The Shulls

From newspaper dated August 19, 1907


Memorial services were held yesterday morning at the English Lutheran Church for Misses Cora and Sarah Shull, the two Topeka girls who lost their lives in the sinking of the steamer Columbia off the coast of California on the night of July 20.

The church was packed for the service, every seat in the main auditorium and the Sunday School room being occupied, while many stood at the rear. Among those present were former schoolmates and friends of the two girls and friends of their parents. Mr. Shull, the father, is a veteran of the Civil war and a number of the members of the local posts of the G. A. R. were in the audience. The pulpit was decorated with a great many offerings of flowers from the friends of the family. The altar rail was covered with flowers and greenery, while a number of floral designs were also in evidence.

Rev. John A. Bright, at the request of the parents conducted the service and delivered the address of the occasion. Mr. and Mrs. Ellas Shull occupied seats by themselves in the front o the auditorium. Their son and only remaining child, John D. Shull, who went to the scene of the disaster after the news of the loss of his sisters reached him and who returned to his ome afterwards to confirm the sad truth, was unable to remain for yesterday’s service.

The service was opened with singing by the quartet from the First Presbyterian Church, composed of Mrs. Geo. W. Parkhurst, Mrs. Florence Fox Thatcher, Mr. James Moore and Mr. Harry Pribble. Thus was followed by the memorial address by Rev. Mr. Bright. He quoted the instances of David’s mourning for the death of Absalom and of Job’s trials in the loss of all the members of his family. Following this line he mentioned the loss of Mr. and Mrs. Shull’s and extended words of comfort t them.

This address was followed by a sol by Mrs. Parkhurst and singing by the quartet. Then occurred a touching incident when Mr. Bright read the story of the loss of Sarah and Cora Shull which had been written by their father himself. After a few preliminary remarks Mr. Shull had written of the inseperable devotion of the two sisters, who enjoyed nearly all of their pleasures in common. He told that it had been their annual custom to take extended vacation trips every summer and that this summer they had decided to visit the Pacific coast. He wrote of their planning for the trip and their departure after their leave taking from their parents, who little thought they would not see either daughter again on earth. They started on July 3 and after a week’s stay in Los Angeles they continued on to San Francisco. Here they met friends who entertained them for a few days. On July 20 they sailed from San Francisco on board the Columbia, bound for Portland, Ore., where they expected to remain a day or two and then return home.

Mr. Shull wrote of the testimony of the surviving passengers concerning the two girls being at all times together on the ship, and then of how it collided with the San Pedro shortly after midnight of the day on which they sailed. The two girls occupied a stateroom near the part of the ship which was crushed in by the impact of the hull of the San Pedro. None of the passengers in that part of the ship escaped, all going down with the vessel. Although he did not belittle the extent of the bereavement of himself and wife, Mr. Shull took a rather philosophical view of his loss and spoke of meeting his daughters again when the sea shall be commanded to give forth its dead.

*   *     *   * * * *

From scrapbook:

In recalling his public offices, including his military connections, the biographer finds that Mr. Shull was a corporal in Company B, 86th Reg., Ohio Vol. Inf., from which he was honorably discharged; quartermaster’s agent in full control of a woodyard on Island No. 98 in the Mississippi River, established under the provisions of General Order No. 124 of the War Department (series of 1864), to work timber into cordwood wherewith to supply steamboats in the military service on that river; and quartermaster’s clerk at Vicksburg, Mississippi. The only elective office of a public nature ever held by him was that of a member of the Board of Education of Topeka, in which he continued about five years. Until his service in said office, the High School of Topeka was not free to anybody; on his motion it was then made entirely free to every scholar residing in Topeka having the prescribed proficiency. In 1887 he united with the Grand Army of the Republic and continues to be the first post historian of Lincoln Post, No. 1, at Topeka, and is also quartermaster of that post, now in the eighth year of consecutive service, which is a period exceeding in duration that of any predecessor. In 1879 Mr. Shull joined the Ancient Order of United Workmen and for several years was the financier of his lodge and still is actively interested in its work. In religious connection, he adheres to the church of the English Lutherans of the General Synod in the United States and was treasurer of the council at the church at Topeka for more than 23 consecutive years.

Mr. Shull was married February 28, 1871, at Topeka, Kansas, to Mary C. Alsip, who born in Washington County, Maryland, and who was about eight years younger than he. Their children were: Homer A., born February 17, 1872; Lucy May, born May 25, 1873; Harvey, born August 25, 1874, deceased January 30, 1902; Jacob, born June 18, 1876; Oscar, born June 16, 1878, deceased in November 1881; Sarah, born January 8, 1880; Cora, born in September, 1884; and John D., born April 4, 1886. Harvey Shull’s temperament, and achievements to the time of this early death, inspired high hopes of things yet to be accomplished, but his work was ended ere he seemed to have reached the prime of his strength.

In politics, Mr. Shull has been an ardent Republican, but not too ardent to sometimes, on local elections, vote for a nominee of the opposing party, when he inclined to the opinion that it was promotive of the highest welfare to do so. He voted for Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and never afterwards for a presidential nominee other than Republican in party connection.


News Items on the sinking of the Columbia, posted online at

Astoria, OK Steamer COLUMBIA Wreck, Jul 1907

Posted November 19th, 2012 by Linda Horton


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Historic Topeka Cemetery is operated by its lot owners, each of whom is a member of the Topeka Cemetery Association. Day-to-day operations are overseen by the association’s nine member board of directors and conducted by the superintendent.

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