time assigned to the Lighthouse Department here and in New Orleans.

Admiral Niles was commissioned Commander in 1901.  His later service included command of the Bennington and the Boston on the Pacific Station.  He was promoted through the various grades and retired by statuary age limit on June 14, 1911, with the rank of Rear Admiral.

In 1873 he married Elizabeth Challenger of Belleville, Illinois.  He was President of the Naval Examination and Retiring Boards, a member of the Military Order, the Loyal Legion, the United States Naval Institute, the Army and Navy Clubs of Washington and New York, and the New York Yacht Club.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/06/1913


  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/18/1939

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