EastlandGeneral Slocum


R

Richard K. Mason

Guest
Dear Shelly;.......Thanks for the reminder about the Andrea Doria. I was 3 years old at the time, but still can recall watching the news reports about it. By the way, I just finished George Hilton's excellent book about the 1915 Eastland disaster. He offers many comparisons to the Titanic. And did you know that prior to 9/11 of last year, the worst disaster in New York history was the General Slocum fire? I sure would like to get an O_O_P copy of a book related to this.
Thanks and have a great day! What a great web site this is! Richard.
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,242
529
278
It appears that the History Channel will be doing an hour-long special on the burning of the General Slocum. I spent today on location in a quarry lake famous for its clear water. They were using a whitehall-style pulling boat that I built several years ago for a book on boatbuilding. The idea was to simulate one of the rescue boats that rowed out to the burning excursion steamer.

For those who are curious, the actual film crew (yes, they were working in 35mm motion picture film) is from NFL Films. During the football season they are on the sidelines shooting the action. To fill in the summers, they do other types of productions.

Nobody in the crew had any idea of when the General Slocum special will air. These guys just shoot the film and ship it off to somebody else to edit into a final production.

--David G. Brown
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
25
298
Richard: Here are three recommendations:

The best illustrated of the three is New York's Awful Excursion Boat Horror by John Wesley Hanson, 1904. Some of the photos- including one of six passengers fused into one mass and floating in the river- are surprisingly gruesome. The text is alright, but very similar in content to Northrup's book. USUALLY PRICED AT $50-$95 at both bookstores and eBay

The worst illustrated but best written is The General Slocum Disaster by J.S. Ogilvie. Of the three it is the hardest to find (and the costliest when you do) but after the initial "oh GOD I paid for THAT?" reaction (it has the dimensions of a below average thickness paperback, and the illustrations are re-photographed from newspapers and beyond muddy) it is a great read, offering a lot of information in a very small package.
USUALLY PRICED AT $150-$250 in both stores and eBay.

The best overall value (and easiest to find) is the Northrup book Shelley mentioned. It has more photos of passengers than it does of the ship; a generally accurate list of Missing/Dead/Survived Injured and Survived Uninjured complete with home addresses, and a ton of information presented with virtually no effort at narrative coherance.
USUALLY $25-$75
USUALY EBAY PRICE $75-$125

In Addition:

Nearly impossible to find, but great reading if you do, is The Munsey Magazine Christmas Special for 1904. The outside is quite lovely, with an Art Nouveau winter scene; but the inside is a place of horror with an extended article about The Slocum (Merry Christmas?) complete with photos of corpses and piles of coffins, and an extremely angry text totally at odds with the frameable cover.

There is also some 1904 film of the Slocum aftermath preserved, and a recreation of it in the ca. 1913 film Regeneration.

And finally, there is a 1965 book, thoroughly mediocre, the title of which I cannot recall, which is best left alone.
 

John Clifford

Member
Mar 30, 1997
1,691
22
311
57
Another question: how many books, about ship disasters, have included the General Slocum story.

There are many of these books, that can be found at the local library, which feature the stories of famous disasters. For many readers, like myself, these books were/are the main/original sources of some of the "lesser-known ship tragedies": Noronic, General Slocum, Eastland, Grandcamp, Mont Blanc and Imo, Yarmouth Castle.
I first read about the Olympic-Hawke and the Queen Mary-Cuaracoa collisions in one of these books.

There are many interesting stories to be found in these books: For example, there were two ships: one was named "Laconia", for Cunard, while another was a Greek ship, "Lakonia", which was destroyed by fire in, I believe, the early '60s. Two stories were told, about the latter ship, in these books.

John Clifford
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
25
298
John- I cannot think of any compilation books which have General Slocum chapters. However, if you get the chance, Hoehling's They Sailed Into Oblivion is definitely worth reading. On the subject of the General Slocum, there is also an American Heritage issue from the late 1970s with an article, The Flames Of Hell's Gate, which is a worthwhile read, and also an issue of Seaport Magazine (the official magazine of the South Street Seaport in NYC) with a well illustrated cover-story on the disaster.

There are two books about the Lakonia. Neither was published in the United States but they can be found by entering "Lakonia" into any of the used book search engines. There was also a Life Magazine cover story, with color photos of the fire, which turns up a lot at flea markets.

There is also a book, published in the 1970s in Canada, The Noronic Is Burning, which is not too hard to find in the US.
 
R

Richard K. Mason

Guest
Shelly, David, James, and John;

Thanks so much for the valuable information! I am aware of a few of the books you mentioned but being a not-very-wealthy person right now, I'll have to wait a bit before I go to E-Bay and try to get a hold of the ones you kindly listed for me.

