Faustin E. Wirkus

Faustin Edmond Wirkus (born 16 November 1896, Pittston, Pennsylvania[2] – died 8 October 1945, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.[3]) was an American Marine stationed in Haiti during the United States occupation of Haiti (1915-1934).[4][5] He was reputedly crowned Faustin II, King of La Gonâve, a Haitian island west of Hispaniola, by Queen Ti Memenne of La Gonâve on 18 July 1926, and co-ruled until he was transferred by the United States Marine Corps to the United States mainland in 1929.[6]

Faustin II
Faustin Wirkus.jpg
King of La Gonâve
Reign18 July 1926 – 1929
Coronation18 July 1926
Co-monarchTi Memenne
Born26 November 1896 (1896-11-26)
Pittston, Pennsylvania, United States
Died8 October 1945(1945-10-08) (aged 48)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Burial
SpouseYula Fuller
Names
Faustin Edmond Wirkus
ReligionRoman Catholicism[1]

BiographyEdit

According to an official biography,[6] Wirkus was born in 1896 in Rypin, a small town located in eastern Prussia, now in Poland, however, numerous ship passenger lists (records of the U.S. Customs Service) show his correct birth place as Pittston, Pennsylvania.[2] He and his parents settled in Dupont, Pennsylvania, a coal mining community northwest of Wilkes-Barre, where he was raised.[6]

 
Location of the island of La Gonâve, west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Wirkus enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1915 and served in the 1st Advance Base Brigade in Haiti and rose to the rank of Corporal in 1918 then to Gunnery Sergeant in 1920.[7] During his service in the United States Marine Corps, he was promoted to a lieutenant in the Garde d'Haiti, commanding a squad of native troops on La Gonâve. After rescuing a young woman in trouble, he found out that she was Queen Timemenne of La Gonâve. He was welcomed by the population as Timemenne had told them how kind he was to her, and in part, due to the unusual circumstance that he had the same first name as the former Emperor of Haiti, Faustin Soulouque, later known as Faustin I ("Faustin the First"), who died in 1867. Somewhat bizarrely, the natives proclaimed him Faustin II in a Voodoo ritual[8] and he ruled jointly with Queen Timemenne for three years.[6][8][9] He became known for dispensing ready but gentle justice.[10]

Wirkus left the Marine Corps in 1931[11] as a Gunnery Sergeant. He returned to the Marine Corps in 1939 as a recruiting specialist where he rose to the rank of Marine Gunner.[7][12] In 1944 he was appointed an aviation gunnery instructor at the Chapel Hill, North Carolina Navy Pre-Flight School. He died at the Brooklyn Naval Hospital.[13]

In popular cultureEdit

Wirkus wrote an autobiographical account of his time in Haiti, with Taney Dudley and an introduction by William Seabrook, entitled The White King of La Gonave: The True Story of the Sergeant of Marines Who Was Crowned King on a Voodoo Island, published by Doubleday, Doran and Company, Inc. in 1931.[6][8] Seabrook also published Wirkus' account of the occupation in his travel narrative, The Magic Island.[14]

A 1933 featurette titled Voodoo produced by Sol Lesser featured Wirkus telling his story.[15]

Wirkus is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.[16]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Rowe, John Carlos (2000). Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism: From the Revolution to World War II. ISBN 9780198030119.
  2. ^ a b Faustin E. Wirkus. "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  3. ^ Fausten (sic) Wirkus. "New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  4. ^ National Affairs: Marine King - TIME
  5. ^ Marine Corps Institute (U.S.)., Leatherneck Association, Marine Corps Association Volume 62 1979 [1]
  6. ^ a b c d e Crumley, Beth. "Warrant Officer Faustin Wirkus: From "Breaker Boy" to King". Marine Corps Association and Foundation. Marine Corps Association, 2013. Archived from the original on 17 July 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Shadow box".
  8. ^ a b c Wirkus, Faustin E.; Dudley, Taney; Introduction by William E. Seabrook (1931). The White King of La Gonâve: The True Story of the Sergeant of Marines Who Was Crowned King on a Voodoo Island. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. (paperback: Ishi Press, 2015). p. 333. ISBN 978-4871872393.
  9. ^ Department of the Navy -Naval Historical Society Archived July 8, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Haiti; the politics of squalor, Robert I. Rotberg, Christopher K. Clague 1971
  11. ^ "Faustin Wirkus: For king and country?". July 2015.
  12. ^ p. 7 Cambridge Sentinel, Volume XXXIX, Number 9, 26 February 1944
  13. ^ United Mine Workers Journal, November 15, 1945
  14. ^ Renda, Mary. Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915-1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001, 4.
  15. ^ "Voodoo".
  16. ^ Faustin Edmond Wirkus - WARR OFF US Marine Corps. "U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006". Ancestry.com. Retrieved 30 July 2015.