MILWAUKEE MARINE AND SHIPPING
SHIPWRECKS AND DISASTERS
Type at loss:sidewheel steamer, wood, passenger & package freight
Date Built: 1851
Builder: Bidwell & Banta, Buffalo
Size: 231x33x12, 819 t
Date of loss: 1860, Sep 7
Place of loss: off Winnetka, IL
(on its way from Chicago to Milwaukee)
Lives Lost: 297 of 400
Cargo: none passengers only
LOSS OF THE STEAMER LADY ELGIN
The History of Manitowoc County
by Louis Falge
One of the most noted disasters which has occurred on Lake Michigan, was that of the destruction of the Lady Elgin, a passenger steamer, which was sunk by a schooner colliding with it on September 8, 1860. The following account of the terrible disaster is taken from the issue of the [Manitowoc] Pilot of September 14th of that year; as follows:
We devote a large portion of today's Pilot to the distressing particulars of the sinking of the steamer Lady Elgin, and the consequent loss of valuable lives, near Chicago, on Saturday morning last. The fatal news arrived here on Sunday evening, throwing a dark gloom over our village, and creating deep emotions of sympathy and grief. Our heart is too full to give utterance to our feelings on this dreadful occurrence. Sudden indeed was the fall of the fatal blow which struck so many down. O, fatal shaft! How withering the pangs thou hast borne to the bleeding bosoms of anxious mothers, kind fathers, and loving kindred. Melancholy and sad must be the retrospect. The dearest and fondest of the family circles have been swept away--have disappeared in the meridian and youth of their years--in the prime of man and womanhood--in the infancy of beauty and loveliness--in the very dawn of usefulness. The dark storm cloud, with the arms of death in its embrace, suddenly burst upon them, and they sank beneath the deep waves. The blue waters of Lake Michigan covers them, and it only remains for sympathizing friends, who knew them best, to appreciate the virtues of them all, and pay the last sad offices of grief to their memory.
Through the kindness of Mr. George Humphrey, we are indebted for a copy of the Milwaukee News of Sunday morning, which brings us later and more accurate particulars of the loss of the steamer Lady Elgin. We quote from it as follows:
"The steamer Lady Elgin left this port on Thursday evening last, for Chicago, having on board an excursion party from this city, consisting of the Union Guards, Captain Barry, the Light Guard Drum Corps, delegations from several of our fire companies, the city band, members of the council and police and a large number of private citizens, numbering in all over four hundred persons!! She arrived safely at Chicago and left that city on her return trip about eleven o'clock Friday evening. At two o'clock in the morning when off from Winnetka, some nine miles from shore, she was run into by the schooner Augusta, loaded with lumber, bound for Chicago, and sunk in about thirty minutes."
"As the telegraph brought the distressing news to this city, the heart of every citizen throbbed with anxiety, for almost every person on board the ill-fated steamer was a citizen of Milwaukee. As they received detail after detail, the news which came flashing over the wires, was truly heart rending and terrible to witness. Would that we could be spared the pain of a recital of such scenes as have come to our knowledge of this calamity, the magnitude of which we trust in the providence of God, we may never have occasion again to chronicle."
"We give below all the particulars we have been able to collect previous to a late hour Sunday morning. Among so many conflicting rumors and reports, of course, it is impossible to give particulars which may be relied on, and some days must elapse before a full report of lost and saved can be obtained."
The News then gives the names of three or four hundred persons who were known to be on board, and from whom nothing has been heard. Captain Barry, commander of the Union Guards, Councillor(sic) Frank McCormick and two sisters, and hundreds of the prominent Irish and German citizens of Milwaukee, with their families, are known to be lost. About seventy persons were saved, having been taken to boats. A raft was constructed of the hurricane deck an was managed by Captain Wilson. Forty persons were on this raft when it started from the wreck, but when it reached the surf they were all lost but seven or eight. The News then gives the following account of the scene near the place of disaster:
SCENES AT WINNETKA
"Large numbers left Milwaukee on the 3 P.M. train for Winnetka, the scene of the disaster. The train was loaded with relatives and friends of those on board the ill-fated boat, together with reporters of the city press. At Winnetka the scene was impressive and one long to be remembered. Ere we arrived on the spot, the dead bodies of but four have been recovered and taken to Chicago. Once was identified as that of Stephen Murphy. The others were not recognized. At the shore of the lake the wind blew furiously, and the waves dashed against the high bluffs with tremendous force. We do not see how it was possible that those who were fortunate enough to reach the shore alive, could be got up the steep declivity, and out of harm's way. All along the beach pieces of wreck could be seen floating, tossed about by the angry waves, but not a human body was in sight. All!All! save the few who had already gained the shore, had sunk from sight. From the citizens of Winnetka we gained a few incidents and particulars connected with the disaster. About six o'clock yesterday morning the boat containing the survivors who first reach the shore arrived at the house of Mr. Gage and aroused the inmates, and related the story of the disaster. The neighbors were immediately collected together, and preparations were made with rope and ladders to save all that could reach the shore alive. Upon arriving at the beach numerous pieces of wreck were seen floating about in every direction, with drowning poor wretches clinging to them, and many were so near the shore when they loosed their hold, from exhaustion, that they were plainly seen to go down, and those on the beach were powerless to rescue them."
"The captain of the Lady Elgin had nearly reached the shore when he sank. Mrs. Rivers, who was near him at the time, thinks he must have been struck by the raft, as it was whirled about by the waves so violently that he sank immediately; he wasn't not seen afterwards. All those rescued speak in the highest terms of his conduct and efforts to encourage the passengers in their endeavors to reach land. He constantly bade them be of good cheer, and instructed them how to secure themselves to the raft, and preserved throughout the whole a presence of mind and self possession truly remarkable."
"J.C. Herbert of this city, who was also saved, informs us that he heard the crash when the vessels collided, and ran upon the deck where he stood for some time examining the extent of the damage done; that he had an opportunity to jump on board the schooner, but hearing that there was not much damage done, thought his safest place was to remain where he was. He saw no light on board the schooner, and thinks there were none out at the time of the accident; he first procured a plank and afterwards lashed himself by his suspenders to a ladder, when he saw a boat about pushing off, which he succeeded in getting into. This was the first boat which arrived, and exhausted as Mr. Herbert then was, he gallantly commenced efforts for the rescue of those who floated toward the shore. He was without coat, hat, boots or vest, and after reaching the shore periled his life again frequently in his endeavors to assist those struggling with the waves. All the while he was looking earnestly for his brother who had not yet reached shore, and he scanned steadily the faces of each one he rescued in search for the missing one. His efforts were at last crowned with success, and his brother was found, though nearly exhausted, and with the right hand badly cut and his body badly bruised. Persons continued to float into shore from eleven o'clock until nearly four in the afternoon."
