Descriptions of the Valencia’s Unknown Dead

As much as I love oceans lakes, and rivers one of my biggest fears is being sucked underneath its fierce waves knowing that I’m virtually powerless if the roaring sea decides to claim these mortal remains.

Even so, I find maritime disasters and water-related tragedies fascinating and have written about unfortunates who fell victim to deathly shipwrecks or were otherwise lost at sea: Capt. Ward of the City of Rio de Janeiro, Dr. Reuben Knox, the Flagg family, and the Titanic casualties.

This episode of Lore Podcast left me hungry for more of the 1906 Valencia wreck, which claimed around 136 lives (sources vary) and sparked  a few ghostly yarns.

One of the most commonly quoted accounts from survivor Chief Freight Clerk Frank Lehn is as follows:

“Screams of women and children mingled in an awful chorus with the shrieking of the wind, the dash of rain, and the roar of the breakers. As the passengers rushed on deck they were carried away in bunches by the huge waves that seemed as high as the ship’s mastheads. The ship began to break up almost at once and the women and children were lashed to the rigging above the reach of the sea. It was a pitiful sight to see frail women, wearing only night dresses, with bare feet on the freezing ratlines, trying to shield children in their arms from the icy wind and rain.”

The history, supernatural claims, articles such as the one below, and survivor’s tales give you a glimpse into a terror that you only hope to experience from the detachment of your computer screen.

The Evening Statesman dated Feb. 5, 1906 painted fairly detailed portraits of some of the bodies recovered by the tug Lorne just days after the frigid nightmare began on January 22.

Many of the recovered bodies were never identified. As gruesome as some of these descriptions are, I’m sure the intent was to put names to the corpses and give the families or loved ones closure as well as the chance to properly bury or memorialize the dead.

Reading items of this nature always sends a chill down my spine. As mental images of the victims form I realize that they were once alive just as we are now.

And one day we will all be dead, as they are now.

valencia The Evening statesman  February 05, 1906valencia 2

I hadn’t intended on exploring the fate of these victims further, but my curiosity got the better of me.

According to Virtualmuseum.ca, No. 10 was likely quartermaster John Montgomery based on the tattoos and height, but this particular body was buried at Ross Bay Cemetery as “Number 11 Unknown.”

Mount Pleasant Cemetery’s site claims that the “found unknown” Valencia victims were buried at the monument there, but it’s safe to say that the unidentified remains were interred at various locations.

seattle The San Francisco call September 24, 1906
The San Francisco Call, Sept. 24, 1906
valencia buried Meade County news February 15, 1906
Meade County News, Feb. 15, 1906
valencia San Francisco Call, Volume 99, Number 89, 27 February 1906
The San Francisco Call, Feb. 27, 1906
valencia bodies Los Angeles Herald 10 March 1906
Los Angeles Herald, Mar. 10, 1906

One of the spookier stories that emerged following the sinking of the ship was the alleged discovery of a lifeboat manned by eight skeletons.

skeletons Los Angeles Herald 23 August 1906

skeletons 2
Los Angeles Herald, Aug. 23, 1906

 

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