On Thursday of last week (August 9, 1877), a party of little boys went to the pond on Dr. Floyd’s place to fish and swim. They had been about the pond for two hours, when James Johnson, a young man working for Dr. Floyd, heard an unusual noise at the water and looking saw one of the boys, John Ragan, disappearing under the deep water in the middle of the pond. He hurried to his rescue, plunged into the pond and brought the lad out in a lifeless condition, and for the first time missed another one of the party, Bertie Vetter, and sent an alarm to town, as the two boys on the bank were so frightened that they could give no account of the missing boy. Meanwhile, Johnson only 16 years old, was working with a cool judgment and skill, to restore the boy he had taken from the water, and finally succeeded, when for the first time it became known that Bertie Vetter was still in the water; by this time a large number of people had arrived at the pond and were searching for the lost boy. Johnson again went in and diving on the spot where he had found the first one, found the other also, who must have been under not less than 20 minutes. Charles Schaefer and others assisted in bringing him ashore and were doing what they could to resuscitate when Dr. Floyd arrived; artificial respiration, electro-magnetic battery, stimulants and friction were used for an hour or so, with no signs of returning life, when the case was given over as hopeless.
The most probable theory of the occurrence, as also the tale of Johnny Ragan, the rescued boy, is that the two were playing in the water when Bertie Vetter got into deep water and sank; Johnny went to his help as he could swim, and was seized by the drowning boy and both went down, and but for the timely assistance rendered by Johnson, both would have perished. Johnson deserves great credit for coolness and judgment far beyond his years.
The sympathy of many warm friends will be with Mr. and Mrs. Vetter in the loss of their only boy, a bright, obedient, generous lad, about 10 years of age. The sudden manner in which he was taken, made the affliction more severe. He went from his home after the duties of the day had been completed, joyous and happy; he and his parents little thinking that within two short hours, he would have drifted away into the shadowy river that flows for ever to the unknown sea. The Harvey County News, Newton, Kansas. Thursday, August 16, 1877. Page 2.