The year is 1881 and the Alice Buck (a ship out of New York) is bound for Oregon laden with railroad iron for the Northern Pacific Railroad Company. On board is a crew of 24 that included the Captain, Herman Henningser. They encountered a hurricane at latitude 16 degrees north and the ship began taking on water. Although the crew was manning the pumps around the clock, the situation continued to get worse. Capt. Henningser decided to head to San Francisco for repairs. He mistakenly thought they were about fifty miles southwest of the Farallones and turned northeast. Shortly after midnight on September 26th, the ship struck the rocks in Half Moon Bay (San Mateo county, California) and quickly began falling apart. Some of the crew members became "panic-stricken" and jumped overboard...they were never seen again. Others stayed with the ship as long as there was something to hold on to. A couple made it to shore where they were helped by locals. Two young men, Silas Hovious and Frank Hale, received recognition for their heroic actions in saving the lives of some of the mariners from the Alice Buck.
Photo of Half Moon Bay cliffs from Flickr and used under creative commons license by owner "radzfoto"
The 10 Oct 1881 issue of the New York Times newspaper carried the story on page 2. It details the actions of the two 19 year old young men.
Subsequent newspaper articles give the names of those lost: William Barry West, First Mate; D. Crocker, Second Mate; George Parker, a boy of 14; David Black, seaman; Charles Reader, seaman; Patrick Welsh, seaman; John Gunnison, seaman; and "two Chinamen, cook and steward."
The San Mateo County Coroner's Index lists (as unknown) some of the seamen that died in the wreck (A104-A109); notice all were found on different days.
Silas and Frank were each given a certificate and gold medal in recognition of their heroic actions. The certificate reads, in part, "Humanity, unflinching courage and personal peril for the sake of saving human life. These qualities so significantly displayed by yourself and your comrade, Frank Hale, when, on the 27th of September last, you saved four lives from the wreck of the Alice Buck, on the coast of California, near Half Moon Bay..."
The Annual report of the Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco, 18, Volumes 50-53 shows the cost of the gold medals the young men were given...$25.00.
So how is this story connected to my family history? Silas Hovious' son, Edward Hovious married Carolyn Raaen. Carolyn was the daughter of my great grandmother, Minnie Prehn (by her first husband, Lawrence Raaen). This isn't my direct line of research...but it's still an interesting story.