January 27, 1899 – Mendocino High School senior Sam Ware was swept to his death at the Mendocino Shipping Point by a large swell. He was by himself gathering mussels for fish bait on the rocks at the south end of the Point, when the wave suddenly rolled in carrying him out into deep water. Fernandez Lima, who was nearby, immediately threw a rope to the struggling young man. “The rope struck within easy grasp, but he did not see it and made no attempt to take hold of it, although Lima called to him to do so. The probability is that he was dazed by the force of the wave. Although he was a very poor swimmer he managed to keep afloat, and he was last seen going into the blow hole on the crest of a wave.”

Studio portrait of a group of young men in athletic sweaters

Mendocino High School Football team, c. 1898.
Rear (L-R) : Joseph Corrigan, Alden Milliken, Jack Breen, Jack Suffeth, Joe Patton, George Marshall
Center: Ewing Dartt, Dana Gray, Sam Ware, Rodney Phillips, John Byrnes
Front: Benton Scott, Harold Gray, ? Escola.

Lima’s shouts attracted the attention of William Wallace, who “arrived just in time to see Sam disappear in the blow hole. The two men immediately went to the other entrance of the blow hole near the town and in a minute or two his hat appeared,” but his body was never recovered.

Sam was born in Virginia, and his family moved to Inglewood when he was a small child. Sam had lived in Mendocino for the previous three years while attending high school, and he expected to graduate that summer. His survivors included his parents, three brothers, and four sisters.

Sixty years later, Auggie Heeser, son of Beacon founder William Heeser, remembered Sam as “an associate and fellow worker on the Mendocino Beacon when we were young chaps and fellow students in the first days of the Mendocino high school. We set type by hand before and after school hours and distributed it into the cases Saturday morning after the paper had been printed Friday night. Sam Ware had a particularly matured and cultivated mind as the result of extensive reading; had a keen sense of humor, and was a delightful companion in most of the ventures the office force undertook in their off hours.” Gone, but not forgotten.

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