St. Joseph Gets Maine's Bathtub
Urbana, Ohio, Too Aesthetic, so Relic of Ill-Fated Battleship Will Be Brought Here Now

St. Joseph now has a bathtub of its own.

The tub is no ordinary tub for the purpose of taking a bath but a hallowed relic. Profane hands shall not touch it except caressingly and it will probably never again be used for a bath. For the tub is the last relic of the ill-fated battleship Maine.

For thirteen years after the Maine took its plunge to the bottom of Havana harbor on that fateful day of Feb. 15, 1898, it rested in the hulk of the old battleship, awaiting the day when American patriotism would raise the vessel and rescue the tub. The day came and the hulk was stripped of everything that might serve in a relic. The navy department decided that the relic would be given to associations or municipalities which would pay the freight. The requests for them were prompt. Among the cities which applied was Urbana, Ohio. And Urbana drew the bathtub.

But Urbana Declined

But the tub didn't meet with the approval of Urbana. Its aesthetic tastes were offended. It wanted a six inch gun or a shell at least. But a bathtub; How ridiculous! It wouldn't look good on the city square and it might afford opportunity for some wise person to crack jokes at the expense of Urbana. So Urbana declined with thanks.

Yesterday the navy department announced that the tub was still available as a relic. The news tickled [sic] out over the telegraph wires. An enthusiastic reporter told Mayor Pfeiffer about it.

"Give me a telegraph blank, quick," said the mayor. "St. Joseph wants that bathtub." And to the navy department he sent the following telegram:

Navy Department, Washington, D. C.:

Having read in an Associated Press dispatch that a memento of the battleship Maine is available, I hasten, as a representative of the city of St. Joseph, to make application for the relic. Thanking you in advance for the memento, if we receive it.

C. A. Pfeiffer, Mayor.

Tub Given to St. Joseph

The thanks in advance did the trick. Capt. Leigh, in charge of the Maine relics, announced that he would stand by his pledge of "first come, first served," and authorized the publication to the world of the fact that St. Joseph had claimed the tub and the tub was St. Joseph's.

Six hours after his telegram had been dispatched, the news was broken over the telephone to Mayor Pfeiffer at his home.

"That's fine," said the mayor. "Now what are we going to do with it?"

He answered the question himself.

"Some day we want to have a museum in connection with the main public library," he said. "The bathtub will be a good thing to build it around. We will give the tub to the library and have it placed in the lobby until the museum has been provided for. The sooner we get a museum the better."

Mayor Pfeiffer will today write to Capt. Leigh for details as to when the tub will be shipped to St. Joseph. He may name a committee to receive it, and there may be appropriate ceremonies when it is installed at the library. The mayor hadn't decided last night.

The tub is the one in which Admiral Sigsbee, then captain of the Main, was wont to perform his ablutions. It is said to be the only one retrieved from the Main after she was floated and stripped before being towed out to sea and sunk again.

Source: St. Joseph Gazette, 17 January 1913, pp. 1-2

Mayor Pfeiffer Was "Johnny-on-the-Spot" in Bidding for Memento of the Old Battleship Maine.

An Associated Press dispatch received last night advised that Rear Admiral Sigsbee's bathtub, a relic of the Maine, had been awarded by the navy department to St. Joseph, in compliance to Mayor Pfeiffer's telegram asking for it, sent yesterday morning. When the mayor was advised that the relic was to be given this city, he said it should be houses in the public library until a municipal museum is erected. The tub is now at Urbana, Ohio, and St. Joseph will get it by paying the freight on it from that place.

Source: St. Joseph News-Press, 17 January 1913, p. 2


We congratulate Mayor Pfeiffer upon the success of his rapid-fire effort to amplify St. Joseph's municipal collection of ancient, honorable and historical debris. We already have an assortment of reminiscent artillery at Krug Park. We have the Jesse James house of tragic memory. We have quite a number of quaint and curious street cars with flat wheels. But who enumerates? Now this collection is to be supplemented by a relic of distinction and uniqueness. You couldn't guess off-hand, in a year, what it is. A bathtub! But you know that already, having read about it in the news columns.

The city of Urbana, Ohio, came into possession, by some process unknown to the present writer, of the vessel in which Sigsbee used to take his tub [illegible] when he was on the ill-fated Maine. We imagine that Urbana had about the same experience with the Sigsbee bathtub that St. Joseph had with the Cogswell statue in Smith Park, but that instead of putting the tub literally under the hammer as we did the statue, Urbana turned it back upon the government, whereupon the government promptly appealed to the country. Mayor Peiffer [sic] saw the appeal, snapped it up instanter [sic] and now we get the tub.

As we say above, and with your kind permission shall repeat, we congratulate the mayor upon his Johnny-on-the-spotness. But what are we going to do with the tub? It won't harmonize with the cannon at Krug Park. Of course, the park board might create an extra park around it.

No doubt the mayor would like suggestions, and we submit that since there has been some agitation for a public bath, this historic tub might be made the nucleus of such an institution. It could be done. For didn't Nicholas Nickleby write a thrilling play around a property tub and pump for Mr. Crummles? And if a play can be written around a common tub such as Mr. Crummles had, then surely a bathhouse could be built around a special tub such as this one. Be that as it may, however. We repeat again, also with your kind permission, our congratulations to Mayor Pfeiffer. One doesn't get historic bath tubs every day, you know, any more than one gets dishpan bargains every day.

