Crime and calamities on the Columbia 1896-1915

Residents of Trail, B.C. and surrounding area had a tough life as pioneers in the early days. Here are some clips from old newspapers:

1896/06/26  BAD CITIZENS.   Crooks are Coming to Trail Creek for Spoils.       There are a number of undesirable citizens in Trail, and their number is growing greater. Sneak thieves, hobos and burglars are with us—and Trail hasn’t even a constable to protect life and property in Trail. Last Friday morning thieves entered the rooms in the BealeyBuilding, occupied by D.S. Fotheringham and family, and stole about $25, including an express order that Mrs. Fotheringham was to have sent away on that night’s mail. Mrs. Fotheringham was in the house at the time, but did not hear the thieves. A few nights since, two midnight prowlers, who evidently had designs upon the C. & K. S. N. warehouse, were scared away by watchman Wilson and Agent Eaton’s dog; and other citizens have complained of similar visitations. It will be decidedly unhealthy for the person caught in the act of stealing in this camp, but up to date thieves have been lucky enough to escape detection.

1896/06/26  WILL HAVE AN OFFICER.  The Superintendent of Provincial Police Visits Trail.  Mr. Hussey, of Victoria, Superintendent of Provincial Police, spent yesterday afternoon in Trail. He carefully examined our town from all sides, and one result of his visit will be the appointment of an officer for our town. To a NEWS reporter Mr. Hussey stated that the size and importance of Trail was a great surprise to him, as our town has been grossly misrepresented to the officials in Victoria. In relation to the appointment of a police officer for Trail; Mr. Hussey said that the failure to appoint one before was due to ignorance of the size and importance of Trail—that a petition had been received from Mr. Topping, as well as from a number of citizens, but in Victoria our town had been represented as not being of sufficient importance to warrant the appointment, and the petitions had been filed. He advised that the Board of Trade send in a petition as soon as possible, and gave the reporter to understand that if they did so the application would be acted upon immediately. Mr. Hussey took notes of the population, volume of business, pay roll and other matters pertaining to Trail, and expressed himself as highly pleased with our town.  Continue reading

Life and Death on the Columbia Part 5

While few pioneers in the lower Columbia River region of British Columbia kept diaries, a good indication of how they lived and died can be found in old newspapers. The following stories were gleaned from the Trail Creek News and Rossland Miner in the late 1800s. This is the last of a series.

1914/08/01  Another Mysterious Affair In Trail.   Fears are little Vivian Bartle is drowned.      Another mysterious affair occurred this week in Trail in the disappearance of Vivian Bartle, aged 11 years, who was last seen about 5.30 on Tuesday afternoon in company with her younger sister Lotti on the river bank, close to her parents’ residence. It seems that Vivian was making toward a boat close by, when she turned and requested her sister to return to the house and bring her print dress. Lotti returned soon afterward with her sister’s clothing, but failing to find Vivian, returned to the house and informed her parents. It was at first thought that Vivian might have gone to visit friends, as she occasionally did, but later, the child not putting in an appearance, the parents became anxious. Search was at once made, and continued the greater part of Tuesday night, but with no avail. Many rumors were afloat, but the general impression is that she fell into the water while attempting to enter the boat, and was drowned. Dragging operations were commenced on Wednesday and continued for some considerable time, but all efforts to locate the body have up to the present failed. Continue reading

Life and Death on the Columbia Part 4

While few pioneers in the lower Columbia River region of British Columbia kept diaries, a good indication of how they lived and died can be found in old newspapers. The following stories were gleaned from the Trail Creek News and Rossland Miner in the late 1800s. This is Part 4 of seven articles.

1911/11/25  James Clulow Dead.  James Clulow, who has conducted a shoe repairing business in Trail for the past twelve years, died in the Trail hospital on Sunday evening, aged 52 years. Deceased had been ailing for the past year and spent last winter in the hospital. However, he was able to work intermittently at his trade during the summer, but returned to the hospital about two months ago. Death was due to gangrene, the result of arteris scerosis. Deceased was a native of Ontario, being born near Wingham, where a couple of brothers still reside. The greater part of his life, however, was spent in the west. At one time the deceased was reputed to be one of the most expert shoemakers in the west. The funeral was held on Monday afternoon, Rev. G.A. Hackney, pastor of Knox church, officiating at the grave.

1912/01/13    Roasted to Death.  On Thursday night, about eleven o’clock, John Mastrella, an Italian employed at the smelter, fell through the roof of the flue chamber and before he could be extracted was dead, death being due to heat and suffocation. It is supposed that the deceased placed his dinner bucket on the flue chamber to keep it warm and in going for his lunch fell through. Coroner Thom empanelled the following jury to inquire into the circumstances: W. Oddy, J. Hurley, E.W. Hazelwood, J. Craig and J. Williamson, foreman. The following verdict was brought in: That deceased came to his death by accidentally falling through the roof of the flue chamber. We would recommend that the Consolidated Mining & Smelting company put warning notices in any place around the works where accidents of a like nature might occur. (The name Hazelwood should probably be Hazlewood as there was a family by that name with the odd spelling. Hazlewood Drive in Trail’s Sunningdale subdivision was named after one of them.) Continue reading

Life and Death on the Columbia Part 3

While few pioneers in the lower Columbia River region of British Columbia kept diaries, a good indication of how they lived and died can be found in old newspapers. The following stories were gleaned from the Trail Creek News and Rossland Miner in the late 1800s. This is Part 3 of seven articles.

