Wednesday, September 23, 2009


It is strange how everything is all connected. When I try to find out about one thing, I run across so many other distractions on my search, that I don’t have room in my head to hold it all. Usually, I just poke something in my memory that says; “go back and check this out later.” and hopefully, I will remember to do that. Sometimes I remember much later, when I run across it again. Sometimes it becomes real handy that I know about something that happened, and I can go back and look it up. Other times it just becomes part of the mish-mash miasma that is my thought process.

More to the point, I started looking up shipwrecks on the north coast. I ran across at least two verified(?) wrecks of Spanish Galleons. One at Spanish Flat north of Shelter Cove and one at Gold Beach Oregon. The Galleon wreck at Spanish Flats comes with the story that the Spaniards mistreated the Indian people, and the Indians killed them. The Indians had some Spanish Gold that verified their story. The Twice-Told-Tale is that there was a treasure chest aboard the Galleon that the Indians hid. The tale goes on to say that a landslide buried it, and has never been found since. Many people have looked for it, but it has never been found.

The other Galleon wreck was at Gold Beach Oregon. They have been finding beeswax washed up on the beach for hundreds of years. Often they find some Chinese porcelain. Many people thought that it was a Chinese Junk that got blown off-course and into America. Kinda’ like my brain gets blown off course by too many interesting distractions.

Beeswax found at Gold Beach

The San Francisco Xavier was carrying some 75 tons of beeswax, representing at least 500 cakes, according to shipping records. Because a massive tsunami in January of 1700 would have sent earlier ship remains farther inland, a researcher on the team believes the Nehalem Bay beeswax is likely from the 1705 shipwreck.

What? There was a Tsunami In 1700? Is that the one that went over Trinidad Head? (Note to self, look this up, stick to shipwrecks)

From a lady named Phyllis who found the wax:

“Much of the wax was originally in blocks weighing about twenty pounds. The large quantity of the wax suggests that it was a shipment consigned to the Catholic missions for use in making images and candles”. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Spanish built hundreds of Catholic missions in their colonies in the Americas. The church required ritual candles to be made from 100% virgin beeswax. The pure wax symbolized Jesus’ flesh from a virgin mother. And unlike waxes made from animal fat or paraffin, beeswax was safe around paintings because it creates no soot. Since there were no honeybees in the Spanish colonies in the new world, beeswax was imported from the Spanish colony in the Philippines. If this is beeswax, I still don’t know what it was doing in the Northwest, where there were no Spanish colonies.

Well, I know what Spanish Galleons were doing in the Northwest. The Spanish were remarkably good sailors, and they had discovered the great Pacific Gyre. I know about the Gyre from the huge island of trash that has collected in the center of it. The winds and ocean currents swirl in a clockwise pattern that makes trash collect in the center. The Gyre has been there for centuries. The Spaniards knew about it, and they would sail up the East coast of China and Russia, then across the top of the Pacific Ocean, from west to east, after arriving at the north coast of America they would follow the wind and currents down to New Spain. (Mexico) That way they always had fair winds and a following sea. They were smart enough to avoid the center of the Gyre were they could become becalmed, and they could have just stayed there in the center of the Pacific ocean forever. Trapped in the center of the whirlpool. I'd bet that is were some of the old sailor superstitions about whirlpools came from. They knew about both the Atlantic and the Pacific Gyres.

The Spaniards had a fear of landing in the Northwest, because of the rugged coastline, the normally rough seas, and the fact that the Indians would burn the brush and timber. The fires scared the Spaniards, and they thought that surly it was the work of the Devil.

But. like Ben said, any Galleon on the north coast would be coming back from a trip to the Philippines, and China. So, it would have no Treasure on board. All of the American gold that they would be taking back to the Philippines would be shipped out to the south, and in a clockwise direction around the Great Pacific Gyre.
Click on map for larger photo of the North Pacific Gyre.
"there are over 20,000 species of bees in the world, but only 8 or 9 species of honeybees."

I had not thought about America at one time not having honeybees. I think that Robin told us about "Mud Bees" once. I knew that there were all kinds of bee species, but it just didn't occur to me that there was a time when America didn't have beeswax!