"The steam tug McQueen, from Chicago, arrived at the scene of the disaster but did not venture within three miles of the vicinity to which passengers drifted, and only picked up the dead body of one infant."
"Amid those prominent in the force of rescuer was Edward Spencer, who frequently plunged into the surf with a rope tied around his body and rescued many from a watery grave. A man named William Toner, who is a member of one of the Chicago fire companies, had a brother and sister-in-law aboard the boat. He was perfectly frantic and ran up and down the beach searching among the pieces of wreck for the last ones and anxiously inquiring of the survivors regarding them. He suddenly started from the crowd, stating that he should traverse the beach, and when our reporter left at ten o'clock last night, had not been heard from or seen since morning."
"The life boat in which were the two mates came in below Winnetka. One of the boats from the hurricane deck started with twelve passengers, eight of whom were saved. The boat upset twice. A lady and child were washed away once and picked up. They were washed away a second time, and drowned. Our informant stated that she never spoke after leaving the steamer. Of the eight saved on this boat, seven belonged to Milwaukee."
"George Norton, of Cleveland, was bound to Superior City, and had with him a large amount of gold, a good portion of which was in his pocket. As he leaned over the edge of the raft it hurt him, and fearing that its weight might assist in dragging him down, he thrust his hands into his pocket and threw it all into the lake."
"The citizens of Winnetka did everything in their power to render comfortable those who were saved, many of whom were almost destitute of clothing. Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Peck were very assiduous, the lady giving everything she had in the house in the way of clothing and sending victuals to the rescued. Artemus Carter, to whose house was carried Miss Rivers and Mr. Eviston and wife, were also unremitting in their endeavors to make comfortable the unfortunates."
"Mr. Carter saved several at the imminent risk of his own life. The rescued speak in high terms also of the following persons: J. Gage, A.T. Spencer, D.M.P. Davis, Judge Wilson and wife, Mr. Millard, Mr. Kinnes, Mr. Garlance, Mr. Charles Davis, Mr. McLean, Mrs. Sloat and Mrs. Bissell. The ladies carefully nursed the sufferers, and bestowed upon them the most unremitting attention."
"The survivors report the lake as very calm when the boat left Chicago. She went out of the harbor in fine style, but by the time of the accident, a heavy see was running.
THE CLERK'S STATEMENT
At the moment of the collision, there was music and dancing in the forward cabin. In an instant after the crash all was still, and in a half hour the steamer sunk. I passed through the cabins; the ladies were pale but silent, there was not a cry nor a shriek; no sound but the rush of steam and the surge of heavy seas. Whether they were not fully aware of the danger, or whether their appalling situation make them speechless I cannot tell.
A boat was lowered at once, with the design of going round upon the larboard (sic) to examine the leak. There were two oardoars just at the moment, some person possessed himself of one of them, and we were left powerless to manage the boat. We succeeded once in reaching the wheel, but were drifted away and were thrown upon the beach at Winnetka. Only two boats left the steamer; one of them contained thirteen persons, all of whom were saved, the other bore eight, but for reached the shore alive, the others being drowned at the beach.
Before I left the steamer, the engine had ceased to work, the first having been extinguished, and within thirty minutes the Lady Elgin had disappeared. The force and direction of the wind were such that the boats and fragments of wreck were driving up the lake and would reach the shore in the vicinity of Winnetka. As I stood upon the beach helplessly looking back along the route we had drifted, I could see in the gray of the morning, objects floating upon the water, and sometimes I thought human beings struggling with the waves.
STATEMENT OF CAPTAIN MALOTT
(Source: Milwaukee Sentinel Sept 4, 1892)
Of the 400 Milwaukee Excursionist Who Were Returning From Chicago on the Ill-fated Boat Nearly 300 Were Drowned. Living Survivors in Their Own Words Tell the Story of Their Experiences. Only a Handful of the Survivors Left, but they Are Banded Together in a Society. The Schooner Augusta Which Caused the Loss of Life Still in Commission
Sept. 8 each year brings its sad recollections. Next Thursday it will the thirty-two years since the Lady Elgin with about 300 of her 400 passengers was swallowed by Lake Michigan. The survivors themselves will tell the story of their experiences, but a general outline (illegible) disaster which carried sor-(illegible) hundreds of homes is as follows: (illegible) steamer Lady Elgin was run down by the schooner Augusta on the morning of September 8, 1860, nearly off Waukegan. The Lady Elgin was about the same size craft as the well-known steamer Sheboygan, of the Goodrich line, and was, at the time, considered one of the finest boats on the lakes. She was commanded by Capt. Jack Wilson, a man favorably known both in Milwaukee and Chicago. Friday evening, Sept. 7, at 11:30 o'clock when the steamer left Chicago, there were on board from 500 to 600 passengers, among them about 400 Milwaukee excursionists, many of them members of the Union Guards, the Black and Green Jaegers, etc. The night was dark, the wind blew in fitful gusts, and for a time Capt. Wilson thought it best to await a more favorable hour to slip out of port. For some reason or other, and because passengers were anxious to return home, he was persuaded to brave the elements, probably not anticipating anything more than a very rough voyage. All on board were in excellent spirits. The band which accompanied the excursionists from Milwaukee played some jolly airs, and the young couples danced merrily. At starting, the wind was from the south, but about midnight it banded around to the north, and in a short time blew a gale, accompanied by rain. The sea, however, did not become dangerously turbulent for some time. The festivities in the cabin were kept up until about 2 o'clock after midnight. About that time the steamer received a terrible blow aft, and was crushed in almost to the opposite side of her pantry. A panic instantly followed. The steamer loaded her whole length and fell over upon one side. When she was righted the lamps were shattered and all was darkness and confusion. Those who had rushed upon deck could just discern a large schooner passing out of sight into the fog. Men and women and children clinging to them and screaming for help crowded the fore part of the boat, frantically inquiring about the extent of the damage. Some, not realizing the danger, remained in their cabins. mattresses and all sorts of things were thrown into the part of the steamer where the gap formed, but all afforts (sic) to keep the steamer above water were in vain. The gap was below water line and to the brave captain and his crew it became apparent that the vessel could not be saved. In a few minutes the engine fires became extinguished. The boats were hastily lowered. Such portions of the hurricane deck as could be torn up were hastily bound together in the form of rafts. Cabin doors and chairs were thrown into the water. The passengers piled pell mell into the boats and upon the rafts. Dozens of them jumped from the sinking boat into the chilly stormy waves. The struggle with death continued for six hours, when the high bluff off the point where Winnetka is located came in sight. Boat after boat capsized in the fearful breakers and the drowning cries of men, women and children rang on the sides. Scores of people reached within a few feet of the high cliff and were either dashed against it or swept from the rafts or planks to which they clung. The steamer itself had finally gone down head first.
