Cleveland, OH Ferry Boat Capsizes, July 1896

A PANIC CAUSES ANOTHER APPALLING DISASATER AT CLEVELAND, O.

A FERRY BOAT, WHILE CROSSING THE OLD RIVER CHANNEL, CAPSIZES.

IT WAS LOADED WITH LABORERS AT THE TIME -- BETWEEN FIFTEEN AND TWENTY PERSONS DROWNED -- FOURTEEN DEAD BODIES HAVE BEEN FOUND SO FAR.

Cleveland, July 17. -- The most appalling disaster which has occurred in Cleveland, except the Viaduct horror, last winter, when a loaded car plunged 100 feet into the river, occurred Thursday at three o'clock. While the flat-bottomed ferryboat loaded with between forty and fifty laborers, was crossing in the old river channel, it was capsized and all the men thrown into the channel and between fifteen and twenty drowned, 14 bodies having already been taken from the water, and a passing tug made waves which came into the boat. At once there was a rush to the other side and the boat went under and spilled the men. They were all members of a gang of ore handlers and were coming to their homes. The scene in the river, as described by the men on the tug and the steamer Langdos, which were passing, was one of a wild struggle for life. Men grappled each other and went down in fierce embrace. Lines and life preservers were thrown from both vessels and many were pulled aboard. Others of the unfortunates were rescued by small boats and some swam ashore. The life saving crew was summoned and the work of searching for bodies at once began. Within a short time, 12 of the unfortunates were brought to shore and taken to the morgue for identification. Those who escaped scattered in every direction and it is uncertain just how many lives were lost; but 20 men are reported missing and the dragging of the channel is still in progress. The crowding of the boat was due to the fact that the ore gangs pay just so much a trip on the ferry and the more that got on the less the cost to the passengers. The men mostly lived on Guage Street and Selden Avenue, which lead down to the docks and ship yards and the scenes there are indescribable. Men, women, and children were running about screaming and the disorder which prevailed made it impossible to get intelligent stories from even those who were rescued and have returned home. The men were all Germans or Poles and their families can not speak English.

By 11 o'clock Thursday night 14 bodies had been recovered and taken to the various morgues. There was an immense crowd soon gathered on the bank of the river, watching the work of the boats conducting the search. Among them was WM. BENLOW, a pressman. In moving about he lost his footing, fell into the tiver and was drowned.

The work of identification is proceeding slowly owing to the bodies having been taken to various morgues. The scenes enacted by the undertakers were disgusting in the extreme. They almost came to blows in their anxiety to gain possession of the bodies and the police had to interfere in the internet of decency, and threaten to arrest them.

The total list of dead so far as known now, follows:
WILLIAM SAUNDERS, married.
AUGUST KASTEN, married.
MICHAEL LYNCH, married.
FRITZ BARTEL, single.
CHRIS GERLACH, married, all of Cleveland.
_____ PROKUP, residence unknown, married.
CARL BOHRMEISTER, married only three or four months.
JULIUS ERKE, married.
CHRIST GEHREN, married.
CHARLES KRAUS, widower.
EDWARD RYAN.
CHARLES SPOERKO, married.
CHARLES NUQUEN, married.
Unknown man, it is believed all are of Cleveland.

Portsmouth Daily Times Ohio 1896-07-17