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Posted By: Sharon Elijah (email)
Date: 11/19/2019 at 06:10:26

August 20, 1917 - The Clinton Advertiser page 1

Mrs. Berneice Thompson Batchelder of Lyons sat in an automobile near the river bank in Camanche Sunday afternoon, unconscious of the calamity which had overtaken members of her family. Not two hundred yards away, her husband and two brothers were drowned.

The victims of the triple tragedy were RAY BATCHELDER, MILLARD THOMPSON, GERALD THOMPSON.

Millard Thompson, who was employed as filing clerk in the offices of Curtis Brothers and Company here, gave his own life in a vain effort to rescue the others from death.

The two young men and the little boy were drowned while bathing, shortly after 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon. The accident occurred directly in front of George W. Schwert's summer home, on the river bank in Camanche.

The bodies of young Batchelder and Millard Thompson were recovered about a quarter of an hour after the drowning, but every attempt to resuscitate them failed. Efforts to recover the body of the little boy were unavailing.

Telephone calls to the police station summoned an ambulance, physicians, and the police, who took lung-motors to the scene and assisted in the work of attempting to restore life in the two victims. Later the bodies were brought to this city, while parties continued to drag the river for the remains of the drowned youth.

Mr. and Mrs. Batchelder, the two Thompson brothers, who were brothers of Mrs. Batchelder, and little Eddie Kennedy, drove to Camanche in an automobile Sunday afternoon for a few hours outing. They stopped at a restaurant, and had refreshments. Then they drove down to the river bank.

The auto was left in charge of Mrs. Batchelder, west of the Schwert cottage, while the two young men and two boys put on bathing suits, and went into the river.

They had not been in long when the triple drowning occurred. The Kennedy boy, who had on a pair of water-wings, witnesses say, was near the bank when the call for help came from one of the swimmers. He waded to shore, and was a horrified witness of the accident.

The call for help came from Ray Batchelder, who had been swimming, or wading about fifteen feet from shore and directly opposite the cottage. It was heard by Mr. and Mrs. Schwert and Mrs. Jessie Corey, sister of the latter, who were in or near the cottage.

It is thought young Batchelder was seized by cramps. When the inmates of the cottage ran out they saw him struggling in the water, with little Gerald apparently on his back.

Millard Thompson was wading about a hundred feet north of the other swimmers. The minute the call came he launched himself into the deeper water and swam with powerful strokes to their aid.

Spectators declare that Millard Thompson sacrificed his life in a vain attempt to save his brother and brother-in-law. He quickly covered the distance separating them, swimming down stream, and apparently made heroic efforts to keep them afloat until help arrived, finally going with them to the bottom of the river.

In the meantime George Schwert had rushed to the river bank. His duck-boat was tied by a strong rope to a rock on the shore. Seizing the rope he wrenched it from the ring, and shoved out the boat. Then he realized there were no oars in the little craft.

Mrs. Schwert and Mrs. Corey ran to a barn on the premises and seizing the oars and a hoe which they saw lying near made the best speed back to the river. By this time the boat was a little distance from the shore, but there is a back current there, which would not permit it to float towards the drowning men. Mrs. Corey rushed out into the water nearly to her neck, and tried to reach the men with the hoe, while Mr. Schwert, having secured the oars, hastened to aid the group. The three were still struggling weakly, and before any aid could be extended they sank. Millard Thompson, witnesses say, came to the surface a couple of times, but the other two did not rise.

While this tragedy was being enacted, Mrs. Batchelder was sitting in the automobile, entirely unaware of what had happened. It was Mrs. Schwert who conveyed to her the intelligence of the drowning of her husband and two brothers. The crushing blow seemed to daze the young Lyons woman who could not realize the extent of her sudden loss. She was taken care of by kind-hearted neighbors, and later was removed to her home, the little Kennedy boy accompanying her.

Some fast work was done in recovering two of the bodies from the stream. In anticipation of the finding of the bodies, the Clinton police were asked to send down lung-motors, and a fast trip was made to the scene, Officers Burke and Phillips going with Dr. F. A. Hohenschuh.

The body of Ray Batchelder was recovered shortly after the drowning, some of the group on the river say ten, some say fifteen minutes. The lips were blue, and life apparently was extinct. But the lung-motor was put into operation, and every effort made to save the young man's life. A little later the body of Millard Thompson was taken from the water, and the same methods were applied to restore him. It is believed, however, that both men were dead before they were taken from the bottom of the river. The bodies were found almost at the exact spot where they sank.

