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U.S. Unincorporated Possessions

Contents Bajo Nuevo Bank - Baker Island - Howland Island - Jarvis Island - Johnston Atoll - Kingman Reef - Midway Islands - Navassa Island - Palmyra Atoll - Serranilla Bank - Wake Island


Bajo Nuevo Bank (Petrel Islands)

 
Map of Bajo Nuevo Bank
Population: Uninhabited 
(2007)

1634                       Reef first shown on Dutch maps.
1654                       Named Bajo Nuevo Bank.
1660                       Re-discovered by the English.
22 Nov 1869                Claimed by U.S. by James W. Jennett (also called Petrel Islands).
 8 Sep 1972                Bajo Nuevo is specifically not mentioned by U.S. in list of guano
                             islands renounced to Colombia.

Territorial Dispute: Claimed by Jamaica and possibly Honduras (until 20 Dec 1999); Colombia considers Bajo Nuevo Bank apart of the Providence Archipelago in the intendancy of San Andres y Providencia.



Baker Island

[US flag]
 
Map of Baker Island
Population: Uninhabited;
visited annually by US Fish
and Wildlife Service
Capital: None
(Meyerton 1935-1942)

1818                       Discovered by U.S. Capt. Elisha Folger of the whaling ship Equator,
                             named New Nantucket Island.
Aug 1825                   Re-sighted by U.S. Capt. Obed Starbuck of the Loper.
1832                       Renamed by Baker Island by U.S. Capt. Michael Baker. 
14 Aug 1839                Claimed for the U.S.
16 Aug 1857                Annexed by U.S.
1886 - 1934                Annexed by Britain.
 
2 Apr 1935 - 31 Jan 1942  Colonized by U.S. (under Department of Commerce to 13 May 1936).
13 May 1936                Formally claimed by U.S. (unincorporated territory).
13 May 1936 - 27 Jun 1974  Administered by U.S. Department of the Interior. 
 1 Sep 1943 - May 1944     Occupied by U.S. military forces (Baker Naval Air Station).
27 Jun 1974                Administered by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as 
                             Baker and Howland Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
 6 Jan 2009                Part of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. 

Heads of the Baker, Howland and Jarvis Islands Colonization Scheme (in U.S.)
Mar 1935 - May 1936        William T. Miller
                            (Superintendent of Airways Bureau of Air Commerce)
May 1936 - Feb 1942        Richard Blackburn Black            (b. 1902 - d. 1992)
                            (field representative Division of Territories
                             and Island Possessions) 

Island Leaders
 
2 Apr 1935 - 18 Apr 1935  Carl Summers                                            Mil
19 Jun 1935 - 19 Jan 1936  Abraham Piianaia (1st time)        (b. 1915 - d. 2003)
19 Jan 1936 - 18 Jun 1936  Herbert Hooper
18 Jun 1936 - 26 Oct 1936  Abraham Piianaia (2nd time)        (s.a.)
26 Oct 1936 - 24 Jun 1937  Albert K. Akana
24 Jun 1937 - 17 Nov 1937  Charles A. Ahia
17 Nov 1937 - 23 Jul 1938  Theodore Akana
23 Jul 1938 -  1 Dec 1938  Edward Mike McCorriston
 2 Dec 1938 - 20 Mar 1939  Bernard Akana
20 Mar 1939 - 10 Mar 1940  Louis Suares                       (b. 1915 - d. 1997)
10 Mar 1940 - 24 Jul 1940  Melvin Paoa                        (b. 1914 - d. 1987)
24 Jul 1940 - 25 Mar 1941  Karl Jensen
25 Mar 1941 - 28 Jul 1941  Ernest W. Rankin
28 Jul 1941 - 31 Jan 1942  Walter Burke
Island Commanders
 1 Sep 1943 - 1943         Edward A. Flanders
                            (804th Aviation Engineer Battalion)
c.1943                     W.J. Jennings
1943 - May 1944            ....


