Monday, December 7, 2009

Four Boys Drowned

Marietta Register, December 28, 1871

Drowned is a simple word, but it occurs often in the newspapers and is almost always passed by lightly, as a matter of course.  Yet there are hearts to which it carries inexpressible anguish.

Thursday afternoon, 21st inst., towards four o'clock, three among the best boys in Marietta, full of life and joy, were skating on the Muskingum - Wm. B. Coen, only son of Mrs. Coen and grandson of W. C. McCarty, aged nearly sixteen; Lee C., only son of Samuel L. Grosvenor, Sheriff of our county, aged about fifteen; and Charles Shipman, second son of Martin D. Follett, Esq., in his twelfth year.  They went up within about half a mile of Devol's Dam, and turned in near the eastern shore, to come down again, when suddenly a treacherous place in the ice, covered with a light snow, gave way, and they all went in together, in about six feet of water.  A man on the bank, said to be a German, saw them, and went to their aid; but Lee Grosvenor and Charley Follett had already disappeared.  Willie Coen came up, struggled for his life, and talked to the man who was trying to help him, and who pushed out a piece of fencing, which the poor boy was able just to touch with his fingers, but he was so benumbed that he could not get firm hold, and he sank beneath the surface.  Neighbors rallied, and in course of an hour or two, the bodies of all three had been recovered.

The body of Willlie Coen was first recovered and word sent to town.  It was not then known who the other two boys were.  Mr. McCarty went up for his grandson's body.  Charley Follett was late in getting home, and his father and older brother, unaware of the dire calamity, had started to look for him, walking up the road.  Capt. Grosvenor, fearing that his son Lee was one of the two unknown boys, started up in a buggy, and overtaking Mr. Follett, took him in, and the two fathers drove on fearing the worst, yet not without hope.  They met the wagon in which lay in a row, with their heads to the rear, the lifeless bodies of the three boys; and looking in, by the pale moonlight of early evening, they then discovered that the two before not known were their boys.  It was a terrible shock - and three mothers of our best known families, in the heart of town, came into the bitterness of the saddest grief.

Sunday, at 2-1/2 o'clock, P.M., the three funerals were held together in the Congregational Church, services conducted by Rev. Dr. Hawks, of that Church, and Rev. A. C. Hirst, of the Centenary M. E. Church. The house was crowded to its utmost capacity, and perhaps half the people could not get in.

There had been singing and prayer, and just as Dr. Hawks was commencing his remarks, two boys strolled across the common, in front of the church, walked down on the ice, and in a moment the alarm was given that Albert R. Field was in the river.  A few yards from the shore was a hole, perhaps two or three feet across, and the boy was under the ice, in fifteen feet of water.  It was about an hour and a half before his body was recovered.  He was about seventeen years of age, and the oldest of two sons of Mrs. Field, on Second street, widow of the late Richard Field, a most worthy woman, in the church, attending the funeral of the other three boys, when this quick and terrible calamity came upon her.  The funeral took place Tuesday, 10 A.M., at the Unitarian Church, services conducted by Rev. J. Riley Johnson.

It forms, perhaps, the most sorrowful page in the history of Marietta's families.  And yet we repeat what was said in this paper, only two weeks ago:

The Editor of the Register was once, when a boy, drowned, as far as to lose all consciousness; but consciousness continued what seemed to be a long time after respiration must have stopped.  The mind acted with lightning rapidity, and the things thought of in their multitudinous numbers and extreme vividness would appear absolutely incredible to one who has not tried it.  The only disagreeableness was in the first strangling.  After that, all was pleasantness, perfect physical and mental happiness.

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