Rocky River, OH (Lake Erie) Launch LEO Wreck, Sep 1889


A special from Cleveland says:
Lorain is a booming lake port, with 2,000 inhabitants, a few miles west of Cleveland. On Sunday afternoon the Naphtha launch Leo, about forty feet long, started from Lorain, despite the threatening weather, for Cleveland. There were nine men on board. Most of them young, and all of them except the crew among the most enterprising and successful citizens of the town. The launch was to be tested, and the company consisted of her owners and a party of their friends, who wished to attend a funeral in Cleveland.
They were:
Capt. SAM ROOT, 60 years of age, a sailor with a family, who was in command of the launch, and an engineer whose name is unknown, who had arrived at Lorain from Detroit three days before. A storm began Sunday afternoon, and the lake soon became dangerous for even full-sized vessels. At 7:30 o'clock in the evening Dan P. Eells' steam yacht, Winifred passed the Leo, and her Captain astonished to find so small a boat out at that time, signaled the launch. The signal was returned, and as the Leo appeared to be in good form and was going rapidly toward Cleveland five miles distant, he passed on. The first of the storm had pased and the weather remained comparatively calm until after midnight, giving ample time for the launch to have completed her voyage, but she never entered Cleveland harbor. As the party was not expected to return to Lorain before Monday afternoon, her disappearance was not noticed until Tuesday, when anxious friends made inquiries in Cleveland. Wednesday doubt gave way to the certainty that the Leo had not completed her trip, and at once a search began along the lake shore west of the breakwater, just east of where the launch had been met by the Winifred. Early in the foremoon Officer Riley, of West Cleveland, found J. D. LAWLER'S body partly imbedded in the sands beside the wreckage from the Leo. His face was badly discolored and swollen, and the entire body showed that it had been severely pounded upon the sand by the waves. A silver watch in his clothing had stopped at 3:15 o'clock. Later a party of venturesome searches saw a bare leg among a heap of ragged rocks from which each incoming wave sent up a cloud of spray. With great difficulty it was reached and the body of CON RITTER taken from where it had been tightly wedged. RITTER had taken his shoes and coat off and had evidently tried to save his life by swimming. The body was badly cut and mangled by the rocks and identified only by means of a pocket-knife with RITTER'S name upon it. His watch had stopped at 3:19 o'clock. The town of Lorain is in mourning for its citizens. The sad affair is almost a public calamity. The prevalent theory is that the Leo was swamped by the waves, as she was an open boat.

Van Wert Republican Ohio 1889-09-26


Correct name of LAWLER victim

My great grandfather's name was Irvin D. Lawler not JD Lawler. His brother Edward was also on the LEO and perished.