Guantanamo Bay: see under Cuba


Howland Island

[US flag]
 
Map of Howland Island Population: Uninhabited;
visited annually by US Fish
and Wildlife Service
Capital: None

(Itascatown 1935-1942) 

1822                       Discovered by U.S. Capt. George B. Worth on whaling ship Oeno
                             named Worth Island.
 9 Sep 1842                Re-sighted by U.S. Captain George Netcher aboard Isabella and renamed
                             Howland Island for the ship's lookout, Mr. Howland, who first
                             spotted the island.
 5 Feb 1857                Annexed by U.S.
1886 - 1935                Claimed by Britain.
30 Mar 1935 - 31 Jan 1942  Colonized by U.S. (under Department of Commerce to 13 May 1936).
13 May 1936                Formally claimed by U.S. (unincorporated territory).
13 May 1936 - 27 Jun 1974  Administered by U.S. Department of the Interior. 
 2 Jul 1937                Amelia Earhart left Lae, New Guinea, headed for Howland Island,
                             but is never seen again.
Sep 1943 - May 1944        Occupied by U.S. military forces (Howland Naval Air Station).
27 Jun 1974                Administered by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as 
                             Baker and Howland Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
 6 Jan 2009                Part of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. 

Island Leaders
30 Mar 1935 - 18 Apr 1935  Henry Theise                                             Mil
19 Jun 1935 - 19 Jan 1936  James C. Kamakaiwi (1st time)
19 Jan 1936 -  6 Aug 1936  Joseph Anakalea
 6 Aug 1936 - 26 Oct 1936  Killarney Opiopio                   (b. 1913 - d. 1977)
26 Oct 1936 - 25 Jun 1937  James C. Kamakaiwi (2nd time)
25 Jun 1937 - 16 Nov 1937  William Kaina
16 Nov 1937 - 23 Mar 1938  Charles Ahia
23 Mar 1938 - 30 Nov 1938  James Kinney
30 Nov 1938 - 21 Mar 1939  William Tavares
21 Mar 1939 - 10 Jun 1939  Eugene Burke
10 Jun 1939 - 12 Oct 1939  Thomas McCorriston
12 Oct 1939 -  9 Mar 1940  Francis Stillman
 9 Mar 1940 - 23 Jul 1940  Edward Mike McCorriston
23 Jul 1940 - 27 May 1941  Louis Suares                        (b. 1915 - d. 1997)
27 May 1941 - 31 Jan 1942  Thomas W. Bederman
Island Commanders

Sep 1943 - May 1944        ....



Jarvis Island

[US flag]
 
Map of Jarvis Island
Population: Uninhabited;
visited annually by US Fish
and Wildlife Service
Capital: None
(Millersville 1935-1942) 

21 Aug 1821                Discovered by U.K. Capt. Brown in the Eliza Francis, who named
                             it Jarvis Island for the owner of the vessel.
28 Oct 1856                Claimed for U.S.
27 Feb 1858                Annexed by U.S.
 3 Jun 1889                Annexed by Britain.
25 Mar 1935 -  9 Feb 1942  Colonized by U.S. (under Department of Commerce to 13 May 1936).
13 May 1936                Formally claimed by U.S. (Javis Island)(unincorporated territory).
13 May 1936 - 27 Jun 1974  Administered by U.S. Department of the Interior.
 1 Jul 1957 - 31 Dec 1958  Occupied by U.S. scientists during International 
                             Geophysical Year (IGY).
27 Jun 1974                Administered by Department of Interior under Fish & Wildlife Service
                             as Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge.
 6 Jan 2009                Part of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. 