It makes sense that the Catholic Priests would need beeswax for their religious Ceremonies. As much sense as anything else that they did back then anyway. I'm not a cynic or anything (Yeah, right!) it's just that it seems like all of the harm and unfairness in the old world came from religion. Which brings me back to what I was talking about in the first place. The Conquistadors.

From Wikipedia:

The stated purposes of these conquests were equally to spread the word of God and to bring civilization to the most obscure parts of the world. It accomplished this goal with astounding ability, quickly expanding its borders far into other territories. On the contrary, the testimony of some indigenous peoples as well as some contemporary Spanish humanists, clergymen and other writers have presented the Spanish Conquest of Americas as a series of unfortunate and morally questionable acts driven by greed for gold and resulted in the destruction of several native civilizations. But the first group of conquistadores that came with Cortes went for the sole reason to find gold in the New World.
Historians have highlighted the short time required for the Spanish conquest of vast populations in the Americas. Exposure of these previously unexposed populations to European diseases caused many more fatalities than the wars themselves, and severely weakened the natives' social structures. The people in the Americas were not previously exposed to several European diseases which resulted in their much higher fatality rate than that of European populations. The diseases moved much faster than invading armies. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the Inca empire, a large portion of the population, including the emperor, had already been killed by a smallpox epidemic.
The Laws of Burgos, 1512-1513, were the first codified set of laws governing the behavior of Spanish settlers in America, particularly with regards to Native Americans. They forbade the maltreatment of natives, and endorsed their conversion to Catholicism. In the 16th century perhaps 240,000 Europeans entered American ports. By the late 16th century American silver accounted for one-fifth of Spain's total budget.

Other things that I discovered while looking for wrecked Galleons, was that Spain had already plundered and converted the Philippines. Most of the Pacific Galleons were made out of Philippine Mahogany. Spain was instrumental in moving species of plants and animals all over the world.


Anonymous said...

Please help me out here. This just showed up on my PC but was posted on Weds. the 23rd. and it is the 26th. I was getting worried about the posterer guy and now here he is.
Suzy, please explain to me what is going on here. I only ask because it seems when I write to this blog it goes dead.

Anonymous said...

Did they ever say anything about tumbleweeds from Russia?

Robin Shelley said...

Oh, great! Now I'm gonna have to spend time hunting for beeswax!

e. said...

Now I'm curious about the wreck at Spanish Flat. Might have to look into that more on my down time today.

spyrock said...

all this talk about spanish flat. so what do you know. i found simmerly flat east of round valley turn right on e street and go north where it dead ends and wind your way back towards the river. higher up on 162 you will find the old sherburn place where indian dick road crosses 162 right by the river. found out that james duncan married lottie simmerly and i found a connection to the haydons we are related to as well. so i've been finding lots of buried treasure on simmerly flat.

Anonymous said...

Did the term "the whole ball of wax" originate from this wreck's detritus?

Ernie Branscomb said...

"Did the term "the whole ball of wax" originate from this wreck's detritus?"

That question intregued me, so I tried to look it up. There were hundreds of explainations as to where it came from, all ending in "we really don't know."

So, I chose the one that I liked the best:
"The origin has been taken back so far that it is beginning to look as though another often-told story might be the right one. It is said that whole ball of wax is a humorous modification of whole bailiwick, perhaps because of a mental association between bail and ball, and between wick and candle wax."


SPYROCK! i wish you would call me sometime?? i'm easy to find!!!

there is not too many

spyrock said...

first shine and now maurice. glad you clarified that. i just got ruth simmerley's phone number from her grand daughter nancy who went to point arena high school. ruth is 98 and in a rest home but doing fine, nancy calls her granny goose. dove usually does the phone thing, i usually do the computer thing so i just don't think of it, but most of my friends my age don't use a computer at all. so i do call them once in awhile. so don't be surprized if i do give you a ring.

Eric V. Kirk said...

Huh. Being edible, I would have thought that wax is biodegradable and therefor would have broken down in 200 years.

Aunt Janet said...

Edible, I suppose, but digestible?

Anonymous said...

The Beeswax Wreck of Nehalim, Washington.