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The Yacht Idler


Newspaper Articles On The Sinking Of The Yacht "Idler"


Taken from the next day's newspaper

July 8th   July 9th   July 10th   July 11th   July 12th   July 13th   July 16th   July 17th   July 19th   July 20th  

July 21st to August 2nd 1900       September 29th to October 17th 1900


Court Case of Captain Holmes





July 21st 1900






The Idler's Captain expects That He Will be 
Released from the County Jail Today


                  Capt. Charles Holmes, master of the ill fated yacht Idler, Is still in the county jail, where he was committed Thursday night by the United States authorities on the charge of manslaughter. He said that he was not feeling well yesterday and spent the entire day on his cot in the hospital cell.

                  The captain had a number of visitors during the day, among them his father. He said tat his father was trying hard to secure bail for him and he thought he would succeed today and that he would be released from jail.

                  Holmes said that he had no further statement to make regarding the wreck, but expressed confidence that he would be acquitted. He inquired about the coroner's inquest and asked if it would be resumed today.

                  "I would like to see Capt. James Corrigan," said Capt. Holmes. "I have not heard from him, but do not believe that he is back of the criminal proceedings against me. I think the United States authorities are entirely responsible for beginning the proceedings."


July 22nd 1900






The Idler Inquest Postponed From Saturday Until Monday----


The Witnesses.


    Capt. Charles Holmes, master of the ill fated yacht Idler, who was committed to the county jail Thursday on the charge of manslaughter, secured bail Saturday noon and was released. His bail for $1,000 was signed by Attorney Ernest M. Shay.

     United States District Attorney Sullivan, United States Marshal Chandler and Deputy Marshal Keeley visited the Idler Saturday for the purpose of securing some information regarding the yacht to be used in the prosecution of Holmes. Several photographs of the boat were taken to be used before the grand jury.

     The taking of testimony in the Idler inquest, which was to have been resumed Saturday, was postponed until 10 o'clock Monday morning by Coroner Simon.

     At 10 o'clock, the time set for the inquest, Charles Johnson, a sailor on the yacht, and William Summers appeared, but a few minutes later the coroner telephoned down to postpone the matter until Monday morning.

     The coroner wishes to hear Capt. Murphy, master of one of the tugs which rescued the sailors and Mrs. John Corrigan. 






July 24th 1900





Ship Carpenter Summers Tells of Idler disaster.



Claims Sailors Thought Rainstorm Was Impending.


     Deputy Coroner West resumed the inquest into the Idler disaster at 10 o'clock yesterday morning, at the county morgue, Coroner Simon being engaged in viewing the body of A. J. Steinfeld.

     Attorney C. G. Canfield, representing Capt. Holmes, was present at the inquest. He occupied a seat beside Dr. West. William Summers, carpenter of the Idler,  was the first witness examined. He testified as follows:

     "I live at 292 Huntington street. I am not a sailor. On July 7, as we came out of the Detroit river, we were in tow of the Australia, but the tow line rocked the yacht so that the line was let go. Previous to this the sails were set, but I do not know their names.

     "The weather continued fine until about 10 o'clock, and then it was not bad until the accident occurred. There were clouds behind us and the weather was threatening. I did not hear the captain say anything about the weather. He was on the after part of the boat, the mate was on the deck forward and I was on deck when the accident occurred. The mate was instructing the sailors what to do, but I did not understand his orders. Some of the sails were lowered, and the spinnaker was taken down two hours before the squall struck us. I did not hear the captain give the mate orders, but that is the custom.

     At the time we were taking in the sails three of the women were on deck, the captain aft and the mate forward. The yacht keeled over on her side and Miss Jane Corrigan fainted. I heard no orders when the yacht keeled, but the captain went to Miss Corrigan and tried to quiet her, whereupon the boat righted. Then there was an attempt made to take in more sail. A sailor went to let water out of the gig.

     "The deadlights were closed a quarter of an hour before, but I don't know who closed them. The reason I know they were closed is because I picked up the brass gratings on the deck and put them in the boatswain box. They were on deck because they were forced out of place by the closing of the deadlights down below.

     "After the squall struck us I did not see any neglect or refusal on the part of the captain, mate or crew to help and do all in their power to save the women. I did not hear anybody call to the ladies in the cabin to come out. If a call was made I might have heard it.

     "In the opinion of the sailors there was nothing impending but a rainstorm."

     These last two replies were drawn out by Attorney Canfield.

