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Willesden - Voyage #1

S.S. Willesden arrives with an army of embryo citizens. Over 1800 must go into quarantine for 2 weeks, smallpox is on board the vessel. With the death rate of but half of what the S.S. Orteric had on the same trip, the British steamship Willesden, arrived in port yesterday morning after 52 days out from Gibraltar bringing 1,306 Spanish and 545 Portuguese immigrants and reporting of 27 deaths on board ship. All but 2 were children who died from natural causes, that is, from no contagious or infectious diseases.

There were 18 cases of smallpox on board, and 36 cases of other contagious diseases. Measles and chicken-pox will keep the ship in quarantine for 14 days before she is ready to sail on her way. On October 8, 1911, the Willesden, under the command of Captain C.E. Cox sailed from Gibraltar with a load of over 1800 souls, 25 of the 27 deaths were children. There were 5 births on the trip that brought the total to 1829. Only one stop was made on the whole voyage and that was at Puenta Arenas, where the Willesden coaled to bring her to Honolulu and no sight of land anymore.

When the Willesden arrived, she was immediately tied up on the quarantine wharf. She will be there for 14 days, to be fumigated. It will take about 9 days to have all who came on the ship delivered to the hands of the doctor, numbering about 200 a day. There were 2 cases of smallpox found on board ship at Puenta Arenas. It was spread from the clothes of the emigrants, a bill of health stated that there were a few cases of smallpox in that city of Oporto, Portugal.

Mr. Campbell and Dr. Victor Clark reports as soon as the smallpox broke out, all immigrants were vaccinated, some of the vaccination did not take. The smallpox can be smelt for some distance from the ship. It is all over the hands, and the bodies of the patients with great blisters. One reason for the outbreak of smallpox was that the vessel was overcrowded. Many more were brought than expected and several hundreds were left behind, because there were not enough accommodations. As soon as the news of the arrival of the immigrant ship was spread over the city, the waterfront was a mecca for hundreds of Spanish and Portuguese who wished to see some one from their native land. The wharf was black with them and more than a dozen boats went out to as near to the vessel so that they could try to recognize someone on board. The Willesden arrived on Sunday, 3 December 1911 with 1,829 immigrants.

Excerpts taken from the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 1911. State of Hawaii Library on microfilm, State of Hawaii Archives.

Thank you to Sandy Sakai for this contribution.
© 2003 Melody Lassalle

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