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Walter A. Strait 1890-1902


Posted By: Merllene Andre Bendixen (email)
Date: 12/28/2010 at 21:33:16

A Sad Accident
Walter Strait Breaks Through the Ice While Skating and is Drowned
Walter Strait, the twelve year old son of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Strait of this city, was drowned in the river Saturday [November 29, 1902] afternoon by breaking through the ice while skating. The depth of the water where he fell through was something like twelve feet. Two other boys, Raymond Strait and Jessie Allen, were skating along beside him when the ice broke and all went down. They scrambled for the ice but could not raise themselves up on account of the ice giving way when they attempted to climb up. Another boy, Alvin Sweet, who was skating nearby, ran to their assistance and with the aid of a pole succeeded in getting Raymond and Jesse out but poor Walter went down before he could reach him. The little fellow struggled hard and would have succeeded had not the skate on his brother’s foot pulled off. He was hanging to it while Raymond was being lifted onto the ice but unfortunately it pulled off. Just a few seconds more and he would have been rescued. The accident happened on the river near the boat house and is one of the saddest that we have been called upon to chronicle for some time. Funeral services were held Monday afternoon in the Christian church and the body interred in the Oak Hill Cemetery. The many friends of the family in this city extend their most heartfelt sympathy. (Estherville Democrat, Estherville, IA, December 3, 1902)

Drowned While Skating
Walter Strait Breaks Through Thin Ice and Goes Under
The Des Moines river at this place has claimed another victim, this time it being Walter Strait, the twelve year old boy of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Strait. Walter and a number of companions were on the ice near the old boat house skating and playing last Saturday afternoon when without warning the thin ice gave way letting three of them into the river where it was nearly nine feet of water. The boys who went in were Walter Strait, Raymond Strait and Jesse Allen and it was only through the presence of mind of Alven Sweet, a fourteen year old boy that two of them were rescued. He was near by and as soon as he saw them go in he secured a stick and reached it out so that they could get a hold which they all did but Walter must have been taken with cramps for he was unable to hold on and went down, the other two being pulled out. Jesse Allen as soon as he was out ran up town to notify the parents of the Strait boy and get what help he could. The body was recovered within a half hour from the time it went under but it was beyond hope of resuscitation. Walter was a bright and energetic boy and was of much help to his father and mother.

Funeral services were held Monday afternoon at the Christian church, which was attended by a large number of friends of the dead boy including his school mates who attended as a class under the charge of Professor Dukes. Many nice flowers were in evidence at the church brought by loving and thinking friends who sought thus to ease the sorrow of the bereaved parents and to pay remembrance to the dead. Rev. Sword preached the funeral sermon.

Mr. and Mrs. Strait wish to publicly thank Prof. Dukes, the C.C.C. order and the many friends that so kindly assisted in their hour of sorrow. (Estherville Enterprise, Estherville, IA, December 3, 1902)

To a Watery Grave
Walter Strait Looses His Life While Skating
Was on the River Saturday Afternoon with other Boys and Broke Through – Two Others have Narrow Escape

The first skating accident of the season happened last Saturday afternoon, when Walter Strait the 12-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Strait, lost his life, and his younger brother, Raymond, and Jesse Allen, the 14-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Allen had a narrow escape from the same sad fate. The heroic efforts of Alvin Sweet, the 15-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Emerson Sweet, alone saved the two boys.

Just a little north of the Strait home there is a bayou, passing around on the east side of the island, where the water is not deep and quiet and where the ice forms upon the first approach of winter. It was on this bayou or slough that the two Strait boys had gone about 2:30 in the afternoon, after finishing their day’s work. After skating there for a time they saw three other boys, the Allen, Sweet, and another small boy just above them. They soon joined them, and after a time started out on the ice on the main channel of the river along the north bank of the island. Walter Strait, who had taken off his skates, was in advance. They had gone but a short distance, when without warning, the ice gave way beneath them and Walter Strait and Jesse Allen were plunged into the water. Raymond Strait, with admirable pluck, tried to rescue his brother and companion, but his skates slipped and he plunged into the water. Then it was that young Sweet showed remarkable presence of mind and good judgment. Dashing back to the bank and tearing off his skates, he searched along the bank until he had found a suitable pole, and returning to the where the boys were trying to make their escape, crept out upon the ice, began the rescue. First he pulled out Jesse Allen, and then returned for Raymond Strait, who also clutched the stick and was pulled safely out of the water. Walter Strait who was further out in the stream, in the meantime, had been making strenuous efforts to get out. But each time the ice gave way beneath him, and he kept falling back into the water. As his younger brother was being pulled from the water, he made one last effort to escape. The little fellow had been trying to reach him, but was unable to do so. Walter, knowing he could not sustain himself much longer, made one mighty lunge when he saw his brother being drawn from the water, and succeed in grasping him by the leg. He evidently caught his skate, for his hold soon loosened and he sank beneath the water to rise no more. Afterwards it was found that the younger boy had lost one of his skates, and it is supposed that this was when he lost it.

No one was along the river bank, and the boys realizing they could do nothing more, started out to give the alarm. Raymond Strait ran home, and then to the Estherville Lumber co. office, where his father was at work. Mr. Strait gave the alarm and then hurried to the scene of the drowning. Getting a boat on the river bank, he was preparing to push it across the ice when he was joined by Ed Donahue, John Lucas and Bert Coon. Together they pushed the boat out to the place where the boy had gone down, and in a short time, by means of a garden rake, with a stick tied on the handle, were enabled to pull the boy from the river.

He was carried to the Strait home, and Coroner Birney was called. After learning the particulars, he decided that no inquest was necessary.

The funeral was held from the Christian church Monday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock, conducted by Rev. Sword. The interment was in Oak Hill cemetery.

This accident should be a warning to other boys who are prone to go upon the ice before it is strong enough to bear their weight. (Vindicator and Republican, Estherville, IA, December 4, 1902)


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