The greatest difficulty was experienced in extricating those who reached the shore from the breakers. The people living along the bluff at Winnetka, Evanston and on the neighboring farms became aware of the the disaster and hastened to the scene. Many deeds of heroism are recorded in the history of that terrible calamity. The life of John J. Crilley was saved by the late Edward Burke who showed qualities of a true hero. John W. Eviston risked his life to save that of his wife and both were rescued by Edward Spencer a student at the Evanston University. Mr. Conway, a brother-in-law of the Hon. Edward Koegh, was twice obliged to bring his wife back to the storm-swept raft, where she died of exhaustion and whence she was swept from his arms by the surf within a few feet of the shore.
Saturday afternoon the Third ward was full of wailing and mourning. Most of the drowned people were Third warders, and among them were many of the best known residents of the city, such men as T.H. Eviston, chief of the Fire department; Capt. Barry, county treasurer; John Horan, deputy United States marshal; Martin Darley, harbor master; Frank McCormick, alderman; James Rice, school commissioner, and so on.
When the schooner Augusta, commanded by Capt. Malott which had caused the disaster, reached Chicago at noon on Saturday she and the captain were received by a crowd who threatened to lynch the captain and destroy the vessel. The captain of his boat, a few years later, found a watery grave in the lake, and his boat was afterward rechristened the Col. Cook. In the tremendous sea at the time of the disaster no blame could be attached to him, and his own vessel was entirely at the mercy of the waves and beyond his control.
The Lady Elgin was regarded as a staunch boat of her class. She was of 1,037 tons burden and was built in Buffalo in 1851. Commodore W.H. Wolf and his brother, the Rev. J.Y. Wolf of this city, having helped to build her. Capt. Wilson, her commander, perished in the waves after he had risked his life time and time again in swimming for women and children who had swept from the raft. Disheartened and exhausted he disappeared , a victim of the rolling, seething surf that engulfed nearly all he had hoped to return to their homes. Of the hundreds of people on board only ninety-five were saved.
The survivors of the Lady Elgin shortly afterward organized themselves into a society which has since been known by that name. They meet annually on the 8th of September, enjoy a supper and recount their experiences on that dreadful night. It is also their custom to attend a requiem mass at the St. John's cathedral on Sept. 9, and this year's services for the repose of the victims of the disaster will be as solemn as in years past.
Very few of the survivors have trusted themselves to Lake Michigan's waves, and John W. Eviston and his wife have made an exception only quite recently. When seen at their residence last week they had just returned from a trip to Lake Superior, after spending ten days on the water. It was their first trip on the lake since the Lady Elgin went down. At that time the papers were full of praise for the husband's devotion to his wife, which brought her alive through the dangers and perils of that fearful night. At one time he would surely have perished had he not gnawed a hard inch rope in two. Mr. and Mrs. Eviston were never separated from the time when the vessel sank till 5 o'clock on the afternoon of the 8th, when they landed at Winnetka bluff. It was a day of heroism as well as a day of horror.
There are in the possession of the survivors relics of the Lady Elgin of all kinds. Some have pieces of timber from the ill-fated boat, others have her pictures, and still others have gathered up everything pertaining to the history of the disaster--newspaper clippings, manuscripts, etc. Fred Snyder has preserved his diary and notes written after his rescue, while in the possession of Francis Boyd there still remains the Lady Elgin excursion ticket. It is signed by George Barry, the captain of the Independent Union Guard which had arranged the excursion to Chicago.
The narratives of the different survivors after thirty-two years are particularly interesting. The terrible events of the morning of Sept. 8, 1860 have engraved themselves in the memory, and when they recall those events they live through the same scenes of horror again. (narratives have been merged with the biographies on this site. Those that perished and survive are listed here.
History of the Great Lakes
Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co 1899
"Wreck of the Lady Elgin.- One of the greatest marine horrors on record was the loss of the steamboat Lady Elgin, on Lake Michigan, September 8, 1860. She was struck by the schooner Augusta, and sank in twenty minutes, in 300 feet of water. She had on board 300 excursionists, 50 ordinary passengers, and a crew of 35 officers and men, a total of 385. Of these only 98 were saved. Among the lost was Herbert Ingram, of the "Illustrated London News". The schooner Augusta, Capt. D. M. Mallot, reached Chicago early Saturday morning, Sept. 8, and reported that on the night previous, about midnight, she had collided with a large steamer. The Augusta had a full cargo of lumber, which had shifted in the collision. She had struck head on, suffered the loss of her headgear, and was leaking badly. The captain knew nothing of the extent of disaster to the other vessel.
The steamer Lady Elgin had left Milwaukee early Friday morning September 7, for Chicago with 300 excursionists, largely members of the Independent Union Guards, and their friends. She left Chicago in the evening between 10 and 11 o'clock on her regular trip to Lake Superior, taking about 50 passengers to Mackinaw and other northern points in addition to the 300 excursionists. The evening set in with a wind moderately high. A heavy thunder storm came up about midnight, and the wind grew to a perfect gale. The sea ran high and so continued throughout the night and Saturday.
At the time of the collision the Lady Elgin was steaming against the wind. The Augusta was sailing south by east under all sail except the gaff topsail. The steamer had all her lights set, the schooner had none. A half hour before the collision the second mate of the Augusta, on watch, saw the steamers lights, and for twenty minutes no orders were given. Evidence taken before the coroner's inquest showed that the captain of the Augusta, who had come forward, seemed bent on passing to the starboard of the Lady Elgin instead of the Larboard side, according to the rule. Shortly before the collision he ordered his helm head up, but she came straight on the steamer's larboard side, knocking a hole in her side.
It was about 2:30 o'clock on Saturday morning when the collision occurred. The Lady Elgin was about 10 miles from shore, off Winetka, 16 miles north of Chicago.
