ROOTS-L ArchivesArchiver > ROOTS > 1999-08 > 117125
Subject: Mystery - Drowning at Sea - Need HELP
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 21:29:29 EDT
When I received my great grandfather's death certificate , his cause of death
was quite a surprise, but the mystery did not stop there.
I felt an atricle on his death may have appeared in the local newspaper so I
wrote a letter to Santa Monica Library for a search. When I received their
response and copy of the article I was very happy. HOWEVER, although the
story matches in details, one major discrepancy came to light. The name in
the newspaper article did not MATCH the name on the death certificate
Has this happened to you? Should I assume newspaper article was wrong, or
did my ancestor use an alias?
Thanks for helping me solve this mystery.... Lilette Weatherspoon,
Death Certificate for:
William Henry Reeder, JR
Date of Death: April 3, 1915
Date Buried: April 12, 1915
Date of Birth: Nov 27, 1859
Age at Death: 55 years 4 months 6 days
Cause of Death: Drowning accidental - fishing boat capsized
Place of Burial: Woodlawn Cemetary, Inglewood, CA
Occupation: Wallpaper man & Painting
Birthplace: Sacramento, California
Name of Father: Wm H Reeder, SR
Birthplace of Father: GA
Maiden Name and birthplace of Mother: Unknown
Length of Residence in Santa Monica - about 1 year
Length of Residence in California 55 years 4 months 6 days
May 9, 1996
Ms Nancy ONeal
Head of Recerence Department
Santa Monica Library
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Re: Request for Research from The Daily Outlook
My great-great grandfather , William Henry REEDER died in April of 1915 off
the coast of Santa Monica in The Pacific Ocean. His date of death was April
3, 1915, and he was buried April 12, 1915 at Woodlawn Cemetery.
The response from Santa Monica Library was:
Dear Mrs. Weatherspoon
We have checked our local newspaper, the Daily Outlook for the week after
April 3, 1915, the death date given for William Henry Reeder, Jr and found an
article of a boating accident. The article found was in the April 3, 1915,
on both the front page and page six. However, the name given in the article
was different from the one your requested. Both pages are enclosed for you.
The following is the copy from the article she sent me:
Published April 3, 1915
The Daily Outlook Newspaper
Santa Monica, California
Fisherman Drowned Here
Boat Overturned in Stormy Sea
Companion Fails To Locate Victim
Earl J. Reeder, aged 60 years, was drowned before daylight this morning in
the heavy breakers off Palisades beach. His body at a late hour this
afternoon has not been recovered. Reeder was a partner of H. Muir, a local
fisherman who was also plunged from the boat in which they had embarked.
The fatal accident occurred about 5:30 oclock this morning. A dense fog
enveloped the beach and water. Muir said this morning that he wanted to wait
until daylight before starting out for the days catch, but that Reeder was
impatient to be off. Muir says he consented and Reeder took the oars.
Presently he discovered that instead of going to sea, the small craft was
headed for the shore.
Reeder had evidently lost his bearings in the total darkness. Just as Muir
was saying that he would take the oars and right the course, he says a wave
hit the boat. Hastening to get over to his partner who was helpless by this
time, he lost his balance and was tossed out into the sea as a second breaker
arose. He called to Reeder to stick to the boat whatever happened. Muir was
carried to shore and as he struck land, heard Reeder call for help.
Hurriedly stripping off his heavy clothing. Muir struck out in the pounding
surf in the direction of the cry for help, but could not locate the boat in
the pitch-darkness. Soon the shouts ceased.
Securing the assistance of fishermen of the stand near the band shell, he
continued his search but not until daylight came was the boat discovered. It
was then being pounded about the piling of the municipal pier and right side
up. It had been over-turned though, as the cargo of bait and lines were
As nearly as the survivor can determine, Reeder lost his life only a short
distance from the beach on the north side of the pier, probably not more than
half the distance to the end of the pier. Residents living in cottages on
Palisades beach were startled from their early morning slumbers by the
hallooing of Muir vainly trying to locate the drowning man.
The victim had been associated with Muir about one month. He claimed that he
was experienced in the ways of the sea and seemed to handle the boat and
lines all right. Only recently he rowed the boat from the Point to the pier.
A family consisting of a widow and three children survive in the home at Bel
Mar Place and Pico Blvd. (Lilette's note: Belmar is listed as residence on
Williams daughter Evelyn Iones birth certificate) One child died last
December. (Lilette's note: This clue led me to Evelyn Ione Reeder who died
at one year old)
The family has been in straightened circumstances for some months, the victim
of the drowning working at odd jobs wherever he could find work. He was
formerly employed by the board of education in painting school buildings.
(Lilette's note: My grandmother, his daughter, Lillian Maes birth
certificate lists father's occupation as Painter).
Another fisherman named James Ables of Eighth street and Indiana Avenue was
scheduled to join the party but decided not to go out. It is claimed that
had he, another experienced seaman, accompanied the party, the tragedy may
have been averted.