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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







Victims of the Idler Taken From the Yacht's Cabin



No Trace Was Found of the Others Who Lost Their Lives.





Search Will be Renewed Today and the Boat Raised.



Made a Heroic Fight to be Saved




The Corpses of Mrs. James Corrigan, Mrs. Charles Rieley and Miss Etta Corrigan Taken From the Cabin of the Ill Fated Vessel -
The Condition of the Boat Shows That No Preparations Were Made for the Storm


     Bodies of three of the victims of the Idler catastrophe were recovered from their watery graves in Lake Erie yesterday morning. They were the bodies of the following:  Mrs. Corrigan, wife of Capt. James Corrigan, owner of the yacht; Mrs. Charles Rieley, wife of Charles Rieley, and daughter of Capt. James Corrigan; Miss Etta Corrigan, daughter of Capt. John Corrigan.

     The bodies of the three remaining victims of the disaster, Miss Ida Corrigan, Miss Jane Corrigan and Baby Rieley, have not yet been recovered. The divers who recovered the three bodies were unable to secure those of the other victims. The divers worked all the morning almost unceasingly, and it was only by dint of the greatest perseverance that the three bodies were recovered.

     After several days of anxious waiting the conditions yesterday were almost perfect for carrying out the work of reclaiming the dead. The lake was calm and there was but little wind.

     The recovery of the bodies and the fruitless search for the others were attended by excedinly painful incidents. Capt. James Corrigan, to whom the accident came as the saddest blow, was on the tug from which the work was conducted, and was present when the bodies were brought to the surface. The strain upon him was tremendous, but he appeared to have nerved himself for the ordeal, and he kept his composure wonderfully well.

     Besides Capt. Corrigan the only immediate friend of the family present was Mr. M. A. Bradley. When the tug had reached the wrecked yacht he and Capt. Corrigan discussed the accident as they stood on the tug's deck. They were agreed that the capsizing of the yacht had been inevitable in the existing circumstances.

     "It was either a question of some of the sails giving away, or of the boat going over." said Mr. Bradley. "From the position in which the yacht stands not, it would appear that as soon as the squall struck the boat the helm was abandoned. It does not seem credible that the yacht's nose was put in the wind."

     Capt. Corrigan was asked if he did not think an effort had been made hastily to furl the yacht's sails.

     "No," he replied emphatically, "the sails stand fast as they were set. You will notice that the mainsail is set; the part of it that is missing has been torn away by the wind and water."

    The condition in which the yacht was found by the divers when they made their descents, It was stated yesterday, tends to disprove the assertion that preparations had been made for the coming of the storm. After he had made his first descent Diver Walter G. Metcalf was asked if the sails were found to be clear of the decks. He stated that all of them were so. None of them, he said, had been lowered. Diver Frank Schwab later said that the deadlights were open.

    After the recovery of the bodies, they were brought to Cleveland on the tug Lutz, arriving at the Main street pier at 11:35 O'clock. The return of the tug had been anxiously awaited all the morning, and there was a crowd of fully 1,000 people on the docks when the tug came alongside the pier. The excitement was intense for a few moments. All were curious to know how many bodies had been recovered. the flag of the Lutz was flying at half-mast, so that it was known that the expedition had been successful in some degree.

     Arrangements had been made for the immediate removal of the bodies of the victims to the morgue upon the arrival of the tugs. At the dock were Harris and Saxton's dead wagons. The remains of Mrs. Rieley and those of Mrs. Corrigan were taken to Harris' morgue, and those of Miss Corrigan to Saxton's. Coroner Simon had been notified and he viewed the bodies at both of these places.

     It had been decided that weather condition favorable, the expedition should start from the office of the Great Lakes Towing Co. as early as practicable Tuesday morning. early Monday evening there had been  a slight sea, but during the night it subsided.

