John Vonderlin: The Wreck of the Alice Buck (2)

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John: benloudman@sbcglobal.net

Hi June,
In this account of the wreck of the “Alice Buck,” from the September 29th, 1881, issue of the “Daily Alta,” there are more details then in the previous day’s reporting, but more interesting, we hear from the Captain himself, concerning events that transpired around the time of the wreck and afterwards, his harrowing near death experience and rescue. Enjoy. John
THE “ALICE BUCK.”
The Survivors’ Account of The Shipwreck—Names of the Crew Who Perished
The steamer Salinas arrived in port early yesterday morning, having on board from the scene of the wreck of the American ship Alice Buck on Tuesday night, Capt. Henningson and twelve sailors. Capt. Henningson gave the following particulars of the shipwreck : On August 28th we encountered a hurricane in latitude 16 degrees north, and the ship sprung a leak in her bows.  The next day we encountered another gale, and the ship doubled water, and I then made for San Francisco for repairs Though the. men remained at the pumps night and day, the water gained on us. The constant work and anxiety began to tell upon myself and crew. On Monday, off  Halfmoon Bay, we struck a dead calm, and commenced to drift. We ran in the calm about 8 o’clock on Monday evening, and it continued till midnight when we went ashore. That evening the men were used up and ready to drop, and having been up myself for three days and nights, I began to feel dizzy and shaky, and I turned in. Before midnight I was awakened by the surf, and upon going on deck found the ship bows on, drifting toward a reef. About midnight we struck the reef and rebounded. We bumped five or six times, but as the calm continued we were unable to do anything. The last time the ship struck she hit hard and held on by her bows. She soon broke in two. The dinghy wa launched, but upset, one of the men being drowned and the other two washed ashore.The whaleboat, into which the two mates, the steward and two sailors got, was stovev in, and only the two sailors were able to reach the wreck. Fastening two life-buoys to me, I jumped overboard, but could not swim on account of the pieces of the wreck and the spars continually bumping against me. I floated about in the wreck and surf until rescued at about 8 o’clock in the morning.
Of the crew, the following are known to be lost : William Barry, first mate, D. Crocker. second mate, George Parker, boy, aged 14, David Black, Charles Reader, Pat Welsh, and John Gunnison, seamen, two two Chinamen, cook and steward. One of the sailors states that the ship leaked for two days and that the Captain signaled for a tug, intending to put in at San Francisco.  At four o’clock Monday afternoon, the Captain thought he was about fifty five miles southwest of the Farallones and steered northeast. Shortly after midnight, the sky being clear and starry, with a petty good sea running, they struck with terrible force on the rocks, not more then 1500 feet from a high bluff.  The two mates and part of the crew jumped from the ship into the waves, and that was the last seen of them.
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John Vonderlin: The Wreck of the Alice Buck (1)

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John: benloudman@sbcglobal.net

