Charles A.K. Bertun Collection

Manuscripts Collection 216

Overview of the Collection

Repository: G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Bertun, Charles A.K. (Charles Anton Knutson), 1868-1967
Title: Charles A.K. Bertun Collection
Dates: 1897-1986 (bulk 1908-1959)
Extent: ca. 160 items
Abstract: Correspondence, logbooks, reminiscences, and other papers, reflecting Bertun’s career, especially his activities as captain of the steam yacht IOLANDA (out of New London, Connecticut) and friend of its owner Morton F. Plant, and friendships with F. Marion Crawford and members of the Russian royal family.
Identification: Coll. 216

Biography of Charles Anton Knutson Bertun

Charles Anton Knutson Bertun was born in Alesund, Norway, September 28, 1868, and died in Decatur, Illinois, June 6, 1967.

He went to sea at the age of 15, and was shipwrecked in 1885 on the Norwegian barkentine COURIER. He later became an American citizen in 1895, graduated from New York Nautical College and captained F. Marion Crawford’s yacht, EZRA NYE, an ex-Sandy Hook pilot boat, in the summer of 1896 from New York to Sorrento, Italy.

Bertun joined the American Line (International Navigation Company) as fourth officer, gradually working his way through the grades until he commanded the ocean-going steam yacht, ALVINA, owned by the company president. In 1903 he became Marine Superintendent of the line. A merger of the company with several others resulted in a general reorganization of personnel, and rather than taking command of small vessels, Captain Bertun became master of the steam yacht, VENETIA, owned by Morton Plant of New London, Connecticut. He then commanded the IOLANDA, built by Plant in 1908. In 1911 the vessel was sold to Plant’s Russian friend Mme. Elisabeth Teretchenko.

In August 1914 Bertun and the yacht were interred by the Germans in Trondhjem, Norway. Secretly chartering the yacht to the British Admiralty in 1915, he escaped from Trondhjem on the excuse of needing dry dock repairs in Bergen, and then delivered IOLANDA to the British in Southampton. After the fall of the Czarist and White Russian Governments in 1917, he went back to Trondhjem as United States Consul. At the end of the war, he went to England and took possession of the IOLANDA from the British Government. The owners later instructed him to sell the yacht to Camper and Nicholson.

From 1918 to 1929 Bertun ventured out on his own as a shipping/purchaser’s agent, and then in the commerical fishing industry, but he was not successful. In the Spring of 1929 he went to Wilmington, Delaware to supervise the building of a private yacht at the Pusey and Jones Yard. He worked with various state shipping and fishing interests until World War II. By 1934 he was married with four children, Charles, Anna, Dorothy and Kurt. In 1942 he supervised the construction of the S.S. CAPE HENLOPEN, and then became her chief officer. In her he sailed with general cargo from New York to Suez and back. Until May 1945 he commanded various vessels of the Merchant Marine, sailing in war zones all over the world.

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Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division

Restrictions on Use

Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.


Crawford, F. Marion (Francis Marion), 1854-1909
Plant, Morton F., 1852-1918

Corporate Bodies (Including Vessels):

Iolanda (Steam yacht)


Russia–Kings and rulers


Royal houses–Russia
Steam yachts
Steam yachts–Connecticut–New London

Document Types:



Shipmasters–United States

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 216, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

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Index to Personal Names

NOTE: The fraction(s) indicate the Box and Folder numbers where that particular reference can be found. For example, the researcher will find information about Edward C. Aldridge, Jr. in Box 1, Folder 18 of the collection.
Aldridge, Edward C. (Jr.) 1/18
Anastasia (Grand Duchess) 1/16
Athumney (Lord) 1/4
Ayer, ? (Mrs.) 1/14
Barnes, J.S. 1/4
Blake, A.N. 1/5
Crawford, Bertie 1/19
Crawford, Clare 1/19
Crawford, Eleanor 1/19
Crawford, Elizabeth Berdan 1/19
Crawford, F. Marion 1/1, 1/3, 1/19
Crawford, Harold 1/19
Dalgarno, ? 1/7
Dickson, ? (Miss) 1/14
Edward VIII (King) 1/4
Everidge, ? (Dr.) 1/14
Everidge, ? (Mrs.) 1/14
Ferguson, John 1/11
Gerstner, Anna Bertun 1/7, 1/18, 1/19
Grady, Frederic J. 1/18
Griscom, Clement A. 1/3
Grissom, Robert L. 1/7
Harrison, ? (Mrs.) 1/14
Healey, T.C. 1/18
Hegbom, Ole 1/7
Jett, R. Arthur 1/7
Joyce, ? 1/4
Malik, Nicolai 1/4
Malin, Lily 1/15
Marks, ? (Adm.) 1/4
Marshall, T. Keith 1/7
Martin, John Bentinck 1/4
McCarthy, D.F. 1/7
Menin, Abraham I. 1/7
Michel, ? 1/15
Ott, Frank 1/14
Paia, ? (Miss) 1/15
Phillips, S.H. 1/4
Plant, Morton F. 1/1, 1/3, 1/10, 1/14
Popoff, ? 1/16
Ramage, John T. 1/11
Rocca, Pietro (Signor) 1/19
Schilling, ? 1/15
Shackleford, John W. (Capt.) 1/3
Sherbatoff (Prince) 1/4
Shoultz, ? (Capt.) 1/7
Smythe, Augustine T. 1/7
Taylor, Moses 1/5
Terestchenko, Elizabeth 1/1, 1/3, 1/4, 1/10, 1/15, 1/16, 1/19
Terestchenko, Malin 1/15
Terestchenko, Michel 1/3, 1/5
Thomas, Norris M. 1/7
Wilde, Henry T. 1/19
Williams, Gray 1/7
Wilson, Percy 1/19

