David Y. Taylor Papers

1942-1943, undated
Manuscript Collection #1196
Creator(s)
Taylor, David Y.
Physical description
0.45 Cubic Feet, 1 container, 141 items, consists of photographic prints and a leatherbound photograph album cover
Preferred Citation
David Y. Taylor Papers (#1196), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA
Repository
ECU Manuscript Collection
Access
No restrictions

Papers (April 1942 – April 1943, undated) consisting mainly of photographic prints originally belonging to a photograph album compiled by David Y. Taylor, documenting progress on several troubled U.S. Navy construction project contracts to build shipyards and ship repair facilities in the vicinity of Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia; including contracts awarded to Charleston Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, the Clifford F. MacEvoy Company, the Savannah Machine & Foundry Company, and to its Shipbuilding Division; including projects to construct plant facilities, dry docks and floating dry docks, caissons, retaining walls, coffer dams, graving docks, piers, wharfs, pilings, and bulkheads, etc.; the photographs also show work crews, including racially integrated crews, and equipment, including: railroads, docks, buildings, trucks, cranes, and pile drivers; also including the leather-bound front cover of the original photograph album.


Biographical/historical information

David Y. Taylor who created the photograph album was a U. S. Naval Officer whose job it apparently was, in 1942 – 1943, to observe and to document progress on troubled naval construction contracts in Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. Little is known of him, except that he later served in the "Seabees" as Officer in Charge of the 112th U. S. Naval Construction Battalion, at Port Hueneme, California beginning on 13 January 1944. Within weeks, the unit departed for service in Hawaii, Tinian, and Okinawa where it remained until the war ended.

Charleston Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Charleston, South Carolina began operations, in 1869 as Samuel J. Pregnall & Brothers (aka Pregnall Shipyard). It gained a reputation building schooners and steamers but went out of business in 1912. However, the shipyard reopened almost immediately under new management as Valk & Murdoch Iron Works. In 1919, they renamed the firm Charleston Dry Dock & Machine Company.

Between 1934 and 1936, the owners twice renamed and reorganized the company as Charleston Dry Dock Company (1934) and then as Charleston Dry Dock & Shipbuilding Company (1936). During World War II, the company won a contract for naval construction but ran into trouble fulfilling the provisions. The Navy quickly took over the yard, in 1942, and renamed it Charleston Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company. The photographs in the David Y. Taylor Photograph Album date from the period when the Navy had control of the firm.

When the war ended, the Navy leased the facility as a repair yard. Subsequently several different firms operated the yard. Since the 1997, the site has served as a public facility known as the Charleston Maritime Center, a marina and a venue for waterfront events, hosting weddings, and other social occasions.

The Clifford F. MacEvoy Company was an offshoot of the MacEvoy Company of Newark, New Jersey, which was known for constructing housing projects. The company's shipyard was in Port Wentworth, about seven miles above Bull Street, in Savannah.

In November 1941, with steel in short supply due to the war, the U.S. Maritime Commission awarded the MacEvoy Shipbuilding Company a contract with to build concrete oil tankers expected to value about $60 million in the first year. The concrete oil tankers were actually 360-foot long 54 foot wide barges. The barges weighed approximately 6,000 tons each and could carry 15,000 tons of oil. Like river barges, they had no engines but required tows in order to relocate. Unlike river barges, the concrete barges looked like real, full-sized, ships. During World War II, the concrete barges found many uses beyond oil shipping and storage. Some served during the D-Day Normandy invasion as part of the Mulberry harbor breakwater system; others carried fuel and munitions; some served floating bridges. They proved especially useful during the island-hopping campaigns in the Pacific. During 1944 – 1945, they helped support many of the American landings. Not only did they carry fuel, water, and munitions to the warfronts; when supplied with refrigeration equipment, they could transport fresh frozen foods directly to the troops at the front.

