Hillsdale, MI Nine People Drowned at Baw Beese Lake, Aug 1876
Drownings in Baw Beese Lake from The Republican, Coldwater, Branch Co., Michigan dated 4 Aug 1876.
Baw Beese Lake Swallows Nine Victims! SEVEN PERSONS RESCUED! The Bodies All Recovered. COLDWATER DRAPED IN MOURNING
Last Tuesday was chosen by the Sabbath School connected with the Baptist church for a picnic and excursion. They chose Baw Beese Lake, near Hillsdale, as the point which they would visit, and a large number of young and old, their faces beaming with the expected pleasures of the day, gathered at the depot yesterday morning anxious to be off for the scene of their anticipated enjoyments.
The company arrived at the lake between ten and eleven o'clock, when the young boys made a general rush for the boats.
Several parties had been out and back and every boat was employed.
About 2 o'clock the news flashed across the wires to this city that nine of the excursionists had been drowned. The city was soon alive with anxious ones hastening to the depot to hear of the fate of those near and dear to them. The telegrams were conflicting and not much reliance could be placed upon them. Soon individuals began to telegraph that they were safe, while Mr. Johnson, the operator at this point, asked for a correct list of the drowned.
About four o'clock the following names were sent as the victims of a watery grave: Mr. G.H. Taylor, Mrs. John Musser, Mrs. Thornton and child, Mary and Libbie Cunningham, Alice Hayes, Mary Keely and Randall Blackman.
This was all that could be learned at the time, none of the particulars of the sad catastrophe passing over the wires. Soon it was learned that the special train had been ordered to the lake to bring the excursionists home. Two hours of intense anxiety followed, increased by conflicting reports as to the cause of the fatality.
In the meantime the stores in our city were closed and draped in mourning. A half an hour before the train was expected the various bells within the city began to toll which was kept up until the excursionists had returned. It had been telegraphed that up to 5 o'clock none of the bodies had been found and so none were expected on the train.
As soon as the train had arrived there was a general rush for information, the station all along the platform being densely crowded with anxious inquirers. Of course there were as many accounts as there were narrators. About the first person our eyes fell upon was a little boy, one of the number that was rescued.
But there was not much to be gained by plying questions at that time. Before the train had arrived it had been arranged that acting Mayor Foster should appoint a body of working men who would return to the lake and do what they could in recovering the bodies.