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At the time of the Fleet's visit in 1909, Smyrna was controlled by the Ottoman Empire with the city culturally split. It was an important financial and cultural center of the Greek world with most of the industry and schools being Greek. However the Ottoman controlled the region and looked upon the Christian occupation of this city with disdain, "Smyrna of the infidels." The occupation of Smyrna came to an end when the Turkish army of Ataturk entered the city on September 9, 1922, leading to the Great Fire of Smyrna with death toll ranging from 10,000 to 100,000.
The port was visited by the four ships of Third Division under Rear-Admiral Seaton Schroeder, Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio, and Missouri.
Through the Canal and into the Mediterranean
library of ephesus
Visiting Smyrna was an opportunity to visit the ancient Greek city of Ephesus. The site was a port for thousands of years but became prominent first with the Greeks during the 14th and 13th century BC. The Libary of Celsus, shown above, is one of the most popular attractions today with the facade resorted from the surviving block at the site. This card, as well as the cards immediately below, is part of the Frank Lesher collection that I have acquired.
Frank sent home a variety of cards from Smyrna including pictures of the City, ancient viaducts, and from the Greek ruins at Ephesus. His cards did not express much, but his letters did.
"The last two days have been freezing cold, but today is a more mild Spring one. The snow is gradually creeping farther down the mountain sides, and I can see it quite plainly with the naked eye. I make good use of the glass when we are coming into new ports or passing by Islands, such as the Island of Rhodes, which we passed on our way here form Beirut. I note Beirut is spelled quite differently by newspapers.
There is no monetary basis in Turkey. All sorts of coins of all nations being in circulation. The Turkish piaster is their coin on which they bare their values and is worth 4 cents, being small;er than our dimes. I have a good collection of money from every country which I have visited, which I think will interest you." (coins shown above)
Brown & Shaffer were on the Georgia and therefore had an opportunity to take photographs in Smyrna and Ephesus. The below set of cards show there travels will in Turkey.
views of smyrne
These two cards show the water homes in Smyrne. The cards were both mailed by M. J. Main, and shipmate of Frank Lecher on the USS Virginia. Both cards are dated Januray 14, 1909 and contain thoughts of home, "Very pleasant time. Quite cool. Leave here the 25th." "Thanks for the card of the old high school." M. Main
This is a card from Suez, mailed by Marine Corps Private W. R. Murray on the USS Virginia. The Virginia arrive in Smyrna on January 11th and departed January 25th, 1909.
This was probably the nicest find in the collection from Corporal Hawking of the USS Ohio, a card posted in Smyrne during the USS Ohio's visit. he writes, " January 24, 09, Dear Friend, Have had a very interesting time here. Wish you could visit this city. We leave tomorrow for Gibralter. As ever, J. H. Hawkins"