While the original contract called upon MacEvoy to build twenty-three of the concrete barges, the company managed to build only seven, Nos. 6-12, between January 1943 and June 1944. The company launched the first barge in May 1943. However, shortly thereafter, President Clifford MacEvoy came under investigation for fraud and negligence in connection with the contract and the Navy reduced the MacEvoy contract in June 1943. Ironically, the company earned an Army-Navy "E" "for outstanding performance in war work" in the same month. In November 1943, the company cancelled the whole barge building enterprise.

When World War II began, the Savannah Machine & Foundry Company had a well-established reputation for ship repairs in Savannah. Their shipyard was located on Randolph Street and had a small adjacent railway spur line (aka Mingledorff's Yard).

In 1941, in order to take advantage of the Navy's need for wartime shipping, the president, W. Lee Mingledorff, Sr. established a shipbuilding division for the company located on Lathrop Avenue, west of the city on 18 acres of land along Savannah River owned by the Navy. Subsequently, the Navy awarded Savannah Machine & Foundry Company a contract to build minesweepers for the Navy. In early 1942, Navy awarded additional contracts raising the total value to $20 million. In addition, the Navy agreed to enlarge the shipyard by adding a third shipway and a 475-foot graving dock, or dry dock (completed in 1943). The graving dock allowed the Savannah yard to repair larger, more important ships. At its peak, the shipyard had between 2,800 and 3,300 workers. It was the only such facility south of Newport News, Virginia. This was the main project documented in the David Y. Taylor Papers.

In June 1942, the company launched its first minesweeper, the U.S.S. SYMBOL. Notably, this was the first naval ship built in Savannah since the Civil War and the first ship launched in Savannah during World War II. Between June 1942 and June 1946, the company launched 24 additional minesweepers for the U. S. Navy, including Auk-class minesweepers and Admirable-class minesweepers. They also built a series of 4 submarine rescue ships before the end of the Navy contracts. As the shipbuilding contracts expired, the shipyard began to manufacture other metal products, including girders and trusses.

In 1971, the company changed its name to Savannah Machine and Shipyard. In 1980 it became the Savannah Shipyard Company and in 1985, the Sayler Marine Corporation took over the Savannah Machine and Foundry site.

Sources:

112th Naval Construction Battalion. 112th Naval Construction Battalion Historical Information. https://www.history.navy.mil/content/dam/museums/Seabee/UnitListPages/NCB/112%20NCB.pdf

Charleston Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Charleston SC (28 July 2018). http://shipbuildinghistory.com/shipyards/small/charleston.htm

Clifford F. MacEvoy Company World War II on the Savannah Waterfront – MacEvoy Shipbuilding Company City of Savannah, Research Library and Municipal Archives Prepared by L. Spracher, 29 August 2008. World War II on the Savannah Waterfront – MacEvoy Shipbuilding. https://www.savannahga.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1793/WorldWarIIontheSavannahWaterfront_2008-12-17?bidId=

Savannah Machine & Foundry Company Ibid; see also: Savannah Shipyard Co. Records, 1940 – 1992, MS 1659, Collection Guide, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia. http://ghs.galileo.usg.edu/ghs/view?docId=ead/MS%201659-ead.xml;query=;brand=default

Savannah Machine & Foundry Company Shipbuilding Division Ibid; see also: Savannah Shipyard Co. Records, 1940 – 1992, MS 1659, Collection Guide, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia. http://ghs.galileo.usg.edu/ghs/view?docId=ead/MS%201659-ead.xml;query=;brand=default.


Scope and arrangement

The photographs document the work of the following companies & subdivisions: Charleston Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Clifford F. MacEvoy Company, Savannah Machine & Foundry Company, and Savannah Machine & Foundry Company Shipbuilding Division

The images are all Black & White and 8" x 10" and remain in original order filed according to contract. The photographs are generally but not strictly in chronological order. Most of the photographs display typed labels glued to the face of the prints. The labels identify the contract and the placement and direction of the camera. They sometimes provide a date for the photograph. Some of the prints also display nearly invisible markings, in the upper right corner of the print, indicating the date and contract. Some also have rubber-stamped notices on the verso indicating receipt by the "Office of Technical Inspector, U. S. N" or by "Office of the Officer in Charge, Civil Works Construction" with the date. All but a few of the photographs show glue residues on the verso of the print indicative of their original location in a photograph album.

