IOWA HISTORY PROJECT
The Whole City Excited Over the Everett Disaster
Sad scenes at the Wreck and in this City-The bodies all Recovered but that of Geo Howard-Further Details of the Affair.
A Day of Excitement
The city was all excitement yesterday. The HAWK-EYE’S account of the terrible disaster which befell the steamer Everett on Thursday evening was carried to thousands of readers by the early morning, and it was not long before an excited crowd began to gather, about this office, that of Coroner Unterkircher, and along the levee. The news seemed too terrible to be true, but as the reports came one after another, the HAWKEYE’S account was verified in every detail.
A TERRIBLE NIGHT
The persons who escaped the ravages of the storm spent a dreadful night. The small cut herewith is a faithful representation of the sort of country they were compelled to campaign a low sandy shore, clad with willows intermingled with occasional large trees, and offering absolutely no protection to the wretched beings who cowered shivering over a small fire, which burned dismally and was with difficulty kept alive. They were drenched to the skin, and their sufferings were severe. It was a sorry spectacle that greeted the Lotus when Captain Alexander pulled in to shore in answer to the signal of a waving lantern. Mrs. Howard, who was widowed by the terrible affair. Was probably most in need of care, but she bore up with great fortitude and seemed as brave as any. Harry Bell, who lost all his household treasures in the same awful moment, was almost equally in need of succor and assistance, while all the others were needing it badly enough. The comfortable cabin of he Lotus soon furnished the rescued party the kindly shelter they needed and they were quickly on the way to the city which they had left a few hours before in the face of the storm. In the meantime the crew of the John Taylor were aroused and at 5 a. m. she left the levee for the sunken Everett, reaching it in about one hour. The bodies of Mrs. Bell and her little girl were found during the of darkness and brought down on the Lotus. The Taylor remained at the wreck about an hour, during which time the body of the unfortunate nurse girl, Ruby Van Etten was found. The Taylor returned to Burlington at 7;30 a. m. bringing the body of Miss Van Etten with it, and at eight o’clock left on its regular run to Oquawka. Mr. derby very thoughtfully carried along a large basket of provisions and a good sized pot of coffee for Mr. Lyon and his men, who were still at work on the wreck.
CAPTAIN PEEL’S BODY FOUND
Shortly after the Taylor stayed back the first time, about seven o’clock, the body of Captain Vincent Peel was discovered. His feet were caught among a mass of wood work and timbers and he was hanging head downward in the cabin. The Taylor made the trip to Burlington and stopped at the wreck again at nine o’clock on her way to Oquawka and still he had not been released. Thickness after thickness of timbers had to be sawed through before this could be accomplished and it was ten o’clock before the task was done. The face was somewhat discolored, probably from a bruise sustained when the boat careened, and a small wound had been indicted upon it with the hook by means of which it was discovered, but no marks of other injury can be seen. The body was placed in a skiff and as the Taylor came down on her way back to Burlington, about half past eleven, she received it and brought it to the city.
HOWARDS BODY STILL MISSING
The search for the body of George Howard, the cook, was continued. The force of men assailed the cabin with saws and axes, and by noon had quite completely demolished all of it that had remained above water. The poles with hooks attached were piled vigorously, and numerously articles were brought up from the eddying depths, but no trace of the unfortunate man could be found. Articles of furniture, bedding, clothing, and a hundred miscellaneous things were brought to the surface and the interior of the faded cabin was thoroughly explored., but the body could not be found. Doubts are expressed that it remains in the wreck. There are varying accounts as to Howard’s whereabouts when the gale struck and it is suggested that he was thrown into the water with the others, but unlike them failed to obtain a hold on the wreck and was drowned and floated away. Josh Jobin, an expert diver, will be here on the Long Linn train from St. Louis and to-day will thoroughly explore the boat as she lies and endeavor to learn the position of Howard’s body.
THE EVERETT’S CONDITION
The steamer Everett was built at Stillwater by Charles Meade in April 1887, and was owned jointly by Mr. H. S. Rand and Capt. Vincent Peel, who perished on her. She was valued at $6,000 and her loss will be total or nearly so. The hull is perfectly sound and solid and has suffered nothing from the accident. Her wheel and probably all, or nearly all, of her machinery are sound and in good condition. Her boilers are still inside but have broken away and slid down to the bottom or starboard side. Her upper works are a total wreck. Pilot house and cabin are gone and the lower deck housing is all wrenched and racked and splintered into ruin. Capt. Thos Peel says the salvage will be counterbalanced by the expense of saving it. Superintendent Lyon, of the Burlington Lumber company, feels hopeful that the cost will not be so great. The cutting away of the sand on the upstream side was gradually allowing the cabin to settle lower and lower until a heavy barge was brought up below and solidly lashed fast, the lines being strained taut by being twisted with levers. This has stopped the settling. Although the cutting is probably still in progress. An effort will be made as soon as possible to free the hull of the upper works and roll it back into place. A fair idea of the scene as it now is may be gained y reference to the sketch made yesterday afternoon. The only portions now visible above the water are those shown in it. The larboard guards and the side of the hull, the engine room and the outer gallery of the cabin deck, relieved of its railing and all other upper works. The barge is literally covered with articles gathered from the wreck. The wheel lies behind the spectator in the view, and Michael Sater’s house on the Iowa side lies directly ahead of him. The boat lies almost squarely across the channel about 200 yards from the Illinois shore, and her bow heads a little south of west. The safe was thrown bodily out of the office when the lurch came and has not yet been located. It contains about 4200 in cash besides papers.
