NIAGARA FALLS, NY (Oakwood Cemetery) - It was only meant to be a joke, but it ended in the deaths of 2 young people. The following is a story from the Los Angeles Herald, December 4, 1887. The article has some main points wrong, but the gist is corrrect. The actual event was in 1849, and the girl's name was Antoinette, or Nettie, not Eva as suggested by this write up. I doubt very much that he was an Eye-Witness to these three events, so read with a wary eye:
Some Old Stories Retold By an Eye-Witness.
THREE HEARTRENDING SCENES
The Destruction of Charles Addington and Eva De Forrest ln 1858.
"I am going to Niagara Falls," said a middle-aged passenger on a Pennsylvania railroad train from Philadelphia yesterday, "and if you read in the papers in a day or so that some person, known or unknown, has been carried over the falls, you may be sure that I have reached my destination. No; it won't be me —not if I can help it. But I have never been to Niagara yet that some one did not go over the falls, either intentionally or accidentally, and nothing but a positive and important business engagement, such as compels me to go there now, could induce me to visit the spot which is associated in my mind with three terrible tragedies. I was a horrified spectator of two most heart rending Niagara tragedies, and on my third visit to the falls the other was enacted. I have been for six weeks trying to avoid this fourth trip, for my recollection of Niagara are sufficiently unpleasant without having a fourth one to be a perpetual shudder to me. "My first visit to Niagara was in the summer of 1858, and I had not been there more than an hour when I witnessed the agonizing scene of a young man and a beautiful, fair-haired child swept away by the swift current from Goat Island and dashed over the falls. The young man was Charles Addington and the child was little Eva De Forrest. The Addingtons and De Forrests were prominent Buffalo families. Young Charles Addington was engaged to be married to Ada De Forrest. The day that I paid my first visit to Niagara, Mrs. De Forrest, Ada and her little sister Eva, and young Addington, had come from Buffalo for a day's outing at the falls. They picnicked on Goat Island, and little Eva having strayed away from the group, her mother sent young Addington to find her and fetch her back. He discovered her not far away, standing on the shore, looking at the swift water. Thoughtlessly stealing up behind her, he grasped the child under the arms, and, lifting her up, held her out over the water. She threw up her arms and slipped from his hands into the river. Addington sprang in and caught her before she had been carried into the swift water. He succeeded; after a desperate struggle, in getting back near enough to the shore to throw the child up on the bank. She had not sufficient strength to hold on until her mother could grasp her and pull her to a safe place, and she fell back into the current. Addington again seized her, but he was too much exhausted to make way against the swift water, and the two were carried into the rapids and disappeared together over the falls. I was on Goat Island and saw the whole occurrence.
"In the summer of 1864 I again visited Niagara Falls. I arrived there at night, and early next morning 1 walked over to Goat Island, and, looking down the American rapids, what should I see but a man clinging to an old tree-trunk that had lodged at some time in the current between the small islands off Goat Island and the American shore. Before I could give the alarm the man had been discovered by o hets, and the news spread rapidly. Who tbe man was or how he came to be in his perilous situation no oue ever knew, but it was supposed that he had been rowing across the river somewhere above, the night, before, and losing control of bis boat, hud been swept down into the rapids, and the boat -biking the tree-trunk, he had by some miracle gained a foothold upon it. "As soon as possible after the discovery of the mail was made word was telegraphed to Buffalo, and a party of life savers came on a special train to the falls to n-y and rescue him. Before 10 o'clock thousands of persons were gathered at every available spot where a sight of the unfortunate man could be obtained. The railroads ran special trains, and people came in conveyances of all kinds from the surrounding country. No one seemed at first to know how to go to work to be of aid to the man, but he clung to the tree, watching every move that was made—how anxiously he watched may be imagined. It was, of course, impossible to make him hear an , thing that might be shouted to" him, aud there was no way to give him any directions, l-inally a life boat was attached to a cable and let down the rapids from too britlge toward bim. Guide ropes were tied to it, by which it was directed toward tbe log by men on the shore of the island. The plan was well calculated, and the boat made directly for tho spot where tie man was hanging between life and death. The assembled multitude began to feel that in a fewminutes the poor man would bo safely drawn ashore. Suddenly the boat was caught by a swirl of the rapids. Tho cable parted like a weak kite string. The boat rushed past the man like a flash and was carried over the falls. "This sad ending of tlie effort to rescue the man showed the life-savers that there was no hope for the man in that plan. Several others were suggested, and finally one was adopted which it took until late in the afternoon to get in readiness. Iv all those I long hours of suspense I don't helieve one of the spectators moved from his tracks. Everything else about Niagara Falls was forgotten except tbe terrible scene of a fellow being hanged on the verge ol death, and patiently aw aiting the .success or failure of the efforts that were lx>ing made to rescue kirn. The plan adopted was to fasten a strong cable securely to the American shore, attach a 'stanch raft to it, carry the loose end of the cable over to tho Island, and let it belly down with the raft to tho tree trunk. By this means it was hoped that the raft, after reaching the log, and the man had crawled upon it
