10-year-old uncovers stories of ancestor

When the older set talk about ancestors, it’s iffy whether family history will affect youngsters.

In this case, stories from George Neroutsos in Langley hit the mark.

His granddaughter, Lauren Neroutsos, spent time on her own learning about the Skipper, her great-great-grandfather.

She uncovered a seafaring yarn.

“It was good fun to hear Lauren was piecing this together,” said George Neroutsos, 77. “She had seen pictures of the Skipper at our summer home.”

Lauren is only 10 years old.

Not only did she find fascinating stuff about Great-Great-Grandfather Neroutsos, she even discovered he is connected to archive relics at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle.

She began her research online.

“I looked up Neroutsos,” Lauren said. “It came up there was a body of water named after him.”

Her father, Neil Neroutsos, corporate communications staffer with the Snohomish County Public Utility District, said the family name graces Neroutsos Inlet off Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

It’s so named because his great-grandfather, Cyril Demetrius Neroutsos, was on a ship that sunk on a voyage between Skagway, Alaska, and Victoria, B.C.

“He got out,” Lauren said. “He was saved.”

Here is the family tale: Cyril Neroutsos, orphaned at an early age, sailed around the world four times before the age of 18. He was in Australian, South American and East Indian trading.

He also worked out of Seattle during the Gold Rush in 1898 and later served as the marine superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Navigation Co. in British Columbia.

While working for the Canadian Pacific aboard the S.S. Islander, on a voyage from Alaska, the ship hit an iceberg and sank in 1901. It was filled with passengers and gold then valued at more than $6 million.

Neroutsos was credited with knocking on cabin doors to alert passengers about the sinking ship and saving the lives of several injured passengers, including a small girl.

The ship sank within 20 minutes. He was the only executive officer to survive. After every lifeboat pulled away from the ship, he jumped into the water and helped a man with a broken leg float on a door.

“I found out they called him Skipper,” Lauren said. “I shared the story with my class.”

Doing excellent research is great for a 10-year-old, but there is more to the story. She found out that a section of the S.S. Islander is part of a collection at the Seattle museum.

The pair plan to take grandpa George Neroutsos to see the artifacts.

The museum has the S.S. Islander compass and a whistle, a doorknob, a door lock, a banister and a champagne bottle from the ship.

The Skipper lived until 1954.

The adorable historian, with long dark braids, isn’t sure what she wants to study in college. For now, she keeps busy in Scouting, riding her bike, studying tae kwon do, skiing and swimming.

I know parents need to oversee what kids are looking at on computers, but in this case, Lauren Neroutsos seems to be on the right page.

And in case anyone wonders about all that gold at the bottom of the sea, George Neroutsos says it was gold dust and probably dissipated in the moving channel.

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