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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRICAN AMERICAN " JOSEPH HALL BERRY " HE ENLISTED IN THE U.S. LIFESAVING SERVICE THE FORERUNNER TO THE U.S. COAST GUARD IN 1902 : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK GENIUS "

                                                     BLACK        SOCIAL          HISTORY












                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           JOSEPH HALL BERRY
PATRIARCH OF THE BERRY/COLLINS FAMILY RECORD OF CONTINUOUS SERVICE
Surfman Joseph Hall Berry,
USLSS was born on January
20, 1873, in Manteo, North
Carolina. He enlisted in the
U.S. Lifesaving Service, the
predecessor to the U.S. Coast
Guard, on February 1, 1902, at
29 years of age, serving at the
historic Pea Island North
Carolina station. Pea Island
station records show that prior
to enlisting, he served under
Keeper Richard Etheridge as a
“temporary surfman.” Dorman
Pugh, one of the crew
members serving under
Keeper Richard Etheridge
when the heroic 1896 rescue
of the schooner E.S. Newman
occurred, was also married to
his sister Angenora Berry.
Given the closeness of the
community and his own family
ties to the Pea Island Station
Joseph Berry was familiar with
the practice the Life-Saving
Service had of hiring locals like
himself who were experienced
farmers and fishermen.
Surfman Berry knew firsthand
the important role that the Pea
Island station played in the
community. He also understood the significance of having an African American crew assigned
to the station during his lifetime, once writing to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1939 after he
had retired asking for her help when it was rumored that station would be turned over to a white
crew. This photograph showing him sitting in a chair was taken several years after he retired.
The framed picture in the photograph is the only known picture showing him in uniform.
Shown also below is the letter he wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt on July 6, 1939 (appended to this
bio).
Surfman Berry served at the Pea Island Station for 15 years before retiring on December 31,
1917, after sustaining a work-related injury while helping to lift a Beebe-McClellan surfboat onto