Drowned While Swimming

Christopher Johnson, a Santa Fe Employe, Meets his death at Emporia.    Christopher Johnson, employed in the water service department of the Santa Fe, was drowned in the Cottonwood River near Emporia Saturday afternoon.  Johnson came to this city from Burrton two weeks ago.  He boarded at the Marti house.  So far as known he has no relations in the State.  Diligent inquiry by wire has been made by the railroad company, without finding any clue to the ill-fated man’s home or relatives.  The body has not yet been found.  The following account of the accident is taken from the Emporia Republican of May 23:

Yesterday afternoon at half past one, Christopher Johnson was drowned while in swimming just above the water works in the Cottonwood river.  Johnson, who was in the employ of the Santa Fe railroad company, together with Joseph Walford and William Knox, came from Newton on the 11:35 train Friday night, and were engaged in unloading a car load of pipe for the Santa Fe water force.  Having finished this, the three young men proposed to take a swim before going back to Newton on the 3:35 train in the afternoon.  The account given by Joseph Walford was substantially as follows:  “When we came down to the bank Johnson went further down the river to a little ravine and undressed.  Meanwhile we undressed and walked down below where Johnson was undressing, and stood under the bank washing off.  When Johnson got undressed he jumped off of the bluff into the water.  When he arose we asked him how the water was, but he did not answer.  This attracted our attention to him and we noticed that he appeared to be strangling.  We immediately struck out for him, but he sank before we reached him.”  Quite a force of men were engaged in dragging the river with a sein net when the Republican reporter reached the place where the drowning occurred.  In drawing in toward shore, one of the men touched the body, but in a second trial could feel nothing of it.  After trying for some time without success, the grappling hooks were used and the river was dragged.  This method did not succeed and it was decided to explode some dynamite cartridges with the hope that the concussion would cause the body to rise to the surface, but even this failed; and up to a late hour the body had not been recovered.  Johnson was a Scandinavian by birth.  He was twenty-three years of age and unmarried.  The Newton Daily Republican, Newton, Kansas.  Monday, May 24, 1886.  Page 1.  (c) Transcribed by Darren McMannis for the Harvey County Genealogical Society.

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