Mount Union Stories: William Kriens (1864-1897)

Published as it appeared on Feb. 24, 1897, in the Corvallis Times, Page 3, Column 4.

INTO THE RIVER

Another Benton County man Dies in a Drowning Accident.

William Kriens, a son of K. Kriens and a son-in-law of A. Coverstein, both residing in the vicinity of Philomath, died in a drowning accident at Salem Monday morning. The accident happened along the Salem water front at half past seven a.m. and as told by the Capital Journal the facts were as follows: Kriens was cook on the steamer, Ramona, plying between Independence and Portland. The boat had arrived at Salem on the down trip, and the crew were taking on cargo. As the men worked, a loud splash in the water attracted their attention. A cry for help from the other side of the boat explained the trouble, and a hasty survey showed Kriens struggling in the water. A boat was quickly lowered, but before it could reach him, the struggling man sank out of sight. He was seen no more. The boat’s crew at once began a search, and for an hour dragged the river. Then they continued their trip to Portland, leaving a couple of men to continue the search. At last accounts, the body had not been recovered.

John Kriens, a brother, was in town yesterday, awaiting the arrival of the wife of the deceased. With her husband and child she has resided in Portland since they moved from Benton county about six months ago. There is no theory for the accident beyond the fact that Kriens had a badly sprained ankle, and it is supposed that in moving about the deck, some sudden turn or wrench of the ailing member caused him to fall overboard. He was aged about 30 or 35 years. The accident is the fourth of the sort to happen along the upper Willamette since last December.

Published as it appeared on June 18, 1897, in the Daily Capital Journal, Salem, Page 4, Column 5.

REMAINS

Of Unknown Man Found.

Supposed to Be Those of Steamboat Cook Kriens

A badly decomposed body lies in Clough’s undertaking parlors on State street awaiting identification. It was found in the Willamette river at a point about three miles north of Salem and the general supposition is that the remains are those of Wm. Kriens, cook on the steamboat Ramona, who lost his life in this city by drowning on the morning of Feb. 22, last. There are no means of identification other than the clothes found with the badly decomposed body. Coroner Clough thinks it probable that the remains have been in water from four to six months.

The body was discovered about 9 a.m. today by Wm. Hughes and a companion. They were walking along the bank of the river in the vicinity of the poor farm when their attention was arrested by a stench like that of a dead animal. They at once investigated the premises and found the badly decomposed body of a man lying face downward in about two feet of water close to the bank of the river. The body was partly secluded from view by a clump of willow trees.

The men notified Coroner Clough immediately of their strange find and that gentleman at once took charge of the remains, removing them to his undertaking establishment.

The remains are those of an unusually large man, being apparently fully six feet in height and of muscular build.

The remains were dressed in plain working clothes and lace shoes, which strengthened the belief that the remains are those of Wm. Kriens, who accidentally lost his life by drowning in this city, last February.

M.P. Baldwin, local agent for the O.C.T. Co., and Chas. F. Boothby, who frequently saw the man when about the river front, called at the morgue this afternoon and viewed the remains. The gentlemen almost positively identified the remains as those of Kriens, from shirt found with the remains for it was exactly like the one Kriens was accustomed to wear.

Two parties were drowned at Corvallis during the past winter and one of the bodies was recovered. It is barely possible the remains found by Mr. Hughes today may be of those of Elgin, the liveryman, who was drowned at Corvallis several weeks since but it is more probable they are those of Steamboat Cook Kriens.

NOT THE CORVALLIS MAN

Coroner Clough held a conversation this afternoon via the telephone with the father and brother of Elgin, the Corvallis liveryman, when he elicited this information that the man found in the Willamette today is not Elgin. When he disappeared the Corvallis man was attired in a whiteshirt while his pants were of a blue material with white stripes. He also wore “toothpick” shoes while those found with the remains are indeed quite broad. Instead of a white shirt the man found today wore a blue shirt dotted with white, while his pants are a dark material.

Coroner Clough is yet undecided as to whether he will hold an inquest. He will wait until other parties have viewed the remains, in hopes that they may be positively identified.

Published as it appeared on June 21, 1897, in the Daily Capital Journal, Salem, Page 4, Column 3.

INQUEST

Held on Sunday Afternoon

Jury Determines the Remains to Be Those of Kriens

At 2 p.m. Sunday, Coroner A.M. Clough proceeded to conduct an inquest over the remains of an unknown man found in the Willamette river, about three miles north of Salem, Friday morning. The jury consisted of Fred Wickstrom, H.F. Jory, James Batchelor, W.W. Hepburn, J.S. Walker and E. Huff, the latter being selected as foreman.

C.N. Tanner, who resides about two and one-half miles east of Salem, was the first witness: Was at wharf, with wife, on the morning of February 22, and while on upper deck heard a man fall overboard. He came to the surface twice and called for help. A life preserver and a bench were thrown to him by the boat crew, but he was unable to save himself. Did not see the man distinctly enough to recognize his features.

A.W. Graham and A.J. Spong, present purser and captain respectively of the Ramona were next called. Neither were on the Ramona on the morning of the accident but recognized the clothing found with the body as that worn by the steamboat cook. The witness stated the cook to be of good habits and temperate.

Engineer Walker Kaiser, was next called. Saw the man come up last time, everything done to save him. The witness also identified the clothing found with the body as exactly like that worn by the deceased steamboat cook.

The next witness called was Wm. Hughes, who with a companion discovered the body in the river Friday morning. His story was in accordance with the facts published in The Journal Friday evening.

M.P. Baldwin, local agent for the O.C.T. Co., told of the drowning of the man. Identified the remains and clothing as those of Kriens.

Dr. C.H. Robertson: Body has appearance of being in water from four to six months; is badly decomposed, his features are unrecognizable. He was about six feet in height.

C.E. Thibodeau, who with Mr. Hughes found the body, was next called and corroborated the statement of Mr. Hughes.

T.M. Ecker — Saw man in water. He disappeared within a very few minutes. Heard him call for help.

Mrs. Anna Kriens, of Portland — Mr. Kriens was an American. Would have been 33 in August. Identified the clothing found with the body as that worn by her deceased husband.

This concluded the taking of testimony and after a few moments deliberation, the jury returned the following verdict:

“That deceased was Wm. Kriens, was a native of the United States, was about 33 years old; that he came to his death on the 22nd day of February, 1897, by accidentally falling off of the Steamer Ramona at Salem, Marion county, Oregon, on the 22nd day of February, 1897, by being then and there drowned, and that the officers and crew are exonerated from any blame whatever.”

REMAINS INTERRED

The remains of the deceased steamboat cook were shipped to Philomath via Steamer Albany, Sunday afternoon, where they were given interment this morning.

Philomath
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