The schooner struck the steamer at midships gangway on the larboard side, tearing off the wheel, cutting through the guards and tearing into the cabin and hull. The two separated instantly, and the Augusta drifted by in the darkness. At the moment of the collision there was dancing in the forward cabin, but most of the passengers had retired for the night. In an instant all was still. Captain Wilson ordered a lifeboat to be lowered on the starboard side, to be rowed around and discover the extent of the injury. It dropped astern and did not regain the steamer. The latter was headed west to reach the shore if possible. But the vessel began to fill rapidly and to list. Freight was rolled to starboard and passengers were provided with life preservers. The Elgin began to settle and reel, and many passengers threw themselves overboard. Just when the vessel took the final plunge, a sea struck her upper works and they parted from the hull and floated off in several pieces. The night was intensely dark, lighted at intervals by flashes of vivid lightening, and the wreckage was scattered about profusely.
Two boats had been lowered, and in these 18 persons reached the shore. Fourteen were saved on a large raft, and many others on parts of the wreckage. It was established that 393 (another statement says 385) souls were aboard the vessel, and of these 98 were saved."
A survivor named Bellman, after describing how he and others with the captain got upon a raft, says: "On this extempore raft not less than 300 persons were collected, the majority of whom clung to their places until nearly daylight. The raft was mostly under water from the weight of the living burden, and very few who clung to it were above the waist in the turbulent sea. The Captain was constantly on his feet encouraging the crowd, and seems to have been the only man who stirred from his recumbent position, which was necessary to keep a secure hold on the precarious raft. He carried a child which he found in the arms of an exhausted and submerged woman, to an elevated portion of the raft, and left it in charge of a woman, when it was soon lost. He constantly exhorted the crowd to keep silent, and not only to make no noise, but to refrain from moving in order that the frail framework might last a little longer." Bellman further states that during the time which elapsed while the raft kept together there was scarcely a sound from man, woman or child. They clung to their places in silent terror, and neither groans nor prayers were audible; no voice save that of the captain raised aloud in encouragement and good cheer, being heard amidst the roar of the wind and the ceaseless splash of the combing waves. Finally the constant action of the water broke up the raft, and large parties floated off on detached pieces, and gradually the multitude melted away by couples and solitary individuals until but a tithe of the whole number remained. The swell tumbled the light raft about like feather-weights, and a weary struggle the hopeless survivors had during the long drift of ten miles intervening to the shore. Bellman was 10 hours on his raft, and said he was capsized and thrown into the sea, with his two companions, every third minute. When they reached the shore they were dashed about hopelessly in the surf, and, more fortunate than their companions, were lifted upon the beach by the breakers and rescued. The heroic captain was among the lost.
The Lady Elgin was rated a first class steamer, and had been a favorite with the traveling public. She was built at Buffalo in 1851 by Bidwell and Banta at a cost of $96,000. For several years she ran between Buffalo and Chicago, then between Chicago and Collingwood, but for many seasons had constituted the line between Chicago and other Lake Michigan ports and Lake Superior. The Augusta was owned by Capt. G. W. Bissell, of Detroit, who not long after had her name changed to Col. Cook. She was the second vessel of that name, the first Col. Cook having been wrecked in the St. Lawrence.
The Milwaukee Free Press, September 1, 1907
LADY ELGIN BANQUETS END
No Survivors able to Meet This Year.
Sept 6 Will be Anniversary of Disaster in Which 300 Milwaukeeans Lost Their Lives.
The story of the wreck of the Lady Elgin on the morning of Sept. 8 1860, in which 300 of the flower of Milwaukee’s young manhood and womanhood lost their lives, will be told for generations in thousands of Milwaukee homes.
It is probable, however, that the last banquet of the Lady Elgin Survivor’s association at Marble hall has been held. For years survivors of the disaster have gathered in Marble Hall for a banquet and the renewal of old acquaintances. The ravages of time have had their effect, and not scarce a dozen remain to tell the story at first hand. And almost all of these are so enfeebled by age and infirmities that they will be unable to attend banquet this year.
The Rev. J. J. Keogh, rector of St. John’s cathedral, will celebrate a solemn high mass of requiem at the cathedral on the morning of Sept. 9 for the repose of the souls of the men and women who perished in the wreck. This is in accordance with a custom established in 1860 and kept up ever since.
Story of Terrible Disaster.
The story of the Lady Elgin disaster is well known to all Milwaukeeans. The steamer had been chartered by the Union Guards and the Black and Green Jaegers, two popular military organizations. There were more than 400 excursionists, nearly all young men and women of Milwaukee, on board when the steamer left Chicago on the return trip on the night of Sept. 7 1860. The weather was stormy and the waters of Lake Michigan were lashed into a fury by the gale. So threatening indeed were the weather conditions that is was only because of the anxiety of the excursionists to reach home that the captain consented to start for home that night.
Many of the passengers were asleep when shortly after 1 o’clock in the morning the Lady Elgin was run down by the schooner Augusta. There was a fearful crash; the great steamer trembled under the impact for an instant and then began to sink. The passengers were thrown into a panic, rushing heedlessly back and forth in the darkness, calling piteously for loved ones. The good ship sank rapidly and then ensued all the harrowing scenes of a shipwreck.
Mothers were separated from their children, husbands sought in vain for their wives, lovers struggled frantically to save their sweethearts.
No Survivors Able to Attend.
There were heroes in plenty. Instances are still recalled without number of the deeds of heroism during those awful minutes while the Lady Elgin sank into the waters of Lake Michigan. But heroism and self-devotion were of little avail in that raging sea. When the dawn brought light and calm it was found that scarce 100 of the happy throng had returned to tell the tale of the greatest wreck Milwaukee has ever known.
Fully 300 had gone down with the ship and nearly all sleep in the bosom of the lake awaiting the call that shall reunite them with loved ones.
Year after year for many years now the survivors have gathered at Marble hall to tell again the oft-told tale. Year after year the ranks of the association have grown thinner and thinner. Year after year death has reaped the harvest of the years. This year there will be no banquet for the very good reason that there is non of the survivors able to attend.
Among well known Milwaukee survivors of the Lady Elgin are John J. Crilley, Charles Bevering, William Dever, Fred Kuetemeyer and Edward Malone.
The Milwaukee Free Press, September 8, 1915
Anniversary of Big Ship Disaster
Lady Elgin Sank 55 Years Ago
Lady Elgin, Which Carried Down 300 Souls
Care-free Excursionists in Panic After Crash – Life Boats fail to Reach Shore.
