1882 Scioto Accident at Mingo Part 1
July 5, 1882
Scioto and John Lomas Collide at Mingo
The Scioto Sunk in 15 Feet of Water,
SHE GOES DOWN IN LESS THAN THREE MINUTES
The River Filled with a Mass of Struggling Humanity.
Loss of Life Unknown-Graphic Accounts of Eye-Witnesses.
Mingo has been the scene of another fearful disaster, perhaps exceeding the railroad horror of 1878 in point of loss of life. This time it is on the river instead of rail, and even at this hour its magnitude can scarcely be determined. It occurred about 8:30 o’clock Tuesday evening, being a collision between the Scioto upward bound and the John Lomas down, both crowded with excursionists. The former boat, a sidewheel steamer running between Wheeling and Matamoras, had been on an excursion to Moundsville under the auspices of the Wellsville Cornet band, and had left East Liverpool about 7 o’clock A.M. taking a couple of hundred peop0le aboard there including Robert Sellers; band of four pieces composed of Messrs, Sellers, Baker, Staley and Tomlinson. At Wellsville about 300 or 400 more got aboard with the band loading the boat to the guards with a mass of men, women and children. The steamer landed at Steubenville between 9 and 10 o’clock, and refused to take any passengers here, although several men and boys managed to clamber over the guards. The boat had been at Moundsville and was on her up trip just above Cross Creek, on the West Virginia side of the river, when she met the John Lomas coming down in the middle of the river. The latter is a small stern wheel boat, which plies between Wheeling and Martin’s Ferry, and had been to Steubenville with an excursion of about 200 people from the latter place. There were two organizations on board, known as the “Arcadiaus” and “Young Married Folks.” As stated, it was about 81/2 o’clock when she came in sight of the Scioto. The clouds had mostly blown away, and it was quite light on the river. The Lomas appears to have signaled first, according to regulations, with one blast, to pass on the left. In a few minutes the Scioto responded with two, and made for the middle of the river. The Lomas then gave two whistles, but the boats kept coming closer and closer together. Orders were given to back the engines, but it was too late to do any good.
THE BOATS CAME TOGETHER
With a tremendous crash, theLomas striking the Scioto on the larboard or left hand side just about the ash box, tearing into her guards, and making a large hole in the hull, through which she began taking water at a rapid rate. As may be imagined the confusion on bard was terrible. The number of women and children was especially large, and as the boat began to settle at once, the scene was heartrending. Parents looking for their children, and vice versa, husbands for their wives, and for their husbands, and prayers and cries filled the air. The officers to their credit, tried to keep the people cool, with the usual result in such cases that nobody paid much attention to them. The boat began going down at once, and in three minutes there was
FIVE FEET OF WATER IN THE CABIN
Those on the lower deck, not less than fifty in number, began jumping into the river and the example was contagious. Many followed them.
LIKE A FLOCK OF SHEEP,
While others more cool made their way to the hurricane roof where there was safety as long as it would hold up under the weight. There were a dozen or fifteen men lying drunk on the lower deck, and all were doubtless hurried into eternity without warning. The river seemed black with human beings and debris of all kinds, and it will be days at least before the full extent of the disaster is known. There were three boats on the Scioto, and they were at once lowered. In the excitement, the first was overcrowded and swamped, but it is believed that none of the inmates were lost. The other two boats were managed better, and did good work in rescuing passengers.
Was not much damaged by the accident, and after landing her crowd on the West Virginia shore returned to the help of those on the hurricane deck of the Scioto,. It required the greatest care in doing this work, first to avoid turning over the Scioto, and second to avoid a rush from the Scioto to the Lomas, which might have been fatal. Four trips were made, and those on the boat were finally landed on the Ohio shore. Fishing parties in the neighborhood and others rendered valuable service, as is more fully detailed below, in picking up those floating in the river. When the drenched and exhausted passengers were brought in huge bonfires were made on the banks, and they were dried out as rapidly as possible. Word was telegraphed to Wellsville for an extra train to take the survivors home. It was promptly gotten out, and about 1:30 the train left for above, taking all who wished to go. Many remained, however, to try and get word of missing friends, and are still in town or at Mingo. With a commendable generosity Superintendent Bruner directed that no fare be collected from the survivors, and they were carried home free.
THE LOSS OF LIFE
It is impossible to tell at this time. The crowd on the boat is estimated to have been not less than 500, probably 600 or 700 on board. There being no resister, the number of lost can only be determined by the failure of friends to come home, or by the finding of bodies. So far the list of missing is reported at about twenty-five, but it is more likely to increase than decrease.
