Death at Sea – Wm. King, 27 of 28

Rev. William King, friend of many.
Rev. William King, friend of many.

On July 7, 1873 Rev. King and his wife made a return trip to the British Isles. It was the first vacation Rev. King had had since he landed in Philadelphia 40 years before. While his wife stayed with relatives in Liverpool, Rev. King took in all the tourist sights of London.

The following comes from Victor Ullman’s Look to the North Star: “From London he wrote home to Buxton that he was rejoining Mrs. King in Liverpool and that they were to sail home on the SS Hungarian on a scheduled sailing date.

The word was first received at the Toronto Globe and its flag as flown at half mast. It was telegraphed to Chatham and sent by fast horse to Buxton.

The SS Hungarian had sunk at sea without a single survivor.

All through Buxton Settlement, the men were called in from the fields and the families went to all three churches. In Chatham, the store along King St. began to close and they opened the following morning to hang mourning black on the store fronts. Mayor R.O. Smith had proclaimed a day of mourning for Rev. King. As the news speeded through the farms and villages, the Negroes particularly banded together in sorrow and wore their Sunday clothing for church.

But before the day was over, it was turned into one of jubilation. Archie McKellar (the long-time friend and advocate of the settlement) had telegraphed from Toronto. The Kings had not been aboard the scheduled passage at all. When he had reached Liverpool, King was sick with a minor stomach ailment. He was put to bed by a physician and missed the ill-fated sailing. The Negroes returned to their churches, this time to offer prayers of thanksgiving.

Three weeks later the Kings were greeted at the Chatham railroad station late at night. There was a huge torchlight procession and “Welcome Home” placards on the store fronts. There were happy speeches, there was joy with every drink.”The Kings were escorted back to Buxton by the Twenty-fourth Kent Infantry.

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