Today is the fifty-fifth anniversary of the Lady Of Elgin disaster, in which more than 300 persons lost their lives. The ship was run down by the schooner Augusta, ten miles off Winnetka, Ill., on the morning of Sept 8, 1860. The majority of those who drowned were Milwaukeeans.
The Lady of Elgin put out from Chicago in the face of a threatening storm with a crowd of gay excursionists returning to Milwaukee. A heavy fog hung over the lake. A gale washed the waves over the decks of the steamer. Below, care-free merry-makers were dancing.
Suddenly there was a crash. Panic gripped the excursionists. Before the frenzied mob could don life-preservers the vessel went down.
The lifeboats which put off from the vessel were swamped before they reached the shore. In the panic which followed the crash, families were separated. Many deeds of heroism were performed.
The song, “Lost on the Lady Elgin,” was written shortly after this disaster and became widely popular. (see poetry section)
So far as is known, the only survivors still living are William W. Dever, Adelbert Doebert and John J. McLinden, Milwaukee, and Thomas B. Keogh, Goldsberg, N.C., Frederick J. Kuetemery, Milwaukee, who was on the ill-fated steamer, died last March in his residence, 840 Thirty-eighth street.
Milwaukee Sentinel, September 7, 1921
Lady Elgin Sunk in Lake Disaster 61 Years Ago
Services to Be Held for Victims of Crash Which Bowed City with Grief.
Sixty-one years ago on Thursday occurred the greatest disaster Lake Michigan has ever known, and the burden of that disaster was filed almost entirely by Milwaukee. The wreck of the “Lady Elgin” has been called “Milwaukee’s greatest grief,” for every passenger who went down either was a Milwaukeean or had friends or relatives in the city.
The boat left Milwaukee early in the morning of Sept. 7 with 300 excursionists, chiefly members of the Union guards and the Black and Green Yagers and their fiends, for Chicago. The weather was fair and the voyage down was uneventful. That evening, between 10 and 11 o’clock, the return trip was begun, with 50 additional passengers who were going beyond Milwaukee, for the boat made regular trips between Chicago and Lake Superior. A slight fog had risen and a storm was threatening, but no damper was cast on the spirits of the excursionists, who danced and celebrated, regardless of the weather.
The wind was from the northeast and the schooner Augusta, loaded with lumber, was running before the wind toward Chicago with no lights. Capt. Mallot of the schooner saw the lights of the “Lady Elgin” and attempted to pass on the starboard side, but then suddenly tried to come up in the wind and pass on the other side, striking the excursion boat near the middle.
The accident occurred in 300 feet of water at 2:30 in the morning about 10 miles off Winetka, Ill., 16 miles from Chicago. The schooner did not stop after the collision, for in the fog and storm she had no idea how much damage had been done, and she had sprung several leaks herself, which necessitated her making harbor as soon as possible.
On the “Lady Elgin” all efforts to stop the gap were in vain, and the passengers were hurried into the lifeboats as soon as possible. Parts of the deck were torn up and rafts were improvised, but the pounding of the waves soon loosened the boat and she separated in the middle, both halves going down within 20 minutes of the collision.
Of the 385 passengers and crew, but 98 were saved, and the bodies were washed along the shore even as far as north of Milwaukee bay. Capt. Wilson was one of those to perish.
Every year since a memorial service has been held in St. John’s cathedral and this year it will be held on Monday.
The EVANSTON NEWS, July 6, 1910
Wreck of the Lady Elgin and Rescue Work of E.W. Spencer
The Hero’s recent visit to Evanston arouses interest in Story of greatest Lake Disaster
A notable event of Northwestern’s recent commencement was the presence of Mr. Edward W. Spencer of California, a former member of the university, class of 1862. This was the first time that the hero of the Lady Elgin, as Mr. Spencer is known, had visited Evanston for almost fifty years. He came at this particular time to witness the graduation of his nephew, W.A. Spencer.
Mr. Spencer was very properly made an informal guest of honor for the week, and received an almost constant ovation while in town. Students and alumni of all classes, as well as other residents of Evanston, rejoiced at the opportunity of seeing and meeting this man, of whom they had all heard many times, but whom most of them had never met. A novel incident of the commencement exercises was the presentation of a portrait of Mr. Spencer to the university by his wife, Mrs. Spencer told the trustees of the university that her children deemed it proper that some lasting memorial of their father’s heroism should have a place in the halls of his alma mater, and that she and they wished to present this picture, and that it might be hung hear where his courage had been displayed.
Because of Mr. Spencer’s recent visit and of the interest that has been aroused, it seems that a retelling of the story of the most awful disaster of the great lakes and the heroic work of Mr. Spencer in connection with it would be appropriate at this time.
Many Witnesses of Disaster Live Here.
Although the wreck of the Lady Elgin occurred almost fifty years ago, there are many persons still residing in Evanston and Chicago who were witnesses of the disaster. In gathering the facts about the wreck, interviews with many eyewitnesses have been read, as well as many accounts of it in old newspapers and magazines. There is a great amount of matter relating to it in the library of the Evanston Historical society, and most of the information has been gathered there. The accounts differ in regard to some points, but these are for the most part in minor details, and we have accepted the preponderance of evidence on the disputed points. But all interviews had stories of the affair agree that one Evanston student, E. W. Spencer, proved himself a hero, and saved many lives at risk of his own.
400 Passengers on Wrecked Boat.
In 1860 the side wheel steamer, Lady Elgin, was one of the largest and finest boats on the great lakes. She belonged to G.S. Hubbard, A.T. Spencer and F.A. Howe, and was one of the boats of the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior line. She was engaged in carrying freight and passengers between Chicago and Lake Superior and intermediate Points.
On the morning of September 7, while coming south, a large excursion party got aboard at Milwaukee to go to Chicago. The excursion was under the auspices of a Milwaukee military company, which was trying to raise money to purchase arms, as the country was at that time fired with talk of the impending war. There were about 300 of the excursionists, mostly members of the military company, with their families and friends. The boat was to start on her return trip to the northern lake points at 8 o’clock that evening, but because of the excursion didn’t leave the dock at the foot of La Salle street until 11:30.
The exact number of passengers on board is uncertain, as there was not list of those bound for Milwaukee. Besides these there were a number for northern points. A number of accounts place the number, including members of the crew, at 393, and it is certain that there were about 400.
Collision Off Waukegan.