There was no attempt yesterday to disguise the fact that Andrew and Samuel Jacobs did a noble and a daring act in going out as they did to save the shipwrecked crew. Andy Jacobs lives fully a mile away on the bank of Henderson creek, which empties into the Mississippi two or three furlongs below the place where the Everett lies. Sam Jacobs, his brother, lives with their father, not far distant but a little nearer the wreck then he. They are all fishermen roughened and tanned and burned by exposure and self denying toil, but they are warm hearted, generous men all the same. The father heard the cries for help, but could render no assistance, having no skiff, and carried the word to the two boys at Andy’s house. Together the brothers set forth, having a billowy river and a hard rain with occasional ugly gusts of wind and fitful lightning. They carried the survivors ashore as quickly as they could and did all that their rude means would allow to render them measurably comfortable. They will never be forgotten while one of he rescued party live.
THE STORM ITSELF
It seems singular that so dreadful a catastrophe could befall a steamer and yet that there could be no further evidence of the storm that wrought the havoc. Dead snags and trees with half denuded roots line the banks all along the river in the vicinity of the wreck, but not a single one seems to have given away before the blast. The smiling and sparkling river gave no token yesterday of the tragedy that had stirred its boson the night before and the dismantled wreck alone told the story. Captain Alexander of the Lotus, however, deemed the situation too dangerous on Thursday evening to leave his moorings above this place and Capt. Thomas Peel, brother of the dead commander observed a similar caution where he was. He was lying at the mouth of the Skunk with the steamer Park bluff and a tow of wood barges destined for Ft. Madison. He deemed it imprudent to venture out until the heavens had grown less threatening and so staid where he was. He remarked at the time that he considered his position safer than that of the Everett, which he guessed was somewhere above Burlington. Yesterday morning he went to Fort Madison and as he came back through the draw of the bridge a telegram was handed him. It was from Mr. Rand and informed him that the Everett had sunk and that his brother was missing. He came at once to Burlington and soon after went on up to the wreck, towing up the barge which lashed fast to the dismantled stern.
AT THE MORGUE
In one small stone floored room at Unterkircher’s morgue the four victims of the disaster Captain Peel and his daughter, Mrs. Bell lay side by side and in the hollow of her Mother’s arm lies the sweet little life that went out with theirs. The faces are white and waxen although the little one almost seems to smile with expressions of calm repose mark features of its mother and her. Near these bodies lies that of Ruby Etten. The poor girl whose name wasn’t known to our informants yesterday morning. She was an orphan girl, father and mother, together, her sister, being buried near Wever. She has a brother, Edward Van Etten Macon County, Illinois, a sister, Mrs. Pomeroy living on the corner of fourth and Angular street this city. The funeral service was held from the residence of this 10:30 a. m to-day and the internment be made at Wever, beside the other members of the family, this afternoon.
The funeral arrangement cannot be announced for the others. Mrs. Peel the widow is in California. Where she has been visiting her own son Vincent Watsonville, and her daughter now married of San Jose. Besides the members of his immediate family Capt. Peel leaves three brothers. Capt. Thomas Peel of the Park Bluff, Samuel Peel farmer, living near Wever, and -- Peel of Washington territory: a sister Mrs. Chas. Davis, of Wever, an aged and widowed mother, lives with her. Several of these relatives, at least, will be present at the funeral which will be announced in tomorrows Hawk-Eye. Captain Peel was born October 29, 1830 and always declared that when his fiftieth birthday came he would retire from the river. In a little more than six months longer his time would have been up. He was a member of Burlington Collegium V. A. S. and of Stephens Lodge No. 34 A. O. I W. and from these two organizations his family will receive $2,000 each. His interest in the Everett will probably realize then nothing.
The throng about the morgue was so great yesterday that the sidewalk was blocked and the police had to be summoned to clear it. No congregation of the multitude will be permitted there today, and positively no one will be allowed to enter the room.
The operations at the wreck today will probably attract a large number of sightseers, scores having gone up in skiffs to see it yesterday and the suspense will continue in a measure until this search is successful.
Collected and Transcribed
by Georgeann McClure