Frank W. Stevenson was born on May 23, 1867 in Oakland, California. In his early years he trained to be a master plumber but at the age of 27, in 1894, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy at Mare Island. Because of his training as a plumber, he was appointed the Petty Officer rating of Ship's Plumber and Fitter and assigned to the cruiser Charleston bound for the Asiatic Station. After several years of cruising the Far East on the Charleston, he transferred to the U.S.S. Olympia on May 16, 1896.
With Captain Charles Gridley in command, Olympia flew the flag of Commodore George Dewey from January 3, 1898. The winter of '98 she lay at Hong Kong with the fleet, awaiting orders should war with Spain break out. On April 25, the day war was declared, the squadron moved to Mirs Bay, China. Two days later came the order which led to Dewey's immortal victory at Manila Bay.
Ships darkened, the fleet safely passed the harbor defenses, and engaged the enemy off Manila on May 1st. Dewey remembered, "At 5:40 when we were a distance of 5,000 yards, I turned to Captain Gridley and said, 'You may fire when ready, Gridley'". By noon Spain's Asian fleet had been destroyed with Olympia playing the leading role.
Olympia took part in the blockade and capture of the city of Manila and later supported operations during the early part of the Philippine Insurrection before returning to the China Coast on May 20, 1899. The next month she was underway for Suez, the Mediterranean, and Boston, which she reached on October 10th. Several days later the crew participated in a parade and celebration in New York where they proudly wore the new "Dewey Medal" which commemorated their participation in the Battle of Manila Bay.
Stevenson left the ship two weeks later and served on a series of receiving ships until joining the U.S.S. Solace in March of 1901. At this time the ship was busy carrying mail, passengers, and provisions from San Francisco to Hawaii and the Far East. Solace also participated in the China Relief Expedition of 1900-1901. Stevenson, however, did not join the ship until after its participation in the campaign, even though his obituary incorrectly states to the contrary.
Leaving Solace in October of 1905, Stevenson transferred to the store ship U.S.S. Celtic serving with the Atlantic fleet. In late 1906 and early 1907 Celtic supplied the troops taking part in the Cuban Pacification campaign. Stevenson left this ship in late February of 1907.
Most of the next 12 years were spent on a series of receiving ships on both coasts with the exception of several years spent on the monitors Cheyenne and Arkansas. During and after World War I, Stevenson served at several navy yards in the San Francisco Bay area until being transferred to inactive duty on March 10, 1919.
On March 11, 1924, "After serving thirty consecutive years, he was honorably discharged from the United States Navy as a Chief Carpenter's Mate... returned to his permanent home in Oakland, California, where he again took up the duties of a useful citizen, and to enjoy a peaceful life in retirement".
Frank Stevenson died at the Oakland Naval Hospital on July 31, 1944.