About 2:30 a.m. September 8, when at a point some ten miles out from Waukegan, the schooner Augusta, bound for Chicago with a cargo of lumber, came into collision with the Lady Elgin. The schooner showed no lights, and responsibility for the accident was placed upon her officers. The schooner struck the steamer forward of the paddle wheel on the starboard side and with such force that her jibboom penetrated the steamer’s cabin. The captain of the Augusta called to the steamer, asking if she needed help, but the officers did not realize how badly their boat had been damaged and said it was not needed. The schooner then continued on her course to Chicago, her officers thinking that there were the worse sufferers for that collision. On arriving in Chicago the next morning they learned of the loss of the other boat.
Three boats were lowered immediately from the steamer manned by members of her crew, who attempted to stop the hole in her side, but the lake was so rough that they were unable to accomplish anything, and soon their oars were broken and they drifted away, finally arriving safely on shore. In about a half hour after the collision the boilers and engine broke through the bottom of the boat, and it commenced to go to pieces rapidly. In a few minutes all the passengers were struggling in the water. Many of them succeeded in seizing pieces of the wreckage, which helped keep them afloat, and as a strong northeast wind was blowing they drifted toward shore. A number of cattle were included in the boat’s cargo, and many persons were kept afloat by clinging to their bodies A large piece of the hurricane deck held together, and on it as an improvised raft Captain Wilson gathered about fifty persons.
Lake Too Rough for Life Boats.
One of the first to reach shore was Fred Rice, the steward. He landed near Waukegan, and immediately gave the alarm. News of the disaster spread rapidly, and soon crowds gathered on the shore. People who lived in all the towns between Chicago and Waukegan turned out, and during the early morning a boat was sent to Winnetka from Chicago on a special train. The bluffs at that place were so high and the lake so rough that it was impossible to launch the boat, and after several vain attempts that plan of rescuing any of the survivors of the wreck was abandoned.
All during the day the unfortunate victims of the wreck could be plainly seen by the watchers on shore. Although they had been in the cold water for many hours, many of them retained their holds on pieces of wreckage and drifted in safely until they reached the breakers, but then they would almost invariably be wrenched from the objects to which they were clinging and the undertow would prove too strong for them and they would be washed out again and lost before the eyes and within hearing of the persons on the shore.
Many Drowned in Sight of Watchers.
An eyewitness of the scene said: “The unfortunate passengers seemed to come safely to the point where the waves broke on the shore, but unless assistance was then at hand they were carried back by the undertow. The only persons I saw saved were rescued by some one from the shore rushing out from the shore with long branches hastily cut from trees near at hand. These branches would be grasped by the ones in distress, and once over the critical spot they were safe.” But Spencer, according to all accounts, did more than witness speaks of, as he had the ability to go directly to the drowning persons and bring them back to shore.
Spencer Saved Seventeen.
Only thirty persons came through the breakers alive, and of that number Spencer saved seventeen. Some sixty others were picked up by a tug, which was sent to the scene of the disaster from Chicago. The total number saved from the about 400 persons on board the boat was two or three less than 100.
Captain Wilson of the ill-fated vessel succeeded in gathering a number of the passengers on a large piece of the deck which held together when the boat went down. The passengers on this improvised raft drifted toward the shore at Winnetka and seemed to have just reached safety when the raft struck on a sandbar and most of those on it were drowned. Captain Wilson was among those lost, at the time he was trying to save a small girl, and undoubtedly gave his own life in the attempt.
For days the wreckage and bodies drifted to shore, and all bodies which were not identified and claimed by friends or relatives were given a decent burial. The last body to be recovered was that of a deckhand, found on October 27, at the mouth of the Calumet river.
Many articles have been written about Spencer’s heroic work during the day. We quote from one of the late D. D. Thompson:
“Spencer at that time was a frail boy, but such was the strength of his will that he battled with the breakers for six hours. The effort required after the first hour was so great that between each rescue he was obliged to stand before a blazing fire covered with blankets, and drink liberally of stimulants to revive his strength and keep his limbs from cramping.
“Spencer had prepared for that day’s heroism in his boyhood. He was born on the banks of the Mississippi, and had learned in its waters to swim and dive like a duck. After he entered school at Evanston his favorite sport was to swim in Lake Michigan (on whose western shore, twelve miles from Chicago, the school is located), especially in time of storm. Of the 200 who volunteered for service that September day Spencer alone had the skill to battle with the waves. A rope was tied around his waist, that his own body might be recovered should he be killed by the wreckage, and he plunged into the breakers.
“He had rescued several when, as he was going to the assistance of a drowning man clinging to a piece of debris, he was struck in the face by wreckage, and began to bleed profusely. The crowd on shore, alarmed at his apparent injured condition, commenced to pull on the rope, but he was not so severely injured as they supposed – and the drowning man had not been rescued. Spencer threw off the rope, swam to the man, and brought him safely ashore. While recovering his strength, he saw a gentleman sitting in a carriage who impressed him as one born to command. He went up to him and said: “These people have almost killed me, and another accident may take my life without my having done my work. Will you consent to manage my rope for me, not allowing the people to pull until I give a signal? If you do this you shall have half the credit for anything I may be able to do.’ The gentleman accepted the responsibility, and for the next five hours managed the rope.
“The last persons saved by Spencer were a man and his wife. The man was observed coming ashore near a high and precipitous bank, to strike against, which meant certain death. He was clinging with one arm to a piece of wreck, and in the other arm held a bundle which was supposed to contain silver, or like precious property wrapped in clothing. A life of the waves, however, showed the bundle to contain a tress of hair about eighteen inches long. Spencer saw that the man was trying to save a woman. He was almost completely exhausted from his previous efforts, but he said to those about: ‘Cost what it may, I will save that man or die in the attempt.’ Soon he was seen far out in the water, swimming for the raft to which the man and woman were clinging. As Spencer approached, the man cried: ‘Save my wife! Save my wife!’ ‘Yes, I’ll save your wife and you, too,’ replied Spencer. He fastened his hands in their clothing at the back of their necks, and said to them: “I can sustain you in the water, but you must swim for your lives and mine. We must push up northward to get beyond this dangerous surf, if we are to be saved at all!’ They obeyed his instructions, and were saved.”
Fellow Student Tells of Heroism
Mr. Mohler, who was a student at Northwestern at the time, wrote of the disaster in a letter to Prof. C. B. Atwell a few years ago as follows:
“The storm was fierce and the waves furious, rolling fearfully high. News of the wreck spread. All Evanston and much of Chicago gathered on the lake shore anxiously looking for missing children, missing wives, missing husbands.