      Shippingmaster Al Rumsey of the Lake Carriers association was to be in charge of the expedition and he was ready with his men long before daylight. At 2 o'clock Capt. James Corrigan arrived. Shortly afterward Diver Walter G. Metcalf and his assistant, Frank Schwab, put in an appearance. Some delay was experienced in getting the necessary apparatus aboard, but all was ready for the start at 2:37 a. m.

     A stop was made at the life saving station where Capt. Charles E. Motley and Surfman John McGillvary were picked up. A surfboat and life saving paraphernalia were also taken aboard. Opposite the life saving station Mr. Frank Rieley, father of the husband of Mrs. Charles Rieley was also picked up.

     By the time the tug was well on her way to her destination it was growing light in the east. The lake was somewhat choppy, and the sky was clear save for some clouds in the west. A light northwest breeze was blowing, but this was expected to subside. The conditions were pronounced to be most favorable for the success of the expedition.

     The first indication that the vicinity of the disaster was being neared was when pieces of wreckage were seen flotation shorward. These included remnants of household goods and broken planks.

    Capt. Corrigan's anxious eyes were the first to catch sight of the spars of the sunken yacht, while they were yet mere specks in the distance. The place was reached at exactly 4 o'clock. It was just sunrise. The yacht, Capt. Corrigan said had not changed her position in the least. The danger lights were still burning at the mastheads and the bedraggled sails were furled about the spars. The lake had grown calm by now and diver Metcalf said that he anticipated the success of his attempt at recovering the bodies.









Mrs. Corrigan Evidently Was Trying to Get on Deck When Death Came.


    Considerable difficulty was experienced in bringing the tug to anchor close enough to the yacht to permit the diver to descend. Mr. Rumsey said that the anchors were scarcely heavy enough for the work required of them. However, by fastening a line to one of the yacht's spars an anchorage was at length secured. Diver Metcalf had donned his suit and prepared to descend.

     While these preparations had been going on Capt. Corrigan and Mr. Bradley discussed the accident as they stood on the tug's deck. They were agreed that the capsizing of the yacht had been inevitable in the existing circumstances.

    "It was either a question of some of the sails giving away or of the boat's going over," said Mr. Bradley

    Capt. Corrigan was asked if he did not think an attempt had been made hastily to furl the yacht's sails.

    "No," he replied, emphatically, "the sails stand fast as they were set. You will notice the mainsail is set; the part of it that is missing has been torn away by the wind and water."

    At 4:56 a. m. Diver Metcalf made his first descent. Anxious moments followed, Capt. Corrigan waited eagerly for the sign from the diver which should indicate that he had made a discovery. He kept his nerve in a wonderful way, however, under this tragic and painful phase of his great calamity.

    Presently signs appeared that Metcalf was making progress. Pieces of boards which apparently had impeded his progress and which he had torn away floated to the surface of the lake.

    At exactly 5:43 o'clock he gave a signal to pull up on the rope which he had taken below with him. The line was immediately hauled in. In a moment a woman's form appeared on the surface. It proved to be that of Mrs. James Corrigan, the wife of Capt. Corrigan, who stood on the deck above.

     Capt. Corrigan's friends led him away from the painful sight. He did not, however, lose his composure. He went forward and waited for the body of his wife to be brought there.

     Mrs. Corrigan's face was badly bloated and discolored. Her eyes were drawn as if she had died in great pain. Her left hand was across her eyes; her right arm was extended as if to shield herself. when she was brought up she wore no life preserver , but Diver Metcalf said that she had had one on., but that he had been compelled to cut it away in order to get a rope about her waist. Mrs. Corrigan was attired in a silk shirt waist and a black skirt. She wore no hat. She had jewels on her finger and in her ears.

     The body was taken forward where Capt. Corrigan was waiting. There it was laid on the deck, covered with a quilt and a canvas sail. Capt. Corrigan sat quietly beside his dead wife. He had uttered no word.

