Boston, MA Sailboat Capsizes Drowning Nine, Apr 1892




Boston, April 11. -- Last evening an instructor and ten boys connected with the Boston Farm Shool, at Thompson's Island, were capsized in a sailboat and the instructor and eight of the boys drowned.
The Victims.
A. F. NORDBERT, instructor, aged about forty.
FRANK F. HITCHCOCK, nineteen, admitted Sept. 10, 1883.
HOMER F. THATCHER, seventeen, admitted Jan. 25, 1887.
GEORGE F. ELLIS, sixteen, admitted Nov. 24, 1886.
THOMAS PHILLIPS, sixteen, admitted Sept. 15, 1886.
WILLIAM W. CURRAN, seventeen, admitted Aug. 20, 1885.
CHARLES R. GRAVES, seventeen, admitted May 15, 1886.
HARVEY E. LOUD, sixteen, admitted Sept. 28, 1887.
ADELBERT H. PACKARD, sixteen admitted May 8, 1888.
The Rescued:
OVE W. CLEMENTS, seventeen.
CHARLES A. LIMB, sixteen.
The instructor had been to the city during the day to attend church, and the ten boys, constituting a regular crew of the school, left the island at 6:30 to said to City Point to convay the instructor to the island. The trip is considered perfectly safe under ordingary circumstances, having been made for years, evern during the Winter months, without accident.
As a precaution, however, in view of the breeze, the crew took a single sail boat instead of a double said craft, in which the trip is often made. The trip to the point was made safely, and soon after 7 P. M. the boat started on the return trip. At a point supposed to be between Spectacle Island and Thompson's Island, the boat was struck by a squall and immediately capsized. The eleven occupants were thrown into the ice cold water but, being accustomed to strict discipline and the exercise of heroism in the school, they all secured positions where they could cling to the overturned craft, and then began a long wait for rescue, which to most of them was never to come.
According to the testimony of the two survivors, they encouraged each other by words of cheer, occasionally shouting in the hope that they might be heard by some one on shore. At one time a tug was seen in the distance, and they shouted with all their remaining strength, but could not attract attention. The night was cold, and the shores and wharves were abandoned.
When the time for the boat to return to the island had passed, the Superintendent of the school, CHARLES H. BRADLEY, went to the beach to scan the waters toward City Point to see if his boys were approaching. There was a fire on a neighboring island, and he got in the range of the light in the hope that it would aid his vision, but he saw nothing. The survivors say that they saw his form patrolling the beach, and felt sure that rescue would come, but it did not. Finally the chill of the water, and the exertion necessary to keep their heads above the surface, overcame the unfortunates, and one by one they were compelled to release their hold.
The instructor was the first to go. Each offered a prayer or a word of farewell to the others as he gave up his hold on life. Some of them endured the unequal contest for nearly four hours, and it was quite four hours, or about 11 o'clock, when the boat, with the two survivors still clinging to it, but exhausted, drifted ashore. They were immediately cared for and are rapidly recovering from the effects of their exposure.
Superintendent BRADLEY came to the city this morning, notified the police, undertakers, and the officers of the Boston Farm School of the disaster, and engaged a diver to search for the bodies of the lost. This is the first drowning accident at the school since 1842.
A. F. NORDBERG, the instructor, was a native of Sweden, who came here at the solicitation of the managers of the school about a year ago from Chicago, where he has a brother residing. He is not known to have other relativess in this country. He was unmarried. He was graduated from the Sloyd Schools of his native country, and was employed at the school as instructor in this system and in carpentry.
The Boston Asylum and Farm School for Indigent Boys is a private institution, supported by wealthy citizens. Its funds are all appropriated for relieving, instructing, and employing indigent boys. The boys are given a good common-school education and instructed in moral and religious duties. Many are afterward provided with good situations, if found to be capable.
Two of the drowned boys, PHILLIPS and CURRAN, wre to have been sent away from the institution to-day, excellent homes having been found for them. The boys were all good swimmers, and MR. NORDBERG was an expert. The icy temperature of the water is supposed to have chilled them so that they were unable to make any efforts for their own safety.

The New York Times New York 1892-04-12