Island Leaders
25 Mar 1935 - 22 Apr 1935  Austin Collins                                          Mil
15 Jun 1935 - 15 Jan 1936  Henry Ahia (1st time)
15 Jan 1936 - 19 Jun 1936  Edward Young
19 Jun 1936 - 30 Jul 1936  Henry Ahia (2nd time)
30 Jul 1936 - 18 Jan 1937  Solomon Kalama
18 Jan 1937 - 31 Oct 1937  Joseph Kim
31 Oct 1937 -  8 Aug 1938  Albert Akana
 8 Aug 1938 - 11 Dec 1938  Alexander Wong
11 Dec 1938 - 30 Mar 1939  Francis Lee
30 Mar 1939 - 15 Jun 1939  George Akana
15 Jun 1939 -  1 Aug 1940  James Kinney
 1 Aug 1940 - Nov 1941     Henry K. Lee
Nov 1941 -  9 Feb 1942     Karl E. Jensen
Station Chief for IGY

1957 - Nov 1958            Otto H. Hornung                       (d. 1958)



Johnston Atoll
[Unofficial Flag of
                    Johnston Atoll]
               Adopted 2 Nov 2001 Unofficial
Map of Johnston Atoll
Population: Uninhabited

 2 Sep 1796                U.S. brig Sally, commanded by Joseph Pierpoint, grounded on a shoal
                             near Johnston Island, but gave no name to the land.
10 Dec 1807                Re-discovered by U.K. Capt. Charles J. Johnston on HMS Cornwallis,
                             named Johnston Island.
19 Mar 1858                Claimed by U.S. (unincorporated territory).
19 Jun 1858                Claimed by Kingdom of Hawaii (Kalama Island).
27 Jul 1858                Annexed by U.S.; re-annexed by Hawaii (not recognized by U.S.).
12 Aug 1898                Hawaii under U.S. rule; Johnston remains separate.
29 Jul 1923                Administered by U.S. Department of Agriculture as a bird refuge.
29 Dec 1934 -  1 Jul 1948  Administered by U.S. Navy Department, subject to Department of
                             Interior.

15 Aug 1941 - 13 Jun 1947  Naval Air Station Johnston Island (from Feb 1947, Naval Air Facility
                             Johnston Island) 
 1 Jul 1948                Administered by U.S. Air Force Department (Johnston Island Air Force
                             Base).
 1 Jul 1973                Administered by the U.S. Defense Nuclear Agency (later called
                             Defense Threat Reduction Agency).
30 Jun 1990 - 12 Apr 2001  U.S. Army Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS).
 1 Oct 1999 -  1 Jan 2004  Administered by U.S. Air Force.
 1 Jan 2004                Island turned over to Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife
                             Service as Johnston Atoll Wildlife Refuge; in the interim Johnston
                             Atoll and the three-mile Naval Defensive Sea around it remain under
                             the jurisdiction and administrative control of U.S. Air Force.
 6 Jan 2009                Part of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. 


Island Commanders
 9 Nov 1939 - 1941         .... 
 7 Dec 1941 - 1942         Francis B Loomis
1942 - Nov 1942            James Marvin Masters               (b. 1911 - d. 1988)
Nov 1942 - Jul 1943        Richard P. Ross, Jr.
Jul 1943 - Mar 1944        Bruce T. Hemphill
Mar 1944 - 1944            August F. Penzold, Jr.             (b. 1913 - d. 1980)
c.1948 - c.1949            Thomas L. Wiper
1950s                      Jack L. Bentley
1944 - 2000                ....
2000 - 2001                James L. Pasquino
c.2002                     Timothy Bridges
  5 Aug 2003 - 200.        Mark Hostetter 
200. - 2004                Eric Sassi



Kingman Reef

[US flag]
 
Map of Kingman Reef
Population: Uninhabited

14 Jun 1798                Discovered by U.S. Capt. Edmund Fanning (Dangerous Reef).
29 Nov 1853                Re-sighted by U.S. Capt. W.E. Kingman.
18 Aug 1856                Claimed by U.S. (Danger Reef)
10 May 1922                Annexed by U.S. (Kingman Reef)(unincorporated territory). 
29 Dec 1934                Administered by U.S. Navy Department.
18 Jan 2001                Administered by Department of Interior under Fish & Wildlife Service
                             as Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge.
 6 Jan 2009                Part of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. 



