Ullock, Frances

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                                       FRANCES (ULLOCK) SALANO
                                        By Harold W. J. Adams


MIRAMICHI – They were drowning and she had to do something. And on the evening of Wednesday, August 27, 1924, she did.

Frances Ullock, a 14-year-old girl wearing a long dress, leaped into the Miramichi River and saved the lives of a group of young people caught in a deadly current. Seven young men and women entered that water that night at Colson’s slip just above the Miramichi Foundry in Chatham. The group included Roland M. Roberts and his pregnant wife, Edith (nee Shields) his brother-in-law Arthur Shields, and his sister-in-law Wenonah Shields, along with Bert, Brett, Blair Benson and Robert Lockhart.

Then everything went wrong. A strong current caught five of the swimmers. Suddenly, they were drowning.

Roland Roberts went out to help Wenonah Shields but drowned while doing so.

One of the young Ullock boys who lived across the street from the slip realizing the swimmers were in trouble ran home to get help.

Frances Ullock raced to the river. “It took place outside of our house on Upper Water Street. Our house was facing the water. I was sitting on the lawn learning to knit when one of my brothers told me that there was someone drowning in the river, right in front of our house,” said (Ullock) Salano, 89, now of Vancouver, Washington.

“I took off my shoes, crossed the road, the railway track and then slid over the big rocks on the bank of the Miramichi River.

                                Pulled out Shields, ferry named for her

“When I went over, I did not know how many people were in the water or on the shore. I jumped into the water and pulled out Wenonah Shields and brought her into shore.

“Roland Roberts went to save Wenonah Shields, but he drowned near the old McCully wharf at the west end of Chatham while trying to save her life.

“I jumped back in the water and helped Bert Brett get safely to shore. Bert Brett was from Boston, Mass. Blair Benson, I put him ahead of me and pushed him in to shore. I don’t remember if I helped Arthur Shields in to shore or not, I just don’t remember, after all it was 75 years ago. The other fellow, Robert Lockhart, he said I didn’t help him, so I never took any credit for saving his life.

“I was wearing a long dress and I was only 14 years old at the time. We lived just in front of the water so we often would go swimming. I was a strong swimmer. I never had courses on how to life save. I just grabbed each of them, one at a time and put them ahead of myself and pushed them to shore.

I remember that Edith Roberts was on the shore watching all this happen. Andrew Roy, who lived on the corner near our house tried to help as well. He grabbed Jack McLaughlin’s row boat, rowed out after I was in the water and pulled in Wenonah Shields and Blair Benson,” said Frances (Ullock) Salano.

Soon after this incident, Frances Ullock was credited with having saved the lives of four people: Bert Brett, Blair Benson, Wenonah Shields and Arthur Shields.

Chatham had a new ferry boat under construction at the time and decided to honour Frances Ullock’s life-saving deed by naming the new ferry boat after her.

She was presented with the Royal Humane Society’s lifesaving medal, and both a bronze medal and a purse from the Carnagie Foundation.

“I don’t know who pushed to name the ferry boat after me. It was at the opera house that they officially named the ferry boat after me and presented me with a medal at the same time.

“I don’t remember how much money they gave me. I was pleased with having the ferry named after me. People teased me about having a boat named after me because other people had done things and never got any medals or honours,” said Salano.

                                         Born in 1910

Frances Hilda Ullock, 89, was born on July 20, 1919 in Chatham, the daughter of Frank Winchester Ullock and Molley Emilia Springer (1889-1974).

She married first Richie Quinn a newspaper salesman from New York City. They had one child, Frank William Quinn. She married for the second time to Jack Salano and now lives in Vancouver, Washington.

Her siblings are Burton J. Ullock (1920-1936) Mrs. Verne (Ullock) Trevors, John Ullock, Thomas Ullock, Vincent Ullock, Mrs. Reginald White (Mary Ester Ullock, 1909-1973), Daniel Ullock, Francis Ullock, Mrs. George Cameron (Anna Della Ullock), Harry Ullock, Mrs. W.A.D. Trent (Thelma Ullock), Mrs. Harold Dickson (Bertha Ullock), Margartet Ullock and Alexander Ullock. She is the granddaughter of John Springer and Amelia Barnett.

Roland McG Roberts (1899-1924) and his child, baby Roberts (1924-1925), were buried in Riverside Cemetery.

Michael Whelan, the poet, wrote a poem dedicated to Frances Ullock and Roland Roberts entitled Ave et Vale - Hale and Farewell. Whelan refers to Ullock as The Maid of the Miramichi. Michael Whelan writes it was Ullock, “Who rushed in and rescued five persons from drowning.”


Source: Miramichi Leader – August 24, 1999

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