Have been found. The first recovered was that of David Fogo, of Wellsville, which was discovered in the cabin of the steamer. He was about 35 years of age, with sandy hair, and had on dark clothes, and light vest. Captain Thomas was rendered
By the loss of his little boy Ed, and had to be restrained from jumping into the river. He was kept on the Scioto all night, and this morning was taken to Wheeling on the Abner O’Neal. A special to the HERALD given below reports the finding of his body about 11 o’clock at Brilliant three miles below. Among the East Liverpool people REPORTED MISSING at noon today are Lincoln Wright, B. Stebbins, Fr., Mrs. Burk, Wilson Paull John Christie, Cummings Thompson, Mike Emmerline, and wife, James Gibson and wife, Emma Booth, E. Burks, Lincoln Beardmore, T. Beardmore, H. Beardmore, Bell Brannon, Jean Farmer, and Mr. Tomlinson, of the East Liverpool Band. The latter could have saved himself, but went back to save a woman, and was not seen after that.
THE WELLSVILLE MISSING
Are reported to be Lewis Harper, Stewart Pipes, Nellie Booth, Charles Davidson, Jos. Connors, George E. Pinkerton, Sallie Kiddie, Wm. Ewing, Jr., Lieth Connor, Willie Booth, John Prosser (although the last is said to have been saved) a son of Kenneth Davidson, Miss Stevenson, Stewart Pipes was in a crippled condition, having lost his right arm, and was about nineteen years of age. A special announces the finding of Pipe’s body and also that of a boy named Smith from Steubenville. The women and children mostly being in the cabin and succeeding in reaching the hurricane deck, the loss among them was comparatively light, men and boys being the chief sufferers.
The body of Cecil Sprague, of Hammondsville, was recovered this morning and brought up on the noon train by his brother.
Among the missing is Edward Duffy, of Steubenville, aged 19, son of Thomas Duffy, on Slack street. He was dressed in light pants, black coat and vest and straw hat. It is reported that he tried, with Thaddeus Steward and a boy named Monroe, to get ashore, but was not see afterwards.
The following persons from Steubenville, in addition to those stated above, were saved: Edward Bond, Edward Myers, Amos Wier and a boy named Cusick.
LATEST FROM THE SCENE.
Bodies found-One a Steubenville Boy.
Special Dispatch to the Herald.
MINGO, July 5, 11 A.M.—Capt. Thomas, son Ed. Was found at Brilliant, three miles below this morning.
Lew Harper, Stewart Pipes, W. Booth, Chas. Davidson, Joe Conn, Wellsville, all boys, among the missing. It is reported three or four of the Wellsville band are missing, also one or two of the deck hands. It is impossible to give the names of the missing, bu the total will not exceed twenty. The body of David Fogo and Stewart Pipe, of Wellsville, have just been found, and also the body of R. E. Beardmore, of East Liverpool.
The body of a boy by the name of Smith, from Steubenville, just found.
Full List of Dead and Missing
Mingo, July 5, 2:30 p.m. – The bodies of the following persons have been recovered up to this hour:
C.E. Sprague, Hammondsville
Harry Donelly, Wellsville
Miss Bella Brandon, Wellsville
David Fogg, Wellsville
Sarah Keddy, Wellsville
Stewart Pipe, Wellsville
Ed Small, Wellsville
Joe Connor, Wellsville
Miss Mollie Shued, East Liverpool
E.P. Burke do.
R. E. Beardmore do
Ed Thomas, son of Capt. Thomas of the Scioto.
The names of the known missing are Alice Booth, John Prosser, Chas, Davidson, Lewis Harper, Chas.Leeth, Chas. Sweringen, John Stevenson. Also about twenty-five missing. The missing will consist of parties taking the boat between East Liverpool and Wheeling, and it is said a few from Wheeling took the boat. The bodies of fifteen to twenty will likely be found on the Scioto as soon as boat is raised. Bodies are being found around and about the wreck.
REVISED LIST OF MISSING
Following is a revised list of those known to be missing, reported from Mingo at 4:30 P.M.:
John Tomlinson, Wilson Paul, John Christy, Mike Emsbly and wife, Eugene Farmer, Link Wright, Ella Booth, G. C. Thompson, Ben Stebben, Maria Booth, Stephen Kent, Lincoln Thomas, Bailey Woods, Kenneth; Miss Dray, of East Liverpool; H. E. Hoaglen, Charles Davidson, M. C. Stevenson; John Groudual, Lewis Harper, —–Hunter, Charley Leath, C. B. ARmstrong and Wm. Ewing, of Wellsville; two Cross boys and one boy named Duffy from Steubenville.
At 5 P.M. twelve bodies had been reported found, and 27 additional missing.
INCIDENTS OF THE DISASTER
Notes and Interviews with Witnesses.
