Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Oley Kriss, Perished Aboard the Kelley Island

Oley Kriss was born in Norway on February 9, 1873. In the 1910 U.S. Census, Oley lived with his wife Rose, and three children in Huron, Ohio. He later moved to Sandusky, Ohio. On May 2, 1925, Oley Kriss was part of a crew of sixteen men who left Sandusky in the morning, aboard the steamer the Kelley Island, a sandsucker owned by the Kelley Island Lime and Transport Company. The vessel capsized in rough water on the afternoon of May 2, 1925, just off Point Pelee in Canadian waters. Nine men perished in the disaster, including Captain William G. Slackford, his son William A. Slackford, Oley Kriss, Frederick Holder, William Mayer, Paul Everett, Rolland Will, Alvey Martin, and Thomas Moran. An article in the Sandusky newspaper stated:

Caught unawares, the crew showed heroism worthy of all traditions of the Great Lakes, four of the men going to their death in a valiant but futiile effort to stem the rush of water into the ship, the captain staying in the pilot house as the vessel keeled over, and one of the survivors braving death a second time to rescue his comrades.

Seven men were rescued, having been picked up by the crew of the Canadian fishing vessel the Flossie B. It was determined that the Kelley Island capsized and sank due to error in stowing her sandsucking equipment. Oley Kriss was only 52 years old, and he had resided at 1326 Hayes Avenue in Sandusky. He was survived by his wife and three children. Oley Kriss had worked on the Great Lakes for many years. Mr. Kriss was laid to rest at Oakland Cemetery.

You can read more about the disaster of the Kelley Island, and see the obituaries of several of those who perished, on pages 30 to 33 of the 1925 OBITUARY NOTEBOOK at the Sandusky Library.

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