        Diver Metcalf said that he had found Mrs. Corrigan's body in the cabin, where it was reported she had been when the storm broke over the yacht. The body was fifteen feet from the stairway leading into the cabin. It had floated to the roof. The diver did not discover its proximity until he ran against it. Then it was only with great difficulty that he was able to get the body on deck. The cabin, was of course, full of water and the diver was otherwise impeded by the furniture in the room. He said bedding and furniture were floating about so that his progress was very slow.

     The distance which Metcalf had been under water was about sixty feet. He said the great pressure did not tell upon him until he was within the cabin. When he came to the surface he was greatly agitated and almost exhausted.

      Metcalf was of the opinion that Mrs. Corrigan was making a frantic effort to reach the upper deck when death overtook her. He thought that the cabin had filled so suddenly with water, however, that she had been swept from her feet. The fact that she was floating against the cabin ceiling when found was explained by her having a life preserver about her waist to buoy her up.

      While Metcalf had been beneath the surface the yacht had shifted somewhat so that the diver was alarmed lest it should begin to drift while he was down and thus foul his lines and shut off the air supply. The anchors seemed not to take firm hold.  However, an anchor was secured from a passing fishing tug and this it was thought would check the drift

      It was then decided that Metcalf and Schwab should make the second descent together, Metcalf went down at 6:50, Schwab following him five minutes later. Again the torturing suspense of previous wait was to be endured. From the bubbles which arose it could be seen that the divers were making their way to the cabin door with difficulty. Presently bedding and wreckage floated up. Later the life preserver cut from Mrs. Corrigan's body came to the surface. Presently the signal was given on both lines for the divers to be hauled to the surface. Schwab came up at 7:22 and Metcalf an instant later. Their second search through the ill fated yacht had been fruitless. They had been able to locate any of the bodies supposed to be imprisoned in the cabin. Metcalf said that he had penetrated almost to the rear of the room, but had been unable longer to stand the suffocation pressure. In the center of the room, he said, was a table which could not be removed.








Belief That Crew Devoted Their Energies to Saving Themselves.


     Not discouraged by their failure the divers determined upon a third descent. It was decided this time to let Schwab take the initiative. He went down at 7:40.

     Twenty minutes later he gave the signal to haul in the line. Slowly its burden was raised to the surface. It proved to be the body of Mrs. Charles Rieley. The attitude of the body and the position of the arms indicated how pitiful had been the struggle which had ended in Mrs. Rieley's death. Her arms were held exactly as if she had died with her baby clasped to her breast and as if the infant had slipped from her grasp after death had come. As if to mock its ineffectiveness, a life preserver dangled from Mrs. Rieley's waist.

    Like Mrs. Corrigan, Mrs. Rieley's face was badly bloated and discolored by the long immersion of the body. On her face was a look of the of the intensest agony and despair. She was attired similary to Mrs. Corrigan and wore no hat.

    Diver Schwab said that he had found Mrs. Rieley's body in the  top birth in the starboard room. He had great difficulty in removing the body as it was wedged tightly in its place.

     The opinion was advanced that after her death the woman's body might have floated in the birth where it was found.

     Mr Frank Rieley was greatly disappointed at the divers failure to find the child. The divers then prepared for another descent to search in the vicinity where the mother had been found. This descent was made at 9:23, Schwab again taking the initiative.

     At 9:40 the signal was given that the divers search had be4en rewarded. Capt. Corrigan left his place beside his wife's body and came forward. It was expected that the baby had been found, but this proved not to be so. The body was that of a young girl. It was that of Miss Etta Corrigan, the daughter of Capt. John Corrigan. The young girl presented a most pitiful appearance. One arm shielded her face and the other was clinched in her disheveled hair,  which mercifully covered her face.

     This body, the diver said, was in the second berth in the starboard room. There was a life preserver about the girl's waist. Miss Corrigan wore a shirt waist of colored material and a black skirt. She was also without headwear.

     How Miss Etta Corrigan came to be where she was is a mystery to Capt. Corrigan and to Mr. Rumsey. Etta was supposed to have been with her mother, Mrs. John Corrigan, who was saved. Her body was thought, therefore, to have been washed overboard. It was for this reason that the recovered body was supposed at first to be Miss Ida Corrigan.

