Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Unlikely Namesake

Genealogy is a hobby for me. While searching old newspapers for any reports on Wangard, I discovered not a relative, but a steamship with my surname. The S.S. Wangard was a German cargo ship built in 1906.

The first mention I found stated that, in February, 1908, overcome by work and worry brought on by damaging seas in far northern latitudes, the 64-year-old Chief Office died of heart disease. The ship was en route from Seattle to Japan, and the officer was buried at sea. Sounds like the Wangard was a stressful place to work.

The ship sustained $8,000 in damage from the heavy waves, and was dry docked in Japan for repairs. After a month-long voyage, it arrived in Tacoma with six thousand tons of coal.

            In September of that year, the Wangard was in Australian waters when a 15-year-old German boy adrift in a boat near Melbourne. He claimed he had been shipwrecked on the Wangard sixteen days previously. The crew of twenty-one left the ship in four boats, and it foundered half an hour later. The boy lost his three companions one by one before his boat beached at Mornington.

It seems the boy had been put aboard the Wangard by the German Consul to be taken to Newcastle in New South Wales, a distance of about 700 nautical miles (or 800 miles). Not wanting to go there, he slipped over the stern while anchored in the bay and helped himself to one of the boats. What repercussions he may have faced is unknown.

The last mention I found came under the headline, Steamer and Cargo Will Have to Be Abandoned—Was En Route From Tacoma to Europe.

The Wangard went ashore on Punta Mogotes off the Argentine coast on January 11, 1909. For a big freighter of 2,736 tons, with a heavy cargo of 210,709 bushels of grain, there was little chance of escaping the rocky coast. The cause for going aground was not stated.

The question I am left with is, how did the ship come to be named Wangard?

1 comment:

  1. Very fun and interesting. I hope you're able to find out how the ship was named.