The Leahy Display

The Franklin County Historical Society can proudly boast as the site of the finest display in the nation of artifacts and memorabilia, honoring the life and times of Admiral William D. Leahy. The general public is encouraged to visit the museum found on the grounds of the Franklin County fairgrounds in Hampton, Iowa. Leahy who was born on the outskirts of Hampton on May 6, 1875, was bestowed with numerous prestigious honors and titles, notable examples include:

  • The first Five Star decorated military commander in U.S. military history.
  • The first “Joint Chief of Staff” in U.S. history, as an adviser to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman during the turbulent times of WWII.
  • Governor of Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Ambassador to France

(Above) Admiral Leahy visiting his birthplace.

Since the formal dedication of the display on May 6, 2014 (noting Leahy’s birthdate within the area in which he was born) a large number of local individuals and travelers from all over the Midwest have visited Hampton to view the 14’ long model of the U.S.S. Leahy within the large glass case, the original manufacturer plate and ships bell from the U.S.S. Leahy, the Leahy White House desk, uniforms, awards, pictures and other items which have been procured from numerous government sites. The display also includes a flat screen television with a push button program relating the life story of Leahy, the history of the cruiser U.S.S; Leahy, and the story of the development of the entire collection found within the building.

(Above) The original manufacturer plate and ship's bell from the U.S.S. Leahy.

The committee involved with the Leahy project knew at the onset that this would be a continually developing and evolving public display, as additional information and memorabilia associated with Leahy would continue to surface. Among the most recent additions is a hand written letter by Fran Wullbrandt, a member of the Mallory family of rural Hampton, with her recollections that Leahy would be arriving in Hampton for a visit on June 6, 1944- the date of D-Day. In retrospect, we now realize this was done in an effort to mislead the Germans about any possible invasion of Europe at that time. Hitler and his forces felt an invasion of this significance would not occur at this time if Leahy was visiting the site of his birthplace, and was not at the helm in Washington, D.C. This is a great piece of history to add to the Leahy collection!

(Above) Admiral Leahy and Mrs. Ed (Effie Mallory)

Here is another example of the display. From his book, “I Was There” Leahy states: As I recall it, we were having breakfast in the Mallory home on June 6 when the radio brought to Iowa news that the invasion of France had begun. Great excitement prevailed. I suppose it was natural that they should ask me all kinds of questions. I told them as much as I could. -------- Throughout the visit in Iowa, I was particularly impressed with its agricultural wealth…..

(Above) The headstone of Admiral William D. Leahy at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.