“These fragments of the wrecked vessel bearing precious lives kept nearing the shore, and, when reaching the breakers, almost within the grasp of friends on shore, were borne back by the receding wave and by the undertow out into the lake again, and they perished there.
“Ropes were secured and fastened around those who volunteered to hazard their own lives in this attempt to rescue others. How many there were, and the names of all who volunteered, I do not remember, but the one who hazarded most in saving lives was Edward Spencer, a brother of William A. Spencer, of the class of ’61. After he had rescued fifteen lives he became exhausted and was carried to his room in Evanston in an unconscious state. When he recovered consciousness, he said to his brother standing by ‘Will, did I do my full duty – did I do my best?’ “
Spencer’s Own Story.
Tow years ago, when a tablet in recognition of Mr. Spencer’s heroism was presented to the university by the class of 1898, he wrote to Mr. George H. Tomlinson, the president of the class, relating his own story of his experiences at the time of the wreck. This account was written by request of Mr. Tomlinson. He said in part:
“On the morning of the wreck a number of us students went out to the lake shore for a walk and were met by Henry Kidder, riding down from his place near Gross Point, who told us of the disaster. Supposing the Lady Elgin had been blown ashore and that we might assist in rescuing those aboard, we hurried along and came to the dead body of a woman close in, with no vessel in sight but plenty of wreckage. This impressed me that the disaster must have occurred far out in the lake. I hurried ahead through an open field on the high bluff. Between the field and the lake was a narrow strip of thick brush and timber. Coming to an opening, I saw out in the breakers what appeared to be a human being. With my coat I waved to the students behind me, jumped down the bank and made my way out just in time. I grasped the chilled and helpless woman just as the breakers washed her from the wreckage, to which she had clung for weary hours. Then the struggle began, the huge breakers forcing us toward the shore, keeping us buried much of the time, and the strong undertow tending to carry us back out into the lake. It was a struggle, indeed, and I was gaining but little, when two tall, stout biblical students, to whom I had signaled, came to our relief. One named Chadian was from Indiana. The other is the Rev. W. S. Harrington, now a member of the Columbia River conference. With the angry surf pounding us against the shore, we fastened a shawl, thrown down to us, under her arms, and then a rope, and as we let go her feet those on the back above grasped her hands and lifted her to safety.
“Two other incidents will illustrate the labors of that eventful day. As yet few persons were coming in shore. Later they came in great numbers.
Was Badly Bruised.
“Going north about half a mile, I saw another person, a man, coming in on the long swelling waves out on the lake, into the merciless breakers. While not an expert swimmer, I was born and raised on the Mississippi river and had learned to be at home in the water. As I reached this man far out from shore, his raft hit my head, seriously hurting me, but chilled as he was, and helpless, I succeeded in getting him ashore. Thereafter, for my own safety, I had a rope tied to me with some one on shore to pay it out. Several times during the day I came up through huge breakers just missing heavy timbers and wreckage that endangered my life. Of the lighter wreckage, I carried bruises for tow or three months, and the postmaster at Evanston told me that he saw, at one time, my feet sticking out of the top of a breaker.
“About 10 a.m., while standing on the bank by a fire and covered with blankets, I saw some one coming into the breakers apparently supporting something partly submerged by his side, and it came to us that some one from the wreck was trying to save a companion in distress. This was an inspiration to me. I rushed into the lake to the end of the rope and waited while Dr. Bannister, who held the rope, and who had been standing with me at the fire, tied on another, which enabled me to reach them after a tremendous struggle. The high bluff back from the shore was covered with a great multitude looking on with intense interest. I remember now, after nearly forty-eight years have passed, that when the pilot of the Lady Elgin and his wife were rescued the storm of cheers from the thousands on shore drowned the roar of the storm raging about us.
“Among the many who did their best, but of whose efforts I had little knowledge at the time, as we were widely scattered along the shore, Harper’s Weekly made honorable mention, and published the picture of C. H. Fowler of Canada, the late bishop of our church; J. O. Kram of Kansas, and a Mr. Chamberlain of Mississippi, besides myself, all biblical students.
“Among the passengers was a cultured and wealth family, of five persons by the name of Garth, from Kentucky, fiends of our neighbors, the Cables of Rock Island. As I remember, a friend of the Garth family came from Kentucky to learn the particulars about their loss. I told him the story as I leaned it from one who was rescued. As the Lady Elgin went to pieces a boy’s voice was heard calling, ‘Father, Father,’ and the father answered, ‘Here I am, my boy, close by you.’ Then a great wave swept them away together.
Inquiries from friends and relatives, by letter or in person, concerning lost members of the ship crew, the excursionists and the passengers came to me for some weeks while I remained at Evanston. Resuming my studies, I was soon compelled to give up and go home because of my health.”
He Did His Best.
As stated in some of these accounts, Spencer kept at his rescue work until entirely exhausted and had to be taken to his room in Evanston, where he was in a precarious condition for some days. He attempted to resume his school work, but was forced to give it up on account of his health, and for many years was almost a physical wreck from the great strain of that day’s experiences. During the past two or three years he has been in much better health than formerly, and has apparently recovered. While he did not give his own life in the saving of others, he did sacrifice his chosen life work in his efforts.
Rev. W. A. Spencer, a brother and his roommate in college, wrote a tract some years ago, which was published by the Methodist Book concern. The tract was entitled, “Did he do his best,” and in it Dr. Spencer tells the story of his brother’s heroism, and then draws a religious lesson from it. He closes the story and the tract as follows:
“The daily papers were full of his praises. The illustrated papers of New York and London contained his picture; but when we were alone in our room it was pitiful to see him. His face would turn ashen pale, and he would fasten his great hungry eyes on me and say, ‘Tell me the truth, Will; everybody praises me. Tell me the truth. Did I fail to do my best?
“He did not ask, ‘Did I do as well as some one else?’ That went without asking. He did not ask, ‘Did I do as well as two hundred others?’ He did better than tat. He did not ask, ‘Did I do as well as any man on God’s footstool?’ I think he might have answered that question in the affirmative. The question that ran through him like a poisoned dagger as he remembered the three hundred and more who lost their lives in sight, and most of them in hearing, of land – the one supreme question was, ‘Did I do my best?’
“God grant to you and me that when we reach the shores of eternity, and see time’s wrecked millions come in to stand with us before the throne of the ‘Judge of the quick and the dead’ – God grant to each one of us that we may hear from the lips of our Elder Brother the ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You did your best.’
