If you do not care for demure introductions to sensational stories then just jump past what follows to the sanguine meat of the feature itself. It begins directly below the photograph of the Moclips Weather Service ca. 1909
Today – and in the interests of posterity we will make a recorded note of it – this day, Saturday June 25, 2010, this Blog’s own Jean Sherrard heads out to the Pacific Coast to meet, dine and share more Moclips stories with members of the Museum of the North Beach and their heritage leader Kelly Calhoun. Jean is also making this visit to describe the joys and trials of making our book “Washington Now and Then.” And he is driving that scenic highway to thank Kelly and the citizens of and near Moclips for the records they set in distributing the book. Moclips, of course, was one the subjects that we featured in our book.
We add what follows as evidence of our continued fascination with Moclips history. Recent and disturbing news from Kelly had Jean and I putting our heads together – feeling concerned. His letter about ghost busters visiting the museum and their, it seems, success in finding a few spirits to bust, helped us to recall some Moclips news reports, oddly out of an old London newspaper, that surfaced while we were – now long ago – assembling our book. While there was no place to make note of them in “Washington Then and Now” we do now. Although we could not recover the clips themselves, we remembered, between us, their particulars and, with the support of Grays Harbor historian Gene Woodwick, have confidently assembled the story below, which is actually three short stories concerning Moclips fated nights, first that of its biggest storm – its “One Hundred Year Storm” of Feb. 12 1911.
How soon we have forgotten. Even long ago, in the respected depression-time 1941 publication “Washington, A Guide to Washington State,” no mention was made either of the 1911 storm or the weird events we will soon reconstruct below. Instead, Moclips is described briefly as “a busy little settlement, supported largely by its shingle mill. The Moclips High School serves the oceanside region north of Grays Harbor, and its gymnasium is used for community gatherings. On the northern outskirts is the Moclips Fire Observatory (open), atop a 175-foot fir tree.” We think it unlikely that such an observatory would have survived the events of 1911.
MOCLIPS EXSANGUINATIONS 1911
In Moclips, and now nearly a century ago, between the great Pacific Coast poundings of 1911 and 1913, storms whose damage is recorded in spectacular photos at the time, “Moclips Mysteries” occurred which remain uncanny to this day.
The most alarming of these took place on a small dairy farm. The family name is barely remembered for they changed it and moved away soon after the events described below. But in 1911 they were known as the Van Hooverens. (This is confirmed by Grays Harbor historian Gene Woodwick who rarely makes things up. Readers who have combed her most recent book Ocean Shores will, we wager, not have found a single mistake in it. We have attached her addendum, near the bottom.)
The Van Hooverens brief stay near Moclips may have as much to do with their eldest daughter Arabella’s best chances as with milk and cheese. She was an enthused student of the Moclips Finishing School that rented several rooms on the top or third floor of the north wing of the Moclips Beach Hotel. After only six weeks of study she gave her first “Famous Adagios” recital, which was appreciated for its steadfast sincerity and the length of the program. The destructive storm put an end to the school, and immediate hopes for the Van Hooveran’s daughter of moving on to the Portland Music Conservatory. We know, of course, that it also put an end to much else in Moclips.
The Van Hooverens were a first generation Dutch family. They are also believed to have produced the first Edam cheeses in the Pacific Northwest, although aside from one small fragment of ephemera this evidence is anecdotal, which is to say that it is a story also told by the admired historian Woodwick. No actual cheese or cheeses survive, just part of a cheese wrapper that reads in fragment “Eat’em Eda,” which surely would be completed as “Eat’em Edam Cheeses.” Their mysterious story follows.
On the fateful Sunday of Moclips’ biggest storm day, February 12, 1911, two of their finest milk cows disappeared from their stalls. The next morning, Jan (probably for Jandon or Jandor) Van Hooveren, finding the barn door open and the cows, Marjolin and Mijn, missing, raised a cry. Jan, his wife (Annika or Anneke), two daughters, and three sons scoured the farm and surrounding fields for these valuable animals. The melk boer (milk farmer) began to lose hope that neither hide nor hair would be found of either, but then before sundown on Monday the 13th the cows were stumbled upon by a young couple who had hurried to the coast from Wenatchee. Having heard of the storm’s fury, particularly visited upon Moclips, they rushed to the site aboard the Great Northern Railroad and were already exploring wreckage and the brusied landscape when along the beachfront they came upon the two cows, side by side, and partially buried in the sand. Further examination determined that both animals had died, not from any visible trauma, but most unusually from loss of blood. While neither showed obvious injuries, each carried two small wounds on the neck, located proximate to major arteries. It was surmised that the complete exsanguinations of the cows was accomplished through these wounds alone.
Jean and I both remembered that the clipping on this extraordinary event was headlined either “Two Cows Give Blood Up” or “Two Cows Give Up Blood.” Jean came upon it first while researching for the book “Washington Then and Now” but that is long ago and our memories of all this may be twisted in some points. At that time we, again, made note of it to Northwest historian Gene Woodwick who had also heard of the “exsanguinations sensations”, as she put it and expressed it with an ease that was way beyond either of us. But then the regional historian still knew little more about what was done with the cows or why the Van Hooverens were also swept so thoroughly from the community. (Persons doubting the above or wanting more information may contact Gene – if they can find her.) We remember that the story was not clipped from any regional paper but rather appeared in a London daily. Most likely that first story went over the wire and got little more than that one London chance for being published. That was but the first mysterious event.
