The Inquest
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from the Victoria Daily Colonist, 15 Jan 1904, pg.8

Cabin Boy Tells of the Occurrences of the Fatal Friday

Archie King, cabin boy of the lost steamer 'Clallam', gave evidence yesterday morning to the coroner's enquiry which Dr. Hart is now holding to investigate the disaster, with C.R. Lugrin appearing on behalf of the Dominion Government, and A.E. McPhillips on behalf of the province, to see that the facts are brought out. The Victoria boy, who has been cabin boy of the vessel since she entered service in July last, said that about a month before the disaster the steamer 'Clallam' stopped one day off Port Townsend, having broken down, and two tugs came out to her. One passed a line to the 'Clallam'. Some of the passengers embarked on one a lighthouse tender, and went back to Port Townsend.

After the bodies of Col. W. Thompson, of Tacoma; C.H. Joy, of Harberton; Mrs. Margaret J. Gill, of Dawson, and Peter La Plant, of San Juan, had been identified, King was sworn, and after telling of the voyage of the 'Clallam' until she left Port Townsend, he said he did not notice anything unusual until between 2 and 3 o'clock. The weather was rough. He went below, and on looking through the grating down into the engine room, saw water on the floor of the engine room, where the second steward was standing. He remained there for some time, and when he went along the main deck from the engine room door into the dining room he noticed that, some life-preservers were being handed around. He then assisted in taking them down and handing them to passengers. While going into the rooms to get out life-preservers he found a little boy about four years of age lying asleep on the lower berth in room 54 or 56, he was not sure which. He took out the little fellow and carried him to the saloon, where he put a life-preserver on him and left him there. After going up on the boat deck, when the crew were lowering the boats, he did not see the little boy again. He did not know who the child was, or if the parents were on board.

Shortly after he was ordered to the hurricane deck and assisted in lowering the boats, which was hard work on account of the storm. The boats were launched on the starboard side before going across to the port side. The steamer was heading toward San Juan and the islands when the boats were launched. The engines were working after he left the engine room, and he could not say when they were stopped. The steamer was standing when the boats were launching, rolling in the trough of the sea. The steamer was then about five miles from shore. He could not see the boats when they dropped below the texas, where he stood, but saw them turn over in the water and saw the people struggling in the water. The captain and officers were there at the lowering of the boats. Afterward the crew were ordered to the lower deck to throw off cargo. The crew and passengers in the meantime had started bailing with buckets.

Witness said he had no idea where the water was coming from. It seemed to come from somewhere in the stern. He did not see any pumps being used. Some of them were pretty tire bailing in the evening and went on deck, when they saw the tug which proved to be the 'Holyoke', running toward them. This was about 8 o'clock. It was getting dark, and he only knew that the tug was coming by seeing its light. The 'Holyoke' went around the 'Clallam' a couple of times and then threw a heaving line, which was caught and a line was passed on board. She then commenced to tow the steamer to Port Townsend. The water had reached the engine room grating when the tug came. The steamer had one sail up, the jib. The passengers and crew continued to bail to the last minute. The stern of the steamer was sinking when they stopped, and as they reached the deck the vessel was well over on her port side. The tug 'Sea Lion' approached and Captain Roberts shouted through a megaphone that the steamer was foundering, and it seemed to witness, although he could not hear the language, that the captain asked the 'Sea Lion' to take off those on the 'Clallam'.

The passengers then hung over the rail on the starboard side, and the 'Clallam' continued to go over the port. There was a heavy sea and they were being washed off, one or two at a time. He was thrown into the water and floated for some time before he was picked up by those on a raft. It was quite dark, but he could see the tug and the ship in the distance. He was the second but last to get on the raft, and had difficulty in getting onto it. Capt. Roberts, First Officer Delauney and about ten others were on the raft. Captain Roberts kept us shouting "Help!", and then we saw the tug approaching. The men on the 'Sea Lion' had heard us and came to our assistance.

We were rescued by a couple of men in a boat from the 'Sea Lion'. When they were close they threw a heavy line, which we caught and held, drawing the raft toward the boat. We were taken off, one at a time. When the 'Sea Lion's' crew got us on board they made hot coffee and gave up their bunks to us. After all got on board, the 'Sea Lion' kept steaming slowly about the place until next morning, when she left for Port Townsend. The sea was calmer, but was still pretty rough, and there was quite a swell. There was not a great difference in the weather when the boats were launched and after the 'Holyoke' came. The moon was out, which aided a great deal in rescuing the passengers from the water. If the moon had not been out the tugs would not have been able to pick up half as many as they did. He could not say whether it was possible to put the passengers on the tug 'Holyoke' when the tug had come to the vessel. It was pretty rough. Lives might have been lost in the attempt. He would have preferred to stay on the vessel.

