Friday, January 15, 2016

Channel Cat Tales: Death by Drowning

Channel Cat Tales: Water and the Ways We Die

The researchers have been gathering articles about drowning in Lawrence County, and so far have found more than 100 deaths caused drowning. A lot were in the rivers, of course,  but others were in gravel pits,  wells and even flood waters.  The earliest we have found was reported in 1860.

December 3, 1860 Evansville Daily Journal
Shocking death – Mrs. Martha Hyde, living in Lawrence County, Illinois about 3 miles above Vincennes, came to her death on 24 November by falling into a well by the family residence. She was drawing a bucket of water, when the sweep at the well broke, and she was precipitated into the well, killing her instantly. She leaves a family of three small children to mourn her loss.

June 26,1869  Vincennes Gazette
By a singular coincidence two men were drowned near Russellville, Ill., on Tuesday. One, a well- known farmer named Jos. Gardner, recently became insane in consequence of domestic troubles, and on Tuesday, eluding his friends who were watching him, ran into the river and was drowned before he could be rescued.
The other, a Frenchman named Truckey, a native of Vincennes and resident of Russellville , while intoxicated, attempted to cross the river in a canoe. Losing his balance he fell overboard and was drowned.

January 23, 1880 Robinson  Constitution
Mrs. Elizabeth Lindley, of Lawrenceville, while laboring under a fit of insanity, drowned herself in the Embarrass river, last week, near that town.

June 25, 1884 Robinson  Constitution
A man by the name of King was drowned in the Embarrass river at Lawrenceville Wednesday night last while bathing.

August 5,1890 Robinson  Constitution
The 11 year old son of William Walton drowned in the Embarras yesterday.

JULY 4, 1894   Lawrenceville Herald
Tuesday about half past ten o'clock the sad news reached the ears of the citizens of this place, that Jack Ashbrook had drowned. He with his brother, Tolbert and Frank Clark were about two miles above town at a place called Eaton's Run, bathing, the water was 12 to 18 feet deep, the boys were ducking each other, when Jack went up to where the boys were standing, on a sand bar and asked them to duck him and there disappeared under water.  The other boys went on across the river and turned around to see what he was doing, when he was no where to be seen. The boys called and dived but could not find him. They then came to town and spread the sad and startling news, every man that could go, ran to the scene of the terrible accident, but the silent, swift cruel waters flowed calmly on as if nothing happened. All the men that could dive were soon at work searching for the dead boy, the search lasting until about 2 o'clock p.m., when Ed Potts dived under and found the body.  A skiff was taken out and with the help of others the body of the drowned boy was brought to a sad home. The deceased was about 17 years old and was a member of the Christian Church.  He was regarded as an earnest Christian by all who knew him and his death sent a thrill of sorrow to every heart. 

Ed Note: John Jackson known as Jack J was the son of John Davis and Mary Ellen Jackson and grandson of Ellen Watts, operator of a stage coach inn and tavern known as the Watts Hotel in Lawrenceville. Tolbert Lee, John Jackson’s brother was born Sept 2, 1873; twins John Jackson and Mary Ellen were born June 24, 1877. The mother died the next day after giving birth to the twins, and the infant daughter two months later, on August 31, 1877.

For other early drownings use the search feature on this site for "Coroner's reports."