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Mutiny on the Aberdeen

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | Comments Off on Mutiny on the Aberdeen

aberdeenFrom the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library

In the last few years we have read about cruise ship vacations gone bad, to the point where the passengers form a “mutiny.” As we can see by the May 31, 1900 article from Port Townsend’s Weekly Leader, this sort of thing is nothing new:


Wild Rumors Circulated to the Effect that Passengers Had Mutinied.


Forty Men and Women Compelled to Remain on Crowded Deck Over Night.

“Wild rumors were floating up and down the coast yesterday and correspondents here were queried relative to the report that mutiny had occurred on board the steam schooner Aberdeen, which sailed for Cape Nome last Monday, and that the captain in order to quell the mutiny had killed the men. This report as it traveled lost none of its sensational features and the coast press was anxious to secure a confirmation or denial and hence correspondents here received numerous telegrams of inquiry, but were unable to obtain anything further than the report.”

“However, from all accounts there was some trouble aboard the vessel before she passed Cape Flattery and after getting out to sea there is every indication that more trouble occurred, but probably to no such serious extent as indicated in the rumors.”

“One of the Aberdeen‘s passengers sent the following to the Oregonian, which gives a fair insight into the condition of affairs on board of that vessel before she passed out to sea, and under such conditions before the vessel reached the billowy ocean, when passengers commenced getting seasick, it is a hard matter to conjecture just what might happen and perhaps it was on the strength of which the wild rumors were circulated:”

“Aboard the Aberdeen, Neah Bay, May 21, 2 P.M.– The steamer Aberdeen left Seattle at 2:30 this morning, with over 300 passengers, and accommodations for but 160. Many of those aboard loudly demanded return of passage money and over 40 men and women were kept on the crowded decks over night without berths.”

“Towards morning the passengers became mutinous, and the order was given to put in to Port Townsend and discharge the overloaded vessel, which order was soon changed by the captain when it became evident that many of those on board were anxious for a chance to libel the ship for breach of contract and obtaining money under false pretenses.”

“Neah Bay was the selected as a favorable port for discharging the angered argonauts, which, on account of the lack of Aberdeen 2telegraphic communication and inability of the injured ones to secure legal action, was an ideal harbor in which to unload.”

“Passengers and crew were fighting all night. Women and men were sleeping out on the open on hay bales. The officers were independent and insolent, and offered but little assistance to the unfortunate ones who had paid $125 for a worse than steerage accommodation.”

“The decks were piled high with freight of all descriptions, including 40 head of horses, lumber, hay, boats, etc. The inspectors passed so many on board that there is not over 60 cubic feet of air space to each passenger, while the deck space is so limited that there is no opportunity for any exercise whatever, and they are compelled to remain in the stuffy staterooms, while there are six sleeping in rooms 6×7 feet, or considerably less than 60 cubic feet for each passenger. So much freight was loaded at the last moment that it was decided to take the inside passage, in order to lesson the danger to life.”

“The passengers are furious, and threaten legal action against the promoters of the iniquitous enterprise, as well as bodily injury to members of the crew. Unless something is done to alleviate their grievances, a general uprising will result and passengers will take matters into their own hands.”

“Shipping men on the Sound are unanimous in saying that if the inspector would establish a rule not to allow any craft, no matter what her condition or what trade he wished to engage in, more than double her regular passenger allowance, it would quickly put a stop to vessels putting to sea in the cramped condition of the Aberdeen and a dozen others this month. Such a rule would allow the Aberdeen 62 passengers, fully 200 less than she had on board when she lay alongside the dock in Seattle.”

The Aberdeen was among the first ships to bring legions of goldseekers to Cape Nome. Obviously  commercial maritime transportation was caught by surprise when gold fever hit the lower 48.

Coffee-O the Alchemist

Thursday, January 10th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | Comments Off on Coffee-O the Alchemist

Coffee-O 1From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

The random reel for this week contained the following article from the Dec. 17, 1920 issue of the South Bend Journal:


 Had Troubled Career — Is Sure He Can Make Gold — Fears Government Will Stop Him — Has Improved His Coffee Substitute.

 “After over two years absence Albert Cornell, better known as ‘Coffee-O’ after a coffee substitute he invented, arrived in the city looking prosperous and more confident than ever that he had discovered the method of making gold by the combination of certain gases. It may be remembered that he came here first and opened a dyeing establishment and then left town and in about a year returned with a preparation in which peanuts and grains had a large part which made a very good substitute for coffee. It became locally popular and the local merchants pushed it. It bade fair to be a success but Cornell was more interested in making gold directly than in making it indirectly through profits on ‘Coffee-O.’ Then also the prices of the materials rose as the war progressed and the manufacture of the substitute was not so profitable. He carried on his experiments for making gold mostly at night and produced so much foul smelling smoke and so got on the nerves of his neighbors with his frequent explosions that the city authorities twice made him move and he finally made his last stand just outside the city limits in Alta Vista with the Hummel family.”