I'm still trying to locate my lost copy of "Sea Classics" magazine from the late 1980's that had an excellent feature on the "Slocum" disaster. I know it's somewhere, it's just a matter of finding it! If and when I do, I'll post the original issue date for you so you can spot it, if it ever turns up at a flea market or second -hand store.

Thank you all again! The courtesy that everyone connected with this site displays, is simply the best!

Richard
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
25
298
Richard: The Northrup book comes up most frequently, and can occasionally be had at a very low rate. Mine was $28, and came up a day after an identical copy sold for in excess of $100. Which is one of the joys of eBay.

If you are interested in the photos, salesman's copies of these books are an inexpensive alternative. These were sample editions, which means you get the cover, a few representitive chapters, and the whole photo section. As in the Northrup book, occasionally photos were run in the sample which were later deleted from the published edition. Off-eBay these books usually sell in the $15-$40 range.

And if these is anything specific in these books you are interested in, contact me off board and I can send the information to you via scans.
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
Member
Dec 29, 2000
6,283
291
353
A few years back, the local Fox station here in New York produced a documentary on the General Slocum disaster; it was quite good for a locally-produced documentary, and quite a bit better than the network-produced Titanic program which it followed. Unfortunately, I didn't think to tape it, don't recall that it has been repeated, and don't know whether channel 5 produced copies for retail sale.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
25
298
I remember that special- it had an extended interview with Adela Liebnow Wotherspoon (one of two remaining survivors as of 1996) and, as you said, was better than the Titanic special. For some reason, the teaser ad for it ("stay tuned for NYC's Titanic, at Eleven, on Fox") has stuck in my head. I taped it, but have no idea where the tape is at this point. Likewise, my copy of the 1904 Slocum newsreel has gone AWOL.
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,242
529
278
The History Channel is currently in production on a new version of the Slocum story. I helped with some filming of scenes showing people jumping from the flaming ship; and scenes of "rescue" boats supposedly pulling the jewelry off victims and pushing them back into the water. Grisley stuff even when you know it's all make believe. The production crew had no idea when the show would air.

-- David G. Brown
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
25
298
David- Thank you for mentioning that. I look forward to seeing it at some point.

Some pre-fire "incidents"

HER MISFORTUNES (1904)
.....The first serious mishap to the General Slocum happened on July 29, 1894, when, on a run home from Rockaway, on which 4700 persons were aboard, late at night she ran on to a sandbar and struck with such force that she carried away several stanchions and injured her electrical apparatus so that every light on board was extinguished. A panic followed, in which women who fainted were trampled upon, and men fought with each other to get to the boats. Pandemonium reigned for half an hour, until order was restored by the crew. Then it was found that hundreds had been injured in the wild scrimmage.
In August of the same year she met her next mishap. During a heavy squall she ran on a bar off the end of Coney island. it was night, and again a panic raged. The captain and crew fought down the scrambling passengers, and finally when the storm abated, transferred them to another vessel.
In the following September she was again laid up through a collison in the East River with the tug R.T. Sayre. She sustained damages which cost $1000 to repair, and drifted helplessly about the river for some time, at last to be saved from going on the rocks off Governor's Island. Minor accidents happened to her until July, 1898, when she again was put out of commision by the steam lighter Amelia, with which she collided off the Battery. The two vessels locked and were being carried on the Battery Rocks when tugs separated them.
In June, two years ago, while returning from Rockaway with 400 people aboard, in order to avoid a small sloop she again ran on a bar, where she remained all night, her passengers camping out on deck and in the cabin.
The most serious affair that happened aboard the Slocum before the recent disaster, however, occured on August 17, 1901. She then had aboard 900 persons, mostly men who were described at the time as Patterson Anarchists. When they boarded the vessel at Jersey City most of them were intoxicated. The Slocum's owners had contracted to take the party to Rockaway, and when the vessel passed outside the Narrows she encountered a heavy sea.
Some of the passengers ordered the captain to turn back. He refused, and then a mob organized to compel him to obey their wishes. The mob first started a panic among the women aboard, and then began a march on the pilot house to lay hands on the captain. The deck hands and spare men from the engine force were quickly called upon, and, with the captain, they attacked the mob and a pitched battle was started. Little by little the mob, and all other passengers were driven into the cabins, the doors of which were locked. An hour later, the Slocum stopped at the police pier at the Battery, where seventeen of the men were turned over to the police. Most of them were later sent to jail.
 
R

Richard K. Mason

Guest
James and John;
Whats'up?

O.K.! I finally found that issue of "Sea Classics" that I referred to in my above post. It is dated Sept. 1980. In addition to the article on the Gen. Slocum, it also has several pages devoted to picture postcards put out right after the Titanic disaster, written by Charles Ira Sachs.

