Letter From the Treasury Department on
The Career Of
Commodore Ellsworth Price Bertholf

US Coast Guard


For Immediate Release
Treasury Department, Nov. 14, 1921.

Death of Captain Commandant E. P. Bertholf,
U.S. Coast Guard, Retired.

On November 11, 1921, Captain Commandant Ellsworth P. Bertholf, U.S. Coast Guard, Retired, Commandant of the Coast Guard from June, 1911, to June 30, 1919, died at his residence at Bretton Hall Hotel, New York City, in his 55th year. His life had been full of activity and endeavor in governmental and marine affairs and his death was a severe shock to his host of friends in all walks of life. He was active and energetic until about ten days before his death.

Commodore Bertholf was born in New York City, April 7, 1866. He entered the Revenue-Cutter Service as a cadet on September 14, 1885; graduated and was appointed a third lieutenant on June 12, 1889. He has served through all grades of the Service, on ships stationed along various parts of the coast of the United States and Alaska. His most noted services have been in connection with Alaska. In 1897 he was a member of the relief party which in mid-winter made the famous over-land trip to Point Barrow, the northernmost point of the American continent for the relief of over two hundred American whalers whose vessels had been crushed in the ice and who were reported to be in danger of starvation. For the heroism displayed on this occasion Congress voted him a gold medal.

In the winter of 1901, the then Lieutenant Bertholf made, at the request of the Bureau of Education, a trip across northern Siberia by sledge for the purpose of purchasing a new herd of reindeer for use of the natives in Northern Alaska.

He was appointed captain commandant of the United States Revenue-Cutter Service on June 19, 1911, and reappointed to the same office in January, 1916 (then the Coast Guard), by President Wilson. He served as one of the American delegates to the International Conference on Safety at Sea, held in London in 1912. Under Commodore Bertholf's administration and largely due to his efforts, the Coast Guard was created in 1915 by the combination of the then existing Life-Saving Service and Revenue-Cutter Service. In addition to his duties as captain commandant of the Coast Guard, Commodore Bertholf also served as chairman of the Inter-Departmental Board on International Ice Observation and Patrol in the North Atlantic, and of the Board on Anchorage and Movements of Vessels.

During the World War Captain Commandant Bertholf held the temporary rank of Commodore. Upon his retirement as Commandant of the Coast Guard, he become one of the vice presidents of the American Bureau of Shipping and was a most active, influential, and important factor in the affairs of that institution, and made quite an extensive European tour for the upbuilding of this American organization in foreign fields.

Private funeral services were held at St. Matthews Episcopal Church, 84th Street and Central Park West, New York City, at 3 p.m., Sunday, November 13th, and interment made in Arlington National Cemetery at 2 p.m., Monday, November 14, 1921, with full military honors, and with the ranking officers on duty at Coast Guard Headquarters serving as pall bearers. He is survived by a widow and a married daughter, Mrs. Bernard Smyth of Orange, New Jersey.

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