Willie Aubrey CLOWER Shanghaied!
Willie Aubrey CLOWER is my Great Grand Uncle. Below are the scanned images
of a letter dated 24 Aug 1908 written by Florence Myrtle CLOWER Key in Gurdon,
Clark County, Arkansas, USA to her sister, Sallie. The letter tells the
story of their brother, Willie Aubrey CLOWER being shanghaied.
Gurdon, Aug 24, 1908
Dear Sallie -
I am going to write you good news, but it is a long story but hope I will
get it told so you will understand it. We were made so happy yesterday by
receiving a long letter from Aubrey telling why he had been silent so long.
When he left to come here, he got to Memphis to late for the Little Rock
train so had to stay there till 9 oclock that night. Well he walk around
all day that eveing got his supper, walk around some more, than decided
it time to go to the depot.
Instead of going down Main St he just walked along 4st. and that was a long
the river and not lighted very well. While crossing one of the dark places
he was struck on the head when he came to his self he was in such a dark
place and found his hands and feet tied so all he could do was to call when
he did so some one answered not very far away but to his supprise the other
man (Albert Morison) by name had been caught about the same way. Well after
awhile they began to move and they found out they were on a steam boat.
They were carried along in this dark little place with only half enough
to eat for 12 day then they were transfered to what is called a whaling
ship they are ships that are out to sea two and three years, and they pay
men so little that they cant get them so they kidnap them as they did Aubrey.
Oh they were treated so mean and made to work there was only the Captian
and two mates, one negro, 10 dagoes, Albert and Aubrey. They had stolen
them all. I can't tell you near all, but Oh, how we all
cried and laught but the letter was so sad he said he could have stood the
treatment and hard eating but then he would think of the supence we and
Tannie was in he would nearly go crazy. Well they went along for some time
still going South till a storm came up the vessel was wrecked he and Albert
wouldn't go in the life boat with the captian but tied there selves together
and jusp in the water it was so cold they nearly froze. They caught on a
piece of timber; the storm didn't calm down till morning then they floated
miles to an iland. It was all covered with snow they were froze so stiff
tell they could hardly move but he kept rubbing and beating his self till
he could walk, he had some matches but had to wait for them to dry and out
of they all he got a fire started poor Albert was not able to do any thing
and had such a cold and his fever was being to rise, well Aubrey built a
good fire then went around to see what he could find, but the iland was
small and only found snow and ice. He came back to the fire and staid till
morning then went in serch of something to eat found a few fish came
and cooked them over the fire and eat them without salt or bread. Albert
was worse couldnt eat any thing poor boy grew worse and next morning died
just think poor Aubrey out on a lonely iland and the only person on earth
was there dead he buried him in a cave as he nothing to dig a grave then
he was there 14 day before a ship came along I cant keep from crying every
time I think of it I dont know how he kept from going crazy but he said
he knew it was our prayers that saved him. When he saw the ship he said
he nearly went crazy for fear they wouldnt see him but he made a fire then
took off his shirt and made a flag and waved it and hollorred with all his
strength till they saw him they sent a boat out and took him on board it
was a French vessel bound for Sidney Australia the Captian could talk a
little English so he told his story he was sick for two weeks but as soon
has he was able he worked for his passage they landed in Sidney the 20 of
back to the U.S. the next day on the San Predro working his passage they
landed in Seattle Wash. Aug. 19 and will come home as soon as he get money
enough but we can't wait for him to make it but will send it to him. I just
wish you could have read his letter it was the sadest I ever read. The boy
Albert hadn't seen his mother in 4 years and was on his way to see her when
he was caught he gave A. her address and told him to write her what became
of him. I for got to tell where the iland was. The captian of the vessel
that picked his up said he was 150 below Cape Horn just
think he has been around the globe, he wrote us and Fannie while on board
the ship and mailed it in Seattle as soon as he landed.
You may let Eugenia see this I have been busy writting letters since yesterday.
We are all so thankfun that we just held a praise meeting all day yesterday.
We are all very well but moma I must go up there to see her this eve. The
boys went to Mrs. Gavins and got your cro. board but the little rubbers
are all off and no disk if you can get the disk there send them
I will pay for them the boys are anxious to get them to pay checkers.
Well I never would have known any better about the money for the patterns
if you had not writtin for I put in 16 cts and sent the letter to Mr. Herren
for the money for hers and he mailed it and didnt put in any thing we had
a big laugh about it he saw some stamps in it and thought that was all we
wanted. I have made two waist by the big pattern and they are real pretty.
Aubrey got home all OK. & reported a nice time I have been thinking I would
write Eugenia ever since he came but it is to hot to stay in at night &
seems I never have time during the day. My dinner dishes are on the table
now waitting for Sallie to wash them.
Everything is very dull so I cant think any more to write this time but
I guess this is enough for one time. I havent but one thing on my mind any
way & that is Aubrey & how God has taken care of him & brought him back
so we could hear from him just think if he had died out on that iland we
would have never have known what became of him so rejoice with us he is
well and on the way home. Write as often as you can & get the disk if you
can find them
Your loving sister
Envelope with the text, "Aunt Myrtle's letter giving an account of her brother,
Aubrey's kidnapping and escape. Written Aug. 28, 1908. Mrs. Myrtle Clower
Key - Mrs. Ira Key." This is not the original envelope.
My Great Grand Uncle Willie Aubrey CLOWER was born on 4 Jul 1877
in Texas, USA. He died on 30 Aug 1909 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee,
USA. Located in 1880 Census in Youngsport, Bell County, Texas, USA. Aubrey
came back to Arkansas and went to work in a sawmill and in 1909 he was killed
in a sawmill accident. He was 31 years old at the time of this letter.
My Great Grandmother Florence Myrtle CLOWER Key was born on 21
Aug 1875 in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas, USA. She died on 5 Aug 1946
in Smackover, Union County, Arkansas, USA. Located in 1880 Census in Youngsport,
Bell County, Texas, USA.
My Grandfather Aubrey Terrell KEY was born on 19 Jul 1896 in Rogers,
Bell County, Texas, USA. He died on 22 Mar 1983 in Austin, Travis County,
Texas, USA. He was buried on 24 Mar 1983 in Seaside Memorial Park, Corpus
Christi, Nueces County, Texas, USA.
Aubrey Terrell KEY remembered when his shanghaied uncle came home.
His Uncle Aubrey arrived on the train in the late afternoon or early evening
and the family stayed up all night talking and hearing the "story." According
to my Grandfather, the Captain gave Uncle Aubrey $10 when they landed in
Seattle with which he bought some clothes.
The letter mentions Tannie and Fannie but my mother thinks they may be
the same person - Uncle Aubrey's wife.
Last updated on January 17, 2014