John, you mentioned the Noronic? Try, if you can, to find "Perils Of The Deep" published by Sea Classics magazine 1994. Great story!

Also want to briefly list a couple of others:

"Jinxed Ships And Doomed Voyages"- Sea Classics magazine, 1990. { Lakonia, Morro Castle,Empress of Ireland, etc.}

"Sea Classics Great Tragedies"-Spring,1980. {Lusitania, Vestris, Queen Mary-Curacoa etc.}

And finally, if you can find it, "Disasters At Sea". Hard-cover book 1987. Milton O. Watson with intro by Frank O. Braynard. This book covers EVERY major ship disaster from 1900 to 1987. My sister-in-law got it for me at a nautical flea-market store in Pittsburg. Man, it's great!

Hope this has helped you.

All the best. Richard
 

John Clifford

Member
Mar 30, 1997
1,691
22
311
57
I've read the Hoehling book. What I will also do is check my local library, and see if they still have some of the books I used to check out, in the 70s, even if some of the titles have been updated.

It was at the library that I found "The Cruelest Night", the story of the Wilhelm Gustlaff tragedy.

John Clifford
 

John Clifford

Member
Mar 30, 1997
1,691
22
311
57
Yesterday I was able to check at the library, and they do have some of the books I used to check out, in the 1970s, about famous and lesser-known ship disasters:
1. "Some Ship Disasters and Their Causes", by K.C. Barnaby; and
2. "Tales of Terror and Tragedy", by Edward Rowe Snow.

Mr Snow also wrote two other books about ship disasters, both of which I don't recall reading.

I also came accross "Collision Course", by Alvin Moscow, which talked about the Andrea Doria - Stockholm collision.

"The Cruelest Night", the story of the Wilhelm Gustlaff tragedy, is also on the shelf.

John Clifford
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
25
298
NEW GENERAL SLOCUM BOOK: Out this week, Ship Ablaze (O'Donnell) probably the best Slocum book written since 1904. For those who have not read the three hard-to-find and costly Slocum memorial books (Northrup, Hanson and Ogilvie)this will likely be the definitive work on the subject. For those who have read them the material will be mostly familar, but presented in much easier to digest linear narrative form. The only flaws are that the chosen illustrations are mundane and there is no index.

Yesterday was, by the way, the 99th anniversary of the disaster. I believe that survivor Adella Liebnow Wotherspoon is still in good health- the story of her extended family and their particularly sad experience in which all of the adults survived but all of the children other than Adella were lost is told in detail, for the first time, in the new book. Her father maintained a Slocum scrapbook and ephemera collection through 1908 which, hopefully, will be published at some point.
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
Member
Dec 29, 2000
6,283
291
353
Over the weekend, the local CBS all-news radio station here in New York ran a two-minute-or-so long story about General Slocum and the O'Donnell book quite a few times...I heard it three, maybe four, times. Nice to see it get some attention; most folks around here are completely unaware of the incident, which WCBS was billing as "New York's deadliest day before 9/11."
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
25
298
Documenting the Slocum disaster is interesting but frustrating. Of the 1330 people known to have been on board, only 309 survived. In the worst case, 29 members of one family were lost. The news coverage was so intense that at least partial accounts by about 150 of the survivors can be found, but after about 1910 the stories all but disappeared until the reunions began in 1954. Since then, the anniversary has usually yielded one or two interesting acccounts. The best latter day articles were a profile of 6 survivors in the 1979 exploitation magazine "Great Disasters" who despite the generally tacky quality of their material managed to do a sensitive AND well researched series of interviews, and an extended verbatem interview with Edna Doering which ran in "You Must Remember This- NYC Oral History."

Frustration comes when one tries to correlate the names of the passengers on board. Many are on the coroner's list as having survived and died. Others are listed as having died twice- as in Mr. and Mrs. Valentine Kolb who are also on the official "final" list as Mr. and Mrs. Valentine Klob. Or poor Albertine Lambeck, who in addition to losing three of her five children, has been identified on various lists also as Mrs. Lambach/ Lembeck/ Lamback/Laubeck/Lambech/Lubek/ Albertina/Alberta-probably the worst case of "lost identity" in the disaster. And for every duplicated name one eliminates from the list one can add another of someone known to have died or survived but left unlisted. Someday, hopefully, I'll get the chance to read through St. Marks' church register, and the death certificates, and get it all straightened out.
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
Member
Dec 29, 2000
6,283
291
353
A few years ago, one of the local TV stations---the Fox affiliate, I think---did a half hour documentary on the General Slocum incident, which featured interviews with some survivors. It ran, if I recall correctly, immediately after one of the lesser Titanic documentaries and, although locally produced, far outshone it in quality. Unfortunately I didn't tape it, but if you're interested in General Slocum, Jim, it might be worth the effort to contact them and see if a tape is available.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads