The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
T. Carter (Steam yacht), capsized, 6 Sep 1896

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      Two Drowned in a Fatal Pleasure Trip Down the Niagara River.
      - - - - - - -
      It was Miss Lou Gilbert's Birthday Party and she and W. G. Farthing Lost Their Lives.
The little steam yacht Tom Carter capsized in the Niagara river off Elmwood beach at 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon and two people were drowned and 11 others had miraculous escapes from watery graves. The dead are Mr. William G. Farthing, a commercial traveler in the employ of the Buffalo Distilling Company, who lived in the Red Jacket flats, at Main and Allen streets, and Miss Lou Gllbert, daughter of the well-known maltster, who lives at 146 Morgan street. Neither body has been recovered. It is believed that the body of Miss Gilbert is in the cabin of the yacht, which is at the bottom of the Niagara, and it is thought that the body of Mr. Farthing was carried down the river for several miles, for the current at that point is unusually swift.
Yesterday was Miss Gilbert's birthday, and several of her friends arranged early last week to celebrate the event by giving a river party. The yacht Frank L. was first chartered to carry the party down the river, but Saturday afternoon the owner of that craft said he could not take care of the party, and the yacht Tom Carter was engaged. The latter boat is owned by Thomas Carter, who is a fireman at the jail. The yacht was built to carry 20 passengers.
      All Happy At Starting.
When the rain began falling yesterday forenoon if was thought at first that the trip would have to be postponed. The skies gave promise of clearing in the afternoon and it was finally decided to start at 1 o'clock regardless of the weather.
At that hour 10 passengers boarded the Carter at the foot of Bridge street. In the party were the following:
Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Farthing of the Red Jacket Flats, Main and Allen streets; Mr. and Mrs. Everett Clarke of 496 Niagara street; George A. Beyer of 8 Chippewa street, the real estate dealer; Joel H. Prescott, Jr., of 395 Elmwood avenue, who is connected with the Meadville Distilling Company; Miss Gilbert, who lived with her family on Morgan street; R. D. Wilson, the plumber, who keeps a shop on Franklin street, near Court street; Mrs. Louis Young of Rochester and Mrs. Plumb of Augustine, Fla., both the guests of Mr. & Mrs. Clarks. Mr. Clarke is of the Everett A. Clarke Company, liquor dealers in the hermitage building on Court street, near Franklin.
The crew was composed of three men. Fred Wolf was the pilot, Thomas Carter, the owner, was the fireman and George A. Stricker the engineer.
      Took Lunch at Staley's Place.
The yacht steamed down the Niagara river until it reached Staley's place, a short distance below the Bedell House. The party went ashore at that point and lunch was served. About 6 o'clock they again boarded the yacht and the return trip was begun. The captain decided to hug the Canadian shore coming up the river and the yacht's nose was turned in that direction.
The river was very choppy at the time. A brisk wind was blowing and ugly looking white caps could be seen up stream. The pilot made the channel at the head of the island all right and turned the boat into that part of the river known as "The Devil's Half Acre." That spot is one of the most dangerous on the river. It is there that the water diverges at the head of the island. The current is swift and in a stormy sea all boats have a hard time at that point.
Right in the middle of the "Acre" the yacht capsized. Just how it all happened the survivors do not know.
      Imprisoned in the Cabin.
Most of the passengers at the time were in the little cabin and were caught like rats in a cage. The windows of the cabin were closed to keep out the spray and the door was also shut. A sudden gust of wind overturned the boat. Those who were on it will never forget the experience.
Everett Clarke managed to get the door of the cabin open and pulled Mrs. Clarke and Mrs. Plumb after him. They got into the open water and held on to the bottom of the yacht. Mr. Wilson broke a pane of glass and crawled through the opening dragging Mrs. L. Young after him.
Mr. Prescott was sitting in the stern of the boat at the time it upset and he managed to get into the little skiff that was being towed by the yacht. He assisted Mrs. Clarke and Mrs. Plumb into that boat. Terror stricken and looking for any way to escape, several more of the party jumped into the little row boat. It was too big a load for that frail craft to carry and the boat was swamped.
      Too Late to Save Their Lives.
Just about this time the shrill whistle of a yacht was heard. It came from the steam yacht Lillian, owned by Michael Newell. The Lillian was making her way up the river and the captain and passengers saw the Carter founder. The Lillian started to the rescue of the party with all possible speed. It took only a few minutes to reach the Carter, but it seemed hours to the men and women who were struggling in the water.
The passengers on board the Lillian picked up all the people who were struggling in the water and hanging on to the bottom of the upset yacht. It was found that two were missing, Miss Gilbert and Mr. Farthing.
Search was made for them, but no trace of either could be found. The yacht Carter sank a few minutes after the Lillian reached her side and nothing but bubbles on the river told where she was.
      Swimming For His Life.
One of the passengers remembered seeing Mr. Farthing swimming in the river after the Carter capsized and the last seen of Miss Gilbert was in the cabin of the Carter.
The Lillian cruised in the vicinity for half an hour, but no trace of the body of either victim could be found, and the yacht started for Buffalo. The Carter's passengers were landed at the foot of Bridge street and were removed to their homes in carriages a short time later. All were drenched. Many of the ladies suffered from the cold.
Mr. Farthing was well known in this city. He was about 44 years old, and was the son of the late George Farthing. He is a brother-in-law of C. Lee Abel, Otto W. Volger and George Jackson. Mr. Farthing leaves a wife and one daughter, Miss Maude Farthing.
Miss Gilbert was 36 years old yesterday, and was the daughter of James Gilbert, the well-known maltster. He retired from business a few years ago. She was a woman of many accomplishments, and the sympathy of a large circle of friends is extended to her family in their bereavement.
      Pilot Wolf's Explanation.
Pilot Wolf and Carter, the owner of the boat, say the accident was unavoidable. Wolf says that the boat was caught in the trough of the sea and that the passengers rushed to one side and tipped her over, causing her to founder.
Carter, the owner, saved one woman from certain death. He was shoveling coal into the furnace when the yacht careened. He got into the river and then swam to the rescue of a woman who was struggling in the water. He managed to get her to the overturned yacht and to hold her there until the Lillian arrived. He says the accident was unavoidable. It is probable that an investigation of the most thorough kind will be held. The police boat Gov. Morton dragged for the bodies last night, but did not find them, and the work was resumed this morning.

