Oshkosh, WI Drowning, May 1879


A Young Woman Drowned Last Evening in the River.

Narrow Escape of Two Others.

Timely Rescue of the Survivors by FRANK CLARK.

Full Particulars of the Circumstances.

About four o'clock yesterday afternoon a party of eight persons repaired to DICKINSON'S boat house and engaged two row boats for a ride on the river and lake. Into one boat got JOHN NYGAARD, LENA LENGWAY, MISS JACOBSON and JETTIE MILLER. In the other was seated LOUIS NELSON, NELS LENGWAY, brother of LENA, MARY RASMUSSEN and MARY JOHNSON. The two boats shoved off the dock and the occupants concluded to have a ride on the lake. They proceeded out of the river and down to Wright's Point, subsequently returning about seven o'clock. A party who saw them off Wright's Point says they were yelling and shouting and having a good time generally, but there was evidence of more or less carelessness about the management of the boats. In fact, two of the men subsequently testified that it was the first time they ever tried to row a boat. The two boats got back and started up the river going as far as the upper railroad bridge. They then returned, passing Main street bridge just about dusk, in the vicinity of eight o'clock. On the way down the boat that contained NELSON, LENGWAY, and the two girls. RASMUSSEN and JOHNSON, kept about two or three rods ahead of the other one. The two men were rowing. In the rear boat LENA LENGWAY and JETTIE MILLER were rowing and JOHN NYGAARD was sitting with his back to them. When half way between Main street bridge and Crawford & McKenzie's dock the rear boat suddenly upset. The cause of the upsetting does not satisfactorily appear, but NYGAARD thinks that one of the girls dipped her oar too deep, which formed a pry sufficient to upset the boat. In a twinkle NYGAARD and the three girls were floundering in the water. Two of the girls caught hold of NYGAARD and he being a good swimmer managed to keep them up for a moment. The boat righted and the three girls in their fright all caught hold of one side of it, when over it went again, burying the girls beneath it. LENA LENGWAY was never seen again, but the other two managed to keep afloat a moment longer until FRANK CLARK, who had heard the cry for help, had reached them with a small skiff. He took in the two girls and NYGAARD and rowed them to shore. It was not until they had got most to the shore that they told him there was another girl in the water. CLARK immediately returned to the spot, but no trace of the missing girl could be found. By that time two or three other boats were on hand but LENA had sunk to a watery grave. CLARK also tipped over and was taken to shore in a boat by Capt. SAM NEFF. The four who were in the leading boat when the accident happened, among whom was LENA'S brother, were so excited as to render no assistance whatever. The girls screamed and wanted to be landed and the boat rounded to the dock and let the girls out before going to assistance of those in the water. By that time CLARK had rescued those who were still above water.
Search was immediately commenced for LENA'S body, but the appliances were insufficient. A moderate search was kept up until late at night. This morning proper grappling hooks were secured and about half past nine o'clock the body was brought to the surface, the hooks having caught in the girl's dress. There was an immense crowd on the docks and on a schooner that lay near where the accident happened, during the search. The body was towed to the side of the schooner and elevated on board. The arms were stretched out, partially bending over the head, the lower limbs were somewhat drawn up and the head was thrown back, as if the body had laid calmly and quietly on the bottom of the river on its back. The body was taken to SPIKES' undertaker shop, where it was properly attended to. A Coroner's jury was summoned and from testimony the above facts were elicited. The deceased was a Dane girl, and had only been in this country about two years. Her brother has been here about four years. Their mother is dead and their father still lives in Denmark. LENA was employed in the family of a man named GIBSON in the First ward. She was twenty-one years of age, was dressed very neatly, and is said to have been a bright and intelligent girl.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern Wisconsin 1879-05-19