In answer to questions by jurymen, he said there were lanterns at the bow and stern, and as many as they could get below. He could not say how many there were. There were enough to work with. The engines were going steady from the time the vessel left Port Townsend until the stoppage. The closest the steamer reached Victoria, he believed was about four or five miles.

He heard no orders to make distress signals, or saw none until the lantern was put up after dark. It was hauled up and down. He heard no distress signals being made, nor could he say whether the flag had been reversed as a distress signal. He had not looked to see. He thought he saw the lights of a steamer at night, but it may have been a lighthouse.

It was the custom to hold fire drills on board the steamer. Three or four had been held since he joined the vessel on her first trip to Port Angeles from Victoria on July 4th. It was rough that day. The other boats had fire drills once a week. We didn't have so many. The boats were not all lowered on the occasion of fire drills, only the one on the starboard side. Those at the others stood at their positions. He could not say whether there were rockets on board.

About a month ago, when the 'Clallam' was off Port Townsend, her engines stopped and two tugs came out to her assistance. The steamer refused to take their line. It was not rough at the time. He did not know what was the matter. The steamer had been near Port Flagler, and one of the boats which came out was a lighthouse tender. The officers expected that the steamer would be all right at any minute. The lighthouse tender passed a line on board and some of the passengers went back to Port Townsend. He could not remember the engines having gone wrong at any other time. He had gone into the hull of the steamer and had never seen any sign of her leaking before Friday last.

Questioned by Mr. C.H. Lugrin, he said first when he first noticed the water on the floor of the engine room the steamer was of the island nearing Victoria. He looked into the engine room from the freight deck doorway, looking down through the grating. He saw very little water. This was about fifteen or thirty minutes before the engines were stopped. He did not go near the pumps and could not tell anything about them. When the boats were launched Capt. Roberts was on the hurricane deck. He did not see anyone moving the life rafts which were on that deck. No effort was made to put them over to the rescue of the people who were struggling in the water after the boats capsized. the tug 'Holyoke' took the steamer with the wind when she started to tow her toward Port Townsend. He could not say whether this was in the same direction that the steamer had been drifting. He had not heard of any of the crew leaving their position on the 'Clallam' on account of her leaking prior to the day of the accident. The 'Holyoke' came close enough to the 'Clallam' to throw a line on her first appearance.

Witness had not seen any oil put over the side to calm the water at the time the boats were launched. There were no women and children on the steamer to his knowledge, after the boats were launched. There was a big flag flying, but he could not say whether it was upside down as a distress signal. He had not looked. He could not say, from his knowledge, whether there were any rockets or distress signals on board.

To Mr. A.E. McPhillips he said he had gone to the engine room about 2 o'clock, going without any reason. He saw the second engineer standing in his place beside the lever. He noticed some water on the floor, not much. The floor was wet, but the water was not very deep. He did not think anything about this. He had never seen water there before. The engines were below the floor on which he saw the water, and the water must have been deeper there. After retelling the incident of finding the child, he said he went to the boat deck, following some friends who had gone there. Practically all the crew were there. He noticed the captain shouting, but could not hear his orders.

When the boats were launched, he could not say whether the steamer had way or not. She appeared to be rolling in the though of the sea without moving. When the boats were capsized and the passengers were in the water, the captain was in a position to see the boats turn over. He heard the captain give no orders to assist those in the water. He heard no officer give orders for the saving of the lives. Some boats were lowered after others had capsized. He did not hear any remarks regarding it being folly to continue launching the boats after the others had capsized. He saw at least two boats floating around after being launched. The bailing was commenced after 4 o'clock. There were six boats and all except one was launched. The captain ordered everyone to throw off freight. When witness went down the bailers had commenced lifting water out of the fire room and engine room with buckets. Everybody was helping and ordering. He thought Livingstone Thompson was in charge. He seemed to have taken charge anyway. About eight persons were bailing in each shift.

About twenty were bailing altogether. Witness was helping in the fire room, and when a man dropped off he ran down to the engine room. The water was up to the grating when he was bailing, but did not appear to gain headway. The officers kept coming and asking if the water was gaining. Witness had not seen any vessels pass in the daytime, neither had he seen the 'Holyoke' make fast to the 'Clallam'.

The fact that the water reached the engine room grating would show that the vessel was full aft. When the 'Sea Lion' came Captain Roberts was shouting by megaphone to the tug that his steamer was foundering. Witness was under the impression, he could not hear the language, that Capt. Roberts wanted the tug to take the passengers. Witness did not hear any of the passengers dispute the action of the captain. There was no mutiny.
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