Hi June,
This is a story about a deadly shipwreck that happened on the Coastside in the late 1800’s, that I just learned about. While it never had the headlines that  more famous local shipwrecks like the Colombia or the New York did, the related articles in the newspapers reveal complexities that I haven’t encountered in the coverage of other shipwrecks of this era.
I came across the first mention of her demise in the October 10th, 1881, issue of the “Sacramento Daily Union,” in a tiny article headlined: “Another Corpse Washes Ashore.”  It continued, “Spanishtown October 9th—Another corpse from the wreck of the Alice Buck, mutilated beyond recognition, came ashore in the vicinity of the wreck to-day about 1 o’clock.”
I thought the name  “Alice Buck,” sounded familiar at first, but then I remembered why.  The first stretch of mountain road (Highway 84) I take leading from the flatlands to the summit of the coastal mountains that shield and isolate the Coastside, is bookended by the famous, oddly eclectic, Buck’s Restaurant, in Willowside, and the equally wellknown, iconic, Alice’s Restaurant, perched at the summit, at the corner of Skyline Boulevard and Highway 84. But my temporary confusion piqued my curiosity, and I decided to find out what events had produced one of my beachcombing fears, a corpse washed ashore and me coming across it. Here’s the first part of the story. It appeared in “The Daily Alta,”  September 28th, 1881, issue:
MARINE DISASTERS.
Wreck of the American ship  “Alice Buck ” on the California Coast—
Early yesterday a telegram was received to this city that the American ship Alice Buck, from New York for Portland with railroad iron, was ashore near Spanishtown, in Half-moon Bay, and that nine of the crew were drowned. The telegram was doubted by many, in
consequence of the vessel having been seen by the steamer Oceanic to be northward and westward ol this port, and it appeared very strange that, being bound to Portland, she would bring up at Spanishtown. In the afternoon all doubts were dispelled by a telegram received at the Merchants’ Exchange, from the agents of Goddell, Perkins and Co. that the vessel had gone ashore at midnight on Monday, and that out of her complement of 24 men, 11 were drowned. None of the bodies were reported recovered. The captain and six men were picked up by the steamer Salinas, bound down the coast, which searched and rendered all the assistance in her power. Six of the men got ashore. The vessel will be a total loss. Tbe Alice Buck left New York April 7th. and was seen by tbe Oceanic as above. She had on board a cargo of railroad iron for tbe Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company,  which is fully insured.  The ship was built at Belfast, Ma., in 1870, and was owned by J.P. White and others of that city. She was commanded by Capt. Herman,
formerly her Mate, Capt. Herriman her former Master and part owner having remained hence at Searsport this trip. The ship is reputed insured for $30,000 and $11.000 on the freight. The ship was also chartered to load wheat at Portland for Europe, at £4.”
Another part of the despatch (sic) mentioned a further telegram that detailed new rails were being shipped overland  to minimize the delay in the rail project between Portland and The Dalles, where the shipload had been intended for.
This version of the “Alice Buck” story, from the “Sacramento Daily Union,” on the same day as “The Daily Alta,” story, is much more thorough.
MARINE DISASTER.
A Ship Totally Wrecked on the San Mateo Coast;
TEN MEN FIND WATERY GRAVES.
Graphic Description of the  Unfortunate Occurrence.
Spanishtown, September 27th.― The ship Alice Buck, six months  from New York, loaded with railroad iron for Oregon, struck on the rocks at Haven’s Beach at midnight Monday and went to pieces. The crew consisted of  twenty- four persons. Nine men, with the Captain, were drowned, and one boy, aged 13, was also lost. Their bodies have not been recovered as yet. Steamer Salinas rendered aid to the distressed. (Spanishtown is in San Mateo county, situated at the south end of  Half moon Bay. The Alice Buck was commanded by Captain Henninger and was laden with railroad iron for the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, and consigned to Allen & Lewis, Portland. She had a registered tonnage of 1,425 tons.)
[SECOND DISPATCH.]  Spanishtown, (Half moon Bay,) September 27th.― The ship Alice Buck, about six months out from New York, loaded with railroad iron, struck on Horace Rock, two miles below here, at ten minutes past 12 o’clock – this morning, and is now a total wreck, strewn in fragments along the shore for a distance of a mile, and ten of the twenty-four men on board are drowned. The following is:
ONE OF THE STORIES OF THE WRECK,
Told by a survivor: The ship had been leaking for two days, and the Captain signaled for a tug, evidently intending to put in at San Francisco for repairs, although  bound for Portland with railroad iron for the North Pacific Railroad. On Monday we spoke (sic) the steamer Oceanic, from whom we got the course to San Francisco. At 1 o’clock Monday afternoon Captain Herman Henningser thought he was southwest of the Farallones about fifty miles, and steered northeast. Shortly after midnight the sky became clear and starry, with a pretty good sea running. We struck with terrible force and an awful crash on the rocks, not over 1,500 feet from a high bluff. The two mates and part of the crew were instantly panic-stricken and jumped from the ship into the waves. That was the last we saw of them. The Captain and the rest of us provided ourselves with life preservers, and only left the ship when there was not enough of her fast-breaking hull to stick to. Some reached the shore, assisted by people on the bluffs, and the rest were picked up by the steamer Salinas.