could be steadily drawn to a small island between the man and Goat island, from which small island his rescue would be easy. Some food and a glass of brandy were floated on the raft, with a rope and written instructions to the man as to what was to be done and what he must de. The raft moved down and reached the tree trunk in safety. "As tbe man dropped from his perilous perch upo tbe raft, lashed tdmself to it wi h a rope according to instructions, and then eagerly seized the brandy and food, such a shout as went up from the thousands of people who had watched the proceedings with beating hearts i>nd bated breath was never heard before. It could be heard above the angry roar of Niagara. The raft was slowly pulled toward the small island. FCverything seemed working to a charm. The tension on the feelings of the spectators was so great that many fainted a*ay. People were sobbing on every side. Suddenly the raft stopped. The cable, drawn as it was, beneath the water, caught on some obstruction. All efforts to loosen it were unavailing. One g*oan of agony arose from the great crowd. The life-tav-ers toiled and tugged at the rope, but still it clung to the obstruction. It was now near sunset.
"The man on the raft had unlashed the ropes that had been his security against the possibility of his being washed off by the current, and joined his efforts with the others to loosen the rope. He was pale, haggard and wild-looking from his hours of snsttense. Suddenly he kneeled on the raft, over which the water was sweeping swiftly, and remained there for a moment, "as if in prayer. Then he sprang into the raging current and pulled bravely for the island, which was only a few feet away. At first he gained visibly against the current, and the thought that he would surely save himself found utterance in another joyful shout from the spectators. But when he was almost withiu reach of tbe shore his strength began to fail. The space between him and tho island graduully widened. Then every ono knew that all hope was gone. He made a few more desperate strokes, but the wild waters seized him, and pitching and tossing and whirling him, hurried him to the brink of the great cataract. "When he reached the edge of the falls he was thrown upward from tho water until his whole length came into view, standing upright, aud he disappeared as if he had made a voluntary leap over the precipice. While he was being dashed to and over the falls not a sound was uttered by one in that vast crowd of horror-stricken
spectators, and terrible as was the scene, not an eye was turned away from him as he was carried along to his destruction. The moment he disappeared in the face of the cataract one heartrending shriek went up from the crowd, and, the awful fascination of the scene being broken, the spectators Hed from it as if from some frightful pursuer. The poor victim's body was never found nor his identity ever established. As on my previous vißit to the falls tbe place had no longer any attraction for me, and the first train carried me away. "In the spring of 1884, twenty years after my second visit, I made up my mind to conquer my aversion to going again to the place which I could scarcely think of without a shudder, and resolved to make another effort to see the greatest of American natural wonders. Although twice on the ground, I had not seen tho falls from below ; in fact, I could not be said to have seen them at all. I had business in Buffalo in April, three years ago, and after getting through with it, went on to the falls. There was ice there yet, I rememlier, and, all things else being equal, the place was not particularly cheerful. I made up my mind to go straight to the Goat Island bridge and brave my f clings by taking a look at the spot where I had seen that doomed man struggling for life twenty years bfore. I did so, and was greatlysurprised to see the old tree trunk to which tho man clung for so many hours still rising out of the boiling and leaping water. I had not been there long when I noticed a great commotion among people on the island, and in a few minutes learned that not only one, but two men had gone over the falls some time during tbe night before, and that the clothing of one of them had been found, and evidences that one of the men, who were brothers-in-law, was a murderer and suicide. He had lured his broth-er-in-law to the island, killed him, thrown his body into the rapids, and then jumped in himself and followed it over the falls. The names of the parties wero Vedder and Pearson. I did not wait for more minute details, but hurried to the Erie Bail way station and caught the first train eastward.
"Now, as I said, I am making my fourth trip to the Falls, this time an enforced one. Do you wonder that I am nervous and a trifle superstitious about going there? I hope there will be no fatality connected with this visit, but if you should read about any one going over Niagara Falls withiu the next day or two you may be certain that 1 am there."