Names of the Scow Tragedy victims vary
The graves of the six Turks in Beverly Cemetery have never been properly marked since they met their deaths on that ill-fated day of October 20, 1914. There may have been an effort to mark the graves with stones years ago. An article by Helen White in The Parkersburg News (September 27, 1970) included a picture of two ladies examining “several small, crumbling stones” at the grave site.
Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the scow tragedy. It has been suggested that a plaque should be placed at the burial site in remembrance of their sacrifice. This started an investigation to determine the correct spelling of their names. Knowing that spelling variations of American names are very common, a researcher can struggle for hours to get the name right. Considering that six are Turkish names, the task is even more difficult. In this article the names are listed as printed in the different sources. There will be a discussion concerning why the spelling of the names vary.
By the time of this accident, Ohio counties were required to complete a death certificate for each deceased person. These records are now on line. The names on the certificates of the six Turks, filed consecutively, are S. Buyrum, age 35; S. Lamon, age 26; R. Buyrum, age 22; J. Byrum, age 28; H. Rumunbum, age 30; and M. Rumuini, age 25. All six were married. Parents were unknown. The source for the personal data was Robert Gardurn of Beverly. The cause of death was “accidental drowning” as determined by Coroner J. D. Parr. These records were probably the first time the victims’ names were written down after their deaths. Some of the newspaper reporters may have used these death certificates, which would have been on file in Marietta.
The story was reported in two local papers on October 20, 1914, the same day as the tragedy. The Marietta Register-Leader noted, “Very seldom did the men speak and as the reporter approached the interpreter he was motioned away. There are but two men among the fifty Turks that can speak English. One of these men told the reporter the names of the drowned men.” The paper listed brothers S. Byrum, L. Byrum, B. Byrum; M. Rumum, S. Lerna, and H. Ramundun. This account is different because three are listed as brothers. The story also appeared in the Marietta Daily Journal on the same day of the event. This account provides a very different list of names and it is the only source that gives their first names. The names are Soula Beira, Jeoffre Beira, Sellum Lema, Raomma Botjie, Ozera Raomma and Mela Raemma. The article says, “From an interpreter, who is with the colony, the names of the dead men are obtained . . . ” The article states that there were two sets of brothers. Only the surname Beira is repeated. If there was another set of brothers, one of the men must have been named Botjie Raomma (instead of reversed as given in the newspaper).
The account of the tragedy in The Parkersburg Dispatch News on October 21, 1914, lists the names S. Byrum, L. Byrum, B. Byrum, R. Rumum, S. Lerna and H. Ramadan. These names were probably obtained from the county death certificates.
The Beverly Dispatch article on October 23, 1914, which is probably the one referred to the most in regard to the tragedy, lists the names S. Byrum, age 35; J. Byrum, age 28; S. Lemon, age 26; R. Buyrum, age 22; H. Rumunbum, age 30, and M. Rumum, age 25. These names have been listed on the Beverly Village records and if not researched further, would probably be used as the correct names. The first five names listed in the Dispatch match almost exactly the names on the county death certificates. The last one is hard to read, so the reporter transcribed it differently.
The information from the county death certificates were sent to the state. A typed ledger was made, listing the name, date of death, and county of death. These names are alphabetical in the ledger: R. Buyrum, J. Byrum, S. Byrum, S. Lamon, M. Rumeini. Curiously the hand written Rumunbum, which is very difficult to read on the death certificate, was not placed on the typed ledger. This confirms that even experienced state record keepers were having trouble with the name.
Immigration records and ship passenger lists do not seem to produce any matches with these names. In checking common Turkish given names, only Ozer, Melih, and Suleiman (Soula?) are similar to any of the names already listed. The same applies to surnames. Only Bayrum is a common Turkish name. There were several problems that may have prevented accurate reporting of the names. Since the bodies were buried the same day, everything was done in great haste. Someone very likely spelled out the names, but certain letters in the Turkish alphabet do not match the ones used in English. The names-even as varied as they are-could still be incorrect.
(Research assistance by Ernie Thode, Eric Richendollar and Roger Young of the Washington County History and Genealogy Library appreciated.)
Phillip L. Crane is a Waterford resident and Marietta history teacher for 32 years.In this column he will share stories of historical events in the Lower Muskingum Valley.