1910/01/22/died/          SIDNEY HOBBS DEAD.      PASSED AWAY AT REVELSTOKE AFTER AN ILLNESS OF THREE AND A HALF YEARS.        Sidney Hobbs died at Revelstoke on Sunday, after an illness that had lasted for about three and a half years; and which culminated in cancer, which was the immediate cause of death. Mrs. Hobbs and the son and daughters of Mr. Hobbs were at his bedside at the last hours and did all that love and affection could to soothe his last moments. On Sunday evening W. Gillett, H.H. Gill and Glen Marshall, sons-in-law of the deceased, left here for Revelstoke for the purpose of attending the funeral. Mr. Hobbs was a pioneer of Rossland, and came here in 1896. His occupation was that of an hotel man and he ran the Kootenay and other hotels in this city, besides being employed at them when he was not the proprietor of one. Before coming to Rossland he was in the hotel business in Brandon and other places in Ontario. Mr. Hobbs was a man of an exceedingly genial and friendly disposition and there was such an air of good-fellowship about him that he won the friendship and goodwill of those with whom he came in contact. He was a kind husband, an indulgent and loving father, and his demise will be mourned deeply by a large number of friends and relatives. He leaves a widow and four married daughters, Mrs. George Stevens, Mrs. H.H. Gill, Mrs. Glen Marshall and Mrs. W. Gillett and son, Sidney Hobbs Jr., and four sons-in-law to mourn his death. Deceased was a native of Cheapside, Ontario, and aged 54 years. The funeral took place at Nelson, yesterday (Tuesday), at 2:30 p.m. Continue reading

Life and Death on the Columbia Part 2

While few pioneers in the lower Columbia River region of British Columbia kept diaries, a good indication of how they lived and died can be found in old newspapers. The following stories were gleaned from the Trail Creek News and Rossland Miner in the late 1800s. This is Part 2 of seven articles.

1903/04/04    William Moss, cook at the Ymir Mine, was killed last Tuesday by a land slide which wrecked the cook house.

1903/04/11 Death of Eldest Son of Mr. And Mrs. J.G. Houghton.             Master Freddie Houghton passed away Tuesday morning after a short illness of three days. He was an exceptional bright little fellow for his age, being but a little over five years of age and had been attending school for some time. Mr. and Mrs. Houghton have the sympathy of the entire community in their sad bereavement.

1903/05/09  DEATH OF WILLIE FRASER.  The Death Angel Takes Away a Patient Sufferer from our Midst.  Willie Fraser, aged fourteen years, died at the home of his mother on Wednesday morning at 7 o’clock. Willie had been suffering from paralysis for several months, and his death was not entirely unexpected. He was a boy of remarkable powers and endurance, which served him well in the battle for life during the days and weeks of his last illness. He was an exceptionally bright lad, and had been employed for some weeks previous to his sickness in the office of the railway at Smelter Junction. Among his intimate association and wide circle of friends, Willie was a general favorite, and his loss has caused much sorrow among old and young alike. The funeral was conducted by Rev. J. Ball, of the Presbyterian church, on Thursday afternoon, and was attended by an unusually large assembly of sympathizing friends. The school were closed and the children followed the cortège to its last resting place. Numerous tributes in the shape of beautifully designed floral wreaths were placed upon the grave by the hands of the many friends of the deceased. The bereaved family have the earnest sympathy of the entire community in their great affliction. Continue reading

Life and Death on the Columbia 1895-1911

While few pioneers in the lower Columbia River region of British Columbia kept diaries, a good indication of how they lived and died can be found in old newspapers. The following stories were gleaned from the Trail Creek News and Rossland Miner in the late 1800s.  

1895/10/19  A BRAVE DEED   The Lytton’s Chief  Engineer is a Hero  Monday night last Chief Engineer Sprout, of the steamer Lytton performed a deed that few men would undertake without hesitating. Encumbered by all his clothes and extra heavy shoes, he sprang into the chilly waters of the swift Columbia and brought to shore a drowning man, after being nearly drowned, in his effort to save the man. At. 7 p.m. Monday night, Rodney Robinson, a cook out of employment, went aboard the steamer Lytton. While standing near the stairway on the river side of the boat, the electric searchlight flashed in his face. He stepped aside to get out of the light—and stepped into the swift current of the river. He was not able to swim, and sank to the bottom. When he came up he shouted for assistance, and the crowd along the water front hastened to see who was overboard and how he came there. Chief Engineer Sprout was attending some machinery and heard the man cry for help. Without waiting to divest himself of any portion of his wearing apparel  encumbered as he was with double-soled shoes and heavy padded coat, he ran to the side of the boat, jumped into the river and struck out for the drowning man. If the man had kept still and allowed himself to be rescued, the chief would have been able to perform the feat without trouble, but the minute the chief grabbed the drowning man the latter grabbed the chief, and both went under. Then began a terrible struggle for the shore which both came near never reaching. The chief would not let the drowning man go, and was in turn being slowly but surely drowned by the man he was trying to rescue. In all the time he worked to bring Robinson to the shore, the Chief’s head was under the water half the time. The crowd on the boat and on land were wild in their efforts to assist the Chief in his brave work, and life preservers, ropes and boards were thrown him, but none reached him. At last, when about ten feet from shore, and just as the pair were going under water again, probably never to reappear alive, Peter Jennell (probably Genelle) ran into the stream and thrust a board out to Mr. Sprout, who grabbed it, and then willing hands completed the work of rescue. When brought to the bank Robinson was unconscious, and Sprout nearly so. The Chief was helped onto the boat, and Robinson rolled and shaken to empty the water out of him. The doctor arrived, and by artificial respiration pumped the water out of the nearly drowned man, and he was taken to the Trail House, recovering consciousness on the way. After being put to bed, Robinson recovered sufficiently to tell his name and business, and how the accident happened, as narrated above. Everything possible was done for his comfort, but at 2 o’clock Tuesday morning the unfortunate man breathed his last. The remains were buried Wednesday morning on the mountain side by the proprietors of the Trail House, the deceased being penniless and friendless. Continue reading