SWEEDBORG, John

From Islapedia


SWEEDBORG, John ( - ) and his wife, were employed on San Clemente Island in 1933 as sheep caretakers.



In the News~

May 12, 1933 [LAT]: “Wigwag tells of trio’s death. Two men and woman vanish in sea off island. Victims in skiff unable to combat howling wind. Member of party signals destroyer Preble. Trying to row a little skiff through high seas and in a howling wind out to a forty-two-foot speedboat anchored 300 yards offshore in Mosquito Bay at lonely San Clemente Island Wednesday morning two men and a woman found their little craft borne relentlessly away from their goal and out to the open sea, and probably were drowned not long after, according to a story first wigwagged from the shore of the island to a destroyer and then relayed here by wireless yesterday. The missing trio are William Rudolph and Mr. and Mrs. John Sweedborg, all of San Pedro. With Jack Gardner, Jack Long and Charles Carney, also of San Pedro, they chartered the speedboat Let's Go two weeks ago and went to San Clemente Island. Wednesday all the party were on shore when Rudolph and the Sweedborgs decided to row out to the speedboat. They had scarcely left the beach when the wind's force increased and they found themselves helpless against the strong current which was carrying them out to sea. While the other three men were forced to watch impotently from the shore, they saw the hapless crew of the skiff getting dimmer and dimmer in the distance and finally, when the skiff disappeared around a bend of the island, one of the men on shore, Carney, started a laborious climb across the desolate and rocky island in the hope that on the other side he could find and attract the attention of some ship which might be able to rescue the three in the skiff. It took Carney six hours to cross the island. Arriving at Pyramid Bay, he was rewarded by sighting the U.S.S. Preble, a destroyer anchored a short distance offshore. Carney knows the wigwag system of signaling used in the Navy and after attracting the attention of the crew of the Preble, he wigwagged the story of the plight of the three persons in the skiff. The Preble's commander at once wirelessed the tale to the destroyer base at San Diego and the U.S.S. Dorsey was sent out to search for the two men and the woman. All day yesterday the Dorsey searched fruitlessly for any trace of the three persons or their tiny craft. at nightfall it wirelessed a request to the San Pedro Coast Guard station to take up the search and also to send a patrol boat down to Mosquito Harbor to pick up the three men on shore and to tow the Let's Go, which apparently was disabled, back to port. Last night Patrol Boat No. 253 set out to carry on the quest.”


May 14, 1933 [San Bernardino County Sun]: “Terror story disclosed as trio rescued. Two men and woman on way back to San Clemente Island after narrow escape. Avalon, Catalina Island. May 13.— Rescued by a whaling schooner after two days and nights of helpless drifting in a row boat without food or water, Mr. and Mrs. John Sweedborg and William Rudolph of Los Angeles were on their way back to San Clemente Island tonight. A graphic story of bravery born of desperation was related by Sweedborg about his second night in the ocean. The little launch was swept by the heavy waves out intoi the range of the gunfire from the United States fleet, holding target practice off San Clemente Island. Mrs. Sweedborg waved her sweater and the three shouted and yelled in a vain attempt to attract attention. Sweedborg, fearing they would not be able to hold out much longer, decided to risk his life by rowing a raft which held afloat one of the targets, and place himself directly in the fire of the big guns. He said the little craft was almost to the raft when the battleship pulled in the target and steamed back to the harbor. "My heart sank when i saw that target streaking away," Sweedborg told his rescuers. "I didn't think we'd live the night through." Owners of sheep grazing on the island, they had gone there in a launch to patrol the waters against rustlers. One of the oars of the small boat was lost early Wednesday as they were proceeding toward shore from the launch, and they were carried out to sea. They were picked up 40 miles southwest of here yesterday morning by the whaler Port Sanders, whose lookout sighted the rowboat from the crow's nest. At first it was believed to be empty and the crew of the Port Sanders sought to salvage it. As the whaler approached the forms of the woman and two men were seen collapsed in the bottom f the craft. Sweedborg, having swallowed a quantity of salt water when thirst attacked him unbearably, was helpless. Mrs. Sweedborg and Rudolph, who used their shoes to bail after the boat's buckets were lost, were exhausted and suffering acutely.”


May 15, 1933 [Wilmington Daily Press Journal]: “Three persons believed lost, found at sea. Island Lookouts, San Pedro man taken to Catalina. Three persons who drifted for five days on the Pacific ocean before they were rescued yesterday, returned to their home on San Clemente Island today, none the worse for their harrowing experience. The three, Mr. and Mrs. John Sweedborg and William Rudolph, left the island Wednesday in a skiff, intending to row up to a motor cruiser for supplies. A gale came up, they lost one of the oars, and were clown out to sea. Coast guard vessels and the destroyer Preble searched for the missing trio, who meanwhile had drifted into the range of gunfire from the United States. In desperation they attempted to fasten their skiff to one of the naval targets, but it was towed away before they could make fast to it. Friday all lost consciousness. Capt. Finn Nalm of the whaler Port Sanders found them drifting far at sea and removed them to a hospital in Catalina. Sweedborg was delirious from drinking salt water. He and his wife are employed as guards to protect sheep on San Clemente Island. Rudolph, a San Pedro man, was visiting the couple.”