Chicago, IL Eastland Disaster, Jul 1915 - Cause of the Disaster


Known dead, 820.
Missing, 456.
Saved, 1,204.
Tickets sold, 2,408.
Crew, 72.

Causes Given For Disaster.

Defective construction of hull, defective water ballast; overloading.

Six investigations--by federal steamboat inspectors, States Attorney Hoyne, Coroner Hoffman, Federal District Attorney Charles Clyne, Chief of Police Healey, Acting Mayor Moorehouse.

Held for investigation--Captain Pedersen, Mate Fisher and staff officers and crew of Eastland, Walter C. Steele, secretary-treasurer, Martin Flatow, general agent St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship company.

Witnesses--C. H. Westcote, Detroit, supervising federal steamboat inspector Eighth district, Robert Reid and Charles C. Ecklift, inspectors who approved of the Eastland, May 7, 1915, Captain Ira B. Mansfield and William Nicholas, federal inspectors who approved Eastland's hull July 6, 1915, George T. Arnold, president St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship company, owners of the Eastland, W. K. Greenbaum, general manager Indiana Transportation company, who chartered the vessel.

Missing witnesses--George Munger, purser, who knows exact number of passengers on board, has evaded arrest, believed to be in or about Kalamazoo, Mich, his home.

Bodies still in hull--Over 400 bodies believed to be in or under hull. Divers working steadily bringing them to surface and are expected to be employed for three days.

Relief Fund of $300,000 raised to provide immediate relief of victims. Western Electric company gave $100,000 of this. Red Cross in charge.

Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, IN 26 Jul 1915


Many Arrests Made.

Forty-four members of the Eastland's crew, including Captain Pedersen, First Mate Dell Fisher and other staff officers, were still held today by the police. Up to near noon, today, no serious effort had been made by any of them to obtain bail. It was believed such an [illegible] probably would not be made immediately or until public feeling has subsided.

Besides the members of the crew held by the police, Walter C. Steele, secretary-treasurer, and Martin Slatow, excursion agent and traffic manager of the St. Joseph-Chicago line, were still in custody today.

Deputy Chief Schuettler announced today the he still has his men after other line officials. He said he would hold every man among them who sets foot in Chicago, but that for the time being officials have decided not to go outside this jurisdiction to make arrests.

One of the most wanted, the police said, is George Munger, purser of the Eastland. Munger is of Kalamazoo, Mich. His son, questioned at the state attorney's office, said he had received a telegram from his father that the latter had escaped from the boat. The son said he has no idea of his father's whereabouts and is fearful that he may have been prostrated and is lying ill.

Funeral Day.

Wednesday will be "funeral day" at Cicero, an industrial suburb, where a majority of the Eastland victims lived. From 9 until 4 o'clock of that day this little city will leave everything to give vent to visible expression of its grief. For it will be one great funeral, rather than many.

Physicians, quick to see the danger of a typhoid epidemic caused by survivors taking into their stomachs the polluted water from the four Chicago river, held a meeting and passed resolutions aimed to off set this danger. All survivors have been requested to call at the city health department and subject themselves to anti-typhoid vaccination treatment.

Open Factory.

J. B. Lyons, in charge of relief work for the Western Electric company, employes [sic] of which furnished the heaviest toll, ordered the plant to open today. In this way the company officials hope to check up on the missing and collect figures as to the actual number of their employes [sic] lost in the catastrophe. Two thousand dollars has been appropriated by the city of Cicero to assist in local cases needing immediate attention. Two of the city trustees lost members of their families, one a wife and one a daughter and son.

Distress Feared.

Acute distress among many of the families of the Western Electric employes [sic] is feared unless quick action is taken.

Many of the workers had been on half and on-third time and in many cases the sole support of the family went down with the boat.

Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne IN 26 July 1915