Merrimac, WI escape from drowning, May 1855

Birth, Marriage & Death Records

NARROW ESCAPE - The Baker Vocalists, while crossing the Wisconsin River in a ferry boat, at Merrimac, on their way to this place, narrowly escaped from losing three of their company by drowning viz: Mr. J. C. Baker, his wife, and Mr. Geo. E. Baker.

It appears that after they had got a short distance from shore, into very swift current, where the water is from 17 to 20 feet deep, on of their wheel horses took fright, rushed forward and crowded the leading span over the forst end of the boat, at the same time precipitating Mr. G. E. Baker into the current. He being a good swimmer, after great exertion; reached a snag some distance below, whence, after a rest of about ten minutes, he with difficulty succeeded in swiming [sic] ashore.

Mrs. J. C. Baker, who was getting out of the carriage when the horse took fright was violently thrown over the side of the boat by the wheel and was rapidly drifting down stream when her husband saw a portion of her shawl floating on the surface of the water, and not seeing her on board, he immediately plunged in, seized the shawl and began the work of saving the lives of himself and wife. He, much impeded by a heavy overcoat, drew Mrs. B. along all the while under water, with one hand and swam with the other some distance, when knowing that she must soon breathe or perish, he caught hold of her arm and raised her above the water a moment, but was compelled to let her again sink, while he exerted his fast exhausting strenght [sic] to reach the shore, which he accomplished with the last effort of his fainting energies. With great difficulty the horses were saved by other members of the troupe, and we are happy to state that the company sustained the loss neither of life nor property. No blame is attached to the ferrymen, who behaved nobly and rendered invaluable aid - Baraboo Republic

The Wisconsin Free Democrat, Milwaukee, WI 19 May 1855