George M Colvocoresses

Biography of George Musalas Colvocoresses

Born in Scio, Grecian Archipelago, October 22, 1816. During the Greek Revolution the Turks invaded that island in 1822, and after narrowly escaping the massacre that followed, George with his mother and two young sisters were carried captives to Smyrna. Through friends in that city he was ransomed and sent in an American brig to Baltimore; much kindness was shown him by members of the Greek Relief Committee, and the story of his misfortunes excited the sympathy of Captain Alden Partridge, head of the military academy then at Norwich, who offered to receive and provide for young Colvocoresses as his son. Accordingly, he was sent to Norwich and his kind benefactor educated him in his military academy and secured for him an appointment in the United States Navy in 1832.

He was a passed midshipman in the Wilkes Exploring Expedition in the Pacific, 1838- ’42, and saw service in all parts of the world during his naval career.

He married Miss Eliza Freelon Halsey, niece of Captain Thomas W. Freelon, U. S. N., in 1846, and Norwich continued to be his home until 1863,

As lieutenant and second in command of the U. S. S. “Levant,” on the China station, he took part in the bombardment and capture of the Barrier Forts in the Canton River.

George M Colvocoresses
George M Colvocoresses

At the outbreak of the Civil War he was ordered to the U. S. S. “Supply” and promoted to commander; while in this ship he captured the “Stephen Hart” of Liverpool, loaded with arms and ammunition for the rebels. He was in constant service along the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico; blockading the coast of Georgia in the U. S. S. “Saratoga,” he conducted several raids into the enemy’s country, captured troops, dispersed meetings of rebels, and destroyed salt works and stores. For his zealous and efficient services he was twice thanked in general orders by Admiral Dahlgren and also received the special commendation of the Secretary of the Navy.

At the close of the war Captain Colvocoresses commanded the U. S. S. “Wauchusett” and later the U. S. S. “St. Mary’s” in the Pacific where he gave valuable protection to United States citizens in Valparaiso during operations of the Spanish fleet against the Republic of Chili.

In 1867 he was retired with the rank of captain.

His second wife was Miss Adeline Maria Swasey, of Claremont, N. H., a sister of Mrs. Alden Partridge. By his first wife he had four children

  1. George Partridge Colvocoresses,
  2. Franka Eliza Colvocoresses, wife of J. Denison Champlin, Jr., of New York,
  3. Eva Freelon Colvocoresses, married to G. E. Jones of Litchfield, Conn.,
  4. Ellena Seaman Colvocoresses, wife of Doctor Charles W. Haddock of Beverly, Mass.

Captain Colvocoresses was the author of a book called “Four Years in a Government Expedition” narrating events of the first scientific explorations made by our navy in foreign waters.

After his retirement from the Navy, Capt. Colvocoresses met an untimely death, as his body was found shot to death in 1872 on a busy street in Bridgeport, Connecticut, less than an hour before he planned to board a ferry to New York City. His death was initially reported as a murder by the New York Times, as a large sum of cash and bonds which he was carrying was stolen; however, his insurers later contested that his death was a suicide, as the bullet wound he suffered was conveyed at close range through his heart, without the bullet penetrating his outer garments.

The case remains unsolved to this day. Read more about it at the following location: Murder on the Map: The Mysterious Death of Captain George M. Colvocoresses


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