The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Jeannette (Barge), crew death, 6 May 1897

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      Cook on the Barge JEANNETTE Jumped Overboard and Was Drowned.
Mrs. Belle Burtle, 40 years old, a cook employed on the lumber barge JEANNETTE from Tonawanda, committed suicide about 1:30 o'clock this morning, by jumping into Lake Erie, when the barge was off Port Colborne, 18 miles from this city. The body was recovered by deck hands, who put out in a small boat.
Mrs. Burtle has been employed as cook on lake boats for the past five or six years. On April 12 she shipped on the JEANNETTE, which was in the tow with the barge ELEANOR, of the propeller A. WESTON. She went on the boat at Tonawanda and made the trip from there to Manistique, Mich., where a cargo of lumber was taken on. The fleet was returning to Tonawanda, and was a mile out from Port Colborne, on the Canada shore, when William Kolpack, the man at the wheel, noticed Mrs. Burtle ascend the steps to the quarterdeck. She looked at him and laughed, and then jumped into the lake. Kolpack gave the alarm, and in about five minutes the body had been recovered and taken aboard the WESTON.
      Coroner Notified.
Capt. Dubay came to this city on a tug, and notified the Coroner's office, leaving his fleet at the breakwater. Clerk William C. Boller from the Coroner's office, an the tug ACME, went after the body at noon today, and it was removed to the Morgue by County Undertaker Wedekindt.
Mrs. Burtle's home was at Olean, N. Y., and she had shipped both under the name of Burtle and Broadbeck. She lived with Louis Broadbeck at Tonawanda for some time before she married Burtle. Broadbeck now runs a saloon at Tonawanda, and Burtle is believed to be in New York. A son, 11 years old, by a previous husband, whose name is unknown, was drowned at Tonawanda in February, 1896. Her domestic relations and brooding over the loss of her son are believed to be the cause of her committing suicide this morning.
      May Have Been Insane.
Mrs. Eastman, who conducts an intelligence office on lower Main street, has known Mrs. Burtle for several years. She told a NEWS reporter this afternoon that she believed Mrs. Burtle was slightly insane at the time, and not responsible for her actions. She said that, judging from the circumstances of the case, she thought Mrs. Burtle was temporarily insane when she jumped from the JEANNETTE this morning.
Mr. Boller brought the dead woman's effects to the city, and an inquest probably will be held. There was nothing among these effects to throw any light upon the cause of the suicide. Mrs. Burtle had prepared the breakfast for the deck hands, and as soon as the meal was finished she took her life.
Capt. Dubay said that Mrs. Burtle had been in a pleasant frame of mind since she shipped on his boat. She earned $20 a month, and had about $15 coming to her. This money will be turned over to the Coroner.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Thursday, May 6, 1897

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Reason: crew death
Lives: 1
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 42.90012 Longitude: -79.23288
William R. McNeil
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Jeannette (Barge), crew death, 6 May 1897