     This variation in the stories told by the crew and the results of the investigation stirred up Mr. Rieley and Mr. Rumsey. They declared that from appearances it would seem that the women and girls had been left to their fate while the members of the crew devoted their energy to saving themselves. Capt. Corrigan expressed the opinion, which he has expressed before, that the crew were heartless in their actions when the squall struck the yacht.

     At 10:05 o'clock the divers made another descent, but came up at 10:20 without having discovered another body. Schwab said that he had gone all through the cabin, but had been unrewarded in his search. It was then decided to return to Cleveland with the bodies which had been removed.         





  Burial of Recovered Bodies Will Take Place Today and Tomorrow.


      Arrangements were completed yesterday for the burial of the three women. Services will be held at 3 o'clock this afternoon over the remains of Miss Etta Irene Corrigan, at the family residence., No. 71 Cutler street. Rev. John W. Malcom, pastor of the First Congregational church, will officiate. The internment will be at the Woodland Avenue cemetery.

     The funeral of Mrs. James Corrigan and her daughter, Mrs. Charles Rieley, will be held Thursday.  Funeral services will be held at 2:30 o'clock Thursday afternoon. They will be buried in Lake View cemetery. Rev Dr. S. P. Sprecher will conduct the services.

      At 8 o'clock last evening the body of Miss Etta Irene Corrigan was taken to the home of her parents from Saxton's undertaking rooms. None but immediate friends of the family were permitted to view the body at the undertaking rooms. This was done in accordance with the wishes of her family.

      With the exception of immediate friends of the family no one was allowed to see the remains of Mr. Corrigan and Mrs. Rieley at Harris undertaking rooms. The bodies of the two last named women will not be removed from the undertaking rooms until late tonight or early Thursday morning.

       It was a relief in a measure for Mrs. John Corrigan to learn that the body of her youngest daughter had been recovered from the embrace of the lake.  Dr. H. F. Calhoun, the attending physician, expressed the opinion  yesterday that her condition was improved and that she is on the road to recovery.

      Admittance to the room of Capt. Holmes at the Bethel was again denied to reporters yesterday, His condition is still serious. As far as could be learned he had not been informed of the recovery of the  bodied yesterday.







 Mrs. John Corrigan Gives Her Version of the Accident.




      Mrs. Corrigan yesterday related her version of the accident. She was below, she said, when the squall struck the Idler, Miss. Etta Irene Corrigan and Miss Jane Corrigan were on deck in the stern, she said, while the others were below in the cabin. When the yacht careened on its side a row of skylights dropped and let in water. They were closed from beneath and Mrs. Corrigan said she tried to fasten them, but found her strength was unequal to the task. While holding one cover in place she was drenched by the water flowing in. Mrs. Corrigan said Mate Biggam appeared and closed the skylights. Mrs Corrigan then went on deck. Meantime the two girls had climbed to the upper side at the stern and stood facing death. They made no outcry. Mrs Corrigan endeavored to but did not succeed in climbing up to them. Her daughter, Etta, she said, finally puller her up. The couch floated up and Etta placed her mother on it and then went back into the cabin. Etta was without doubt the means of saving her mother's life.

      Capt. Corrigan yesterday again criticized the manner in which the yacht was handled. Had the mainsheets and foresheets been cut away, he remarked, the sail would have swung around in the wind and the vessel would have righted itself. "The execution of this would have consumed but a few minutes, he said. Capt. Corrigan also said that all could have been saved probably had a rope been tied from the rigging to the companionway, which would have assisted the passengers in climbing into the rigging.  





Wreckers Will Raise Yacht and Search for Dead.