RESPONSE TO CRIES FOR HELP. A rancher named A.C. Markman, whose place was near the  bluffs below which the wreck occurred, while milking cows this morning, heard wild cries beyond the bluff. He ran to the edge of the bluff, and was horrified to see in the surf several bodies, some lifeless and others calling wildly for help, and beyond them a dismantled wreck.  He had no means at hand to  render assistance, so mounting a horse, he rode as fast as possible to Spanishtown and gave the alarm to the citizens, and then rode on to Amesport Landing. three miles  north of here, where the Pacific coast steamship Salinas, was loading with grain. Captain Smith, of the Salinas, immediately steamed out for the scene of the wreck, and Justice Pringle, James Wiley and other citizens drove from here to the bluff.
DESPERATE STRUGGLES FOR LIFE.
The people on the bluff, which is about 100 feet high, lowered ropes, by means of which six lives were saved. The first line lowered was not heavy enough to raise a man with, but was caught and held in the teeth of one sailor, who held on desperately until a stronger line was secured.  One sailor was seen battling in the surf amidst drifting debris, attempting to save a boy, George Parker, but a heavy wave threw a piece  of timber . against  the boy and knocked him from the sailor’s arms. The boy was not seen again. ; : Another sailor managed to reach the narrow slip of beach at the foot of the cliff, and after recovering breath struck out into the waves again and brought safely to land another shipmate. He again bravely struck out, and succeeded in rescuing another sinking sailor, but a third attempt proved fatal to the gallant fellow, for he sank beneath the water, and was seen no more.
A STEAMER TO THE RESCUE.
While these efforts were being made from shore, the Salinas approached and assisted in the work of saving the sailors. A boat was lowered, and after desperate and dangerous work seven men were picked up out of the water and taken to the steamer Salinas. Seeing no further opportunity of rendering assistance, the steamer started back  for Amesport Landing. George Wymans, on the lookout from the bluff, discovered another man showing faint signs of life in the debris near  the wreck. Wymans took off his coat and waved it over his head as a signal to the steamer. The signal was fortunately seen, and the steamer put back towards tho spot indicated by Wymans. A boat was again lowered and the man, who proved to be Captain Henningser, was picked up and taken aboard. He had been in the water nine hours, supported by two life-preservers, and in addition to being, very much exhausted, had received severe contusions from floating pieces of .the wreck. The steamer then returned to Amesport Landing, to which place the sailors rescued on the beach were also taken. .After being supplied with clothes by citizens, the steamer finished  loading, and about 4 o’clock this afternoon, with all of the rescued men on board, left for San Francisco
EFFORTS TO RECOVER THE BODIES―
NAMES OF THE LOST.
A great many people left here this afternoon for the bluff above the wreck, and attempted to bring ashore the bodies which could be seen dashed about with the broken timbers in the surf. The receding tide took the bodies out of reach of the rude appliances the men had to work with, and only one body, washed ashore some distance below the wreck about sundown, has yet been recovered. The search will be continued in the morning.
The following were lost : Wm. Barry West, mate ; D. Crocker, second mate ; George Parker, a boy of 11; David Black, Cbarles Reader, Patrick Welsh and John Mouriss, seamen, and two Chinamen― cook and steward.
ADDITIONAL INCIDENTS.
When the  sun set this evening; only a ragged line of ribs could be seen above the water. The hull, which is held down by the iron cargo, is breaking up. The rocky
character of the shore line, and the high sea running when the ship struck, combined, actually ground and splintered everything above the water line, so that nothing of the ship . larger than a barrel is adrift.  Among the recovered articles was a trunk full of costly female wearirg apparel, some of which was  marked  Mrs. A. C. Dunbar. One of the sailors said the trunk  was in charge of the lost boy. Justice Pringle brought the recovered body to Spanishtown, and it now lies in the Morgue. A belt with a knife attached and boots were the only articles on the body, and none of these gave any clue to his identity.
One of the rescued sailors― Sidney Smith― who kept the ship’s log, is reported as having said  that in his opinion the Capt and mates ran the vessel ashore, knowing she was in  an  unsafe condition and would go to  pieces. The two mates were the first to leave the ship.
‘The Alice Buck was owned by R. W. Buck, Presideat of the American Seamen’s Friend Society of New York.
CARGO OF THE WRECKED  VESSEL.
PORTLAND, September  27th,― The Alice Buck had 1,682 tons of rail for the O. R. & N. Company, to be laid on the line from this city to The Dalles, now being graded. The loss will cause some delay, in finishing the road, but the company has already ordered an  equal amount from New York, which will be shipped overland at once. The vesssel was chartered  by  G. W. McNear, The ship, and cargo were both insured.
End of Part 1  Enjoy. John. I’m glad nothing bad happened when your tire blew. People drive Highway 1 on the south coast like it is a freeway. A lot of them are seasoned coastal commuters to Santa Cruz or wherever, who trade safety for timeliness, and scare me with their speed and foolhardiness as far as passing in bad circumstances.The
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Big Swell at Mavericks….

