Wednesday, June 17, 2015


MARC collection

Although the United States took over Guam on June 21, 1898, it did not install a permanent Governor of Guam until the following year when Navy Captain Richard P. Leary arrived on August 7 as formal Governor of Guam, appointed by the U.S. President.

During those 13 months, there was, for much of them, political uncertainty, if not chaos. The title "Governor" was claimed by some, imposed by others, and American naval officers passing through put in place one or two.

Coe was a Governor of this last kind. Louis Kaiser, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, was on Guam for some time and took issue with the Governor at the time, the Chamorro Don Joaquín Cruz Pérez (Gongga), who had been made Governor by a prior American officer passing through.

Pérez was supported by the Chamorro junta, or council, so Kaiser passed over the whole Chamorro leadership and appointed a non-Chamorro, William Pritchard Coe, sometime in July of 1899.


Coe was half-white, half-Samoan. His New York-born father had been rescued from a crashed whaling ship in Samoa and settled there, marrying a Samoan of high, chiefly status. William was born in Samoa and also married a Samoan.

Like his adventurer father, Coe traveled the Pacific and came to Guam, with his wife (and probably his children) just after the American capture of the island, according to Safford.


Coe didn't have the time to make a big impact on Guam as Governor, given that Leary arrived just two weeks later, in early August of 1899. Coe stepped down to give place to the first Governor of Guam appointed by the U.S. President.

Coe had bought land in Adelup and was postmaster of the island. He also acquired 24 acres in Tutuhan (modern-day Agaña Heights) where he ran a farm with many fruit trees. But his wife died while on Guam and he sold his land, packed his bags at some point and off he went. He died in 1909 in Davao, Philippines.

Here's a video about Coe's father and his descendants in Samoa, who are of high status due the Samoan mother's bloodline  :


  1. This is certainly ...quite interesting. So where or how does the PRITCHARD come in on his line?

    1. I have not yet come across any documentation that answers that question.

  2. Hi I descend from William Coe family my father William Coe 3rd we have a group on facebook.Debra Ann Coe/fazio

  3. Queen Emma came from my great great great grandfather Jonas who descended from the Coe family