Ferryboat Landing Tragedy

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Posted by Webmaster on June 29, 2007 at 21:58:30:

A sad accident occurred here last Friday morning (May 14, 1886) at about 9:30 o'clock which cost the lives of two fo our citizens and cast a gloom over the quiet little city when it was announced that T.P. Barrett and Richard Higgins had been drowned in the river by the capsizing of a skiff. The Gram reporter was soon on the spot and from 3y3-witnesses to the sad scene, we gathered the following particulars, which are about correct: Friday morning had been set by Mr. Johnson as the time for re-laying his ferry cable which had been torn loose from its fastenings on the north bank of the river by driftwood during the recent rise-and it was decided that the best way to do this was to use the skiffs-four in number-as a sort of buoy to hold the wire out of the water while the Steamer Frederick was to tow the lower end of the line to the north bank of the river. Barrett and Higgins occupied the skiff next to the Frederick. None of the other skiffs had occupants. The position of Barrett and Higgins' skiff was about third-way across the river from the south bank. Both men were sitting in the bow while the cable lay across in front of them. They were advised by several to get on the boat as their skiff might sink, but Mr. Barrett thought no and jokingly remarked that they would have a good ride, and kept his seat. The engine was set in motion which together with the force of the current against the wire, caused the bow of the skiff to sin, without warning to the occupants and the next instant they were both thrown into the river, and it is the opinion that they were disabled by the wire striking them when the skiff capsized. They were excellent swimmers and notwithstanding the fact that they wore very heavy boots struck out for the south bank swimming high, and everyone thought they would reach shore safely. Suddenly they seemed to lose their self-possession and commenced drifting out farther into the river. Mr. Barrett gave way first and disappeared; he rose immediately and sank to be seen no more. Mr. Higgins was some distance in front of Mr. Barrett and was struggling manfully. At this time Capt. Marshall was making heroic efforts to get to the men with the Frederick, but the swift current made his efforts fruitless.

Mr. Higgins was urged to keep swimming, that help would soon be there. He replied that it must come soon as he was almost exhausted. Looking back he saw Mr. Barrett's hat floating towards him, and giving one agonizing cry for help, sank beneath the water.

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