      Miss Gilbert's Body Found.
      It Was In The Cabin Of The Sunken Yacht, Search For Mr. Farthing Body Continues.
The body of Miss Louies Gilbert, who was drowned by the foundering of the yacht Thomas Carter, Sunday night, was found at 10 o'clock yesterday morning. Miss Gilbert's three brothers, William E. Truman, H. And James S. Gilbert, boarded the police yacht Gov. Morton yesterday morning and the start was made for the spot where the Carter capsized.
Part of the deck of the yacht was above water, and the men on the police boat grappled for the body inside the sunken boat. After a three hours search the body of the young woman was found in the cabin. It was removed as quickly as possible to this city and Coroner Tucker was notified. He gave Undertakers Brady & Drullard permission to take charge of the body, and it was taken to the family home on Morgan street.
The funeral will be held today.
The body of Mr. Farthing, the other victim of the disaster, has not yet been recovered. Searching parties dragged the river in the vicinity of the spot where the Carter capsized all day yesterday, but the body was not brought to the surface. C. Lee Able, a brother-in-law of Mr. Farthing, offered $50 reward for the recovery of the body yesterday. The search is being continued today.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Tuesday, September 8, 1896


      Farthing's Body.
      It was Found Near Elmwood Beach This Morning and Will be Brought to Buffalo Today.
Word was received at the dock this morning that the body of W. J. Farthing, who was drowned when the yacht Carter capsized on Sunday, had been found near Elmwood beach.
The names of those who recovered the body were not learned. There was a reward of $100 for the finding, offered by Mr. Farthing's brother-in-law, Mr. C. Lee Abel. The Coroner's office and an undertaker were notified, and the remains will be brought to Buffalo today.
Coroner Tucker has decoded to hold an inquest in the case at the request of the friends of Miss Gilbert and Mr. Farthing, the two victims of the disaster. He will swear in a jury this afternoon and the inquest will be held next week.
Mr. Farthing's watch was found in his pocket. It stopped at 5:10, the time the yacht capsized.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Friday, September 11, 1896

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Reason: capsized
Lives: 2
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Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 42.88645 Longitude: -78.87837
William R. McNeil
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T. Carter (Steam yacht), capsized, 6 Sep 1896