Midway Islands
[Midway Islands
                    (U.S.) unofficial flag]
          Adopted 29 May 2000 Unofficial
Map of Midway Island
Population: 40 US Fish and
 Wildlife Service staff

 8 Jul 1859                Discovered by U.S. Capt. N.C. Middlebrooks, though he was most
                             commonly known as Capt. Brooks, of the sealing ship Gambia.
                             Islands named the "Middlebrook Islands" or the "Brook Islands.
28 Aug 1867                Annexed for U.S. by Capt. William Reynolds on U.S.S. Lackawanna,
                             the name changed to "Midway" some time after this
                             (unincorporated territory).
20 Jan 1903                U.S. Navy Department assumes control and names the Commercial Pacific
                             Cable Company as island custodians on 20 Jun 1903.
1904 - 1908                U.S. Marine detachment garrisons Midway to protect the cable
                             station.
27 Mar 1940 - 31 Oct 1996  Administered by U.S. Navy Department.
 1 Aug 1941                U.S. Naval Air Station Midway
 4-6 Jun 1942              Battle of Midway, attempted Japanese invasion.
29 Jul 1942                U.S. Naval Operating Base Midway Islands
 6 Jun 1950 - Sep 1950     Naval base inactivated, only Commercial Pacific Cable remains.
31 Dec 1952                Commercial Pacific Cable turns over assets to Navy.
13 Jan 1969                U.S. Naval Facility Midway Island
Oct 1978 - 30 Sep 1993     U.S. Naval Air Facility Midway Island
22 Apr 1988                Midway Atoll is designated as an overlay National Wildlife Refuge.
30 Sep 1993                Naval Air Facility Midway is operationally closed, last U.S. Navy
                             personnel depart 30 Jun 1997.
31 Oct 1996                Administered by the Department of Interior under U.S. Fish & Wildlife
                             Service as Midway Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Superintendents of the Commercial Pacific Cable Station
29 Apr 1903 - 1906?        Benjmin W. Colley 
1906 - 1921                Daniel Morrison
1921 - 27 Mar 1940         ....
 6 Jun 1950 - Sep 1950     ....
Island Commanders

27 Mar 1940 - 1940         D.B. Ventries (officer in charge)
Jun 1940 - Jul 1940        Samuel G. Taxi                     (b. 1909 - d. 1984)
Jul 1940 - 29 Sep 1940     Kenneth W. Benner
29 Sep 1940 - 14 Feb 1941  Harold C. Roberts                  (d. 1945) 
14 Feb 1941 - 1941         Robert H. Pepper                   (b. 1895 – d. 1968)
1941 -  1 Aug 1941         Bert A. Bone 
 1 Aug 1941 - 1942         Cyril Thomas Simard                (b. 1859 – d. 1976)
1942 - 30 Jun 1997         ....



Navassa Island

[Unofficial Flag of Navasa
                  Island]
             Adopted  7 Dec 2001 Unofficial
 
Map of Navassa Island
Population: Uninhabited;
note: transient Haitian fishermen  and others camp
on the island

1504                       Discovered by Spanish explorers, named Isla de Navaza.
18 Nov 1857                Claimed for U.S. by Capt. Peter Duncan (Navassa Island)
                             (unincorporated territory).
1903 - 1917                Dependency of U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
17 Jan 1916                U.S. government formally reasserts sovereignty.
1917                       Administered by U.S. Coast Guard.
16 Jan 1997                Administered by U.S. Department of Interior. 
 3 Dec 1999                Administered by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as
                             Navassa Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Territorial Dispute: Claimed by Haiti, source of subsistence fishing. 



