I came across a letter that the American consul in Batavia (now Jakarta) sent to the US secretary of state in 1902 to seek approval for spending $16.06 to pay for the passage of four destitute Americans to Singapore.


The four men had served in the US military in the Philippines and had then been (apparently honorably) discharged.


According to their sworn deposition, they went to Singapore to find a ship bound for the US. Unable to find one, they were told that there were steamers leaving Java for the US, so the went to Batavia.


However when they got to Batavia they could not find a ship and ran out of money.

The consul said in his letter to the secretary of state, “The [four] men in question had spent their last dollar, had sold all their clothes but what they stood in and were in a most pitiful state, therefore under the circumstances and considering the unhealthy state of the place at the present time, I considered myself justified in assisting these men to leave the place.”

In mentioning the “unhealthy state of the place at the present time,” the consul was referring to the fact that there had recently been an outbreak of cholera in Batavia.


So that’s great that these guys got a free trip to Singapore, but. . . I wonder what happened to them after that.