Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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VAN BRUNT, Gershom Jaques, naval officer, born in Monmouth county, New Jersey, 28 August, 1798; died in Dedham, Massachusetts, 17 December, 1863. He entered the service as a midshipman on 1 January, 1818, served in Commander David Porter's Mosquito fleet against pirates in the West Indies, was made a lieutenant on 3 March, 1827, and rose to be a commander on 29 Nay, 1846, and commanded the brig "Etna" in the Gulf during the Mexican war, during which he participated in the expedition against Tuspan and the second expedition against Tobasco. He served as a commissioner to survey the boundary-line of California in 1848-'50, and was promoted a captain on 14 September, 1855. He commanded the "Minnesota," and took an active part in the reduction of the forts at Cape Hatteras and in operations in the North Carolina sounds and the blockade of Hampton Roads, where he saved his ship from the Confederate ram "Merrimac." He was commissioned as commodore on 16 July, 1862, and was retired because of his age on 28 April, 1863.--His son, Henry, architect, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 5 September, 1832, was graduated at Harvard in 1854, and studied architecture. For two years during the civil war he served in the navy on the staff of the admiral commanding the North Atlantic squadron. He has practised his profession in Boston. Mass., and of late years in Kansas City, Missouri, while retaining his office in the former city. Mr. Van Brunt has occasionally written on subjects connected with his art for the "Atlantic Monthly" and other periodicals. He was the architect, in conjunction with William R. Ware, of Memorial hall (see illustration), the Harvard library, the Medical school, and the buildings of the Episcopal theological school at Cambridge, Massachusetts ; of the Conservatory of music, Stone hall, and the sanitarium of Wellesley college ; of the First church of Boston, St. Stephen's church at Lynn, St. John's memorial church at Cambridge, Grace church at New Bedford, and many other ecclesiastical buildings ; of public libraries in Cambridge and Dedham, Massachusetts, and East Saginaw, Michigan, as well as the library of Michigan university at Ann Arbor. He is at present a member of the firm of Van Brunt and Howe, architects of many mercantile buildings in the west and of station buildings for the Union Pacific railroad.
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