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Remembered Today:

Harriet K. Kavanagh (US Navy Nurse) - what happened ?

Jim Strawbridge

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The Annual Report of the Surgeon General for 1921, U.S. Navy reported "Miss Harriet K. Kavanagh met her death under distressing circumstances at the United States Naval Hospital, Annapolis" but does not elaborate. Harriet was a member of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. Research tells me that there was a serious riot in Annapolis in June 1919 between white, navy men and black locals. This may have nothing to do with Harriet's death but "distressing circumstances" does not sound like an illness such as 'flu. Does anyone know?

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New York Times headline January 20 1921... log in/paywall

CONFESSES KILLING ANNAPOLIS NURSE; Negro Tells Now He Waylaid Her on Academy Grounds and Hit Her on Head.

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Jan. 19.--Breaking down after twenty-four, hours, of the severest kind of third degree and after his alibi had been shattered by detectives of the Baltimore city force, Henry Brown, mess attendant in the United ... View Full Article in Timesmachine »



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She was murdered by Henry A Brown (referred to as a "colored man"). It was thought robbery was the motive. He was hanged in Baltimore on 1st September 1921 according to the New Britain Herald of the same day FMP link


Further - Mr Brown was arrested by naval authorities and it transpires he himself was a naval deserter. He had been AWOL for 30 days from the training ship Cumberland at Annapolis.


Commander Edward Washburn was the lead investigator and originally two men (only 1 referred to as "colored") were being held for questioning. Whilst robbery may have been the attributed motive, Miss Kavanagh was still wearing a diamond ring when found at the base of Cemetery Hill at about 9.15pm. She died the following morning without regaining consciousness. Titusville Herald 17th January 1921.

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