   It was decided yesterday afternoon that the Idler should be raised today. Another effort will also be made to locate the bodies of the  remaining victims. At 4 o'clock this morning three and perhaps more of the tugs of the Great Lakes Towing Co., will leave for the wreck. Two submarine divers, Walter G. Metcalf and Frank Schwab, and members of the lifesaving crew will accompany the expedition. A wrecking raft will be towed along with which to raise the yacht. divers Metcalf and Schwab will first make a thorough search of the wreck for more bodies. They will also search the bottom of the lake for some distance for bodies. If their efforts are not attended with success they will confine themselves towards preparing the yacht to be raised. She will first be hoisted enough to permit her being towed to shallow water. Then the pumps will be placed in service and the yacht cleared of water. This will take some hours and perhaps nearly all day.

     Capt. Corrigan wishes never again to see the vessel. It was his intention to blow her up with powder. Later he decided to give the vessel to A. R. Rumsey. The latter, however, does not care, he says, if she were to be blown up. Diver Metcalf said yesterday that the yacht had settled probably into about four feet of mud. He said she stands perfectly straight. He expressed the opinion that she is practically undamaged and that it would be an easy task to raise her.

     The Theory was advanced yesterday that none of the other victims bodies are on the yacht. It is believed that they have been washed overboard and swept away. With this view in mind, Capt Motley of the life saving station yesterday ordered the beach of the lake patrolled as far east and west as his men could be stationed. No bodies, however, washed ashore. 





Inquiry Being Made Into the Cause of the Idler Disaster


      An investigation into the cause of the Idler disaster was commenced Tuesday morning at the office of Goulder, Holding & Masten. attorneys for Mr. James Corrigan. All the yacht's crew with the exception of Capt. Holmes, who is still at the Bethel hotel threatened with brain fever, were present.

     The examination was private and was held in one of the inner rooms of the office suite. Mr. Goulder conducted the examination of the men, all of whom were rigidly questioned concerning the capsizing of the yacht. 






Question as to Whether It Will be Held Here.


       Coroner Simon said last evening that although he viewed the bodies of Mrs. Corrigan, Mrs. Rieley and Mess Corrigan., which were taken from the wreck of the yacht Idler yesterday, he did not know whether or not he would conduct an inquest in the cause of death. The coroner said that inasmuch as the wreck is outside of the limits of the county, which extends four miles into the lake, he would today consult with Solicitor Kaiser as to whether or not he had jurisdiction to conduct the inquest. If her finds that he has jurisdiction in this case the coroner said he would probably not begin the inquest until the other bodies have been recovered or efforts to recover them made. Then he will probably subpoena the crew of the Idler, the crew of the fishing tug which came to the rescue and the divers. He said that Mrs. Corrigan would certainly not be summoned unless she is greatly improved.






Their Work Has Been Remarkably Well Done


       The misfortune of the Idler disaster is only increased by the fact that the boat was outside of the jurisdiction of the local United Stats life saving station. The Cleveland life saving station is the best equipped of any in the country, according to the annual report of the life saving service, which has just been issued. Cleveland is a very prominent port and Old Erie is most treacherous.

       From July 1 to Dec. 15 last year there were ten surfmen stationed at the local station and from April 15 to this time there have been eight surfmen on duty. Most of the other stations in the country are provided with but six or seven surfmen. The annual report gives the Cleveland life savers high praise for their work at the time of the sinking of the tug L. P. Smith. When the boat was launched and away in sixty seconds and reached the scene of disaster a mile away in eight minutes. The life saving crew did not know at the first alarm that Fireman McCarthy was beyond aid and he drowned. Capt. Motley said that in good weather such a trip is an easy matter with the crew, the members of which are always ready.

       The local station is well equipped ad when the new station farther out on the pier and in a better location is finished the results will probably even be better. There is one thing, however, which the captain has long and earnestly applied to the government for, and that is a new and larger boat. The present boat is twenty six feet long by six feet beam. The new boats in the service are thirty-five feet from end to end and eight feet beam.

     Capt. Motley said that the lake steamers are now being built so large and carry such large crews that the small boat would be unable to hold all that might be taken from a sinking vessel, while the larger one would have some room to spare. The larger boat could also be easily towed behind the largest tug or steamer on the lake without inconvience.

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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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