In 1925 newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic carried the story of the ‘Old Man of the Sea’. about a Corkman travelling back from the United States to live with his sister in Newport, Wales. He was thought to be the oldest man ever to make the journey on the White Star Line- he also claimed to be a veteran of the American Civil War.
The Irish Times carried the story on 24th August 1925:
Patrick Ferris (99), an American Civil War veteran, returned to Liverpool on the White Star liner Doric on Saturday after an absence of 65 years. He intends spending the rest of his days with his sister, Mrs. Terry, 20 Agricourt street, Newport. Born in County Cork, and reared in Newport, the old man sailed from Liverpool for America in a White Star sailing ship in 1860. He served throughout the American Civil War as an artilleryman under General Grant, and was wounded four times. Mr. Ferris still receives a pension from the United States Government on account of his war services sixty years ago. (1)
Newspapers in the United States also picked up on the story. The Trenton Evening Times in New Jersey brought it to its readers on 21st September 1925 via the United Press:
LIVERPOOL. Sept 19. An American “Old Man of the Sea” is visiting in England today. He is Patrick Ferris, an American Civil War veteran, 99 years old, who says he “still feels like a boy.” Ferris served through the Civil War as an artilleryman under General Grant. He was wounded four times. He came to England to visit a sister in Newport, Monmouthshire. While enroute to England he came to be known among the passengers as “The Old Man of the Sea” as he was the oldest man on the ship’s records to have made the trans-Atlantic trip. (2)
On the passenger manifest of the Doric Patrick is listed as 88-years-of-age rather than 99. The former plasterer’s destination was recorded as being 22 Deane Street in Newport. I have been unable to track down his American Civil War records and it maybe that he served under a different name or under a variant of Ferris. (3)
(1) The Irish Times; (2) Trenton Evening Times; (3) Doric Passenger List;
The Irish Times 24th August 1925. Veteran’s Homecoming: Irish-American Who Fought in the Civil War.
Trenton Evening Times 21st September 1925. Man of Ninety-Nine Oldest to Cross Sea.
UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960