Dr. Benjamin Franklin Bache, a great grandson of Benjamin Franklin, and an officer in the United States Navy, for nearly sixty years, at his residence, No. 283 Henry street, this morning at five o'clock, after an illness of two weeks.
Dr. Bache was born in Monticello, Virginia, on February 7, 1801, and was in his 81st year at the time of his death. He was a grandson of Richard Bache, a Philadelphia merchant of high standing, and Sarah Franklin Bache, the only daughter of Benjamin Franklin.
His grandfather came to this country from England at an early age, and espousing the patriot cause in the War of the Revolution, gave his heart and soul to the principles advocated by the struggling colonists in the heroic contest for their rights.
Mr. Bache was finally appointed Postmaster General of the United States, which position he filled with credit and honor from 1776 to 1782.
Dr. Bache's grandmother, Mrs. Sarah Franklin Bache, rendered great service in 1780, when thousands of men in the American army were insufficiently clad, by supervising the labors of over 2,200 woman In providing raiment and clothing to meet the necessities of the footsore and wearied patriots. She also served at frequent periods in the hospitals, and by her fortitude and devotion won the praise and commendation of the Marquis de Chassellux, a French noble, then visiting America, who said that the ladles of Europe should take her as a model of domestic virtues and feminine patriotism.
Dr. Bache graduated from Princeton College at the age of 18 years, and from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1823, or four years later. He entered the United States Navy as assistant surgeon in 1844, and in 1828 was promoted to the rank of surgeon. He was fleet surgeon from 1838 to 1841 of the Mediterranean squadron; in charge of the Naval Asylum at Philadelphia from 1845 to 1847; fleet surgeon of the Brazilian squadron from 1848 to 1860; at the Naval Hospital New York, from 1850; to 1854 and director of the laboratory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 1855 to 1872. He was retired February 1, 1868, and in 1871 was appointed medical director with relative rank of Commodore.
It was while engaged in the laboratory of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in 1861, at the outbreak of the civil war, that his great knowledge as a chemist and his unquestioned and unflinching honor made him "a friend indeed in the time of his country's need. Discovering that the supplies and drugs then being furnished to the Government were poor in quality and deficient in weight, he undertook to reorganize the whole department. He met with the most determined opposition from many influential persons who hoped to profit by the nefarious schemes of the contract system, and such obstacles were thrown in his way as would have discouraged any ordinary man. But he did not flinch, anti when it was said that such a measure should be approved because it was favored by some authority, the stern old hero said that he did not care. He was in the service of his government, and he intended that as one of its defenders and agents, it should not be defrauded. Taking the samples that were furnished by contractors he analyzed them and compared them with those actually delivered, and finding in many cases that they were not as had been represented he marked on them "condemned," and thus saved the United States millions of dollars. The contractors seeing that they had a man of a high mold and type to deal with, relinquished after a bitter struggle their attempts to swindle the Navy Department, and the laboratory under Dr. Bache's administration became one of the moot thoroughly equipped and efficient branches in the United States service.
Dr. Bathe, personally, was one of the most remarkable men of his time. Quiet and modest in disposition he possessed a range of knowledge that was as surprising as it was striking. There was hardly a subject with which he was unfamiliar, and as a student, a chemist, a traveler and an observer, he was received in social circles everywhere with the most profound consideration. He was an exceedingly brilliant conversationalist, and could and did recite by the hour experiences and observations in his long and useful life, of the most engaging character. A mere fascinating companion it would be difficult to find, and one of the great secrets of Dr. Bache's magnetism was his versatility of genius. His company was agreeable to young and old alike and his presence never proved wearisome, but was like a perpetual ray of sunshine.
In appearance he bore a strong resemblance to his distinguished ancestor, and his side face was almost the counterpart of that shown in the best pictures of Benjamin Franklin.
Dr. Bathe was particularly severe in his detestation of shams of every kind, and never hesitated to denounce them without reference to person or position.
He leaves a widow and three married daughters, the wives of Drs. Bates and Bogert and Captain Charles L. Huntington, all of the United States Navy. His sister is the wife of Dr. E. R. Squibb, the well known chemist and surgeon, of this city.
His funeral will take place on Friday afternoon, at two o'clock, from his late residence, No 283 Henry Street. The Rev. Dr. Henry J. VanDyke will officiate.
This newspaper obituary was in the possession of Jean Marie Pergrin Starr, 5th-great-granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin, statesman, and 2nd-great-granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin Bache.