George Preston Blow (1860-1922)

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Biographical Sketch

George Preston Blow, son of Judge George Blow Jr and Elizabeth Taylor Allmand was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1860. He was enrolled in the United States Naval Academy at the age of 15 - one of the first Southerners allowed to matriculate after the United States Civil War - as a member of the class of 1881. Shortly after his graduation he was a member of the volunteer crew of the USS Pinta on its controversial trip from Norfolk to Alaska via Cape Horn in 1883. He later served on the USS Pensacola under Captain George Dewey in the Mediterranean. In 1887 he was appointed navigation officer for the attempts to raise the treasure ship DeBraak in Delaware Bay. In 1890 as aide to Admiral Brown, he was detailed to King Kalakaua of Hawaii during the king's fatal visit to California and was later knighted by Queen Liliuokalani (He was not authorized by Congress to accept the honor until March, 1897. The decoration was then forwarded to him by the Navy Department and was lost on the Maine - along with everything he owned onboard). He died in Washington D.C. in 1922 survived by his wife and four children and was buried with the Naval Academy Class of 1881 in Arlington National Cemetery. After his death and in his memory, his wife donated a new gymnasium to William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia, now known as Blow Memorial Hall. In 1893 he married Adele Matthiessen of LaSalle, Illinois. In 1894 while awaiting assignment in Nofolk he patented a new pistol.

Blow Gymnasium at the College of William and Mary was named to honor George Preston Blow.

Materials in the Special Collections Research Center

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