Kodiak Island, AK Schooner GEORGE R. WHITE Wrecked, Apr 1895
GO DOWN IN A GALE.
SEVENTEEN SEAMEN LOST BY THE WRECKING OF A SCHOONER.
STRIKES A HIDDEN REEF.
THE GEORGE R. WHITE GOES TO PIECES OFF THE ALASKAN COAST.
TOSSED INTO A RAGING SEA.
SOME OF THE SEAMEN REACH THE SHORE ONLY TO DIE FROM EXPOSURE TO AN ARCTIC BLAST.
Port Townsend, Wash., May 3. -- Meager news was received this afternoon from Kodiak Island, Alaska, of the wreck of the schooner George R. White, in which seventeen lives were lost. A. E. Biggs, late engineer on the steamer Francis Cutting, arrived in Sitka on the Western steamer Dora in time to take the steamer Al-K, for this port and brought some particulars of the accident, but was unable to give the list of persons lost.
The schooner Lescoi arrived at Kodiak a few hours before his departure withone of the survivors who was so exhausted that he could scarcely give a straight account of the disaster.
On Easter Sunday a terrible northeast gale, with a blinding snowstorm and the thermometer 3 degrees below zero, prevailed along the southeast coast of Alaska. The schooner White, which was hunting sea otter, was caught in the storm and lost her bearings.
To make matters worse, some of the sails were carried away and a part of the fore-topmast went over the side. Then the steering gear became dismantled. In this helpless condition she was carried lightly before the gale, and just before midnight struck a submerged reef and a moment later her hull was smashed into splinters.
Twenty-eight men were thrown into the ice-cold waters, with the shore three miles distant, to reach which must pass through a heavy surf. Some of them in their desperation clutched onto the floating debris and others were drowned.
About twenty were fortunate enough to reach the beach through a gale-whipped sea and snowstorm almost dead, with their clothes frozen to their bodies. Without food or shelter they passed a miserable night and at daybreak on the beach they found ten corpses. The survivors themselves were too exhausted to bury the dead. The most they could do was to drag their bodies up on the shore away from the ravenous animals of the sea. Clad in light garments, with no fire or shelter, subsisting on shellfish and suffering from intense cold, three or four more men died.
On the third day after the wreck some native hunters chanced to pass by, and from them fresh meat and a supply of matches to start a fire were obtained. By that time only eleven out of the original twenty-eight had survived. Many of them were badly frozen, their limbs frostbitten so severely that they must suffer surgical operations to save their lives. One man is said to have lost the use of both legs and arms. Scarcely one of the survivors will get through the ordeal without being maimed for life.
The schooner Lescoi, after reporting the accident at Kodiak, returned for the survivors. The place where the accident occurred was three miles from Tugeduk Island, twenty-two miles southwest of Kodiak Island. The news had not reached Kodiak an hour before the Dora sailed for Sitka, and it was impossible to learn the identity of the survivors.
The schooner was owned by James Chenowerth and Paul Paulson of Seattle. Both of the owners are supposed to have been aboard at the time of the accident. The vessel was in charge of Captain J. M. Wheeler.
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