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John Vonderlin: 1900: Encore in trouble off Point Montara

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John: benloudman@sbcglobal.net

Hi June,
This small article is notable mainly for the nice illustration accompanying it.
It appeared in the July 3rd, 1900, issue of the “San Francisco Call.” The “Junin” region is a highlands region in Peru. The nitrates referred to, is probably sodium nitrate, also know as “Peruvian saltpeter,” to distinguish it from ordinary saltpeter (potassium nitrate)  Sodium nitrate was used as an ingredient in fertilizers,  pyrotechnics and explosives, as a food preservative, in ceramic and glass manufacturing, and other industrial processes.
This was considered such a valuable commodity that the “War of the Pacific” or the “Saltpeter War,” as it was also known, had been fought just twenty years earlier between Bolivia, Chile, and Peru for control of the sources. Chile won, Bolivia became landlocked and Peru’s economic growth was greatly delayed. Enjoy. John
NEWS FROM THE OCEAN AND THE WATER FRONT
The Barkentine Encore in Trouble Off Point Montara.
Captain Atwood Was Dangerously Ill and There Was No One
Left Aboard to Navigate the Ship.

The four-masted barkentine Encore has had an eventful voyage from the nitrate ports. For thirty-two days the captain has been sick with heart trouble and kidney disease, and the navigation of the ship was left to the mate, who depended on luck to reach port safely. The British Bark Brussels was spoken in latitude 32 north, longitude 132 west, and that vessel did everything possible under the circumstances. The captain went aboard the Encore and not only gave the mate his sailing course, but doctored the master of the vessel to the best of his ability. Captain Atwood was taken sick a month after the bark left Junin, and from that time on he has had a fight with death. Early yesterday morning the Encore was at anchor off Point Montara, and no one seemed to know just where she was. The tug Reliance was sent out and picked her up a short distance below the Cliff House. The Encore left Junin sixtyfive days ago, and the passage was an uneventful one until Captain Atwood was taken sick. She brings 7948 bags of nitrate for this port. Captain Atwood was formerly on the Webfoot, and later was master of the Puritan. Before that he was mate of the ship St. Francis when she was burned to the water’s edge during her trip from San Francisco to New York.
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October 1876: What Happened to The Rydal Hall

From the “Alta,”

San Francisco, October 1876

“…We had another continuation of our deep-water arrivals yesterday. No less than sixteen vessels from all quarters of the globe, entered the Golden Gate  [Image of the “Golden Gate” before the bridge was built in the late 1930s, courtesy Deb Wong at Spring Mountain Gallery.]

yesterday, which made things lively around the exchange for a time . Only one American ship in the whole fleet: all the rest British and one German.

“Intelligence reached us yesterday of the loss of the British ship Rydal Hall at the whaling station near Spanishtown (Half Moon Bay). She went ashore on the 17th instant. late in the evening, and the latest news received states that she will be a total loss. Unfortunately, nine men were lost by the disaster, and at last accounts, the Captain was still on board. She was bound from Cardiff for this port with a load of coal, and was a fine iron ship of over 1800 tons, built at Liverpool in 1874, and was owned by the Sun Shipping Company of Liverpool, and she will be a heavy loss on the Underwriters, as she is fully insured.

—–“The crew of the wrecked ship Rydal Hall arrived in town last evening, and in a conversation with the chief officer we gleaned the following facts: The ship was running along with a light breeze, and in a thick fog up to 7 p.m., of the 17th instant, when she was hove to, the Captain thinking himself about twenty miles from the Farallones. At 8 p.m. she struck. The men who were lost were drowned in attempting to land in the gig and lifeboat. No fog whistle was heard until about four o’clock on the morning of the 18th. The men state this fact positively, and it is but a continuation of reports of the same kind that have often been made off this point in regard to this whistle, and it is about time that some attention was paid to it. The ship will be a total loss, as she is already breaking up.

—–“The wreck of the Rydal Hall, recently cast away on the Southern Coast, was sold in the Exchange yesterday; ship and cargo for $850, to Breeze & Loughran, for the divers, Loogee Brothers, who have already gone down to wreck her. If we have fine weather they will realize a good profit on their investment, by saving spars, sails, rigging, anchors, chains and provisions, etc.

—–“The ship Rydal Hall went to pieces on the evening of the 25th inst., without a thing being done toward salvage. Some difficulty occurred between the purchasers and the men they calculated to employ as wreckers, which is the cause of nothing being saved. A large portion of the woodwork of the vessel drifted past the Cliff House on the afternoon of the 26th, and went over on the North Shore. Quite a lot of the cabin fittings were among the wreckage.”

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Happy Holidays from the McCloskeys, Larry & Lynn

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The Images of Susan Friedman

I invite you to see my New Imagery at susanfriedmanphoto.com

Susan Friedman

Studio On The Mountain

susanfriedmanphoto.com

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