It was fortunate that there were several fishing camps close to the scene of the disaster, otherwise, the loss of lives would have been much heavier. The nearest camp was that of Fred Huffman, Walter App and William Henry, all of this city. They saw the accident, and at once went out with their skiff to begin the work of rescue. Mr. Huffman reports that the Lomas first gave one signal, then the Scioto two, and the latter started over towards the Ohio side. Then the Lomas gave one, but by this time the boats were close together. Their engines stopped and the Lomas struck the Scioto about the ash box. She seemed to sink inside of a minute. There was tremendous screaming, which could be heard along distance, prayers, and everything which gave evidence of, or could add to the excitement. They put out with their skiff and the first person caught was the watchman of the boat. They took nine on board, and brought them ashore. They made seven trips altogether, bringing in 53, all but eight or ten being ladies. John Zimmerman, Will C. Henry, and Joe Davis whose camps are below also did some good work, gathering up seven from the river, twenty-five or twenty- six from the boat. They made three big bonfires on the shore, and made the people s comfortable as possible, until they left for Wellsville.
HOW TWO BOYS SAVED THEMSELVES
Among those on board were Wm. Kulow, aged sixteen, and George Huffman, about a year younger, from East Liverpool. Kulow was at the stern on the boiler deck when the collision took place. The skiff hanging there was launched, but swamped by the crowd, so he jumped in the river and struck out for shore. The current carried him down rapidly, and it was nearly a mile below the accident that he was recovered by a skiff; about 10 feet form shore, nearly exhausted. George Huffman was sitting downstairs on the bow and ran to the stern of the steamer. Everybody around him was hallooing and jumping into the river, and he fo9llowed the example of the latter and went into the river. He was carried down only a few feet from Kulow, and was picked up by the same skiff. They stayed all night at Mr. Coxe’s, on the other side of the river, and this morning started for home on the C. & P. local freight. They had only a dollar between them to pay their fare to East Liverpool, but the conductor would only bring them to Steubenville, although they were of a size that might easily have passed them at half fare. There were advised to purchase half fare tickets at Steubenville and got off of the train with that intention.
Who lives at Cross Creek, W. Va., was standing in his front door immediately opposite where the collision occurred. He ways: The Lomas is passing the island chute, whistled for the preference of sides, and as near as I can judge, it was about three minutes before the Scioto answered, and neither of them appeared to sheer off and almost immediately the collision occurred. General confusion followed, and I then saw people jumping from the hurricane deck and all parts of the steamer as far as I could see. The Lomas struck the Scioto forward, for the fire flew over the bow of the Scioto. The Scioto sank almost instantly, and the Lomas backed up as soon as possible. The Lomas ran to the Ohio shore and landed her passengers and then returned to the wreck. The crew and officers of the Lomas then exercised every effort to rescue the passengers, and succeeded in landing over 400, making several trips, and continued to work as long as there were any who desired to leave. As soon as I saw the accident I jumped in to my skiff and started for the wreck. When I got there I picked up five within a distance of twenty feet, and there were two other skiffs below me picking them up, but I don’t know how many they got. They were ballooning, “All over now.” and there appeared to b e a great many in the water, but it was too dark for me to tell the number. I then took the parties I rescued to the Ohio
side, and by that time the Lomas had landed her party and returned, to the wreck. I had just come home from work as the boat came past, and couldn’t tell how many there were on board, but from what the parties who had landed told me I think there was from 650 to 700 on the boat. From the run of the conversation of those who had been landed I gathered that from 500 to 550 were landed. Three women were carried ashore and died after they had been rescued. (This was a mistake. ED.) Two little boys and the assistant engineer of the Scioto were rescued and stopped at Cox’s. The assistant engineer told me he thought many lives had been lost, as the lower decks were crowded and the boat sank instantly. A man and woman passed within one hundred yards of my house. He was holding her up and crying for help, but my wife saw them sink. The scene was terrible, as I saw at least fifty young ladies who had been brought to shore, who were saved by their escorts swimming and holding them up.
MR. WHITE’S STATEMENT
W. H. White, of this city, who was on the boat at the time of the accident gives the following account of the disaster:
The boats ere about as far apart as the HERALD office to the corner of Fourth and Market, when they whistled. I was in the cabin and had just looked at my watch. It was just half-past eight. The crash came right after that. Somebody cried “the boat is sinking.” I rushed for the door, and by that time water was around my waist. The time occupied could not have exceeded three minutes. I got out on the guards, and climbed a stanchion up to the edge of the hurricane deck. I had hold of the upper deck but the weight of my clothes was such, being saturated, that I could not pull myself up. A friend reached me his hand and with his aid I got up on top. I went to the rear end of the boat, and getting a lantern swung it to signal the other boat to come to our relief. The hurricane was crowded with people, both sexes and all ages. The excitement was very great, friends and relatives calling to each other, and asking if they were saved! The other boat then came back and began taking passengers off at the bow. Her officers called us up to remain where we were and they would reach us after a while. She made four trips and on the last took me with about thirty others. We were the lat to leave the boat. We were brought to the Ohio side and landed.
