Germantown, Pa. "Guide", November 2, 1918

Sat. Nov. 2, 1918


Miss Wells, of Germantown, on
Ill-Fated Alaskan Steamship

Included in the list of passengers on board the ill-fated steamship Princess Sophia, which struck a reef in the Lynn Canal and foundered on Friday of last week, while bound southward from Skagway, Alaska, were the names of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Harper. The latter was formerly Miss Frances W. Wells, daughter of Guilliam A. Wells, of 155 East Walnut Lane, Germantown. According to a wireless message from Juneau, Alaska, near which the disaster took place, not a soul among the 268 passengers and 75 of the crew survived. The steamship struck on the reef on Thursday of last week during a violent storm which increased in fury, making rescue impossible, and was held there until Friday night when in a conflict of wind and high tide the ship was rolled off the rock and went down in deep water with all on board. It was the last steamship out of Alaska for the season and many prominent Alaskans, residents and visitors, were among the passengers.

Mr. Wells, the father of the young lady, has been in constant touch by wire with the Episcopal Board of Missions, with which his daughter and her husband were connected, both at Juneau and Seattle, but up to last night had received no word of the recovery and identification of the bodies. Archdeacon Stuck, noted Alaskan missionary and explorer, communicated the sad intelligence that there was little hope of any having survived.

News of the disaster came as a painful shock to the friends of the former Miss Wells and the members of her well known and highly respected family. She was a member of St. Michael's Church on High street and was highly esteemed by a large circle of associates, friends and co-workers as a young woman of unusual attainments and most lovable disposition. She was the eldest of a family of nine children, leaving besides her father, six brothers and two sisters. Her mother died when she was sixteen years of age. Having trained as a nurse in this city, she left about a year ago for Alaska to take up the work of her profession in the hospital maintained by the Episcopal Church at Fort Yukon, which serves the needs of that portion of interior Alaska within a radius of five hundred miles, up and down the Yukon, and even as far north as the Artic circle. It was to this hospital that Explorer Steffanson was brought last year to recover from illness. Walter Harper, who later married Miss Wells, bringing him in from the Far North.

Mr. Harper was a lay worker and for ten years past was the companion and assistant of Archdeacon Stuck in his travels, explorations and missionary work in the interior of Alaska. He was a man of splendid physique and excellent character, accustomed to the perils and hardships of the country he was leaving when misfortune overtook him and his bride. The wedding of Mr. Harper and Miss Wells took place on September 4 last in St. Stephen's Church at Fort Yukon. Archdeacon Stuck performed the ceremony.

Nothing definite was known of the plans of the Harpers when they should have reached the States, but it was understood that Mr. Harper contemplated entering the service of this country abroad and that Mrs. Harper had in mind to also go abroad and apply her knowledge and services in the war work.

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