Palmyra Atoll

[Reconstructed World War II Flag of
                            Palmyra Atoll]
                1941 - 1947 Unofficial

Palmyra Atoll
                            (U.S. Minor Outlying Islands) Unofficial
                            flag]
           from 7 Dec 2001 Unofficial

Map of Palmyra Atoll
Population: 4 - 20 Nature Conservancy staff and
US Fish and Wildlife staff

13 Jun 1798                Probably sighted by U.S Capt. Edmund Fanning aboard the Betsy.
 7 Nov 1802                Discovered by U.S. Capt. Sawle aboard U.S.S. Palmyra, named
                             Palmyra Island.
15 Sep 1840                Visited by U.S. Capt. Scott aboard the Samarang.
19 Oct 1859                Gerrit P. Judd landed from the brig Josephine and laid claim to
                             Palmyra for the American Guano Co., for which he was agent.
                             Apparently this claim never was recognized at Washington and no
                             guano was dug.
15 Apr 1862                Claimed for Kingdom of Hawaii by Capt. Zenas Bent.
18 Jun 1862                Annexed by Kingdom of Hawaii
1889                       Commander Nichols of the British ship HMS Cormorant claimed Palmyra
                             for the United Kingdom, unaware of the prior claim by Hawaii.
12 Aug 1898                Palmyra annexed to the U.S. along with the overall annexation of
                             the Hawaiian Islands.
14 Jun 1900                Part of the U.S. Territory of Hawaii.
30 Apr 1912                Judge Henry E. Cooper of Hono­lulu acquired title to the island.
                             He sold all but two islets to Leslie and Ellen Ful­lard-Leo on 19
                             Aug 1922 for $15,000. who establish the Palmyra Copra Company.
                             When Cooper dies 14 May 1929 his two islets (Home Islands) were
                             passed to his heirs.
21 Feb 1912                U.S. formally reaffirms American claim (as part of Hawaii).
21 Oct 1921                Reclaimed for U.S. by Admiral W.H.H. Southerland aboard the 
                             West Virginia.
29 Dec 1934                Administered by U.S. Navy Department.
Nov 1939                   Palmyra declared a U.S. Naval defense area, and all foreign, public
                             and private vessels and planes were prohibited.
17 Aug 1941 - 15 Feb 1947  Naval Air Station Palmyra Island (transferred to the Coast Guard on
                             16 Jan 1946).
12 May 1947                U.S. Supreme Court restores Palmyra to the Ful­lard-Leo family.
21 Aug 1959                Hawaii becomes a state; but Palmyra is excluded and remains as an
                             incorporated territory, administered by U.S. Department of
                             of Interior.
10 Oct 1961                Executive Order restated that the Secretary of the Interior was
                             vested with the civil administration of Palmyra.
20 Nov 2000                Palmyra Atoll purchased by the Nature Conservancy for about $30
                             million. The Conservancy manages the atoll as a nature preserve.
18 Jan 2001                Palmyra's tidal lands, submerged lands, and surrounding waters out to
                             12 nautical miles from the water's edge declared as a National
                             Wildlife Refuge under the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
                            (Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge).
Mar 2003                   The Nature Conservancy conveyed 416 acres of the emergent land of
                             Palmyra to the U.S. to be included in the refuge. It subsequently
                             added 28 more acres to the conveyance.
 6 Jan 2009                Part of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. 


Island Commanders

1940 - Oct 1941            ....
Oct 1941 - Jul 1942        William C. Van Ryzin               (b. 1914 -  d. 2002)
Jul 1942? - Dec 1942       John C. Miller(?)
1942 - 15 Feb 1947         ....



Serranilla Bank

 
Map of Serranilla Bank
Population: Uninhabited  

1510                       Serranilla Bank first shown on Spanish maps.
 8 Sep 1879                Claimed by the U.S (located two hundred ten miles north 
                             northeast of Nicaragua).
 8 Sep 1972                Serranilla Bank specifically not mentioned by U.S. in list of guano
                             islands renounced to Colombia.

Territorial Disputes: Colombia has not directly claimed Serranilla Bank but is on record as considering the bank apart of the Providence Archipelago in the intendancy of San Andres y Providencia; Honduras may have asserted its own claim over Serranilla (until 20 Dec 1999); also possibly claimed by Nicaragua, Honduras and Jamaica.


Wake Island: see separate Wake Island page





 © Ben Cahoon