There were three skiffs belonging to the boat, fourteen jumped into one, and it capsized, I don’t know whether any were lost from it or not. The other two were rowed back and forward taking them off as long as any remained. One passenger rushed to the door with his child in his hands and threw it up on the hurricane deck, and then he hardly knew how to got his wife and himself up. Another passenger rushed to a stateroom door and tried to rouse a drunken man lying there, but without success. He was left to his fate and it is supposed he was drowned. Andrew Ault and Miss Eva Henry, of Steubenville, got onto a piano in the cabin. He broke the transom window and helped her through, to the hurricane, and ten got through himself. The engineer kept his post manfully until the water had reached his waist, and only left when there was no chance to do anything farther. The captain appeared almost crazy at the loss of his wife and two children. He went about the boat screaming and inquiring if anybody knew anything of his children. The other officers kept their heads and beseeched the passengers to keep quiet, and all might be saved. It was 11 o’clock before I got off the boat, over two hours being occupied in rescuing us. It was pretty dark, and the rescuers had to come up very carefully to avoid striking and turning us over, as we were lying on a sand bank. A fire was started on shore, and the drenched passengers commenced drying themselves out. It was said that the rudder rope had broken which threw us across the bow of the Lomas. Quite a number grabbed the small flags along the Scioto to have relics of the accident. Charles Irwin, of Steubenville, got off with me. We left six or seven persons at Moundsville who missed the boat. The cabin was nearly two thirds full at the time of the accident, and most of them were helped on top of the boat. We staid there about an hour, and then walked home.
PILOT KELLER’S ACCOUNT.
At half-past one this morning Pilot Keller of the Scioto, gave an account of the disaster, as follows: The collision occurred just at the foot of Mingo Island. The night was not much of a moonlight night, as there were several clouds overhead. When we first sighted the Lomas was passing the Island, while I was hugging the Ohio side of the river at the point, and had Clint Thomas with me at the wheel. Being the descending boat, the Lomas had the first whistle which she should have given when distant 800 yards. This she did not, and I remarked to Clint that I wondered if she ever was going to signal. Just as I said this the Lomas blew one whistle, signifying that she wanted the Ohio shore. At that time we were about 400 o0r 450 yards apart, and I did not think I could make the Virginia shore in time, so I answered with two whistles and the Lomas responded with two. When I blew two whistles I signaled below for the engines to reverse, which was immediately done. The Lomas instead of bearing off the Virginia shore curved in toward the Ohio shore, and struck the Scioto about ten feet from the stem. We were then about two hundred and fifty feet from the shore and slightly quartering, with both wheels backing. Our boat commenced sinking immediately, and in tow or three minutes settled to a depth of three feet of water in the cabin floor. The Lomas landed her passengers as quickly as possible and then came to our rescue.
CAPT. INGLEBRIGHT’S STATEMENT.
Capt. Inglebright, of the Lomas, says: We had on about 50 excursionists, and left Steubenville at 8:20 P.M. When about half a mile below Mingo Junction about 9 o’clock, I should judge, B. J. Long, our regular pilot, noticed a boat coming up on the Virginia shore. We were on the Ohio shore and had the right of position in passing, being the descending boat. Long blew one blast, signaling for the Ohio shore, and the pilot of the other boat blowing twice immediately endeavored to cross our head and go up on the Ohio side. I judge we were about 600 yards apart when the first whistle was blown, but by the time the Scioto answered the distance was considerably decreased. Long on hearing the two whistles answered with two blasts signaled to reverse the engines, and undertook to get in position to pass on the side. Both boats had been moving at rapid speed, and we had the current behind us. Before our speed could be checked, the Scioto crossed in front of us and we struck her on the larboard side, about the head of the coal box. Our own boat sets down in the water and the bow passed directly under the guards of the Scioto, striking her hull and tearing a large hole, I would judge as she sank rapidly. The excitement was of course very great on both boats. I deemed it prudent to first land my own passengers for fear of a rush of panic striken passengers from the Scioto, who might upset her.
As soon as I could land them I returned and made four trips, taking about 100 each trip. I noticed that several jumped into the river, many of whom were picked up by our yawl and flats. Can’t say how many will be missing. At the time the first whistle was blown I was arranging the lights on the chimney and told the pilot to back. He replied, I am backing. Everything was done in our power to avoid a collision, and I am ready for the fullest investigation. I was only too glad to do everything in my power for the rescue of the unfortunate people.
(part 2 in separate thread)
Contributed by Bonnie