The David Y. Taylor Papers are arranged in 4 Series according to Navy Contract:

Series 1: Charleston Shipbuilding & Drydock Company. Plant Facilities Contract Nobs-6, April 1942 – April 1943, undated is the largest series, containing 85 photographs Nos 1 – 85. The photographs are all 8" x 10" Black & White, photographic prints. All but a few of the photographs have typed descriptions glued to the face which indicate the location and direction of the photographic view. Series 1 includes photographs taken in various directions from several locations, including: South Carolina Power Company, Office Roof, Johnson's Tower, Building C or the Sheet Metal Shop, William Johnson Coal Company's Warf & Tipple. The photographs include work on the constructions sites including pile drivers, railroad cranes, floating cranes, dry docks and floating dry docks, and ships, including the yard floating dry dock, USS CHUWASKA (YFD-15) and other unidentified ships.

Series 2: Clifford F. MacEvoy Company. Caisson Gate Contract NOy-5752, 1942 – 1943, undated is the largest series, containing 18 photographs Nos 86 – 104. The photographs are all 8" x 10" Black & White, photographic prints. All but a few of the photographs have typed descriptions glued to the face however, unlike the other series, they do not indicate the location and direction of the photographic view. The views do, however, show crews working on the project, floating pile drivers.

Series 3: Savannah Machine & Foundry Company. Graving Dock and Pier Plant Facilities Contract NOd 1827, 1842, undated is the smallest series, containing only 3 photographs Nos 105 – 107. The photographs are all 8" x 10" Black & White, photographic prints. All of the photographs have typed descriptions glued to the face which indicate the photographs documented Number 3 Way, and the direction of the photographic view; they include a view of the storeroom extension.

Series 4: Savannah Machine & Foundry Company. Shipbuilding Division. Graving Dock and Pier Plant Facilities Contract NObs 9, 3 November 1942 – 1 February 1943, undated contains 31 photographs Nos 108 – 140; also the Photograph Album front cover embossed "David Y. Taylor" (141). The photographs are all 8" x 10" Black & White, photographic prints. All but a few of the photographs have typed descriptions glued to the face which indicate the location and direction of the photographic view. The photographs focus on the Number 3 Way, the Graving Dock construction, the ship fitters shop, the relieving platform and wet slip, the pumpwell, pilings, etc.


Administrative information
Custodial History

March 9, 2012, 0.33 cubic feet, 126 items; Collection (April 1942-April 1943) of 126 8" x 10" black & white photographs documenting the construction of dry docks, piers, wharfs and bulkheads in Charleston, SC, by the Charleston Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company and in Savannah, GA, by the Clifford E. MacEvoy Company, by the Savannah Machine & Foundry Company and by the Savannah Machine & Foundry Company's Shipbuilding Division. The photographs also show U.S. Navy vessels, railroad lines, dry docks, construction barges, cranes, etc., in the background. The photograph album containing the photographs is embossed on the front "David Y. Taylor." It isn't known what Taylor's connection was to the photographs, but in January 1944 he was the commander of the 112th U.S. Naval Construction Battalion based in Port Hueneme, CA. Purchased with state funds from Carmen D. Valentino of Philadelphia, PA.

Source of acquisition

Purchased from Carmen D. Valentino, Philadelphia, PA, 11/28/2011; Paid for with state funds

Processing information

Processing completed 4/29/2019 by Jonathan Dembo with assistance from Nathaniel King, John Leche, and Thomas Hall (intern).

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.


Related material

Savannah Shipyard Co. Records, 1940 – 1992, MS 1659, Collection Guide Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.