“As Cornell is an Austrian by birth and was not naturalized the impression became widespread that he was making bombs, or trying to, and then mysterious bundles were taken to his place by night and a German friend of his was caught coming from there with a gunny sack containing bottles and then there was a new theory that he was making moonshine when Cornell declares that all he was doing was giving his friend some medicine of his own concoction. Cornell was watched by the county and city authorities and he decided to leave town and go to Seattle, where he consulted the then District Attorney, Clay Allen, who advised him to go to Washington City. He went there not knowing that, as a citizen of an enemy country, like Austria, his presence in the District of Columbia was forbidden. Fortunately for him he reported at the Washington police station, showing that he was acting in good faith. He was promptly arrested and jailed but through the efforts of Congressman Johnson and Senator Chamberlain he was released and he returned to Puget Sound and located in Tacoma where he experimented with his ‘Coffee-O’ and later resumed his explosive attempts to make gold and he declares that he was never molested by his neighbors in Tacoma as their nerves were evidently not so easily jarred by violent eruptions and vile smelling smoke.”

Coffee-O 2

 Afraid of Government

 “Cornell is just as positive as ever that he can make gold and declares that he is now awaiting an assayer’s report on some of his last batch of artificial ‘ore’ and that he has on hand a large quantity of the ore, or material which he has made from which he can easily extract gold. His only anxiety is that the government won’t let him make gold after he has demonstrated that he can make it cheaply, presumably because it will revolutionize the monetary system of the world because it is based on gold. He declares that other investors and discoverers have been discredited and hooted at before they made good on their discoveries and he says that he is in that class.”

Coffee-O Extract Good

 “Leaving his gold experiments aside he has really greatly improved his coffee substitute and has a good thing in that. He has interested Tacoma capital and it is being given a thorough trial. He now makes a liquid extract from the original ‘Coffee-O’ so that all that has to be done is to put a teaspoon of the extract into a cup of hot water and you have a very good coffee substitute. He says that he has changed his formula too somewhat and now makes four by products which will sell for enough to more than make the extract pure velvet. After making the extract he says that he can make from the residue ‘mapleine’ which is used to make an excellent imitation of maple sugar and syrup, a breakfast cereal and a salad oil, all of superior quality. He is apparently amply supplied with funds. He is here visiting the Hummel family.”

With the help of Robert Bailey’s North Pacific County Newspaper Index, 1889-1981 I was able to track down a bit more information on “Coffee-O” Cornell.

He was born Albert Kornelius, July 1, 1887 in the Bukovina region of the Austrian Empire to German parents. He arrived in the United States on Dec. 15, 1905 and within a short time unofficially changed his name to Albert Cornell. By 1910 he was living in Aberdeen, but then made his way to South Bend, where he set up a laboratory.

His “Coffee-O” product was patented in 1915 and apparently enjoyed some initial economic and critical success, buying him time to experiment with creating artificial gold.

But his activities frightened the neighbors. They complained about the toxic fumes, the noises, the explosions. Finally, in 1917, he was arrested and his operations shut down as a public nuisance. When he appeared before the City Council to argue his case, the debate became so heated one councilman invited Cornell to step outside where they could settle the matter with fists, but Coffee-O didn’t take the bait.

He lived in Tacoma throughout the 1920s. In Feb. 1928 he landed in the hospital as the result of a powerful explosion, a blast that destroyed his home and disfigured his person to some degree. He refused to divulge the purpose of his experiment.

Coffee-O Cornell appears in the Tacoma City Directory up to 1930 and then vanishes only to resurface in the 1940 census as a patient in Western State Hospital. He was an intriguing character who left us with a long trail of little mysteries.

Freedom Tails

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services, News, State Library Collections, Technology and Resources | Comments Off on Freedom Tails

Dogs and trainers holding books at the SCCC Library
A visit to the SCCC Library

The Freedom Tails newsletter is a fun, uplifting and heartwarming chronicling of the canine training program at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, WA.  It follows the exploits of the shelter dogs being trained by the inmate trainers during the 12-week program that prepares the dogs to be adopted by private owners.

The newsletter was captured, cataloged and archived by the Historical & Digital Collections Program at the Washington State Library (WSL).  It came to our attention through the Washington State Depository Program which is mandated by law to capture, archive, catalog, and make available to the public publications from state agencies.  More information about the State Depository program can be found here.

Leroy Graduating
Leroy Graduating

The newsletter highlights the biography and photographs of each shelter dog selected for the program.  The circumstances that brought them to the program are as varied as the circumstances of their inmate trainers.  The benefits for the inmates, inmate trainers, dogs and the community are described along with follow ups of how the dogs are doing at their adoptive homes.  It is hard to tell which benefits more from Freedom Tails—inmates, dogs or the community.

If you believe in rehabilitation, second chances and changes of the heart, you may want to follow this newsletter.  If you are interested in adopting a dog or supporting the program, this site may be of interest to you.

–Pam Griffith

Stafford Creek is Going to the Dogs

Friday, January 28th, 2011 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 2 Comments »

Canine patrons check out the latest issue of BARK.

Stafford Creek Corrections Center has long welcomed the dogs from “Freedom Tails” dog program into the library, but never more so than on Library Snapshot Day 1/11/11.

Many of the dog handlers are regular library patrons and they made a point to visit the library and were very happy to get their pictures taken. It went so well that they made it into the local newspaper of Aberdeen, The Daily World.

Click on picture for full article.