By Elleda Wilson
Posted: September 2, 2011
“The last of the ROBERT HENDRICKS children have passed away,” Hendricks family member KAREN McGUFFIN wrote to the Ear, “and the new generation planned a family reunion at Fort Stevens to visit the PETER IREDALE.” Pictured above, some of the family members gathered at the Aug. 13 reunion.
So what’s the family’s connection to the shipwreck? In 1960, CLIFF HENDRICKS, Karen’s uncle, claimed ownership of the Iredale, saying he inherited it from his grandfather’s estate, and that he intended to remove and salvage what was left.
Karen hoped the reunion would illuminate “the history of the Peter Iredale, and my grandfather, Robert Hendricks, and the controversial impact it took on when my Uncle Cliff wrote an article for the Oregon City newspaper.”
“What seemed like a joke to my uncle at the time turned into much more than anyone had expected!” Karen noted. Her uncle’s claim was met with several threats, including: arrest, 54 years of property rental fees and personal property taxes, and according to The Daily Astorian, “possible bodily harm from such groups as the Astoria Clowns, Royal Chinooks, Clatsop Historical Society and others which have offered to stand guard over the Iredale and defend it physically if necessary.” (tinyurl.com/claimire)
The furor over his claim on the Iredale may have been a tempest in a teapot, but Karen’s interest in the shipwreck is genuine. She even found, and has corresponded with, Thomas Iredale of Germany, grandson of the original owner. “As long as the Peter Iredale is there,” Karen declared, “we will continue to share the story.”
Reprinted with the permission of The Daily Astorian of Astoria, Oregon.