     Coroner Simon returned at 11 o'clock and a half hour later he assumed charge of the examination. Charles Johnson, twenty years old, of Fairhaven, Wa., was placed on the stand. He said he had been sailing for eight years. He testified as follows:

     "We were sailing about ten miles an hour, and the wind remained in the same direction two and one-half hours. The wind changed a little more in the beam. About 11 o'clock we took in the spinnaker, because the wind was hauling about too much, and then we set the jib topsail. I was on watch below and do not know in what direction the wind was blowing at that time. When I went below there was no sign of a storm. I was below four hours and when I came up we could see dark clouds, but no signs of a gale of wind. It was nearly a dead calm and we were sailing at a rate of two or three miles an hour.

     "We sailed under the same sail until 12:30 o'clock, when we took in the balloon staysail, because we were expecting a shift of wind. The clouds came up thicker right along, but it appeared to be nothing more than rain. The wind, I guess, was blowing about eight or nine miles an hour. We clewed up the fore gaff topsail before she gibed. We still had the foresail, mainsail, staysail, standard jib, flying  jib, topsail up. We continued then until about fifteen minutes before the squall struck us. Then we took in the main gaff topsail.

     "The weather looked black and cloudy from the northeast. We put on our oilskins and covered up the sails-the spinnaker and the staysail. We were in the act of taking down the jib topsail when the squall struck us. We then got orders from the captain to let go the flying jib. After the yacht went over the first time he ordered us to let go the jibs and staysails.   

     "The captain, mate and crew did everything in their power to save the ladies.

    "I was amidships. Jane and Ida Corrigan were on the weather side; the captain and the two Nelson boys were trying to save them. I did not see the mate at this time. I saw Mrs. John Corrigan float away on a lounge. The only passengers I saw on deck were Ida and Jane Corrigan. I was cutting the little boat away. The ladies on deck did not have on life preservers. I don't know if any attempt was made to put life preservers on them. Mrs. James Corrigan was down in the cabin; Miss Etta Corrigan and Mrs. Rieley and the baby were in the companionway. Etta Corrigan had on a life preserver."

     Johnson said that he saw two of the deadlights open while down in the cabin. He thought they were on the starboard side. He did not know weather or not they were later closed. He did say, however, that when he visited the yacht at the dry-dock he observed that one of the aft deadlights was open. Johnson said he and his companions were the ones who rescued Mrs. John Corrigan and the captain. He said  an effort had been made to save the ladies in the companionway, He saw the captain descend. After the coroner had finished his examination of the witness he told Attorney Canfield he would permit him to ask the witness questions only which had a bearing on how the women came to their death.

     Attorney Canfield then asked the sailor what the crew did from the time the squall struck the yacht until she went over. Johnson replied:

     "From the time the squall struck us until the yacht capsized the crew was engaged in taking in sails. After she went over the crew tried to save the women."

    There are yet the two stewards and a captain of one of the fishing tugs to be heard. The coroner said he had been unable to locate the blame and didn't know when the inquest would be resumed.

     Capt. Holmes will not take the stand.

     Attorney Canfield said the captain's counsel had advised him not to testify. 


August 2nd 1900





Additional Information Regarding the Idler Disaster
Brought Out at the Coroner's Inquest


     Charles Hackett, second cook on the Ill fated Idler, was examined by Coroner Simon Wednesday morning and threw some new light on the  disaster relative to the deadlights having been closed or left open.

     The witness testified that the steward of the Idler received orders from Capt. Holmes to close the deadlights. The steward in turn gave the witness orders to close them, he said. He went into the cabin, he stated, and closed all the deadlights with the exception of one. This was in the bathroom and the door was locked, which prevented hem from getting in and closing the deadlight. This was at 1 O'clock, Hackett said.

     Continuing, the witness said that both Mrs. James Corrigan and Mrs. Rieley had on life preservers. The steward put a life preserver on Mrs. Corrigan and Hackett said he put one on Mrs. Rieley.

     "We asked them to come on deck," Hackett said, "but hey would not. The steward wanted to take Mrs. Rieley's baby but she would not let him, giving as a reason that if death was to come to them she and the baby would meet it together."

     Hackett said that when the boat listed the first time the captain was at the wheel and a sailor was holding Miss Jane Corrigan by the wrists at the side of the boat. When the boat listed the second time he said the captain took hold of Miss Jane Corrigan and a big wave washed all on deck overboard a few seconds later.

    Hackett said that he did not think the wind was going to be strong, for if he had he said he would not have gone below deck. 



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Newspaper Articles On The Sinking Of The Yacht "Idler"

July 8th   July 9th   July 10th   July 11th   July 12th   July 13th   July 16th   July 17th   July 19th   July 20th  

July 21st to August 2nd 1900       September 29th to October 17th 1900


Court Case of Captain Holmes


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