The Victoria Disaster Continued
Today, according to Sally’s granddaughter, Jane Blake (Simpson), Sally often had premonitions. Here’s part of her account of what happened that day so long ago:
“Towards dinnertime, as they made their way back to town, several buggies rushed past them, raising clouds of dust, the horses panting from the exertion. Closer to town, there was pandemonium— hysteria – screams that ‘the Victoria had capsized – the boiler exploded - hundreds are dead’…
“Sarah and her beau made their way up the river to the site of the disaster. For hours, they helped pull bodies from the water, and piled them (like cordwood) on the bank. It was said her mother fainted when Sarah finally emerged from the crowds, soaking wet and covered in mud – but alive! Her father, brothers and sisters stared at her in stunned surprise. My grandmother must have been an aspiring actress.
"Sarah escaped not only death, but detection that day, although my aunt and I both agreed that her mother ‘sensed the truth’, but was so relieved to find her alive that she had not been punished. She must have flinched every time a family member described her miraculous survival.
“Her cousin, twenty-one-year-old Elosia Lawson and her two friends were among the estimated 180-200 victims that day. Sarah’s beau’s entire family were also among the dead.
“One wonders if she really did have a premonition of the disaster, or if, plain and simple, she preferred a solitary date with her new beau – something that a fourteen year old young lady would never have been allowed to do (especially without a chaperone) – unthinkable!”
|White flags indicate graves of children and red of adults killed in the disaster.|
|Paul Culliton, Woodland Cemetery, shows where wife|
and three children, one only 8 months, are buried.
|Elizabeth Lawson is related to Elosia, who died.|
|Sarah "Sally" Walker|
Blake at 14.
|Granddaugher Jane Blake|
|Where visitors climbed up from river wharf.|
|Today, remains of the steps as seen|
from Greenway Park.
|Elosia Lawson died but her cousin didn't.|
|A hearse of the type used in the 1880s was provided by Joe O’Neil of O’Neil Funeral Home.|