A second and uncannily related event also involves a death by loss of blood – this time human blood, and again nearby Moclips. After Bjorn Sandberg was violently struck on his skull and knocked from his wagon by a tree limb during the 1913 storm, his son ran home to alert his mother Inge. When they returned less than an hour later they were startled to find the father-husband bleached as white as the foam pushed ashore by the storm. The discovery sent mother and child into shock. They clutched each other throughout the night and into the following day and could not be pried apart even by other loving hands. Without the ability to express their wishes or give instructions, the body was left lying in the road where the father had first been knocked from his wagon. As with the bovines Marjolin and Mijn, Van Hooverens’ drained livestock, Bjorn was also left bloodless.
The third and again resonant event involved Martha Connelly, a young Sunday school teacher visiting from Aberdeen two years later in 1915. While visiting her married sister Dorothy (whose last name may have been Perkins) in Moclips, Miss Connelly agreed to mount a Christmas pageant with the primary school children. Late one evening, after a long and exhausting rehearsal, Martha was alone at the schoolhouse, putting up streamers and “festoons for the faithful” of all sorts. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of a figure passing by the window and assumed it was her brother-in-law Vernon, come to escort her home. In an account written up in a family “vanity history” (i.e. genealogy), Martha described putting out the lamps and stepping outside onto the schoolhouse porch. As she fumbled for her keys, footsteps approached. She glanced about, expecting to see Vernon, but in an instant, a dark figure (“all claws and teeth,” she claimed) leapt atop her forcing her to the ground. Powerful fingers held down one of her arms. Expecting the worst, the devout Martha closed her eyes and prayed while making the sign of the cross with her free hand. To her surprise, after feeling a sudden piercing but not unpleasant pain in her neck, as if two sharp knitting needles had been skillfully slipped into the side of her neck, the “thing” fled.
Vernon Perkins had indeed been sent by Martha’s sister to bring her home for a late supper. Save for her saving from prayer and cross-marking, Martha, too, may have ended her life sucked dry of blood. Vernon saw the thing but barely, for it was already in flight when he arrived and disappeared quickly from his lantern light. It was “rat like” in appearance, though it would have been the largest rat ever seen in the northwest coast being, Vern guessed, some six feet long. It was dressed elegantly too – “dressed to kill.” Martha bore those two little scars for the rest of her life. She felt most fortunate at having survived the attack and proud as well. Following the attack she did not continue with the Christmas pageant, but later learned to enjoy telling the story of her night with what she insisted was a vampire.
Although, it seems, long forgotten – or perhaps repressed – by the community there survives another belief, which may be related. During the great storm of Feb 12, 1911 that destroyed most of his great Moclips Beach Hotel, Dr. Edward Lycan fell into a panic, or rather a trance and through the duration of the storm he seemed to be without pain or anguish. Those who cared for him those few hours when he was incongruously serene but witless were puzzled then by his repeated and kind advice: “They want our blood, you know. It’s the blood they want.” When told of this later the Aberdeen doctor had neither memory of his temporary madness nor any explanation for the message he insisted on repeating. Several Moclips citizens, however, put their own interpretation on the doctor’s brief lapse. They had heard – and independently – the gale-force winds of that winter storm howling “cud, cud, chew on cud!” or alternatively, “stud, put them out to stud!” One of them, a bartender heard a different refrain. He insisted that it was “We want blood sausage?” that was being shouted and the bartender felt pretty certain it was a group of Spanish sailors, stranded by the gale and pining for their native chorizo. Yet another heard the storm cry aloud “blood blood, we want blood” so plaintively and with such compassion that she only wished that she might that night have given to the winds some of her own blood.
Although Jean and I agreed to put our “heads together” to recreate the above – and without the original sources – we are still confident of the Connelly, Sandberg and Dr. Lycan stories, however, we cannot speak with such certainty for the grotesquely-sized exsanguinations of the Hooverens’ poor Marjolin and Mijn. For those milk cows historian Woodwick’s addendum, which now follows is most helpful.
Van Hooveren’s Cow (from Gene Woodwick)
As you know I am adequately equipped to relate this historical information regarding the Van Hooveren’s cow shown in the attached image. You can see by the photo the farm was located on a meander channel near the Moclips River. The family was famed – although briefly – for its dairy cattle and their products which they supplied to the Moclips Hotel.
As is well known, farmers of that era fertilized their fields with the abundance of spawning salmon from the rivers. Van Hooveran’s were no exception. The purity of the Quinault blueback salmon oil not only produced a rich milk from which the family made excellent cheese, but it also produced pigs with a moist fat content that made the hams and pork sought after. The Hotel featured the Van Houvern’s bacon on the dining room breakfast menu.
The Moclips Madness cheese was easily broken down into salmon balls that accompanied the fine bakery products from the Moclips Bakery. Although some thought the pure milk a little too fishy for their taste, others touted the health benefit of the milk so rich in vitamin D. Further south of Moclips where Dr. Chase operated the Iron Springs Health Spa, his clientele was enamored by the Van Houvern’s milk products and would have no other. After all, old iron bed springs, well hidden upstream from the health facility, provided a wealth of minerals enabling guests to go home full of vim and vigor.
I do hope this historical information is of great value to you and Jean. Especially the fine photograph that illustrates so well the life of farm animals along the Grays Harbor coast.
Happy for Moclips,