I did some checking, but did not find anything useful. I searched the 1895-1899 cruise book, which includes the ship newspapers, for data on him. He does not turn up there (which means he did not play on the sports teams, be active in shipboard shows, or make himself otherwise notable).
Quarterly desriptive rosters were compiled, and they would list his age. These rosters are in the hands of the National Archives. Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia may have a copy also. Still...the pension records may be your best bet.
If you do find out he is related, we would really appreciate a biography of him to add to the Spanish American War Centennial Website. We look for data on OLYMPIA crewmen (I am also a member of the Living History Crew of the OLYMPIA).
As an oiler, he would have spent most of his time in the bowels of the ship. Oilers used to compete with each other as to who could use the least amount of oil on their watch and still keep everything moving well. Using too much oil meant that the machinery spaces would be filled with oil smoke, making these places even more unpleasant.
For an account of what it was like to be in the machinery spaces during the Battle of Manila Bay, check out http://spanamwar.com/Mbaytwitchell.html
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