“This one day’s battle cost my earthly elder brother, “Edward W. Spencer, his life work, and largely his life’s opportunities. I have a Brother in heaven who, for the rescue of lost sinners, gave his life, and sends each of us as his representative with the life line to save a world. We may not be able to go down into the flood; we may not be trained or fitted for work in a foreign land or in the billows of a great city of our own county. But may we not all at least hold the line for some brave swimmer, and cheer him in his struggle with the waves?’
Incidents of the Disaster.
The body of Captain Wilson was picked up by a tug a week after the wreck. It was taken to Chicago, where funeral services were held in the Wigwam.
Among those lost were Herbert Ingram, a member of the English parliament, and his eldest son. The body of the father was recovered and taken to Boston, England, for burial, but the son was never found. Mr. Ingram was the founder of the London Illustrated News.
Another of the lost was the proprietor of the New Orleans Picayune.
Demonstrations were made against the officers and crew of the August in both Chicago and Milwaukee after the disaster. The name of the schooner was finally changed to the “Colonel Cook,” and she sailed on the lakes for many years afterwards under that name.
Captain Malott, captain of the Augusta at the time of the collision, was drowned a few years later, when the bark Major was wrecked.
The owners of the Lady Elgin started suit against the owners of the Augusta, but the latter sent all the members of the crew out of the county, so that no witnesses were available, and the suit never came to trail.
Among the rescued was Mr. Hartrauft, who afterwards was governor of Pennsylvania.
Lady Elgin, after whom the vessel was named, was the wife of Lord Elgin, who was governor general of Canada from 1847 to 1854.
The late King Edward of England, then the Prince of Wales, was traveling in America during the 1860. On September 7 he was in Toronto and remained there for almost a week on account of bad weather, probably the same storm which prevailed on Lake Michigan at the time of the wreck.
NO HERO MEDAL FOR SPENCER
Bill Authorizing Award to Hero of Lady Elgin Wreck Never Passed.
Mr. Currey and Others worked for Measure and Still Hope for Its Passage.
The movement to secure medals for the men who saved lives at the time of the “Lady Elgin” disaster, in September 1860, was the result of a conversation between President Roosevelt, Mr. Cortelyou, and Mr. David D. Thompson, editor of the Northwestern Christian Advocate of Chicago, in the spring of 1907. Mr. Thompson was a resident of Evanston, and, as will be remembered, met an untimely death as a result of injuries received in an automobile accident at St. Louis on November 10, 1908.
Mr. Thompson was a guest at the White House in Washington, and in the course of conversation mentioned the thrilling events connected with the “Lady Elgin” disaster, the rescue of the unfortunate victims as they reached the shore at Evanston by Spencer and others, and also that no official recognition of their deeds on that occasion had ever been made.
On his return to Chicago, Mr. Thompson sent Mr. Cortelyou a written account of the events connected with the disaster, to which the following letter is a reply:
Washington, April 2, 1907
My Dear Mr. Thompson:
I have your personal letter of March 25, accompanying which you send me a brief account of the heroic conduct of Messrs. Spencer, Fowler and Cramb, in connection with the wreck of the “Lady Elgin,” and of Mr. Hartzell with the wreck of the schooner “Storm.”
After the conversation you had with the President and myself concerning this matter, I ascertained that, under the decision of the law officers of the government, beginning with the act of 1874, all the acts authorizing this department to award medals for saving life were prospective in character, and it was impossible to give these men the recognition they deserved under any of the provisions of the acts now in force.
I am much impressed. However, with the heroism of the men involved in this case, and have given instructions that a bill be prepared and presented to congress at the beginning of the next session which will authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to bestow upon them the well-merited medals.
With personal regards, I am,
Yours very truly,
[Signed’ George B. Cortelyou.
Rev. D. D. Thompson,
Ed. N.W. Christian Advocate,
Bill Was Before House.
Accordingly, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives, February 17, 1908, authorizing the award of medals to Edward W. Spencer and Charles h. Fowler for heroic conduct in saving life at the wreck of the steamer “Lady Elgin,” September 8, 1860, and to Joseph C. Hartzell for heroism displayed at the wreck of the schooner “Storm,” May 10, 1864. The bill was referred to the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, and the chairman of that committee, Hon. W. P. Hepburn, soon after sent a request to the Treasury Department for a report of the case
Mr. Cortelyou, the secretary of the treasury, made a report which included the letters of David D. Thompson, and of J. Seymour Currey, president of the Evanston Historical society, narrating the history of the disasters referred to and setting forth the claims of Spencer, Fowler and Hartzell for recognition.
Bishop Fowler died March 20, 1908, and in the fall of the same year the death of Mr. Thompson occurred, as mentioned above. The latter event left the movement without the powerful support of its originator, but other friends too up the cause. Meantime much anxiety was felt lest the bill should not be reported before the expiration of congress on the fourth day of March, 1909. On the second of February, 1909, Mr. Cortelyou addressed a letter to Bishop Hartzell, at Cincinnati, in which he says: “I have addressed a letter to the chairman of the committee on interstate and foreign commerce, House of Representatives, urging that favorable action be taken upon the bill at the present session of congress.”
No Action at Last Session.
On the nineteenth of February, 1909, Mr. Currey wrote a letter to Mr. Hepburn, chairman of the committee on interstate and foreign commerce, in which he says: “Since the bill [.e. the bill authorizing medals to be awarded to Spencer, Fowler and Hartzell] has been referred to your committee, Dr. Charles H. Fowler has died, and the beneficiaries of the measure are therefore reduced to Edward W. Spencer and Bishop Joseph C. Hartzell. A letter recently received by Bishop Hartzell from Secretary George B. Cortelyou, which the writer has seen, indicates the secretary’s friendly interest in the measure; and the write wishes to join with the secretary and other friends in urging that favorable action be taken upon the bill at the present session of congress.
Mr. Currrey reinforced this appeal by other letters to members of congress, one to Hon. Geo. E. Foss, one to Hon. Henry S. Boutell, and one to Senator Shelby m. Cullom. In these efforts Mr. William Jackson of Rock Island aided by writing to other members of congress. But notwithstanding the efforts made by the friends of the measure no action was taken at the session of congress which expired March 4, 1909.
It is understood that our congressman, Mr. Foss, has introduced a bill in the present congress to award medals to Spencer and Hartzell, but we have not learned what are the present condition and prospects of the bill. It now depends on the interest that can be enlisted by friends of the measure to urge it forward to a definite and successful result.