Source: St. Joseph News-Press, 17 January 1913, p. 10


We are glad to note that St. Joseph, Mo., is a wiser burg than Urbana, O. The Missouri city ought to be better, of course, because of the state of which it is a part. It rejoices us to know that things are as they should be in this respect.

For St. Joe has thankfully accepted a bath-tub gift at which Urbana turned up her Buckeye nose.

The tub is from the battleship Maine. It is a souvenir from that ill-fated vessel, and is to have a place of honor in the city of St. Joe, as other bath-tubs have in the homes of that town.

Urbana, with Ohio-like desire to want something unattainable, refused the bath-tub when it came to town, and declared for a cannon, instead. Blood-thirstiness is one of the numerous characteristics of Ohioans. It looked as though the bath-tub must go begging until St. Joe sedately offered to give it a place in the municipal boundaries and the public esteem.

So St. Joe, the frontier town—he home of Jesse James—he former head of navigation on the Missouri and all that this implied—t. Joe takes the bath-tub which Ohio's aristocratic old town refused. And Urbana, we suppose, will not be satisfied until a scowling old gun or a bunch of sabres is dumped at that place to indicate the tastes of the people.

We are of the opinion that St. Joe hath chosen that best thing. You can do a lot of good with a bath-tub that guns won't help you perform.

Source: Springfield Missouri Republican, 19 January 1913, 4

Following Council's Rejection of Bill Mayor Offers Suggestion for Parks

If the city council of St. Joseph is reluctant about accepting that Sigsbee bathtub, a Maine memento, why not advise the war department at Washington that the gift would be received providing that it may be used as a flower pot in one of the parks?

This suggestion was made yesterday by Mayor Pfeiffer, following the council's action in refusing to "O.K." a bill of expense for $6* incurred in shipping the tub to St. Joseph.

"The tub properly decorated with red, white, and blue flowers in one of the parks would be a fitting thing," said the mayor, "inasmuch as it is unlikely that the tub will ever again be used for bathing purposes."

Members of the council declare that the bathtub gift has already resulted in unpleasant advertising for that body and the city and they want to forget it as soon as possible. So Mayor Pfeiffer will tell the government that St. Joseph does not want the bathtub, because it has no use for it.

Source: St. Joseph Gazette, 5 February 1913, p. 3

*$6.00 in 1913 dollars is worth about $150 in 2018.

Declare That St. Joseph Already Has Received Unenviable Notoriety as a Result of Mayor Pfeiffer's Requisition of the Admiral Sigsbee Souvenir.

St. Joseph will not get Admiral Sigsbee's banacle-crusted bathtub … [some lines illegible] remembering the Maine. … over-whelmingly turned down Mayor Pfeiffer's plan to bring the historic [tub] to this place … introduced at last night's … a resolution formally accepting the relic. The resolution was taken … council's caucus yesterday afternoon, and the aldermen dropped it like a hot poker.

"I do not want my name … connection with this tub," … city father, who purveys … beef.

"The town already has received unenviable publicity on account of the mayor's effort to secure the admiral's … bowl," asserted a merry-faced alderman, who sells pianos.

"Newspapers in other cities say St. Joseph has at last awakened to their needs by going after the tub," said an alderman identified with the manufacture of harness.

"The barnacles inside the tub would scrape off the hide from the man who patronized it," opined a councilman whose specialty is livestock.

Councilman John Egli was … illness from attending the caucus.

As none of the aldermen would introduce the resolution, no formal … could be taken by the council … major's request for the tub, so it probably will remain in Urbana, Ohio until some other city asks for it.

Source: St. Joseph News-Press, 4 February 1913, p. 2

A Use for Sigsbee's Bath Tub

St. Joseph has secured the Admiral Sigbee bath tub, and now the old town don't know what in samhil to do with it. Has it ever occurred to anybody that it might be a useful article in which to take a bath?—Gower Enterprise

Source: The St. Joseph Observer, 8 February 1913, p. 4

Local Matters of General Interest

But our St. Joseph city council declares Sigbee's bath tub is not needed in making a cleaner and better city.

The council refuses to be clean -- it turned the Sigsbee both [sic] tub upside down.

The Sigsbee bath tub rejected by St. Joseph has been awarded to Findley, Ohio.

Source: The St. Joseph Observer, 8 February 1913, p. 5

Maine Battleship Relic Shown in Findlay, Ohio, for First Time

Special to The New York Times

FINDLAY, Ohio, May 30. -- Capt. Sigsbee's bath tub, taken from the Battleship Maine, after it had lain in the sunken wreck in Havana Harbor for many years, was shown to the public for the first time to-day in front of the court house, where it was viewed by thousands. On a future anniversary of the Cuban war, it will be dedicated and mounted on a pedestal at the approach to the building.

It had been expected that the relic would be dedicated to-day. Its possession had been the subject of much controversy between a number of Ohio cities, Findlay finally succeeding in obtaining the memento.

Source: The New York Times, 31 May 1913