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Henry Dirks Recalls


Posted By: Tammy (email)
Date: 9/11/2015 at 07:26:30

Henry Dirks Recalls Anniversary of Sinking of Ocean Liner

"47 years ago today," said Henry Dirks on Monday, "I witnessed a sight that will remain fresh in my memory as long as I live." It was the sinking at sea of the then largest and swiftest ocean liner, the Oregon, carrying 1200 passengers and crew from Germany to New York. A collision the night before between a schooner and the Oregon resulted in the greatest sea calamity in many years. The schooner was so badly damaged that it sank within a short time. The Oregon was able to remain afloat several hours. It began at once to send out signals of distress. The only form of signals available at that time was the firing of skyrockets.

Mr. Dirks, who had been in this country a number of years, returned to Germany in December, 1885, to bring his future wife back with him. Two months later his promised wife and her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Asmus Hinderks, came to this country. They crossed in the ocean liner Fulda. The Fulda and the Oregon left their European port at the same time, but the Oregon was a faster boat and it had gained nearly a day on the Fulda before it met with the ill-fated collision. Officers of the Fulda saw the distress signals and they put on full speed in an attempt to give aid. They reached the sinking Oregon in time to permit the 1200 Oregon passengers and crew all to be taken from the sinking vessel and transported safely to the Fulda. Within a short time after the captain of the Oregon had left his ship she took a nose dive and disappeared from sight forever. The rescuing was done during the daytime at a point about 150 miles from New York. The Fulda landed her double load of passengers safely at Hoboken the same day.

The Dirks family met with another tragedy on this trip. A day before they were due to land in this country Mrs. Dirks' mother died at sea and she was buried at Brooklyn. A special concession was made in their case which permitted them to bring the body with them to shore, when the rule of the sea is that those who die on board must be buried at sea at evening twilight time. Mrs. Dirks' mother was 69 years old at the time of her death. She had been in failing health a number of years before making the trip to this country. Following the burial of Mrs. Dirks mother, Mr. Dirks and his future wife and her father came to Grundy county. Mr. and Mrs. Dirks were married shortly after. The father made his home with them until he passed away a number of years ago.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 16 March 1933, pg 3


Grundy Documents maintained by Tammy D. Mount.
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