Crowds gathered on the river bank to watch the search for the little boy, and to do all in their power to aid in taking care of the victims. The Shadduck auto ambulance was called later to remove the bodies to Clinton.

page 6

The tragedy which occurred at Camanche yesterday afternoon in which three Lyons boys met their death has cast a shadow of gloom over the entire city.

Millard Thompson, aged 19 years who was one of the victims is one of Lyons' most popular young men. He came with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Thompson to this city about 15 years ago. He entered the Lyons schools and graduated in the class of 1915, being president of his class. Last year he was elected president of the Lyons High School Alumni association. Since finishing his education in the Lyons schools, he has been in the employ of Curtis Brothers, and has been one of the most efficient boys in their service. He has been advanced several times, and had a promising future before him. The heartfelt sympathy to his bereaved parents and two sisters, Mrs. Ray Bachelder and Alberta.

Gerald Thompson, the little 8 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Thompson, also one of the victims of yesterday's tragedy, was born in Lyons and was a bright little fellow. He attended the East school and was a favorite with all his playmates. His body had not been recovered as yet.

Ray Bachelder, the third victim of the drowning was married to Miss Berniece Thompson, May 30th, 1917 in Rock Island. The only other living relative is an uncle in Illinois.

Mr. Bachelder was about 22 years of age, and was in the employ of the Silo Specialty company.

21 August 1917 - The Clinton Advertiser page 1

The remains of eight year old Gerald Thompson, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Thompson of Lyons and one of the three victims of Sunday's drowning accident at Camanche, were found early this morning some distance below the spot where the child met his death.

The discovery of the body was reported by telephone to the police station by M. B. Westgate of Camanche. He said the body had been towed to the island below Camanche, where it was being held awaiting the arrival of the authorities.

Coroner M. E. Anderson was notified and W. J. Shadduck was asked to send down for the body. Mr. Shadduck drove down at once, accompanied by Chief of Police Kamer, and the remains were taken to the Shadduck undertaking establishment in Lyons and prepared for burial.

Coroner Anderson decided, as he had in the cases of Ray Batchelder and Millard Thompson the other victims of the accident, that no inquest will be necessary.

page 6

The funeral of Millard Thompson, Gerald Thompson and Ray Batchelder, will be held from the home of the latter on East Main street Thursday afternoon with services at the First Congregational church at 2 o'clock. Rev. R. C. Keagy, pastor of the Methodist church, will officiate. Interment will be made in Oakland cemetery.

The body of little Gerald Thompson was found this morning below Camanche and was taken to the Shadduck undertaking establishment to be prepared for burial.

23 August 1917 - The Clinton Advertiser page 6

Impressive funeral services were held at 2 o'clock this afternoon at the Lyons Congregational church over the remains of Millard Thompson, Gerald Thompson and Ray Batchelder, the three Lyons boys who lost their lives in the Mississippi last Sunday.

The auditorium of the Congregational church was packed to its utmost capacity with friends of the young men. All the business houses were closed from 2 to 3 o'clock, and business generally was suspended for one hour, out of respect for the young men. The floral offerings were numerous and beautiful and showed the esteem in which the Lyons boys were held by their numerous friends.

Rev. R. C. Keagy, pastor of the Lyons Methodist church officiated and delivered a touching eulogy over the young men who had met such a tragic fate.

Miss Alma Graefe organist at the Congregational church was in charge of the music and a quartette composed of Mrs. H. P. Fischer, Mrs. Ziegler, Miss Kate Lundy and Miss Gertrude Rodman rendered several selections. Mr. Raymond Lawson of Clinton also sang one number by request.

The pall bearers for Millard Thompson were Hugo Grimm, Ed Camp, Ben Luth, Francis Bager, Ed Camp and Leroy Rockrohr, for Ray Batchelder were Dick Everhart, Homer Shadduck, Mr. Doubtett, Mr. Kapp, Harry Kamer and Wayne Mason, for Gerald Thompson, Franklin Ebensberger, Hobart Martin, William Kincaid and Percy Neilsen.

Interment was made in Oakland cemetery.

Out of town relatives here for the funeral are: Miss Hazel Batchelder, sister of Ray Batchelder from Decatur; Mr. Charles Batchelder, uncle from Decatur; D. A. Bowen and wife of Van Horn; Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Petree of Marion; Mr. and Mrs. H. I. Stern of Delmar Junction.


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