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Index to Corporate Names

NOTE: The fraction(s) indicate the Box and Folder numbers where that particular reference can be found. For example, the researcher will find information about Bethlehem Fairfield Yard in Box 1, Folder 3 of the collection.
Bethlehem Fairfield Yard 1/3
Bombay Yacht Club 1/14
Camper & Nicholsons Ltd. 1/5
Cox & King 1/10, 1/15
Galesburg Register-Mail 1/1
Imperial River Yacht Club 1/4
Intercontental Steamship Lines 1/7
International Mercantile Marine Co. 1/3
International Navigation Co. 1/3
International S.S. Co. 1/7
Lazard Bros. & Co. Ltd. 1/5
Lloyd, Decker, Williams & Knanth 1/7
N.Y. Nautical College 1/3
New York Herald Tribune 1/1
Pusey & Jones Shipyard 1/1, 1/3
Ramage & Ferguson Ltd. 1/11
Russian Imperial River Yacht Club 1/1
The Star 1/1
U.S. Coast Guard 1/18
U.S. Maritime Administration 1/18
Vick Chemical Co. 1/7

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Index to Vessel Names

NOTE: The fraction(S) indicate the Box and Folder numbers where that particular reference can be found. For example, the researcher will find information about the schooner ALDA in Box 1, Folder 19 of the collection.
ALDA (Schooner) 1/19
ALVINA (Yacht) 1/3
COURIER (Barkentine) 1/3
EZRA NYE (Schooner) 1/3
EZRA NYE (Yacht) 1/1
HERBERT L. RAWDING (Schooner) 1/1, 1/3, 1/7
IOLANDA (Yacht) 1/1, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/10, 1/11, 1/14, 1/15, 1/16, 1/19
VENETIA (Yacht) 1/1, 1/3
WILHELMINA (Yacht) 1/1

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Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.


Miscellaneous papers and correspondence; ca. 1908-1959
Box Folder
1 1 Newspaper Clippings (copies) re. Capt. Charles A. K. Bertun, and Schooner HERBERT H. RAWDING; 1943-1959
2 Drawing of Morton F. Plant’s house flag; undated
3 “Memo of Services”, Capt. Charles A. K. Bertun; undated
4 Letters re. Capt. Bertun’s attempt to obtain a reward for bringing IOLANDA into Southampton, Englad, in W. W. I; 1936 Jan 20-1937 Jan 7
5 Letters, re. M. Terestchenko’s inquiry into IOLANDA’s status, for Capt. Bertun; 1945 May
6 Small Notebook, “Particulars of Steam Yacht IOLANDA”; 1908
7 Letters and papers, re. Schooner HERBERT L. RAWDING and Capt. Bertun; ca. 1943-1949
8 Booklet, “Rules of the IOLANDA”; 1908 Jul
9 Notebook, “Practical Theraputics,” the use of various medications of the period, by Dr. Schyler Jacques; 1902
10 Memo’s re. chartering of IOLANDA to Mme. Elisabeth Terestchenko; 1911 Apr
11 Correspondence & related papers, Bertun with Ramage & Ferguson, re. outfitting of IOLANDA after World War I; 1916
12 Charts list of Norway, English & Irish Channels, and North Sea; undated
13 IOLANDA: speed table, and Southampton Clearance Certificate; 1919
14 Machine copies of letters from Morton F. Plant; ca. 1909
15 Machine copies of letters from Elisabeth Terestchenko; 1919-1920
16 Machine copies of letters from Anastasia, Grand Duchess of Russia; ca. 1912
17 Machine copy of obituary, Princess Iolanda di Savoia; 1986
18 Data regarding honorable discharge of Capt. Bertun; ca. 1945
19 Machine copies of letters (with transcriptions), F. Marion & Elizabeth Crawford to Capt. Bertun; ca. 1907-1912
Typescript drafts of manuscripts; 1896-1854
Box Folder
2 1 “The ALDA” (transferred to RF 504); 1896 Nov (43 pieces )
2 “Distress of COURIER” (transferred to RF 523); 1954 Jul (203 pieces )
3 “When the Kaiser Wanted to Call”; ca. 1935 (13 pieces )
4 “The Shanghaiing of the Mudhookers”; 1935 (22 pieces )
5 “Voyages of the IOLANDA” (incomplete); 1934 (161 pieces )
Volumes; ca. 1897-1915
1 Navigation log containing data for voyages by U. S. M. S. PARIS; U. S. M. S. ST. LOUIS; U. S. M. S. ST. PAUL, Steam Yacht, MOHICAN, Steam Yacht VENETIA, Steam Yacht IOLANDA; 1897-1898; 1897-1899; 1899; 1902-1903; 1905-1907;1908-1912
2 Logbook, Steam Yacht IOLANDA; 1914 Feb 20-1915 Apr 13
3 Expense book, Chas. A. K. Bertun, “Steam Yacht VENETIA, 1904-1907”; 1903
4 “Cashbook, Steam Yacht IOLANDA”; 1908 Jan-1911 Oct
5 Accounts, “Chas. A. K. Bertun with Steam Yacht IOLANDA”; 1911 Jun 2-1915 Jun 12
6 Daily log of work performed aboard yacht IOLANDA (MC 90.47-1); 1912 Sep 20-1915 Jul 30
7 Pay Ledger for Crew members aboard Yacht IOLANDA (MC 90.47-2); 1912-1915

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